Amid LAC row, China deploys PLA troops at Bhutan border

While China has deployed its troops on the Line of Actual Control (LAC with the intention of capturing the Indian territories in Ladakh, The People’s Liberation Army (PLA has been also eying to occupy some part of Bhutanese territories. The officials who are aware of the latest developments alerted the Bhutan government about the Chinese plot at the highest level.

China is intentionally indulging in border disputes with Bhutan to increase pressure on the country for solving their border disputes.

Since the Doklam dispute in 2017, China has been preparing roads, helipads, and troops near the Bhutan border. In the last few months, China has infiltrated five areas of Western Bhutani territories and claimed a new boundary approximately 40 kilometers inside Bhutan.

Last month in August, the PLA also infiltrated into the South Doklam area. China increased pressure on Bhutan to agree to its boundary until Gyemochen.

“We are keeping close eyes on the latest developments at the Indo-China and China-Bhutan border. Since the Doklam standoff, PLA is aggressively patrolling at the Bhutan-China border and constructing roads, military infrastructure, and helipads close to Bhutan border.” said an officer working with Central security establishments.

China claims 318 square kilometers in the western sector and 495 square kilometers in the central sector. In a surprise move, China recently staked claim over the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan at the Global Environment Facility (GEF Council and opposed funding to the project. Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the easternmost part of the country in Trashigang Dzongkhag, Eastern Bhutan. bordering the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Doklam plateau, which is also referred to as Donglang in Chinese. The boundary dispute between China and Bhutan led to the military standoff that took place in 2017. Doklam Plateau is close to Siliguri Corridor, which is also referred to as the “chicken’s neck”, the Siliguri Corridor represents a strategic vulnerability for India. It is also of key strategic significance to Bhutan, containing the main supply routes into the country.

Chinese claim on the Doklam plateau rests on the 1890 Convention between Great Britain and the Qing dynasty represented by its Resident in Tibet. The Chinese claim that Gipmochi (Gymochen—mentioned in Article I of the 1890 Convention as the eastern extremity of the Sikkim-Tibet boundary—should automatically be the tri-junction.

As per Srinath Raghavan, a senior person at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, ”The boundary of the Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into Sikkim Teesta and its affluents from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet.” Only then does it identify Gipmochi as the starting point. The principle of defining the boundary therefore was the highest watershed: the highest line of mountains separating the rivers flowing on either side. This is the most logical way of drawing a boundary in mountainous regions. However, subsequent surveys showed that Mount Gipmochi is not on the highest watershed in the area.”

The archival documents also suggest that the discussion about the control of Gipmochi hill was between Sikkim and Bhutan. China was not the party in the border talk.

“19th-century British travel maps show the boundary alignment as Batang la-Merug la-Sinche la and onto Amochu river, which would make Batang la the tri-junction, as contended by Bhutan and India. This is in accordance with the internationally accepted highest watershed principle of boundary demarcation. In some of these maps, Gipmochi is shown to the northeast of its actual location. Both Sinche la (14,531 feet and Merug la (15,266 feet are higher than Gipmochi (14,523 feet. This alignment would mean that Doklam is part of Bhutan.” an article written by Amb (Retd VP Haran, to think tank Institute of peace and conflict studies.

China has been using coercive tactics in pursuit of territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas, as well as along its border with India and Bhutan.

According to a Pentagon report released this year, “These tactics are particularly evident in China”s pursuit of its territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas as well as along its border with India and Bhutan,” said the report titled ”Military and Security Developments involving the People”s Republic of China 2020”.

Amid LAC row, China deploys PLA troops at Bhutan border