Bhutan and China agree on three-step roadmap to expedite boundary talks

Bhutan and China on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding, agreeing on the three-step roadmap for expediting the Bhutan-China boundary negotiations which started in 1984. So far, 24 rounds of negotiations have been conducted without any final agreement

Oct 14, 2021
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Bhutan and China

Bhutan and China on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding, agreeing on the three-step roadmap for expediting the Bhutan-China boundary negotiations which started in 1984. So far, 24 rounds of negotiations have been conducted without any final agreement. 

In a virtual ceremony held today, Bhutanese Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji and China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao signed the MoU on the 3-Step Roadmap for Expediting Bhutan-China Boundary Negotiations. 

Since 1984, when the talks were started, both countries held 24 rounds of talks, including 10 rounds of the expert groups meeting. 

“The negotiations which have been conducted in a spirit of understanding and accommodation have been guided by the 1988 Joint Communique on Guiding Principles for Settlement of the Boundary and 1998 Agreement on Maintenance of Peace, Tranquility & status quo in Bhutan-China Border Areas,” reads the statement released by Bhutan’s Foreign Ministry.

The last round was held in April this year, where the two sides agreed on a three-step roadmap that will build on the 1988 Guiding Principles and help to expedite the ongoing boundary negotiations.

“It is expected the implementation of this roadmap in a spirit of goodwill, understanding & accommodation will bring the boundary negotiations to a successful conclusion that is acceptable to both sides,” the statement reads. 

Bhutan, which shares close diplomatic and security relations with India, doesn’t have diplomatic relations with China. On its boundary talks with China, the Bhutanese government takes New Delhi in confidence as any potential agreement will have ramifications for India’s own security. 

In May this year, a report in Foreign Policy magazine had claimed that China has built an entire village in Gyualaphug which is clearly part of western Bhutan. In 2017 also, Indian and Chinese troops staged a 73-day-dong-standoff in Doklam plateau, which is a tri-junction point of India, China, and Bhutan.   

(SAM)