It’s an intractable problem that the wily Red Dragon has thought up to create some more distraction in the subcontinent to push its own “String Of Pearls” doctrine
Bhutan, a close ally of India and currently reeling under the threat of Chinese expansionism, may view with concern the Dragon’s latest move to unfriend new countries in central Asia.
But a little peek into the situation will reveal the real intentions of China.
In a continued move towards redefining the international border, China has fired the latest salvo by claiming that the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan should be ceded to it.
China says it is the only genuine and legitimate owner of this region.
The claim which was made through the Chinese official media by Beijing in the end of July has obviously irked the government in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.
According to diplomatic experts, China, as a part of its strategy to justify and defend its claim over the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan, has referred to the Pamir region and nothing more than that.
In the case of Bhutan, China has not only categorically stated that the boundary between the two countries is yet to be demarcated, but went on to propose a “package solution” to resolve the border dispute
And the ruse is clear when Beijing has used the official media to merely make its stand known without going further into it.
In sharp contrast to this, in the case of Bhutan, not only has it categorically stated that the boundary between the two countries is yet to be demarcated, Beijing went on to propose a “package solution” to resolve the border dispute.
In a surprise move, China recently staked claim over the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan at the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council and opposed funding to the project.
When asked about China’s claim over the sanctuary in Bhutan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing in Beijing that the boundary between the two countries is yet to be demarcated.
“China’s position remains consistent and clear. The boundary between China and Bhutan has not been delimited and there are disputes in the middle, eastern and western sections,” he said.
“So, China advocates a package solution to resolve the dispute,” he said.
In order to justify this stand, Beijing staked its claim over the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary at the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council and opposed funding to the project.
The GEF Council has reportedly cleared the funding for the Sakteng sanctuary after Aparna Subramani, the World Bank official representing Bhutan, as well as India, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka, asserted that Bhutan thoroughly rejected the claim made by China.
According to reports, Bhutan’s embassy in New Delhi issued a demarche to the Chinese Embassy over Beijing’s claim over the sanctuary.
Incidentally, China and Bhutan do not have diplomatic relations but maintain contacts through periodic visits by officials. The two countries have so far held 24 rounds of boundary talks in a bid to resolve the boundary dispute.
But never had in the past Beijing made any territorial claims to include the Satkeng sanctuary in the eastern sector of Bhutan.
It only reminds one of China raising fresh claim line with India that the entire Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control(LAC) actually belongs to the Dragon.
Importantly, the Chinese offer (package solution) to Bhutan almost coincided with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’soutburst that Beijing cannot threaten countries and bully them in the Himalaya.
“You can’t go make claims for maritime regions that you have no lawful claim to; you can’t threaten countries and bully them in the Himalayas.
You can’t engage in cover-ups and co-opt international institutions like the World Health Organization,” Pompeo observed at a news conference in London.
“It is as if occupying almost the entire Doklam plateau is not enough; the Dragon’s land aggrandizement has become almost an ever increasing phenomenon,” observed Pawan Verma, former Indian envoy to Bhutan.
China is also hotly engaged in contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have made counter claims over the area.
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The author has served no less than Al Jazeera and German TV, and India’s Parliamentarian magazine among others! To his credit goes a deep-rooted empathy for social issues and humans. He has wide experience in covering the northeast of India. His coverage on the 2020 Amphan cyclone in eastern India has easily been the best around the world