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Bhutan accuses China of border encroachment

 

Members of the National Assembly (Tshogdu) of Bhutan have accused China of encroaching into its territory and of repeated incursions by nationals of the giant Asian neighbor into the Himalayan kingdom, reports said.

According to Bhutan's government-run newspaper Kuensel, the charges were leveled by Bhutanese elected representatives at the National Assembly session in the capital Thimphu that concluded on Wednesday.

"The Chinese government did not adhere to the 1998 understanding signed between Bhutan and China by constructing several roads in our territory," the Kuensel quoted a lawmaker of Bhutan's Haa province as saying in the National Assembly.

"If border talks are not held often, there are chances that the Chinese might build more roads further into our territory and gradually claim that our land is theirs since they have their roads on our territory."

Landlocked Bhutan, with an area of 46,500 sq km and a population of 650,000, shares a 470-km-long unfenced border with China.

Bhutan and China signed an agreement to "maintain peace and tranquility" on the Bhutan-China border in 1998 and to "fully respect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Bhutan."

"Bhutan is a small country with limited land so even if we lose a small area it would be a big problem for our future generations and it can also have implications on our country's sovereignty," another lawmaker from Zhemgang province told the Assembly.

Diplomatic ties between Bhutan and China started only in 1984 with the two countries now holding talks to resolve their boundary disputes.

Bhutan had traditional trade relations with Tibet although this was officially closed after the tiny Buddhist nation witnessed a large-scale influx of Tibetan refugees in 1960.

The Bhutanese elected representatives have urged the royal government of Bhutan to deploy additional security forces to prevent the illegal entry of Tibetans into the kingdom.

Bhutan's Secretary for International Boundaries Dasho Pema Wangchuk told the Assembly that Thimphu had formally lodged a protest with China in July this year on the road constructions inside the kingdom's territory.

"The next round of border meetings would be held in Beijing and that would be followed by a ministerial level meeting later where all these issues would be followed up," Wangchuk said.

The Chinese side has made no comments as yet regarding latest allegations leveled by Bhutanese members of the National Assembly.

Nepal, despite sharing Himalayan borders with China, doesn't have any territorial dispute with her northern neighbour.

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