New Delhi: Without saying in so many words, Bhutan on Thursday called China a liar. Bhutan has rejected Chinese claims about Thimphu “giving up territorial rights over Doklam.” A Chinese envoy had claimed that Thimphu had conveyed through diplomatic channels to Beijing that, “the trilateral border stand-off area in Doklam in the Sikkim sector is not its territory.”
“Our position on the border issue of Doklam is very clear. Please refer to our statement which has been published on the web site of Bhutan's foreign ministry on June 29, 2017,” news agency ANI said quoting official sources.
It all started with a statement made China's top diplomat Wang Wenli during an interaction with Indian media on Wednesday.
Wang, who is the Deputy Director General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs in China's foreign ministry, reportedly conveyed this information to a visiting Indian media delegation.
Interestingly, she did not provide any evidence of her claim, which official sources in Bhutan said is at complete variance with Thimphu's stated position and actions.
While acknowledging that Bhutan had protested to the Chinese government about Beijing violating a bilateral pact by allowing its troops to construct a road in the Doklam area on June 16, Wang was quoted, as saying, “After the incident, the Bhutanese made it very clear to us that the place where the trespassing happened is not Bhutan's territory.”
She further was quoted, as saying that “Bhutanese find it very strange that the Indian border troops are on the Chinese soil,” and implied that her views have been gleaned from Bhutanese state media and legal blogs which have “more convincing information”.
Official sources in Bhutan, however, firmly countered this claim by saying that their country's foreign ministry has clearly emphasised in their June 29 statement that, “Bhutan has conveyed to the Chinese side, both on the ground and through the diplomatic channel, that the construction of the (motorable) road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the (written) agreements (of 1988 and 1998) and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between our two countries.”
India has also cited the Bhutanese foreign ministry as emphasising that “the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the 1988 and 1998 agreements between Bhutan and China and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between these two countries.”
Bhutan has no direct diplomatic relations with China and maintains contacts with Beijing through its diplomatic mission in New Delhi.
Bhutan and China have held 24 rounds of talks to resolve boundary dispute, while India and China have completed 19 rounds of talks.