A senior Chinese diplomat, during a rare three-day visit to Bhutan, said on Tuesday at the end of the trip that China and Bhutan should work together to ensure peace along their border and keep pushing talks on the issue, following an ugly spat with India last year over the frontier.
A report in the International Business Times stated that China and India almost came to blows last year at the Doklam plateau near the borders of India, its ally Bhutan, and China, in the most serious and prolonged standoff in decades along the disputed Himalayan border.
While China and India subsequently withdrew their troops and have been working hard since then to mend fences including meetings between Chinese President Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the two still remain “deeply suspicious of each other”.
The report also quoted the Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou as saying that his country “highly regarded its traditional friendship with Bhutan and would as before respect Bhutan’s independence and sovereignty”, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement.
Both sides should continue to promote border talks, abide by the principles and consensus already reached and jointly protect peace and tranquility in the border region to create positive conditions for a final resolution, the statement cited Kong as saying.
China and Bhutan do not enjoy formal diplomatic relations, and China’s Ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, accompanied Kong, the Ministry added. It said Kong met Bhutan’s king and Government officials.
Bhutan also shares a border and close culture with restive Tibet, one of China’s most sensitive areas. China and India have been competing for influence in South Asian countries which have traditionally been close to New Delhi, including Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Xi and Modi are expected to meet this week in South Africa at a summit of the BRICS group of nations.