(TibetanReview.net, Jul02’20) – Expansionist China has raised yet another territorial dispute, this time against Bhutan. The territory is a wildlife sanctuary that shares border with the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and which China claims is south Tibet and therefore part of the region it annexed by armed invasion in the 1950s. This the first time China has called this part of the Bhutanese territory “disputed,” noted breitbart.com Jul 1.
The Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) is located in the eastern Trashigang district of Bhutan, a kingdom with a population of about 750,000 in the Himalayas adjoining occupied Tibet, Nepal and India. The sanctuary covers about 650 square kilometers and is home to some extremely rare wildlife, including the red panda, as well as a nomadic tribe.
China staked its claim when an international environmentalist organization called the Global Environment Facility (GEF) held a virtual meeting in early June to discuss various grant proposals. China’s representatives to the organization unexpectedly objected to a grant for the SWS, claiming that the sanctuary was located on “disputed” territory.
The unprecedented claim was received with consternation and anger by Bhutan which insisted the SWS was located on the “integral and sovereign territory of Bhutan.”
China has a few other border disputes with Bhutan but has not raised any claim to the SWS before. It raised the suspicion that China was really interested in starting another border battle with India.
The Hindustan Times reported Jul 1 that the majority of the GEF’s governing council sided with Bhutan and “instantly rubbished” China’s shocking claim to the SWS.
The council was reported to be so unimpressed with China’s claim that it would not even allow the details of the Chinese objection to be recorded in minutes of meeting, only a footnote that said China “abstained” from voting on the SWS grant.
Bhutan wanted the GEF to go even further and purge all references to China’s “baseless claim” from its documents.
Business Insider India has warned Jul 1 that China will probably keep discovering new “disputed areas” along its borders for the next ten years, after spending the previous twenty building up the economic and military power needed to intimidate even large rivals such as India.