Bhutan is not Taiwan or Tibet the breakaway/autonomous Provinces of China. Bhutan is a sovereign nation. And today all sovereign nations in the world have diplomatic relationships with China. Can anyone explain why Bhutan does not
dare to establish diplomatic relationship with her only other immediate neighbour?
China's relevance to Bhutan is her geographical proximity to Bhutan. Not that China is one of the five permanent members of UN Security Council or economic super power as important as these realities are.
India and China still have unresolved international boundary disputes. But they have diplomatic relation with each other. On the other hand, Sikkim another immediate neighbour of China did not have boundary issues with China. But Sikkim can never have diplomatic relationship with China. Why? The Kingdom of Sikkim was annexed by India in 1974 and is now a state among the Indian Union.
So how is Bhutan's present status any different from that of Sikkim or Tibet if we dare not have diplomatic relationship with the closest northern neighbour? Bhutan shares a whole length of international boundary with China on three sides.
What does Bhutan fear in establishing diplomatic ties with China? Annexation by India or simple fear of being overwhelmed by China? Unfounded and unimaginative anxieties only weaken the nation. Should Bhutan remain forever the soft coy darling of mother India? Skeptics of Bhutan- China relationship may so wish. But then such people are mistakenly looking out more for Indian national interest than that of Bhutan.
Why are we so insecure to act upon our sovereign right? Is it that we lack the national leadership capacity to handle equal open arms relationship with China? Or we are just too comfortably sunk in the largesse granted by India? Bhutan has to rise up to national responsibility of acting in the manner of a sovereign Kingdom.
From the time of the reign of His Majesty the Third King, I have submitted my hope that Bhutan would be able to achieve a position of true sovereign status by having good relationship with both India and China our immediate neighbours. I believe friendship with India is a must and friendship with China a political necessity
and economic advantage.
I respect both India and China for their national size and goodwill towards Bhutan. I am not pro or anti China or India. Just an honest Bhutanese citizen adequately concerned to air my views. I do not call for less dealing with India. Just better realistic world wise relationship with China. There maybe individual reasons of self interests in being anti China. But no justifiable national reasons for freezing relationship with China to 1959 era. No modern leader can find a dignified place in modern history if acts and deeds only reflect bygone eras.
Bhutan's strategy in the past was necessarily India dependent. Given the delicate situation in early 1970s after the sudden death of the Third King, it is a political wonder that our Triple Gem 4th King withstood the political hurricanes from the south both from external and within. And still carried out the development plans, political transition and re-negotiation of the 1949 Indo- Bhutan Treaty.
The first national and international act of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck was to sign that re-negotiated 1949 Indo- Bhutan Treaty. I hope most Bhutanese citizens and especially the Political Parties have taken cognisance of the significance and royal intent for the future role of Bhutan as the sovereign Himalyan Kingdom.
Bhutan is geographically placed to be the most strategic buffer state between China and India. Now it is time for 21st Century Bhutan to capitalise on this gift of geography. Bhutan is land locked. Not strategically shackled. We hold three prominent natural highways from China Tibet to Northern Plains of India and vice versa. It is not for us to play cheap regional politics or take undue advantage of our strategic position. But it is the responsibility of a sovereign nation to demand and secure equal status and respect from both India and China. Just as we respect the might and right of China and India so must they value our strategic position, respect our national aspirations and sovereign dignity. Bhutan holds the key to enduring China- India friendly relationship. But first Bhutanese leaderships must step forward to uphold their duty to foster sovereign dignity of
Every nation in the world capatalise on their national assets. Most do so shrewedly, few foolishly. Bhutan is in possession of two national assets. Not materials like gold or petrolium. The geographical strategic position and the Wangchuck Dynasty. At one time in history before Communist Party came to power in China, successful annexation of Bhutan by British India or independant India were possibilties. Thankfully events of history preserved Bhutan. Now there is no possibility of any outright annexation the Doklam way. Doklam was an unfortunate exercise of immature political leadership of Indian Prime Minister Modiji giving in to war hawks. At Doklam the Indian war hawks learnt that India cannot afford the price of annexing Bhutan the military way because the geographical strategic position of Bhutan is equally crucial to both China and India. Though India took China by surprise at Doklam, China was not unprepared at Arunachal frontier. Occupation of part of Bhutan was not worth the risk poised to Arunachal Pradesh. Thus the Indian Army withdrawl at Doklam.
The real danger to Bhutan, therefore, lies in political subversion the kind like Southern Bhutan Uprisings and ongoing fueling of regional divisions. As long as we have the Wangchuck Kings, it would be very difficult ( not impossible ) for any Political Party or group to barter away Bhutanese sovereigty. In here comes the Chinese equation. Once diplomatic relationship is established with China, it would be impossible to cheat Bhutan of her sovereignty even through political subversion.
The above is the answer to the question some have raised, " why diplomatic relation with China ?".
I have for decades appealed to our successive Kings and Prime Ministers to open up to China whilst naturally strengthening Bhutan- India friendship. " Not now " stand is disastrous national, bilateral and regional politics. We must wake up to reality ! It is not about China or India. Bhutan is our country and dignified relationships with China and India is to our ultimate national interests.