In Bhutan, China and India Collide – Mohan Balaji

Asia Times looks at how tensions between India and China are playing out in the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan:

There is a fear of China in Bhutan. There are unresolved border disputes going back centuries and the issue was only addressed in Beijing in 1984. Bhutan has traditional trade relations with Tibet, but Bhutan closed its northern borders with China after an influx of Tibetan refugees in 1960. With that the age-old cross-border trade came to a halt and there have been no official trade or business relations with China ever since.

In 1998, Bhutan and China signed an Agreement to Maintain Peace and Tranquillity on the Bhutan-China border, marking the first and only Sino-Bhutanese peace agreement to this day.

In recent months, Bhutan’s relations with it powerful neighbors have had a twist. Chinese forces are alleged to have intruded several times into Bhutanese territory at the tri-junction with India. Over the past six months, the Chinese have increasingly made inroads in the strategically important area. The incursions into Bhutan are precariously close to India’s “chicken’s neck” – the vulnerable Siliguri Corridor which links the northeast passage. [Full text]

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