China-Bhutan amity: India needs to be wary of the developments - The Tribune India

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China-Bhutan amity

India needs to be wary of the developments

China-Bhutan amity

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock file photo

TAKING a major step towards resolving their boundary dispute, China and Bhutan have signed an agreement outlining the responsibilities and functions of the joint technical team on the delimitation and demarcation of the boundary between the two countries. Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji and China’s Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong held the 25th round of boundary talks in Beijing earlier this week. The two sides have also made good progress towards the establishment of formal diplomatic relations.

India has every reason to be wary of the China-Bhutan bonhomie. According to a recent Pentagon report, China built underground storage facilities near Doklam and raised villages in disputed areas in Bhutan last year. The Doklam tri-junction had witnessed a tense standoff in 2017 after the Chinese military started building a road close to the Siliguri Corridor (‘Chicken Neck’), which connects the North-East to the rest of India. Citing security concerns, India had raised a strong objection, forcing China to drop its plan. In recent years, Beijing has been actively trying to win over Thimphu, coming up with a three-step roadmap to settle the boundary row. Though China claims that it ‘respects Bhutan’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity’, its military posturing in the neighbourhood leaves no room for doubt about its expansionist designs.

China’s zealousness to mend fences with Bhutan is in stark contrast to its policy of keeping Indian troops on their toes along the Line of Actual Control. Amid the prolonged standoff in eastern Ladakh, China has been unreasonably insisting on delinking the vexed boundary issue from bilateral ties with India. Beijing wants to let the border dispute fester in a bid to assert its military superiority and relentlessly remind India of the 1962 humiliation. India should proactively reach out to Bhutan and alert it to the pitfalls of rolling out the red carpet for China.


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