China reiterates it has border dispute with Bhutan in the eastern sector
China on Tuesday reiterated its stand that it has a border dispute with Bhutan in the eastern sector, adding that Beijing and Thimphu were in communication on the issue.
Beijing’s claim is significant as the area in question borders Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of south Tibet.
Beijing had made the claim regarding Bhutan in June while stalling a request from Bhutan to develop the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary in the eastern sector’s Trashigang district during a virtual meeting of the US-based Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Bhutan and China have held 24 rounds of talks between 1984 and 2016 to settle their border issue and, according to discussions in the Bhutanese parliament and other public records of these meetings, the discussions have only centred on disputes in the western and central sections of the boundary.
Answering a query on a media report on the GEF meeting and China’s objection to funding the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary, Chinese foreign minister spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said China and Bhutan have border disputes in the middle, western and eastern sectors.
“China’s position has been consistent and clear. The boundary between China and Bhutan is yet to be demarcated, and the middle, eastern and western sections of the border are disputed,” Wang said at the regular ministry briefing on Tuesday.
“China has proposed a package solution to these disputes. China is opposed to making an issue of such disputes at multilateral forums and China remains in communication with the relevant parties regarding this issue,” he added.
“I already made China’s position clear. The China-Bhutan border has not been demarcated. The middle, eastern and western sections of the boundary are disputed between China and Bhutan,” he said.
Earlier in July, in an exclusive statement to the Hindustan Times, the Chinese foreign ministry had put on record its claims in the eastern sector.
The Chinese foreign ministry had then said the China-Bhutan boundary has never been delimited and there “have been disputes over the eastern, central and western sections for a long time”.
The statement in Mandarin added “a third party should not point fingers” in the China-Bhutan border issue – an apparent reference to India.
Without elaborating on the actual areas of dispute, the Chinese foreign ministry’s statement said: “The boundary between China and Bhutan has never been delimited. There have been disputes over the eastern, central and western sectors for a long time, and there are no new disputed areas.”
At the GEF meeting in June, the Chinese representative’s attempts to formally record his country’s objections through an amendment of GEF’s documents did not receive consensus. Bhutan’s views were also made part of the record: “Bhutan totally rejects the claim made by the Council Member of China. Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral and sovereign territory of Bhutan and at no point during the boundary discussions between Bhutan and China has it featured as a disputed area.”
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