China says ready for fair border solution with Bhutan
BEIJING: China today made a strong pitch to improve relations with Bhutan and expressed readiness for an early and “fair” solution to their boundary dispute, amid efforts by the new Indian government to cement ties with Thimpu.
State Councillor Yang Jiechi, the highest diplomat in China’s hierarchy, called for a comprehensive solution to the China- Bhutan boundary issue when he met visiting Bhutanese Foreign Minister Rinzin Dorje.
Yang, China’s pointman to discuss boundary issues with India, said China is willing to work with Bhutan “to reach a fair, reasonable solution that is acceptable to both sides at an early date so as to push forward bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields,” state- run Xinhua news agency reported.
China and Bhutan on Friday held the 22nd round of boundary talks in Beijing to resolve issues surrounding disputed land, which also borders India’s northeastern states of Sikkim and Arunanchal Pradesh.
Dorje is visiting China after last month’s highprofile visit of Modi to Bhutan, the first foreign visit by the Indian prime minister, sending a strong message to accord priority to take ties with Thimphu to a new high.
Dorje said Bhutan attaches great importance to relations with China and is committed to solve the boundary issue at an early date.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi also met Dorje today. He said although the two countries have not established diplomatic ties, China has always adhered to a goodneighbor policy towards Bhutan.
Bhutan has remained aloof from China since 1951 after Beijing took firm control of Tibet, which shared borders with the Himalayan Kingdom.
Relations between Beijing and Thimphu remained traditionally strained due to border disputes.
The two countries held 22 rounds of talks to resolve the dispute. They signed an agreement promising to “maintain peace and tranquility on the Bhutan- China border areas,” in 1998.
China shares 470- kmlong contiguous border with Bhutan, which is also close to India’s “chicken’s neck” - the narrow Siliguri Corridor which links the northeast passage.
Any settlement of the Bhutan- China border dispute would be significant for India as Chumbi Valley, a vital tri- junction between Bhutan, India and China is just about 500 km from Siliguri corridor.