Monday, December 21, 2009

China-Bhutan Border Dispute

I have wanted to catalogue the various border disputes China has with its neighbors for quite a while now. But I could never figure out where to begin. How about Bhutan?

China entered Bhutan on 17 separate occasions this year. The two countries have never agreed on the exact border. They do not have formal diplomatic relations and Bhutan is Indo-centric with respect to its foreign policy.

The region at issue is important geopolitically because it is so close to India's Chicken's Neck, or Siliguri Corridor. It was created when East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and West Pakistan separated from India. Its purpose is to provide India with a narrow path to reach its faraway northeastern states. The area is also used by smugglers from Bangladesh and as a refuge for Maoist Nepalese rebels.

China has every desire to stir up instability here, as it will inevitably result in the weakening of India. Much of India's army is on the western front defending Kashmir, so China has almost free reign on the eastern front. PLA troops are entering Bhutan. Roads and bridges are being built inside Bhutan (allegedly). And China is allowing thousands of civilians to "invade" Bhutan for months at a time to collect cordyceps mushrooms which, apparently, like everything else rare, is said by Chinese medicine experts to help with certain issues experienced by middle aged men (nudge, nudge). Tibetan pickers are said to earn $900 just for collecting an ounce of this stuff.

Here is an Indian news clip from 2007, but the story is the same today.

No comments: