China on Monday said it was monitoring Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vist to Bhutan to strengthen bilateral ties as Beijing continues its efforts to forge relations with Thimphu, the only country in the region with which it has no diplomatic ties as yet.
A long-standing border dispute between China and Bhutan has seen nearly two dozen rounds of talks without any resolution in sight. Beijing remained expectedly diplomatic about India’s new PM Modi making his first foreign visit to Bhutan.
But the authoritarian Communist country’s wariness could be sensed in the foreign ministry’s seemingly placid comment about Modi’s Thimphu visit.
“With regard to China’s relations with Bhutan, we have not established diplomatic relations but our two countries maintain friendly exchanges and visits,” Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokesperson, told a regular press briefing on Monday.
“ We respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bhutan and we are willing to further develop good neighbourly relations with Bhutan based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence,” Hua added.
When asked whether China saw India developing ties with Bhutan as a move to contain China, Hua Chunying said: “We are paying attention to the Indian Prime Minister’s visit. We are glad to see our neighbours develop friendly ties with each other,” state-run Xinhua said in a report.
The report, quoting Hua, said: “Stressing that China attached great importance to its relationship with India, recent years have witnessed the healthy and stable development of the strategic partnership of cooperation between the two. China has full expectation and confidence in promoting ties with India”.
Hua, talking about Sino-Indian bilateral relations, said both countries will continue to maintain momentum of high-level visits and press ahead with the development of China India strategic cooperative partnership. “Generally speaking we are full of confidence in the further development of China India relations in the future,” Hua said.