Escalation of the Doklam stand off+ into a shooting war is unlikely to deliver significant gains for China, and a wider conflict carries the risk of heavy casualties tilting the odds in favour of diplomacy prevailing despite a barrage of angry words from Beijing.
The assessment in top government circles is that a flare up at Doklam and other possible trouble-spots along the India-China border is not going to translate into a tangible territorial or strategic advantage for China as an armed conflict may not throw up clear winners and losers. If India does not suffer the humiliation as it did in the 1962 war, China's aura as the pre-eminent Asian power and rising challenger to American might could be dented — an unattractive scenario ahead of a crucial Communist Party congress due in September and a leadership conclave that precedes it.
The possibility of a conflict spreading to other areas along the 3,488km India-China border — large sections of which are disputed — is worrisome for both sides and neither has a clear upper hand. At Doklam itself, geography gives India the higher ground and a distinct military advantage. India lags behind China in border infrastructure but a conflict will be a lot less uneven than Chinese hawks anticipate and fighting could mean heavy toll for both armies.