China and Bhutan agree to advance the roadmap for their boundary negotiations

China and Bhutan have announced that, fifteen months after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a three-step roadmap to expedite their boundary negotiations, they have reached a “positive consensus” to “simultaneously push forward the implementation of all steps” of the roadmap.

The three-step plan has not yet been made available to the public. Since 1984, discussions between China and Bhutan have focused primarily on contested areas in Bhutan’s west, including Doklam, and in the north, along their 477-kilometer border.

China laid claim to the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary in eastern Bhutan near the Arunachal Pradesh border in 2020. China proposed a territorial swap in the mid-1990s, requesting Doklam and other enclaves in Bhutan’s west in exchange for areas in the north. The two countries have no diplomatic relations.

Doklam is located close to India’s Siliguri corridor and was the scene of a protracted standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in 2017.

India will closely monitor any developments in the boundary negotiations between China and Bhutan. Army chief General Manoj Pande stated earlier this week that the Army is closely monitoring the situation in Doklam and Chinese activities there.


India will monitor any efforts to advance China-Bhutan negotiations. In close proximity to the strategic Siliguri corridor, the Chinese presence near Doklam is viewed as a major security risk. China has also claimed a wildlife sanctuary in Bhutan near the Arunachal Pradesh border.

China and Bhutan announced in a joint statement that the 11th Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on China-Bhutan Boundary Issues was held in the Chinese city of Kunming from 10 to 13 January.

During the meeting, the two parties “had an in-depth exchange of views on the implementation of the MoU on the Three-Step Roadmap for Expediting the China-Bhutan Boundary Negotiations and reached a positive consensus”

“The two sides agreed to simultaneously advance the implementation of all the steps of the Three-Step Roadmap,” the statement said, adding that the two sides also agreed to increase the frequency of the EGMs and to “keep contact through diplomatic channels on holding the 25th Round of China-Bhutan Boundary talks as soon as possible at mutually agreeable dates.”

“As a gesture of goodwill and friendship, the Chinese government donated a batch of supplies to Bhutan, and Bhutanese officials expressed their gratitude. The two parties held a brief handover ceremony during the meeting, according to the statement.

Hong Liang, Director-General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led the Chinese delegation at the EGM talks in Kunming, while Dasho Letho Tobdhen Tangbi, Secretary of the International Boundaries of Bhutan, led the Bhutanese delegation.


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