Bhutan may emerge as a fresh reason for disputes between neighbours India and China, the latest geopolitical developments indicate. Media reports have mentioned that Beijing has been infesting settlements of villages across the disputed regions, even though China promised to attempt to settle border disputes with Bhutan. 

Nepal-based online magazine Epardafas reported that China apparently brought up around 200 structures in the region with more constructions underway. 

China and Bhutan signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2021, when Beijing said that it will try to settle the dispute with Bhutan through the “Roadmap for Expediting the Bhutan-China Boundary Negotiation”. The deal included the process of negotiations. 

Earlier this month, a fresh round of talks was held between China and Bhutan. The discussions reportedly aimed at resolving the decades-old border dispute. 

Both sides called the agreement a “positive consensus” to push forward the implementation of the agreement for expediting negotiations to settle their border disputes. They reportedly also agreed to “increase the frequency” of their talks. 

But China, which claims a significant amount of territory on Bhutan’s land as its own, has still been reportedly infesting villages across Bhutan. Beijing claims a part of Bhutanese territory, including Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, with which it does not even share a contiguous border. 

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Meanwhile, a report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) noted that the recent talks between China and Bhutan might become a headache for India. 

SCMP report mentioned that after the conflict-solving talks, India’s foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra visited the Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge. Kwatra also held meetings with the Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Prime Minister Lotay Tshering. The move could mean that India has “concerns” about the talks and is also panicking.  

As quoted by SCMP, Amit Ranjan, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Institute of South Asian Studies, said: “That New Delhi had concerns (about the talks) was clear from the fact that it dispatched its foreign secretary to Bhutan days after the boundary talks.” 

Ranjan further said, “While the press release may not mention it, I am certain that New Delhi would have communicated its concerns on the border talks to Thimphu.”  

(With inputs from agencies)


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