China’s coziness with Bhutan rings security alarm for India

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by Yusuf, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Messages:
    24,274
    Likes Received:
    11,283
    Location:
    BANGalore
    NEW DELHI: India confronts a new strategic situation in its neighborhood as its staunchest ally Bhutan prepares to establish full diplomatic ties with China. Until now, Bhutan had been the only South Asian country where China did not have a presence. That is about to change.

    After a surprise meeting between Bhutanese PM, Jigme Y Thinley and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, the two countries reportedly discussed ways to resolve their border dispute. While Bhutan and China have had a long dialogue on the border dispute, India would be interested in the contours of any resolution as it would have huge implications for its strategic calculations in the region.

    Chinese media quoted Wen as saying, "China is willing... to establish formal relations with Bhutan, resolve the border issue between the two nations at an early date, strengthen exchanges in all areas and advance Sino-Bhutanese relations to a new stage." Wen told Thinley that China respects Bhutan's choice for its developmental path according to its own national conditions. Thinley reiterated Bhutan's stand on a One-China policy.

    However, there was no corresponding confirmation from Bhutan. Sources said Thimphu had clarified to New Delhi that they had not given any commitment to Beijing yet. But the Rio meeting was not accidental since a special Chinese envoy had been sent to Thimphu recently for talks with the Bhutanese government. But as Indian officials said, it's not as if Bhutan and China have no ties - the Chinese ambassador, for instance, was invited for both the coronation of the young king as well as the royal wedding last year.

    India has huge economic and security stakes in Bhutan, and is its closest neighbour. But India's strategic policymakers have anticipated Bhutan's shift in stance. Long used to being its window to the world, New Delhi now has to get accustomed to the fact that a new Bhutan is on the rise and will make choices apart from India. After the king devolved power to a democratic system, the elected government has taken several steps to diversify from Bhutan's almost complete dependence on India. India will have to take a more mature approach to Bhutan wanting to spread its wings, if it doesn't want to antagonize its closest neighbour.

    Bhutan is vital to India's security calculus not only vis-a-vis China, but also in tackling some of the north-east insurgent groups like its crackdown on the ULFA groups in 2004. Bhutan's position in the Chumbi Valley, the tri-junction with India and China, makes its border resolution decisions key from a security point of view for India.

    Sources said that some time ago the Chinese had offered some of the northern grazing grounds to the then king to settle a border dispute - China and Bhutan share a 500-km border. But Bhutan was unwilling to give the Chinese what they wanted - some of the key ridges in the tri-junction area. India controls all the ridges in that area giving it an edge, but possible Bhutanese concessions to China could affect that situation.

    Japan has announced it will open its diplomatic mission in Bhutan by 2014, a commitment given to the young royal couple, when they visited Japan in November. Bhutan's sovereign investment institution is wooing FDI in data centre related businesses, renewable energy, organic farming as well as alternative building materials to reduce dependence on timber for construction. Bhutan is also pitching itself as the least corrupt country in South Asia, which is a big draw for foreign investors. China is also an attractive source of investment for the Himalayan nation, and most Indian officials are unhappily aware that Beijing can secure a quick advantage over India with its obvious strengths.

    http://m.timesofindia.com/PDATOI/articleshow/14361713.cms
     
    ejazr likes this.
  2.  
  3. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,687
    Likes Received:
    2,357
    There is No need to be alarmed. Bhutan as it is has a few choices.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    Not a great sign.

    But it is the sign of the times!

    The Bhutan Royals have a Tibetan connection. It is not quite placid either!
     
  5. satish007

    satish007 Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    202
    Location:
    China
    tibetan leader is in india
     
  6. rock127

    rock127 Maulana Rockullah Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Messages:
    8,941
    Likes Received:
    10,298
    Location:
    India
    So China is looking at Bhutan... Bhutan is a free country to decide what to do but should remember China's growing Imperialist mentality under the so called "peaceful rise".

    China can eat Bhutan without a burp and they would not even know that they have been assimilated(best example Tibet).
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    Not quite.

    India has a defence treaty with Bhutan.
     
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    But China can have a connection in the same way they foist 'fake' Dalais and Panchen all around, locked up safely in Beijing! ;)

    China is a top chu chu as we used to say it in school for smart and cunning Joes! :)
     
  9. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Messages:
    5,523
    Likes Received:
    1,547
    In order not to become another Sikkim, Bhutan has to follow Nepal's footstep to cozy up with China.

    His Majesty King Wangchuk must have had a few sleepless nights for fear of a repetition of Sikkim Royalty's fate

    The 5th column was at work --

     
    nimo_cn likes this.
  10. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Messages:
    24,274
    Likes Received:
    11,283
    Location:
    BANGalore
    No relation no context. If india wanted, it would have assimilated Bhutan long back. But yes, propagandists will drum up fears. India has not shown any inclination whatsoever to take over Bhutan nor have we ever threatened to take over Nepal though they are culturally and religiously same as India.
     
  11. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    I am afraid that you are not aware of the paranoia the Bhutan Royalty has over China and their worry that the Nepali labour may do a Sikkim on the Bhutanese.

    Sikkim is the land of the Bhutias and Lepchas and now it is a Nepali majority! ;)

    Bhutan is aware that India has no intention to make Bhutan a part of India.

    They have seen the Indian reaction when a Chinese plot to oust the Bhutan Royalty took place by assassinating Jigme Dorji, their PM, who was the cousin of the Queen Mother and a mistress is alleged to be involved in the coup attempt.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    May 17th, 2012 Headsman

    On this date in 1964, three officers were executed in Bhutan, including former deputy commander in chief Namgyal Bahadur, for assassinating Prime Minister Jigme Dorji.

    A member of the powerful Dorji family and brother-in-law to the Bhutanese king, Dorji was overseeing a modernization campaign for the insular Himalayan kingdom. On April 5, 1964, while the king was in Europe for medical treatment, Dorji was shot dead while relaxing on his veranda. No wholesale seizure of power was attempted.

    The entire affair has long been murky, and it seems it was murky to those involved, too.

    The assassin, one Zambay,* was caught within days, and he implicated a number of powerful people — including not only Namgyal Bahadur, but the king’s Tibetan mistress.

    She eventually fled the country, though her alleged involvement fueled rumors of a Chinese connection, or (more plausibly) of palace politics between her faction that that of the rival Dorjis. Old guard military guys versus the modernizers is another hypothetical dimension, although again the specifics (why now? what was the last straw?) are wanting.

    * Zambay was executed on July 4.

    http://www.executedtoday.com/2012/05/17/1964-namgyal-bahadur-bhutan-assassin/
     
  13. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    Bhutan and Ancient Tibet

    Historically, Chinese claims to Bhutan had been totally dependant upon Tibetan claims. For that reason, the Bhutan-Tibet relationship must be addressed in the first place. There are several cultural, social and religious similarities between Bhutanese and Tibetans, who have had many interactions for a long time. Tibetan influence had been a decisive factor in the evolution of Bhutan’s social and political structures.

    In the early 8th century, when Tibet was a military power, Tibetan armies invaded Bhutan. Tibetan lamas also arrived in the Southern Valleys where some Tibetans settled down and intermarried with local people. People of Tibetan origin became predominant in the western part of Bhutan. During the 9th century, Tibetan armies withdrew from Bhutan, but lamas kept on coming intermittently to Bhutan where they exercised both spiritual and temporal authority. These migrations were decisive in the conversion of the local people to Buddhism. Since that period, Tibet has remained a sacred land for most Bhutanese.

    Bhutan and China Before 1949

    Although Tibet had long constituted a threat to Bhutan’s independence, the relationship between the two neighbours had been managed smoothly in the past. The insertion of a dominant Chinese influence in Lhasa in the late eighteenth century could have been a far more serious concern for Punakha, then the capital of Bhutan. Bhutan’s geopolitical situation was made even more precarious by the coincidence between the expansion of Chinese influence in Tibet and the intrusion of British rule in North-Eastern India. Yet direct relations between Bhutan and China remained minimal.

    These relations started after the establishment of the Chinese Ambans (residents) in Lhasa in the 18th century under the Qing dynasty.

    Chinese sources tend to indicate that Bhutan was a vassal of China. This assumption was based on the Tibetan ruler Polhane’s alleged suzerainty on Bhutan that was supposed to have been passed on to Tibet’s Chinese overlord. Chinese agents in Lhasa regularly echoed the sentiment that Nepal, Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan all formed parts of the Chinese empire.

    There were a few instances in the 18th and 19th centuries when Chinese emperors bestowed patents of office upon various Bhutanese officials, including the Deb Raja. Such actions, while unilateral, had no political consequences. Bhutanese never considered these symbols as proof of any kind of suzerainty. A Bhutanese representative was posted in Lhasa where he regularly met Tibetan and occasionally Chinese officials. But there were no Bhutanese missions to Beijing similar to those sent periodically by Nepal which the Chinese records described as “tributary” in character. The Bhutanese missions went only to the Dalaï Lama, and while they usually called on the Chinese Ambans in Lhasa, no letters or gifts were forwarded to the emperor in Beijing, not, at least, on a regular basis. The courtesy gifts to the Dalai Lama, or even the Amban had no political significance. In 1900 the Bhutanese even rebuffed Ma Chifu, an envoy of the Chinese Amban with a pre-emptory letter.

    Bhutan was probably concerned by the joint Chinese/Tibetan invasion of Nepal in 1792-1793. The Chinese commander, Fu Kang-an, requested the Bhutanese to assist him in his war against Nepal. Despite Punakha’s refusal and Fu’s protestation, no action was taken against Bhutan . There are records of Chinese interventions in Bhutan in 1830, 1876, 1885, 1889 and 1905. In February 1910, the Manchu government of China laid claim to Bhutan along with Nepal and Sikkim. Direct contacts between the two countries were also recorded under the Guomindang regime in 1940, 1943 and1947. However, none of these contacts was politically substantial nor they proved any kind of subordination.

    http://www.bhutanstudies.org.bt/pubFiles/19-Spdr&Pglt.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  14. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    The China Factor in India-Bhutan’s Relations

    The Emergence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) : 1949-1962

    The PRC has been keen to have good relations with Bhutan regardless of the status of Tibet. Beijing rapidly put aside the alleged Chinese historical sovereignty over Bhutan and preferred to use diplomacy rather than force. Indeed, Mao Zedong had been influenced by historical considerations. In 1930, he “openly declared that the correct boundaries of China would include Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Taiwan, Korea and Ryukyu Island. These remarks were contained in the original version of the Chinese Revolution and the Communist Party, but were deleted from the later versions of the book with a view to avoid suspicions in the minds of the leaders of these countries”. China might have been interested in extending its influence on the southern range of the Himalayas, while secretly supporting the formation of a Himalayan Federation including Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. But this project was rapidly abandoned. After consolidating its control over Tibet, that made the PRC Bhutan’s de facto neighbour, Beijing, who was fully aware of the Bhutan-Indian treaty of 1949, was even keener to treat Bhutan as an independent state. In 1953, Chinese gifts were sent to the Druk Gyalpo (King of Bhutan). In 1955, Chinese officers in Lhasa even decided to issue visas directly to Bhutanese citizens. Bhutan was also interested by a better relation with China. But the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) never took any specific initiatives. Contacts existed but remained of casual nature . Bhutan remained cautious if not suspicious as far as Chinese intentions were concerned. In 1958 there were some rumours about the discovery, in the Tawang district in Northeast India, of a reincarnation of the Zhabdrung, a potential challenger to the Bhutanese monarchy. Some unsubstantiated reports even mentioned that this reincarnation was brought to Tibet where Bhutanese opposed to the King tried to win support from China against the Bhutanese monarchy.

    The outbreak of a revolt against the Chinese in Tibet in 1954-1955 had direct consequences on Sino-Bhutan relations in the general framework of growing tension between China and India. One of the Khampa rebellion’s strongholds was located in the area of Tsona, in Central Tibet, not far from the Bhutan border. It was in that context that Nehru decided to make a visit to Bhutan in September 1958 in order to convince the Royal Government of Bhutan to end its isolation policy.

    Planning the construction of a strategic road between India and Bhutan was one of Delhi’s priorities in the region. Despite its own concern over the situation in Tibet, Bhutan was cautious not to be dragged into the emerging big-neighbours confrontation. Consequently the RGOB was in favour of a wait-and-see policy. However the rapidly deteriorating situation in the North made it more and more difficult for Bhutan to resist Indian solicitations. In 1959, the PRC occupied eight Bhutanese enclaves in western Tibet. In 1959, the Dalaï Lama escaped to India through the Chumbi valley directly adjacent to Bhutan on the East. Large numbers of Tibetan refugees started to pour into Bhutan. The descriptions they made about Chinese misconduct in Tibet had a strong impact on the Bhutanese.

    Bhutan tried to resist the outside pressure. The King was fully aware of the strategic position of his country. He understood the Indian that the 1949 treaty did not contain any clause relating to defence. In 1960, he referred to Bhutan’s relations with China as “friendly and peaceful”. In 1961, he indicated that Bhutan did not “want to be either friend or enemy of China”.

    During the Spring of 1960, the Chinese offensive was brought directly to Tsona district. By the end of 1960 Chinese border guards were reported to patrol along the frontier. Some of them even made small-scale incursions into Bhutanese territory. Although these incursions did not reveal any military intention from the Chinese, they demonstrated the uncertainty on their part as to the actual location of the border.

    In 1961, the publication of a new map depicting China’s version of the border along the entire Himalayan frontier showed several discrepancies with previous maps, and potential territorial disputes. A controversial map had been already published in July 1958 in the China Pictorial magazine denoting large tracts of Bhutanese territory - the entire Trashigang area in the east and a substantial portion of territory in the Northeast - belonging to China. These discrepancies received a large publicity in India. New Delhi increased its pressure for the opening of Bhutan that was considered as one of the most vulnerable sectors in the Indian security system.

    Eventually, Bhutan accepted to reply to Indian request. Various economic-aid agreements were signed between the two countries, including the planning of a major road project linking India to central Bhutan. The Indian Army was formally entrusted with a responsibility of training the Royal Bhutan Army that was a de facto included in the Indian security system. In 1960, several months before India did the same, Bhutan decided a total ban on trade with Tibet. Bhutan withdrew its representative in Lhasa and its officer in western Tibet. The embargo had decisive influence on the Bhutanese economy, which had long depended upon the Tibetan market, and was forced to adjust to the global shifting of trade structures that followed the opening of the road to India in 1963. It meant closing all the traditional outlets for the country’s surplus rice and depriving weavers around the Bumthang area with Tibetan wool.

    During that period, China’s policy toward Bhutan varied from intimidation to seduction. China was reported to have offered economic assistance to Bhutan that preferred not to respond. On several occasions, Beijing tried to convince Thimphu that China had no aggressive intentions against Bhutan and that it was prepared to settle the border dispute through direct negotiations. Beijing had no intention to involve Delhi in solving that issue. Although Bhutan considered that its acceptance of the guidance of India on its external relations, under the 1949 Indo-Bhutanese Treaty, did not prevent direct discussions with China, the situation prevailing in the region was not in favour of such policy. Bhutan preferred the issues in dispute with China to be raised in the Sino-Indian border talks held in 1961. Yet these issues were never discussed as Beijing refused to include them in its discussions with Delhi. Premier Chou Enlai only mentioned in one of his communications to Nehru that China wanted to “live together in friendship with Bhutan without committing aggression against each other”.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  15. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    Linkage Politics and Perceptions of Security

    Although risks of direct confrontation rapidly disappeared after the end of the Sino-Indian conflict, Bhutan remained cautious during the 1960s vis-à-vis China. There were reports of China building roads and setting up military installations in border areas. Traditional grazing, along the Chumbi valley, formerly a Sikkimese possession, where yak and cattle follow the pasture, created friction between Bhutanese and Tibetan herdsmen. Although unsubstantiated, rumours about an alleged involvement of pro-Chinese elements in the assassination of the Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Dorji also circulated in 1964.

    The spirit of détente in the early 1970s influenced to some extent Bhutan’s China policy. With India feeling responsible for the protection of the borders of Bhutan, the kingdom had better wait for the improvement in Sino-India relations. The RGOB had strong reservations concerning possible interactions with China. Yet pragmatism commended some form of normalisation between the two countries.

    Bhutan had to solve very practical issues. The first related to the formal delimitation of the 200-miles Sino-Bhutan border. The boundary had never been demarcated in the past. Officials and local people had a clear understanding of territory limits only for areas adjacent to major pass traditionally used by traders. The rest of the frontier was largely unknown and nobody has expressed any interest for the demarcation of territorial jurisdictions prior to 1959. It is precisely in these unknown areas where difficulties arose during the 1960s.

    High-altitude pasturelands located on the border were periodically the cause of disputes between Bhutanese and Tibetan herders. Such disputes were not only of a casual nature. Beijing’s policy in the Himalayan frontier region was to claim disputed areas on the basis of usage by Tibetans. China periodically indicated that it was ready to reach a boundary settlement with Bhutan through direct bilateral negotiations. Although Bhutan could agree with this objective, its treaty commitments to India made the Chinese approach infeasible before a complete normalisation of SinoIndian relations.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  16. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,687
    Likes Received:
    2,357
    In order to avoid being another Sikkim, Bhutan should plan to be another Tibet.

    Great strategician you are !
     
    ani82v likes this.
  17. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    Apart from the Indian factor, the Tibetan question is an important element to be considered in the perspective of an evolution of the relations between Bhutan and the PRC. In some respects, the complexity of the relations between Bhutan and ancient Tibet has survived through the ages. The Drukpa sect has remained totally independent from the Gelugpa establishment.
     
  18. GromHellscream

    GromHellscream Regular Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    274
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    WOW
    Countries like China and Japan haven't had formal diplomatic relations with Bhutan until now?
    Well, that's a surprising state divided from the world.
     
  19. amitkriit

    amitkriit Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2009
    Messages:
    2,465
    Likes Received:
    1,923
    Location:
    La La Land
    If Bhutan feels threatened by India, then it might become the next Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Nepal. So far Bhutan has remained really peaceful, so far. Our neighbors are hell-bent at destroying themselves, I can only hope that Bhutan won't tread this path.
     
  20. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Messages:
    5,523
    Likes Received:
    1,547
    Take land-locked Mongolia for example, neither Russia nor China pose an overt security threat to it as being situated in between. But Mongolia still develops a military partnership with the US and then NATO. Is Mongolia bent on self destruction? No, instead it probably feels safer with a third power introduced to the balancing game.

    Similarly by "survival instinct" Bhutan shall not stay under the "guidance" of India on its external relations whatsoever. It sooner or later has to embrace China one of the only 2 bordering neighbors. Even if it's impractical to resolve border disputes in one go let there be formal diplomatic relations first then China may attempt disorbiting Bhutan from India's clout gradually.

    There's been increasing Chinese presence in Bhutan. Tony Leung and Carina Lau Marry in Bhutan
     
  21. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere

    Bhutan was an insular country.
     

Share This Page