The 19th round of boundary talkswere held between Chinaand Bhutanduring the month from January 11 to 13. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister HuZhengyue held talks with head of Bhutandelegation, Minister of Economic Affairs Khandu Wangchuk. Hu also met with the4th King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuk and Prime Minister Jigme Thinleyduring his stay in Bhutan.
Anagreement to carry out joint field survey to harmonise reference points andnames of places in areas in the western sector, comprising four pastures of Doklam,Charithang, Sinchulumpa and Dramana has been reached. The four guidingprinciples agreed in 1988 and the 1998 Agreement on Maintenance of Peace andTranquility in the Bhutan-China Border Areas which states “the two sides agreeto maintain peace and tranquility in their border areas, pending a finalsettlement on the boundary question, and to maintain status quo on the boundaryas before March 1959” and that “they will also refrain from taking anyunilateral action to change the status quo of the boundary,” were reaffirmed.
“A majority of the work iscompleted. What’s left is minor,” according to the assistant minister, ministryof foreign affairs, Hu Zhengyue, the head of the Chinese delegation. “If we take one step further, we’ll achievethe final settlement, a final settlement that’s attractive to the people ofboth countries,” said Hu Zhengyue. Since April 1984, 18 rounds of meetings hadbeen held on the Bhutan-China boundary. The next round is expected to be heldin Beijing. [Based on Kuenselonlineand BBS Bhutan reports].
Assuming that the field survey iscompleted successfully, the next step will be physical demarcation of theBoundary which would be a major step in Sino Bhutanrelations and would reduce the perpetual conflict due to misinterpretation ofthe alignment. Can this process be transferred to the Sino Indian boundaryremains to be seen?