Opinion: China targets Bhutan to provoke India

TNI Bureau: The Dragon cannot be trusted! Since the 1960s, they have proved it time and again. No strategy, no master stroke worked when it came to unreliable, stubborn and unpredictable Chinese. They take a step backward, and then return silently to take two steps forward. It has been their modus operandi for decades.

After making Pakistan its “Pet”, China did all the groundwork strategically to turn Nepal against India. Nepal drawing a new map by including the Indian territories was a new low in Indo-Nepal relations. Even though Nepal realizes the mistake, it would be too late and they would find it difficult to escape from the Dragon’s claws.

Apart from Pakistan and Nepal, the Chinese strategy went to the extent of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives and Sri Lanka. By increasing its influence in South Asia, China seeks to corner India and stop its growth as an Asian Giant as well as Global Power. Let’s not ignore the fact that China is now the largest overseas investor in the Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka while Bangladesh is least dependent on the Chinese.

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China now targets the most loyal partner of India – Bhutan. By staking claims over the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Eastern Bhutan, China has opened a new front to provoke India. Ironically, this is the first time China has made such claims, stoking a fresh dispute with Bhutan. The wildlife sanctuary does not even share a common border with China.

Tenzing Lamsang  , Senior Journalist from Bhutan, shared a 1977 Chinese map that showed Sakteng well within Bhutanese territory although the Dragon claimed entire Arunachal Pradesh as its own. The Chinese sources argue that since Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary shares a border with Arunachal Pradesh, there is a need to revisit and redraw the border if needed.

While China and Bhutan had border disputes over the years, the eastern front of their border was never a point of contention. The game is quite obvious. China continues with its expansionist design and wants to open a new border dispute front with India using Bhutan. It also wants to punish Bhutan for its tacit support to India in 2017 Doklam stand-off.

There is a well-thought design by China to keep India busy on all fronts – Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and now Bhutan. India must think beyond these border disputes and may want to shift its focus to Hong Kong and Tibet if it wants to defeat China in its own game. A lot would be at stake in the coming months.

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