China needles Bhutan once again over boundary issue

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BY AARTI TIKOO SINGH
New Delhi, July 22 (IANS)
Relentless in its aggression towards its neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic, China has once again staked claim over the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin in a press briefing said that the boundary between China and Bhutan is yet to be demarcated. “China’s position remains consistent and clear. The boundary between China and Bhutan has not been delimited and there are disputes in the middle, eastern and western sections,” he said.
To resolve the dispute, China, he said, is offering “a package solution.” China is opposed to making an issue of these disputes at multilateral forums, he added.
However, China had made an issue about the sanctuary in eastern Bhutan’s Trashigang district bordering India and China, in June this year at a virtual meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) by objecting to a grant for it, claiming that the location was disputed.
The council had refused to record China’s reason for objection, saying that the footnote would only record that China objected to the project.
The Bhutan government had issued a formal letter to the GEF council, strongly opposing the references questioning the sovereignty of Bhutan and its territory on the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in the documents of the council’s session. Bhutan has urged the GEF council to purge all references of China’s baseless claims from the Council’s documents.
Bhutan and China have had a border dispute since 1984. Talks between Thimphu and Beijing have been limited to three areas of dispute (two in North Bhutan — Jakarlung and Pasamlung areas — and one in West Bhutan). Sakteng is not part of any of the three disputed areas.
Even as the rest of the world is struggling with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in Wuhan city of China’s Hubei province, Beijing has been persistently provoking its neighbors in the East China Sea, South China Sea and India in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Though there has been some thaw in tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, the situation remains precarious.

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