India takes note of Bhutan and China pact on border talks

By: |
October 15, 2021 4:24 PM

The signing of the roadmap comes at a time when the armies of India and China are locked in an 18 month standoff along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.

china bhutanChina's Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao and Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Lyonpo Tandi Dorji had inked the MoU. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Royal Govt of Bhutan)

India takes note of the agreement on boundary which Bhutan and China signed on Thursday which is expected to expedite negotiations related to their boundary dispute. The three step roadmap between Bhutan and China comes four years after the armies of India and China were locked in a 73 day standoff at the Doklam tri-junction. At that time the Chinese side was trying to extend a road in an area Bhutan had claimed as its own.

During the weekly briefing MEA official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in response to a media query, “Bhutan and China have been having boundary negotiations since 1984. We have noted the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Bhutan and China today. India too has been holding similar boundary negotiations.”

The signing of the roadmap comes at a time when the armies of India and China are locked in an 18 month standoff along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.

What is the Three Step Agreement between Bhutan & China?

A statement of the Bhutanese Foreign Ministry according to reports states, “The three step road map is expected to provide fresh momentum to the Bhutan – China Boundary negotiations.

China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao and Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Lyonpo Tandi Dorji had inked the MoU.

According to the Bhutanese foreign ministry, once the three step roadmap is implemented in the spirit of understanding, goodwill and accommodation, the boundary talks will conclude in a way which is acceptable to both countries.

More about the standoff in 2017

In 2017 there was a 73 day standoff between the militaries of India and China in the Doklam plateau. This had triggered fears of war between two nuclear armed nations. Bhutan had stated very clearly that the area belonged to it and India and supported this claim.

Why did India object to Chinese construction in Doklam?

New Delhi had strongly expressed its opposition to the Chinese attempts to build a road at the Doklam Tri-junction as it feared that it could have affected its security interests. In 2017, the two countries –India and China had several rounds of discussions, following which the issue in Doklam was resolved.

Bhutan and China

In an effort to resolve their boundary dispute the two countries had 24 rounds of talks. Both share around 400 km long border.

The two countries had 24 rounds of boundary talks

At the Expert Group Level, the two countries had 10 rounds of negotiations.

The negotiations have been guided by the 1988 Joint Communiqué on the Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the Boundary. And the 1998 agreement on tranquility, maintaining peace and status quo within the Bhutan-China Border areas.

The official statement of the country has also stated that the two had agreed on a three-step roadmap earlier this year in April during the 10th Expert Group Meeting in Kunming. The focus was on expediting the boundary negotiations based on the 1988 Guiding Principles.

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