July 25, 2024

Bhutan’s China Tilt: Tough Implications for India and Regional Dynamics

Featured in:

By: Harshit Tokas, Research Analyst, GSDN

Bhutan-India-China: source Internet

The recent visit of Bhutan’s top diplomat to Beijing has ignited a complex geopolitical situation, placing the tiny Himalayan kingdom in an uncomfortable spotlight. Nestled between two Asian giants, China and India, Bhutan has long been recognized for its special ties with New Delhi. However, this historic relationship faces a potential paradigm shift as Bhutan engages in diplomatic overtures with China. The visit, which included boundary talks and discussions on establishing formal diplomatic ties, raises significant concerns in India and has broader implications for regional geopolitics.

Bhutan’s geographical location, sandwiched between China and India, has made it a crucial player in the geopolitical landscape of South Asia. Despite its small size, the kingdom’s unique position has made it a focal point for its neighbors’ strategic interests. Bhutan, unlike any other country in Asia, has refrained from formal diplomatic relations with Beijing, maintaining a distinctive closeness to New Delhi. However, the recent developments indicate a potential shift in this traditional stance.

The heart of the ongoing negotiations between Bhutan and China lies in the unresolved border issues, particularly the disputed tri-junction on the Doklam plateau, involving China, Bhutan, and India. The Doklam region gained international attention in 2017 when a tense 73-day standoff occurred between Chinese and Indian troops. The strategic importance of Doklam for India, especially its proximity to the Siliguri Corridor, adds layers of complexity to the situation.

During the recent talks in Beijing, Bhutanese Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji received a warm reception, signifying potential progress in border negotiations. The signing of a cooperation agreement on delimitation and demarcation of the boundary is viewed as a breakthrough. These developments, coupled with expressions of willingness to establish diplomatic ties, underscore a notable warming of relations between Bhutan and China.

China’s outreach to Bhutan extends beyond economic considerations, reflecting broader strategic ambitions. The potential establishment of an embassy in Thimphu would mark a significant departure from Bhutan’s historical aversion to big-power politics. The complex dynamics of allowing China into Bhutan’s diplomatic sphere raise questions about the kingdom’s autonomy and its ability to navigate the delicate balance between its powerful neighbors.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, seen as a China-friendly figure, has acknowledged the theoretical inevitability of bilateral relations with China. This acknowledgment, coupled with discussions about a possible land swap involving the strategically crucial Doklam area, indicates a nuanced shift in Bhutan’s foreign policy. The three-step road map on boundary delineation, agreed upon in 2021, includes demarcation talks, on-ground site visits, and formal boundary demarcation.

For India, Bhutan’s traditional ally, these developments raise significant concerns. The fate of Doklam has been highlighted as one of India’s red lines regarding Bhutan’s ties with China. The potential normalization of diplomatic relations between Bhutan and China, combined with progress on the border dispute, challenges India’s strategic interests in the region. The sensitive nature of Doklam, particularly its proximity to the Siliguri Corridor, adds a layer of complexity to India’s response.

In an editorial, The Hindu emphasized that the fate of Doklam represents one of India’s red lines in Bhutan’s engagement with China. New Delhi’s wariness about a possible border settlement and formal diplomatic ties between Beijing and Thimphu reflects the delicate regional geopolitics, where India has historically played a significant role.

The unfolding events in Bhutan carry broader implications for regional stability and the international system. The potential realignment of Bhutan’s foreign policy challenges established norms, especially concerning territorial disputes between smaller and larger neighbors. The outcome of Bhutan’s diplomatic engagements could reshape perceptions of China’s influence in South Asia and beyond.

The Doklam plateau, strategically positioned near the “Chicken’s Neck” holds immense significance for India’s security architecture. Any alteration in the territorial status quo, particularly involving a potential land swap, could have seismic implications for regional stability. The strategic importance of Doklam, highlighted during the 2017 standoff, adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing negotiations.

As Bhutan navigates the delicate balance between China and India, diplomatic nuances become crucial. The skepticism surrounding an imminent border settlement reflects the distrust and complexities involved. Tshering and Dorji’s assurances that no agreement will be made against India’s interests emphasize the continued significance of India’s role in the tri-junction matter at Doklam.

The possibility of a diplomatic agreement between China and Bhutan raises questions about the involvement of India in the negotiation process. The tri-junction area, involving all three parties – Bhutan, China, and India, requires consent from each for any deal to be reached. The resolution of the border dispute, if achieved, could potentially ease tensions between China and India, contributing to a positive regional development.

The evolving dynamics between Bhutan, China, and India underscore the intricate nature of geopolitical relations in South Asia. Bhutan’s delicate balancing act, historically leaning towards India, now faces the complexities of engaging with an assertive China. As negotiations progress and the potential for a diplomatic breakthrough loom, the geopolitical implications extend far beyond Bhutan’s borders.

The Doklam plateau, with its historical significance and strategic positioning, symbolizes the challenges and sensitivities of the region. India’s role as a regional power and Bhutan’s longstanding ties with New Delhi add layers of complexity to the unfolding narrative. The outcome of these diplomatic maneuvers will not only shape the future of Bhutan’s foreign policy but will also reverberate across the broader canvas of regional and international relations.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 months ago

Not only are you a very accomplished blogger, but this is also really interesting. I have subscribed to your feed, and I very much look forward to reading more of the excellent stuff that you produce. To add insult to injury, I have shared your webpage across all of my social media platforms!

Puravive official website

I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today yet I never found any interesting article like yours It is pretty worth enough for me In my opinion if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did the web will be much more useful than ever before

real reviews of GlucoRelief
real reviews of GlucoRelief
4 months ago

I do not even understand how I ended up here, but I assumed this publish used to be great

Find us on

Latest articles

Related articles

Navigating Turbulent Waters: The Philippines’ Strategic Battle for Maritime...

By: Lipun Kumar Sanbad The Philippines, an archipelagic nation with over 7,000 islands, sits at the heart of...

Geopolitical Implications of the Indian Parliamentary Elections 2024

By: Nabhjyot Arora, Research Analyst, GSDN India conducted the third parliamentary elections between April 19- June 01, 2024...

Gilgit-Baltistan: A region in Distress under Pakistan Occupation

By: Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd), Editor, GSDN Nestled between the Himalayas and the Karakoram, Gilgit-Baltistan is a...

Trump’s Assassination Attempt: Another Attempt and Security Dilemma of...

By: Srijan Sharma Last serious assassination attempt on an US President/ex-President was made in May 2005 when an...

Suggestions for the Indian Army Chief: A Veteran’s Perspective

By: Major General Sudhakar Jee, VSM (Retd) With a vast operational experience in dealing with China and Pakistan,...

Caught in a Camaraderie: The SCO and the brewing...

By: Aishwarya Dutta “Diplomacy is like Jazz: Endless variations on a theme.” The recent SCO summit proves how...
Ads Blocker Image Powered by Code Help Pro

Ads Blocker Detected!!!

We have detected that you are using extensions to block ads. Please support us by disabling these ads blocker.

Powered By
100% Free SEO Tools - Tool Kits PRO