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China insists on package solution for dispute with Bhutan.


Date: 22-07-2020
Subject: China insists on package solution for dispute with Bhutan
NEW DELHI: Seeking to justify its claim over the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in eastern Bhutan, China Tuesday said it "advocates a package solution" to resolve its border dispute with Bhutan. 

The renewed talk about a package solution has left many wondering if China is offering a new deal to Bhutan, after taking a maximalist position with its new claim in eastern Bhutan, and also using it to apply pressure on India. 

China's claim in eastern Bhutan though is new as it has never in the past claimed sovereignty over Sakteng area, despite having 24 rounds of talks on the disputed boundary since 1984, which is located close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh. 

As strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney says, this is perhaps for the first time since World War II that one state has laid claim to another nation’s territory that can be accessed only through a third nation. 

According to Chellaney, the remarks by the spokesperson suggest Beijing is willing to make a new package offer to Bhutan as it has already occupied almost the whole of Doklam plateau in Bhutan. 

"China has occupied the Bhutan-claimed Doklam plateau, other than the 2017 standoff site located in one corner. And now with its territorial claim to a sizable chunk of tiny Bhutan’s eastern territory, China may be seeking to replace its old package offer with a new one," he says. 

Under the old package offer by China, it was believed that Bhutan would give up its claim on Doklam in exchange for Beijing ceding territory in the central section. This though has been resisted by Bhutan apparently at India's behest. 

China for the first time recently claimed Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary at the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council. Later, Bhutan's embassy here issued a demarche to the Chinese mission saying that Sakteng was an integral part of Bhutan. 

“The boundary between China and Bhutan has not been demarcated. There are disputes in the central, eastern and western sections of the boundary,” the Chinese spokesperson further said in the briefing. 

Bhutan remains India's only neighbour which hasn't joined China's BRI project. The 2 countries have in the recent past though seen a few high-level contacts with Beijing keen to establish formal diplomatic relations with Bhutan. Bhutan though, again under India's influence, is said to be resisting efforts by China to open an embassy in Thimphu.

Source:- Timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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