China-Bhutan Boundary Delimitation Talks

China, Bhutan hold first meeting on ‘delimitation’ of disputed boundary


As officials from both sides met for four days in China and decided to expedite a boundary resolution, the newly formed joint technical team that China and Bhutan have established held its first meeting this week.

What is the Delimitation Process?

  • In a country or province with a legislative body, delimitation is the act or process of establishing the limits or borders of territorial constituencies.
  • The People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Bhutan do not have formal diplomatic ties, and tensions have existed in the past. The PRC and Bhutan share a 470-kilometer-long continuous border, and the PRC’s territorial issues with Bhutan have the potential to escalate tensions.

What is the historical background of the problem between China and Bhutan?

  • In the late 19th century, China started making claims on Bhutan to challenge British dominance.
  • Bhutan, according to Mao Zedong, was within China’s proper borders in 1930.
  • During the conquest of Tibet, China maintained its aggressive claims and even occupied Bhutanese outposts.
  • Chinese encroachments into Bhutan and the building of highways through contested territory persisted.

Influence of the British and Border Village Capture:

  • After the British departed Bhutan, China took over border villages.
  • Territories seized since 1947 are still up for debate.
  • Bhutan doesn’t have diplomatic ties with China, which gives India sway.

1998 Peace Treaty and Stand off:

  • The status quo was established by the 1998 Peace Treaty and Standoff to Maintain Peace and Tranquility on the Bhutan-China Border.
  • In 2017, a 73-day standoff between Indian and Chinese forces was brought on by the construction of a road.

What is the recent trouble in the Doklam controversy?

  • The Sikkim sector’s Donglong area is another name for Doklam. China was building a navigable road from Dokola to the army camp in Bhutan. It has an impact on the border between the two nations. Bhutan requested that Beijing halt the project to restore the status quo. Chumbi Valley is close to the tri-junction region of Donglong.
  • It is governed by China, but Bhutan asserts its sovereignty there.
  • Both sides have written agreements from 1988 and 1998 that state they will keep their border regions peaceful until the boundary dispute is finally resolved.
  • Additionally, it was decided to leave the boundary as it was in March 1959.

What was India’s Stance on this?

  • Bhutan and India have a close relationship, and India has long defended Bhutan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • India continues to have a considerable impact on Bhutan’s foreign and security policies.
  • Bhutan’s main partner in growth and the economy has been India.
  • India’s position was notably evident during the Doklam conflict in 2017, when Indian troops intervened to stop China from building a road in the Doklam Plateau (which Bhutan claims).
  • Due to the vicinity of the location to the Siliguri Corridor, commonly known as the “Chicken’s Neck,” which connects mainland India to its northeastern states, India considered this to be a security risk.