Border standoff: Chinese state media takes aim at Bhutan, says they are not a happy lot

young monks in bhutan

NEW DELHI: Chinese state media has now taken aim at Bhutan, saying that even though the Himalayan kingdom ranks high in the ‘Happiness Index’, its people are not a happy lot.

Amid the continuing India-China border stand-off, which also involves Bhutan, Chinese state media has thus far refrained from slamming the small Himalayan country, painting it as a nation under India’s thumb and therefore forced to acquiesce to New Delhi’s diktats.

Not anymore. It’s gloves are off. It’s gloves are off.

“Bhutan is no Shangri-La,” says an article in the hardline Global Times, written by a senior editor with People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper. People’s Daily runs the Global Times.

The article not only says Bhutan’s “lofty happiness index” is a facade, it also blames India’s “effective control” over the country for its alleged unhappiness.

Former Bhutan King Jigme Singye Wangchuck devised the ‘Gross National Happiness’ (GNH) concept in the 1970s.king Jigme Singye Wangchuck devised the ‘Gross National Happiness’ (GNH) concept in the 1970s.

“He realized and declared that the existing development paradigm – GNP (or GDP) – did not consider the ultimate goal of every human being: happiness,” says the GNH Centre Bhutan.

Global Times believes Bhutan isn’t a happy country because it “expelled the ethnic Nepalese” who are now refugees in Nepal. And these refugees are not happy.

“In total, the refugees account for nearly one-seventh of the Bhutanese population. They are probably the unhappiest people if measured by the happiness index,” says the article.

That there are as many as “100,000 deported people” from Bhutan is also India’s fault, says the Global Times article.

“The Indian military deposed the king of Sikkim in 1975 through a so-called coup and then led a referendum. At that time, Hindu Nepalese immigrants had become the majority of the population, and it was easy to imagine the result of the vote. Afraid of repeating Sikkim’s fate, Bhutan has expelled the ethnic Nepalese within its borders,” it says.

That India even “allows” a Buddhist territory like Bhutan to exist is down to the fact that it can’t “swallow it up”, says the article.

“Why does India allow a Buddhist territory to exist next door to it? This is mainly because Bhutan is a UN member and has diplomatic relations with many countries, making it difficult for India to swallow it up like India did to Sikkim,” it says.

“India has long used Bhutan as a frontline countering China and a cushion between the two Asian powers, especially after the Sino-Indian Border Conflict in 1962,” the article explains

Today, Bhutan is even less tranquil than it might once have been, again because of India, says Global Times.

“Given China’s rise and consequent growing influence upon South Asia, and with the development and opening up of Tibet, India is beset with more worries and misgivings, which is making it hard for Bhutan to maintain its peace and tranquillity,” says the article.

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