Border standoff: Why Bhutan will not ditch India



  • Bhutan has as much at risk from the Chinese incursion in Doklam plateau as India.
  • Giving up Doklam will give access to Chinese troops into other parts, even the capital.

BEIJING: Bhutan is unlikely to enter into a compromise and accept China’s offer to ditch India in exchange for settling the border problems. The reason goes beyond India-Bhutan relations. It involves Thimphu’s fears that Chinese troops may proceed further to cut off the country’s main thoroughfare connecting the capital.

“Bhutan will never go behind India’s back. It has as much at risk from the Chinese incursion in Doklam plateau as India,” a Bhutanese analyst said while requesting anonymity.

“If Chinese troops claim the disputed area, including Doklam, they will be in control of the high mountain ridges. This will put our Haa, Paro and Thimphu valleys within China’s artillery range,” he said. Forward movement of Chinese troops will make them capable of cutting off the 165 km road from Thimphu, the capital, to Phuentsholing, the city which is the gateway for import of food and other materials from India, he said.

China is claiming 495 square kilometres in eastern Bhutan and 286 sq km in the western sector, which includes the Doklam Plateau. At one stage, China offered to give up its claims in eastern Bhutan if Thimphu handed over the Doklam plateau, which will give Chinese troops a commanding position over India.

Bhutan did not agree and is unlikely to accept the offer because giving up Doklam will give access to Chinese troops into other parts of the country, and put even the capital, Thimphu, at risk.

“The attempt by the Chinese is to take as many roads as it can from there to the Indian and Bhutanese borders in the vicinity,” Thimphu-based weekly, The Bhutanese, wrote in a commentary.

“For Bhutan, loss of any territory or incursions into its areas is not welcome as discussed in several past National Assembly sessions, with both pre-democracy Chimis (people’s representatives) and the post-democracy MPs from the area bringing up the issue of encroachments from the Chinese side,” it said.

China is trying to make a big push into the Himalayan kingdom because it is undergoing major changes both at the economic and socio-political levels. India is financing four major hydroelectricity projects, which is expected to bring considerable wealth to the country. India is both the financier and sole buyer of the electricity that will be generated.

Source: Times Of India



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