China’s Revisionism Versus India’s Status Quoism: Strategies and Counter-strategies of Rivals in Doklam Standoff

Published date01 June 2020
Date01 June 2020
Subject MatterArticles
1 Department of Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu, Jammu, Jammu &
Kashmir, India.
Corresponding author:
Suneel Kumar, Department of Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu,
Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir 180006, India.
China’s Revisionism
Versus India’s
Status Quoism:
Strategies and
of Rivals in
Doklam Standoff
Suneel Kumar1
This article contends that China, as a part of its broader global agenda,
is striving to recast the regional order in East Asia, South East Asia, and
South Asia. Its revisionist moves and growing influence in South Asia
are perceived by New Delhi as challenge to its national security and
regional position thus forcing it to counter the Chinese moves and
preserve the status quo ensuing into bilateral rivalry. Doklam standoff
was an outcome of this bilateral rivalry between the two emerging Asian
powers as Beijing attempted unilaterally to alter the prevailing territorial
arrangement in the area of dispute and New Delhi counter-attempted
to maintain the status quo. During the standoff, China projected itself as
‘victim’ of India’s aggression while making provocative military deploy-
ments and threats of war against India. Opposite to this, India absorbed
Beijing’s pressure and defended its move in Doklam giving the logic of
its ‘security concerns’ and ‘special relationship’ with Bhutan. New Delhi
asked Beijing to resolve the dispute diplomatically while emphasizing on
their troops’ mutual withdrawal from the site of standoff.
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
24(1) 73–100, 2020
2020 Jadavpur University
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0973598420908843
74 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations 24(1)
Revisionism, status quoism, strategies, counter-strategies, China, India,
In the twenty-first century, time and again, states like Russia, China,
Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea, could easily be observed dominating
the global political discourse. Unlike status quo states such as the USA,
Britain, France, Japan, and India, these states are being termed as
revisionist powers, which consider the existing global order as unjust,
biased, and favorable to the interests of the Western countries. While not
embracing a positive image of respective orders, these states, as it is
argued, seek to recast the distribution of goods including territory, status,
market expansion, international institutions, and international law
(Davidson 2006: 14). Russia’s war with Georgia and annexation of
Crimea were the results of its frustration with the post-Cold War
settlement. Although China has not tried anything like what Russia did
by seizing Crimea, yet its aggressive behavior on territorial disputes with
its neighboring countries in South East Asia, East Asia, and South Asia
signifies its infuriation with the prevailing structural arrangements. By
pursuing a nuclear program, in this direction, Iran is also contesting
against the regional order in the Middle East (Rachman 2014). Apart
from this, North Korea has been continuously developing its nuclear and
missile program while threatening the USA and its allies—South Korea
and Japan—in East Asia. Whereas due to its territorial dispute, Pakistan,
as a regional revisionist state, is busy in proxy war against India as also
Islamabad is anxious about New Delhi’s leadership role in South Asia
and its gradual emergence as a global power. So far as China is concerned,
its behavior in the contemporary international relations (IR) contains
dominant symptoms of a revisionist power, which as it is argued, is
intended, and also pursuing agenda for creating an alternative global
order. Some scholars have also construed China as a status quo power
integrated into and immensely benefited from the prevailing global
order. Beijing, according to them, is striving only for ‘constructive
changes’ in the global institutions, but it does not aspire to overthrow the
present global order (Ikenberry 2008; Johnston 2003; Nye 2019; Xiao
2015; Zhou 2018). Inspite of this view, its assertive moves over territorial

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