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‘China faces major setback’: Bhutan rejects China’s proposal

China has suffered a major setback as Bhutan has rejected it’s proposal to settled the border dispute. The tiny landlocked country which lies between India and China, Bhutan has rejected a new proposal put forward by China to settled the border disputes. China has put forward a new proposal to steer the process through a so-called Three Step Roadmap (TSR) at the 10th Expert Group Meeting (EGM) between China and Bhutan. The meeting was held in Kunming from 6 and 9 April.

China has asked Bhutan to amend the clause in the ‘Guiding Principles’ that mandates both sides to maintain the status quo on the boundary as it existed in March 1959. But Bhutan has declined it by pointing that the clause about maintaining status quo was included in the existing framework on boundary talks at the insistence of the then Chinese vice foreign minister Lui Shuqing in 1988.

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China has in the meeting accused that Bhutan has changed its stand on Doklam under the pressure of India. China also claimed that Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Eastern Bhutan—bordering West Kameng district in Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh is their territory. This is for the first time that China is making this claim.

But Bhutan has rejected this claim and hold that Sakteng was never a disputed area. Bhutan has also rejected Chinese accusation that Indian soldiers are present in Bhutanese outposts that guard the China-Bhutan border.

China wanted Bhutan to agree to two more conditions. One, start demarcation of the boundary from a place called Gyamochen in the western sector and two, sign a boundary agreement, establish diplomatic relations and then start demarcation of the boundary on ground. The Bhutanese delegation however firmly rejected the additional points The Bhutanese delegation also resisted Chinese attempts to claim areas east of the Amu Chu (river).

The both sides agreed to schedule the 11th round of the Expert Group Meeting soon.

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