Bhutan tells China to maintain status quo in disputed territory | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Bhutan tells China to maintain status quo in disputed territory

The Donglang area, located at the point where the borders of Bhutan, India and China meet, is under Chinese control but is claimed by Thimphu.

world Updated: Jun 30, 2017 07:15 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations and maintain contacts through their missions in New Delhi.
Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations and maintain contacts through their missions in New Delhi. (Reuters File)

Bhutan on Thursday asked China to maintain status quo in the Donglang sector of their border, saying the construction of a road by Chinese troops is a “direct violation” of past agreements to maintain peace in the area.

The foreign ministry in Thimphu issued a statement on the standoff near Nathu La hours after China’s defence ministry contended that the road was being built within Chinese territory.

The statement said Bhutan had conveyed to China, “both on the ground and through the diplomatic channel, that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation” of the written agreements of 1988 and 1998.

The development will also affect the “process of demarcating the boundary” between the two countries, it said. Bhutan hoped that status quo in Donglang or Doklam area “will be maintained”, the statement added.

The Donglang or Doklam area, located at the point where the borders of Bhutan, India and China meet, is under Chinese control but is claimed by Thimphu.

On Wednesday, Bhutan protested to China over the construction of the road that has heightened tensions between Beijing and New Delhi. Bhutan’s ambassador to India, Vetsop Namgyel, said his government had issued a demarche to China through its diplomatic mission in New Delhi.

Bhutan and China do not have diplomatic relations and maintain contacts through their missions in New Delhi.

Map showing the border region where China, Bhutan and India converge. (AFP)

The statement from Bhutan’s foreign ministry said Chinese troops began building a “motorable road from Dokola in the Doklam area towards the Bhutan Army camp at Zompelri” on June 16.

“Boundary talks are ongoing between Bhutan and China and we have written agreements of 1988 and 1998 stating that the two sides agree to maintain peace and tranquillity in their border areas pending a final settlement on the boundary question, and to maintain status quo on the boundary as before March 1959,” the statement said.

The agreements state the two sides will “refrain from taking unilateral action, or use of force, to change the status quo”.

Amidst the standoff, China’s defence ministry on Thursday accused Indian troops of an incursion in Donglang area. It also rejected Bhutan’s allegation that PLA soldiers violated its territory.

The defence ministry also upped the ante while responding to Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat’s remarks that his force was prepared to take on threats from China, Pakistan and domestic insurgent groups.

“Such rhetoric is extremely irresponsible. We hope (the) particular person in the Indian Army could learn from historical lessons and stop such clamouring for war,” the defence ministry spokesman said in an obvious reference to the 1962 border war between the two countries.

China’s foreign ministry said the withdrawal of Indian troops was a “precondition for the settlement of the incident”.