Bhutanese Prime Minister Tsering recently said that Bhutan has recognized that the border issue with China needs to be resolved through consultation between the two sides, rather than unilateral confrontation and physical clashes like India. He said he hoped to reach consensus on the demarcation of the border with China within one or two rounds of talks.
German Chancellor Scholz accompanied Bhutanese Prime Minister Lota Tsering to review the honor guard
No relations between China and China: no establishment of diplomatic relations, no demarcation of borders, no confrontation
As the only country among China's 14 land neighbors that does not have diplomatic relations with China, Bhutan plays an amazing role in Sino-Indian relations.
Despite having about 1,200 square kilometers of disputed territory with China, the issue has not been resolved after 32 years, 24 rounds of talks and friendly consultations.
Map of Bhutan
Bhutan has continuously supported China at the UN Human Rights Conference and the World Health Assembly, and has adhered to the "one-China" position on Tibet-related issues, showing a posture of non-confrontation. These peculiarities make Bhutan a special landscape in China's diplomacy.
Bhutan is sending positive signals for four reasons behind its efforts to resolve the border issue with China.
First, Bhutan respects historical issues and is willing to engage in dialogue with China.
Second, Bhutan recognizes that India's hegemonism and great power power in South Asia are detrimental to its development.
Third, Bhutan's relationship with Tibet is closer than with India, and there are close ties in many aspects such as culture, religion and historical feelings.
Fourth, China's Belt and Road projects in South Asia are conducive to Bhutan's development.
Bhutan therefore recognizes that it can only benefit from maintaining close political, economic and cultural ties with China.
The Indian factor behind it
History, humanities, geopolitics and major power relations are intertwined, and Bhutan has always been in a state of "three noes" and its relationship with India is inseparable.
In 1910, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Punakha, and Bhutanese diplomacy was "guided" by Britain. After independence, India inherited the British mantle and signed the Treaty of Permanent Peace and Friendship with Bhutan in 1949, stipulating that Bhutan's diplomacy be "guided" by India. Under India's guidance, Bhutan has only established diplomatic relations with 53 countries and has not established diplomatic relations with the P5. In 2007, India and Bhutan revived the Treaty of Amity, abolishing the "overlord clause" but stipulating that Bhutan's actions could not harm India's strategic interests.
Half of Bhutan's fiscal revenue comes from exporting hydropower to India, and its military spending and equipment come from Indian aid, and Bhutan is landlocked, making India its largest trading partner, donor and creditor. Therefore, the relationship between Bhutan and India must be concerned about the "face" of the Indian side.
Sino-Indian Langdong confrontation
The Doklam region is located in Yadong County, Tibet Autonomous Region of China, bordering the Indian state of Sikkim to the west and the Kingdom of Bhutan to the south. The central and eastern parts of the Doklam region are valleys and forests, and the terrain is complex and impassable by car. In order to solve this problem, the Chinese side decided to build a road along the traditional foot patrol route, extending south along the eastern side of the watershed ridge of the Dokara Pass.
On June 18, 2017, Indian border guards crossed the Sikkim section of the Sino-Indian border into Chinese territory, carrying weapons and bulldozers into the Doklam area to prevent the Chinese army from building roads, leading to an armed confrontation between China and India, thereby obstructing the normal activities of Chinese border guards in the Doklam area. Instead of claiming the Doklam area as its own territory, India justifies its border crossing in support of Bhutan's claim to sovereignty. After two months of confrontation and negotiations, the two sides finally agreed to end the confrontation on August 28. At 14:30 on August 28, 2017, India withdrew personnel and equipment across the border, and Chinese on-site personnel confirmed it. Chinese border guards continue to patrol and station in the Doklam area.
India's obstruction of China's construction of the road in Doklam is based on the 2012 Memorandum on the Settlement of the Trilateral Border, which calls for a negotiated settlement of the trilateral border issue. The Chinese side believes that the Indian side abuses the definition of concepts in the document and insists on the right to carry out necessary infrastructure construction in the Doklam area. The embarrassing thing about the crisis is that Bhutan has also expressed dissatisfaction with the construction of roads, which in turn has given India a kind of pretext for intervention.
The Indian media generally believe that the China-Bhutan border treaty will clearly stipulate the sovereignty of Doklam and other areas, and the pro-China remarks of the Bhutanese prime minister have brought great shock to India, which marks a major shift in Bhutan's position. At the same time, if China signs a border treaty with Bhutan, India will become the only Chinese neighbor that does not have a border treaty with China.