There seem to be different takes on Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay recently shaking hands with Chinese Presiden Xi Jinping in Goa. Some forces allude to a possibility of replay of 2013 political explosion and interference in 2018 General Election. The primary reason being Indian clout and PM Tshering Tobgay's own vehemently expressed opposition against Prime Minister Jigmi Yoeser Thinley holding the first ever Summit with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at Rio in 2012. My own take is positively different. The year 2013 was not something most Bhutanese can recall with genuine national or individual pride. Politicians are said to be animals. I do not know too much about that. But for sure politics is a deep dark jungle and you can never really know what is there to discover or what comes out from the under growths. That's a chance I leave to Triple Gem to absolve.
Timing may be differ and style may vary. However, Bhutanese leaders can never really shun the wisdom of having friends. India is and will remain Bhutan's staunchest friend and benefactor. Geographical features, religious and linguistic factors bind the two countries. Both India and Bhutan need to exercise deeper faith in these crucial social common factors that unite us.
Economic reliance is an important consideration but not the most critical criteria when one deeply analyse it. Though our nervousness do us the devil I must admit. Actually, Bhutan is not largely populated and physically spread like Nepal. Therefore, an economic blockade cannot have the same devastating effect. And even a small help from another quarter can make survival difference for Bhutan. Nor do Bhutan need to fear direct military invasion upon its sovereignty. Neither of the giant neighbours would want an all out war that would come about if Bhutan is invaded by any Army. However, our sacred institutions must remain alert to any types of subversion. And the wisest course to avert subversion or terror-mail (more compelling than black mail) in the near or far future, is to pursue an open goodwill neighbourly approach with India as always and begin the same with China.
China and India may have many regional and international reasons to cooperate or mainly compete. The Kingdom of Bhutan is just a boat admist two vast adjoining oceans.. We have no reasons to compete or choose between India or China.The two giant neighbours are two oceans between which our Kingdomship must stay sovereign-afloat. Bhutan and Bhutanese must not unrealistically dream away from the natural geographical position and reality of our situation. It just is not possible to pretend that China does not exist in our sphere of worldly existence. Visionary leadership cannot be devoid of real true vision that confronts Bhutan.
Therefore, the people and political parties of Bhutan must move beyond internal Party Politics when it comes to relations with both India and China. I for one remain grateful to India for all the assistance and good wills and plead with India to be tolerant towards honest China- Bhutan relation which can never match the deep bond of India- Bhutan friendship built over six decades since Indian independence from British Empire.
I stood by Prime Minister Jigmi Yoeser Thinley when he held the first official meeting with the Chinese Premier in 2012. I as a Bhutanese could never condemn him for his selfless act on behalf of the nation and the sovereign institution. I am in no position to judge the timing but I thank the 1st democratic Prime Minister for formally breaking the ice with China. This was something I had, even as a young student, submitted to the Third King. Personally for me, no timing was too early.
And today , I stand steadfast by Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shaking hands with Chinese President and thus solidifying the path opened by his predecessor. Neither of the two Prime Ministers of the Kingdom of Bhutan have acted against the Nation. the King or the People in their forward approach with China.
We have many detractors within ourselves and outside of our small nation. Some do it ignorantly and some with intent to cause disharmony. But I sincerely believe that both the Triple Gem and our Kings have always had and have visions for Bhutan to be surrounded by friends.
Bhutan may be a buffer state in the eyes of the world. And for the two giant neighbours, Bhutan may represent a prize to be vied for. However, unto ourselves , we are a Kingdom. We are no one's buffer or pawn or trophy. And as a Kingdom, we must continue strengthening Indo- Bhutan friendship whilst pursuing the inevitable goal of better and more sensibly realistic relationships with China. We cannot play our two giant neighbours against each other and hope to reap benefits. We cannot be a mistress who feels obligated into having a public lover and a secret yearning.
We must be a Kingdom with the will and capacity to establish respectable relationships with both India and China. Intimacy and respectability are two different equations. We always had Kings who had enlightened sacred visions for the Kingdom. The Dragon Throne was never bartered away for solace or assurance of any powerful neighbour: be they Britisn India, Republic India or Communist China.
We have had Kings who have been willingly to lay down their lives with fellow Bhutanese soldiers to defend our sovereignty and dignity. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was ready in 1962 when danger loomed in the north. And King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was ready when danger loomed in the south. And from whateverdirection danger may loom in his reign, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck would be ready. The nobleness of leadership runs in the blood not in rhetorics.
Therefore, dear beloved Bhutan and fellow Bhutanese, vanish your narrow politics and selfish moral. Deny outside detractors. Rise up for the King, Kingdom and People. Stand by our nation as we navigate our national vision to co- exist in the most friendly and realistic manner with both our cannot- be -wished- away permanent neighbours India and China.
May Triple Gem guide and bless us. Pelden Drukpai Lha Gyalo for the Bhutanese nation- hood!