Bhutan has once again expressed optimism about quickly finding a resolution with China over the latter’s occupied-Tibet boundary line. This may have caused India to become concerned about the ramifications for the status of the strategically important Doklam tri-junction location.
Long-standing rumors allege that China is attempting to get a concession from Bhutan at Doklam in return for renouncing its claims in other disputed border regions. Doklam is located at the intersection of three countries: Bhutan, China, and Tibet.
Bhutan’s willingness to make a concession in this area will have serious strategic ramifications for India. In 2017, a 73-day standoff occurred between the Indian and Chinese troops over the latter’s building of a road in the Doklam region, which the Bhutanese claimed. If Bhutan grants its Doklam request, China is seen to be more inclined to agree to a resolution.
And now, according to wionews.com, Bhutan is close to settling its boundary dispute with China. Tandi Dorji, the nation’s foreign minister, was quoted as stating in an interview on May 12.
The same statement was mentioned earlier by Bhutan’s Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering to the Belgian daily La Libra on Mar 25 when he was visiting Brussels. He had said that Bhutan aimed to finish the marking of the border between its territory and China in “one or two meetings”.
During an interview with WION outside of the 6th Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dorji made the comments.
According to the article, Dorji confirmed that the border was peaceful and quiet while refuting claims that China was invading Bhutan. He has also hoped that the boundary would be marked as quickly as possible to prevent any potential future disputes.
China and Bhutan have a warm and close connection. Our northern boundary has not yet been defined. We have had 24 rounds of negotiations, and we still meet as an expert group. We are hopeful that a quick resolution will be reached,” he said.
When questioned about the border dispute at Doklam, Dorji 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 a region of fewer than 100 square kilometers that consists of a plateau and a valley at the intersection of the Chumbi Valley in occupied Tibet to the north, the Ha District in Bhutan to the east, and the Sikkim state of India to the west.
The plateau is also claimed by China, whose attempt to construct a road in Bhutan’s claimed territory in 2017 resulted in an Indian army intervention. Perhaps India would have a problem if Bhutan were to claim that the Chinese had always been on their side of the occupied area of Tibet.