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Bhutan-China Border Dispute Progress Outlined

Published Jul 14, 2020
Updated Jul 14, 2020

Bhutan’s Foreign minister, Damcho Dorji outlined the progress in resolution of Bhutan China border dispute in the National Council. Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said that it is important to demarcate the border as soon as possible but the outcome is more important.

“A desired outcome would be one that benefits the country and the people. At the same time it is also important to strengthen Bhutan-China relations,” he said. He was responding to the National Council’s Deputy Chairperson Tshering Dorji.

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The border talks started in 1984 and so far 24 rounds of talks have been held. To understand the dispute, a Joint Technical Field Survey was also conducted and the team had visited the field thrice. The report of the team was endorsed during the 22nd round of border talks.

The country’s basis for claims, Lyonpo said is on the age-old practise of land usage and administrative authority. “For a small country like Bhutan, even an inch of land is precious,” Lyonpo said. Two areas, one in the central northern sector and four in the western sector have been the subject of talks as there are differences in claims in these areas.

The disputed area in Pasamlung in the central north comprises of 496 sq km. The disputed areas in the western section are Dramana, Charithang, Sinchulung, and Doklam, in the dzongkhags of Haa and Paro. The Deputy Chair again expressed his concerns on loss of grazing land for people living in the border areas dependent on highland animals. Lyonpo responded that whenever inconveniences are caused to the people because of the border dispute, the Bhutanese embassy in New Delhi apprises the Chinese ambassador to India.

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The Bhutan-China border talks are based on the guiding principles agreed to in 1998 by the two countries and the agreement on the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the Bhutan-China areas.