Defence

'Three Countries Will Solve Doklam Dispute': Why Hullabaloo Over Bhutan PM's Comment Is Unnecessary

Swarajya Staff

Mar 28, 2023, 06:19 PM | Updated Mar 29, 2023, 04:50 PM IST

Indian soldiers and Chinese soldiers stand on either side of barbed wire on the border fence at Nathu La. (Sumeet Inder Singh/The India Today Group/Getty Images) 
Indian soldiers and Chinese soldiers stand on either side of barbed wire on the border fence at Nathu La. (Sumeet Inder Singh/The India Today Group/Getty Images) 

Lotay Tshering, the Prime Minister of Bhutan, who is currently on a state visit to Germany, has said that three countries - Bhutan, China and India - have an equal say in finding a solution to the problem in Doklam.

In 2017, Indian and Chinese forces were locked in a two-month-long stand-off in the Doklam region of Bhutan. The stand-off was a result of an attempt by the People's Liberation Army to construct a road through Doklam to the Jampheri ridge, which overlooks the strategically important Siliguri corridor, also called the Chicken's neck.

To stop China's illegal construction, Indian forces entered what New Delhi said was Bhutanese territory at the request of Thimphu and prevented the PLA from going ahead with its plans, leading to a tense military stand-off.

New Delhi refused to budge from its stand till the Chinese stopped the construction of the road and stepped back from the flashpoint despite increasingly desperate threats from Beijing.

The Chinese argued that the tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan lies further south of where New Delhi claimed it to be and asserted that the Doklam region was part of its territory. India has said that the trijunction is located near Batang La, China claims it lies near a peak called Mount Gipmochi, around 7 kilometers south of Batang La.

Six years later, Bhutan's Prime Minister's comments, made during an interview in Germany, have created a hullabaloo in India.

''It is not up to Bhutan alone to solve the problem,'' the Bhutanese Prime Minister told Belgian Daily La Libre during an interview.

''There are three of us. There is no big or small country, there are three equal countries, each counting for a third," he added.

While this has led to outrage in India, experts have pointed out that the reaction is unnecessary given that the three countries in question - India, China, and Bhutan - have signed an agreement in the past on the question of finalizing boundary trijunctions.

The two countries reached an agreement in 2012 "that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China, and third countries will be finalized in consultation with the concerned countries."

In the case of Doklam, which India recognizes as Bhutanese territory, a resolution of the "dispute" would involve New Delhi, Beijing, and Thimphu.

It is for this reason, the experts point out, that the comments made by the Bhutanese Prime Minister will not cause concern in New Delhi.


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