China’s encroachment tactics near Bhutan raise alarm in neighboring countries

China’s aggressive stance on its territorial disputes has warned many neighbors against its cheap tactics to derail years of negotiations to gain leverage over countries, through economic, political or even territorial encroachments. In line with China’s disputes with other countries, Bhutan is another neighbor, where China has tried to expand its territorial claims to gain strategic advantages.

Over the years, China has gradually and stealthily invaded its smaller neighbor Bhutan. He attempted to pressure Bhutan to cede some of its most crucial territories on both its eastern and western borders. China claims over 764 km of the territory of Bhutan, which includes Doklam, Sinchulung, Dramana and Shakhatoe in the northwestern region and the valleys of Pasamlung and Jakarlung in the central part of Bhutan.

Bhutan, a small landlocked Himalayan country, shares a massive 470 km border with China and is one of the only bordering countries with which China does not share diplomatic relations. Until 2021, the two countries had signed two treaties to try to resolve their border disputes in 1988 and 1998, but without much effect. Discussions on border resolutions have been ongoing between the two countries since 1984, with around 24 rounds of talks and at least 10 expert group meetings held since then, the Singapore Post reported.

However, those talks had seemed to bear little fruit for 37 years until a new roadmap agreement was forged in October 2021. The “Roadmap for Bhutan-China Border Negotiations” was a memorandum of understanding signed in October last year between the two nations. after a five-year pause in border negotiations due to the Doklam crisis and the Covid pandemic.

The Chinese side, in a bid to resolve its border dispute specifically with Bhutan, signed this 3-step roadmap which sets out the process of accelerating the demarcation of territory negotiation talks. The border dispute between Bhutan and the Chinese largely centers on two distinct areas.

This dispute has historically also included the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction area of ​​Doklam which measured up to 270 km2; the same area that saw a 70-day standoff between the two nuclear nations in 2017. However, the three-step roadmap between China and Bhutan does not include the tri-junction area, such as an agreement in 2012 between India and China said that any three-junction dispute would only be resolved with the participation of the three countries.

The other border dispute that Bhutan and China seem to face concerns the Pasamlung and Jakarlung in northern Bhutan, approaching Tibet. In 1997, the Chinese reportedly offered a ‘package deal’ to Bhutan in which they were willing to exchange the disputed northern and central parts of Bhutan, which included the Pasamlung and Jakarlung valleys, in exchange for its western part, including including Doklam. This proposal was now rejected as Bhutan was unwilling to give up the lands that secured its strategic interests. China, on the other hand, was clearly targeting western areas that would bring it strategic advantages with the narrow Chumbi Valley and also give it a vantage point over the Siliguri Corridor through Doklam.

China has in any case paid little heed to Bhutan’s fear of transgression by building infrastructure on Bhutanese land; it had also invariably caused Doklam’s stalemate and testified to Chinese tactics. In 2020, China, in an attempt to pressure Bhutan into ceding some of its most crucial territories on both its eastern and western borders, expanded its territorial claims by claiming the wildlife sanctuary of Sakteng (740 km2) in the Trashigang region in eastern Bhutan.

China’s territorial claim to the Sakteng Shrine, which is linked and shares a border with Arunachal Pradesh in India, is part of this same game plan where the Chinese believe negotiations can be carried out by exerting external pressure. through insane territorial claims drifting from the historical context. In any case, these territorial demarcations that China is so desperate to disrupt through its three-step roadmap are as outlandish as its extensive claims to Bhutanese territory; in an attempt to derail negotiations with the Indian side as well as add leverage to their own positions, the Chinese have instead unraveled the roadmap of their own method of dealing with such crucial situations.

An overreach on territorial claims is part of this same strategy that China will deploy in most, if not all, of its disputes; the South China Sea dispute is also an example of such tactics, the Singapore Post reported. China’s disagreements with many of its neighboring countries have subsequently cast a shadow of foreboding over the Chinese administration and its foreign policy goals.

It has also invariably created a series of political, diplomatic and military conflicts with nations that seem to be locked in horns with the Chinese. The number of territorial disputes over China currently stands at a staggering 17 disputes with its border-sharing nations; of which at least 7 appear to be territorial disputes related to land use.

The Chinese Communist Party has continued its assertive policy towards neighboring countries not only to strengthen its position along the borders, but also to gradually cut off the other nation’s land piece by piece. Given the understanding of China’s negotiation tactics, it is important that China’s strategy be deciphered for what it really means, the Singapore Post reported. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)