Narendra Modi and China's President Xi Jinping
Narendra Modi and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi September 18. [Representational image]

India and China have finally settled what can be called one of the toughest foreign policy challenges in recent times. The tension at Doklam finally ended with the withdrawal of troops by both the countries after a two-month-long standoff.

China had always aggessively chased boundary issues with its neighbours. The Doklam issue was similar to the one that happened in Depsang in 2013 and Chumar in 2014. The only difference was that, in Doklam China was trying to manipulate the boundaries of Bhutan, while India stood to safeguard Bhutan's territorial rights and India's security interests.

After successfully stopping China's road-building efforts, India had beefed up its military presence at the border to avoid another 1962 episode. It also increased its presence in other parts of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to prevent China from expanding in the Doklam-Chumbi valley, where India was not in an advantageous position.

With China's psychological warfare in action forcing India to back off unilaterally, taking a diplomatic solution got even tougher. Reports say it was a mind game – 'Three Warfares Strategy' – that Beijing had perfected over time. Drafted in 2003 by Central Military Commission in China and refined in 2010, the strategy involves three steps – media war, psychological war and legal war.

For the past two months, the Narendra Modi government stayed low key and did not react or respond to Chinese abuse of Sushma Swaraj or Ajit Doval. India stayed quiet even when China threatened to 'vaporise' India with its economic and military capabilities.

The issue would have reached elsewhere, had India responded kindly, instead it raised its military preparedness on the ground as an evidence to show their disinterest to play the Chinese game. Soon, the officials from both ends started negotiations to settle the issue.

India China border
India must take Beijing's position document seriously, said a Chinese diplomatReuters

When a short bilateral meeting in Astana between Modi and Chinese President XiJinping did not yield much to improve the situation, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar coined an 'Astana consensus' where both the countries agreed to avoid differences to turn into disputes.

In early August, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had stated that peace at the border was important for the development of bilateral relations and explained that simultaneous withdrawal from both sides would be accepted by India.

Both the sides were careful not to arm their soldiers. After the brawl that took place in Pangong, India and China were even more careful not to take the situation to the next level.

While China continued to be the bully in this region, India was stern to not give in so easily, especially when its skills on matters of sovereignty were being tested.