Alarm over Chinese incursion
The Chinese are in Bhutan — its soldiers are building roads and bridges deep inside the country and setting off alarms in both Thimphu and Delhi. Over 200 Chinese soldiers crossed into Bhutan in mid-November and since then, the relations between the two countries have been on the edge.
Bhutan, which has a 470-km unfenced border with China, considers the unasked-for presence of the Red Army in its territory as a violation of the 1998 Sino-Bhutanese border treaty of peace and tranquillity. Rattled by the developments, the tiny kingdom, which shares a special relationship and a 605-km border with India, has also informed the Indian home ministry.
The matter also came up before Bhutan's National Assembly and foreign minister Khandu Wangchuk promised the House that the matter would soon be taken up with the Chinese authorities.
On November 13, the Chinese soldiers entered the country’s northern districts, including Paro, and marched 20 km inland, claiming that they had been forced by melting glaciers and heavy snowfall in Tibet to breach the border. But they also went on to infiltrate remote places like Haa, Boomtang and Wangdi Phudrang, which have no human habitation.
The Chinese have built pucca bridges in Paro and Haa districts, prompting concern among the people’s representatives from Paro, Haa, Laya, Lunana, Zhemgang and Thimphu.
When secretary of international boundaries Dasho Pema Wangchuk took up the issue with the Chinese delegation led by deputy director-general of the Asian department in the China’s ministry of foreign affairs, China just brushed off the apprehensions.
“They told the Bhutanese that they were over-reacting and that the roads were being built as part of the economic development programmes for western China,” an Indian intelligence officer said. “India and Bhutan enjoy a special relationship, and the current developments have come as a matter of serious concern for India,” the official added.
That the concern is not confined to government circles in Thimphu and Delhi was clear from a recent article in Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel, which said, “There are chances that the Chinese might build more roads
further into our territory and gradually claim the land as theirs since they have their roads on our territory.”
Pramod Giri, Hindustan Times