(TibetanReview.net, May14’23) – Bhutan has again spoken of being optimistic about reaching a speedy settlement with China over the latter’s occupied-Tibet border line, possibly raising apprehensions about its implications for India on the emergent status of the strategically sensitive Doklam tri-junction area.
China has long been reported to be seeking Bhutanese concession at Doklam in exchange for conceding on its claims in disputed border areas elsewhere. Doklam lies at the tri-junction of India, Bhutan and Chinese-occupied Tibet.
Any concession by Bhutan in this area will have grave strategic implications for India. In 2017, there was a 73-day standoff between Indian and Chinese armies over the latter’s construction of a road in Bhutanese claimed area of Doklam. China is seen as likely to agree to a settlement if Bhutan agrees to its Doklam wish.
And now, Bhutan is on the verge of resolving its border issue with China, wionews.com May 12 cited the country’s Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji told as saying in an interview.
Earlier, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering had said the same thing on Mar 25 to the Belgian newspaper La Libra during his visit to Brussels. He had said Bhutan hoped to complete the demarcation of territories with China within “one or two meetings”.
Dorji’s remarks came during his WION interview on the sidelines of the 6th Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.
The report said Dorji affirmed that there was peace and tranquility in the border while denying that China was encroaching on Bhutanese territory. He has further hoped that the demarcation of the border is done as soon as possible to avoid any future possible disagreements.
“Bhutan and China share a very close and cordial relationship. Our border in the north has not been demarcated. We have had 24 rounds of talks and we continue to have our expert group meeting and we hope that it will come to be resolved very soon,” he has said.
Asked about the Doklam border issue, Dorji has said, “From our side, the Chinese have always been on their side of the territory and we have not seen them getting into the Bhutanese territories.”
Doklam is an area spread over less than 100 sq km comprising a plateau and a valley at the tri-junction between occupied Tibet’s Chumbi Valley to the north, Bhutan’s Ha District to the east, and India’s Sikkim state to the west.
However, the plateau is also claimed by China, which tried to build a road in the Bhutanese claimed area, leading to the 2017 Indian army intervention. Now if Bhutan says the Chinese have always been on their side of the occupied-Tibet territory, might it not be a problem to India?