Bhutan, China to hold fresh round of boundary talks

Bhutan, China to hold fresh round of boundary talks

SAM Staff,

The 25th round of boundary talks between Bhutan and China, of great interest to India and deferred on account of last year’s Doklam standoff, are due to take place later this year, possibly in the second half, two persons familiar with the development said.

The Chinese side at the talks w ill be led by vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou and the Bhutanese delegation by foreign minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, the two said on condition of anonymity.

Recent rounds of the Sino-Bhutanese talks have focused on four points in the western sector between China and Bhutan –including Doklam — and Pasamlung in the central-north sector. The disputed areas in the western section other than Doklam are Charithang, Dramana and Sinchulun.

Doklam, at the India-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction, is of strategic significance to India. Although sparsely inhabited, it is close to the Siliguri corridor, which connects mainland India with its north -eastern states. Doklam is the subject of territorial dispute between China and Bhutan, which have no diplomatic ties.

Bhutan last year objected to Chinese troops constructing a road in Doklam, prompting Indian troops stationed in the Himalayan nation to intervene.

Concerns are rife that China could alter the status quo on Doklam. During the standoff last year, India said China’s move was against an understanding the two sides reached in 2012 that any change in the status quo would need the consent of the third country, which in this case was Bhutan.

The report of a joint technical field survey in the disputed areas is already complete and it was ‘endorsed’ by both China and Bhutan in the last round of talks.

“The survey goes by the claims mostly of land usage, population settlement and administrative control. But due to the geographic reasons, what happens in the talks is of importance to India,” said one of the two people cited in the first instance.