Prime Minister meets Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao

According to a Press Release issued by the Prime Minister’s office, Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley met the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on 21st June 2012 at the sidelines of the Rio summit.

The release from the Prime Minister’s office said, “The meeting carries great historic significance as it marks the first meeting between the heads of the two governments.”

It also said “They discussed bilateral issues of mutual interest and multilateral cooperation including Bhutan’s bid for a non permanent seat on UN Security Council for the term 2013-2014, elections for which are to be held in fall this year.”

According to a host of international news reports which included prominent Chinese and Indian news agencies Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister, Jigmi Y Thinley on Thursday are reported to have expressed willingness to establish formal diplomatic ties between the two countries. The news reports were flashed widely on numerous prominent media outlets especially in India and China generating interest among foreign policy watchers in both the giant neighbors of Bhutan.

However, the Media Attache of the Bhutan Prime Minister’s office claimed that ‘local Chinese media had misreported that Bhutan and China will establish diplomatic ties.”

Lyonchhen was quoted by Xinhua news agency and other news agencies as saying Bhutan “wishes to forge formal diplomatic ties with China as soon as possible” as well as settle border issues “in a cooperative manner.”

According to the Press Trust of India report, Wen told Thinley that China values the traditional friendship between the two nations and respects Bhutan’s choice for its developmental path according to its own national condition

Mr. Wen told his counterpart “China is ready to forge formal diplomatic relations with Bhutan on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence,” the State-run Chinese Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

China is willing to complete border demarcation with Bhutan at an early date and strengthen exchanges in various fields so as to push bilateral ties to a higher level, Mr. Wen said, appreciating “Bhutan’s staunch support of China’s position on issues concerning Taiwan and Tibet”.

According to the Indian Express, Zee News and Press Trust of India reports Thinley told Wen that Bhutan is willing to enhance bilateral economic and trade cooperation and people-to people contact and cultural exchanges, and carry out close communication and coordination in international and regional affairs.

Mr. Wen told Lyonchhen that China was,” willing to complete border demarcation with Bhutan at an early date,” telling his counterpart that Beijing has “a foreign policy of good-neighborliness.”

Lyonchhen is also quoted as saying that he is highly appreciative of ‘China’s endeavor to safeguard the common interest of developing countries in international and regional affairs.

Wen told Thinley that China values the traditional friendship between the two nations and respects Bhutan’s choice for its developmental path according to its own national conditions.

Bhutan firmly sticks to a one-China policy and has strong desire to strengthen understanding of and friendship with China, Lyonchhen said.

Bhutan and China have had 19 rounds of border talks so far.

Meanwhile, in Thimphu there was some confusion in the Foreign Ministry with most senior officials away in Brazil.

A Foreign Ministry official on the condition of anonymity said, “It is unlikely that Bhutan and China will have diplomatic relations soon. There are certain policies when it comes to the Permanent five of the United Nations security council.”

Bhutan traditionally has not established any direct diplomatic relations with the P-5 members.

Another official said, “as far as diplomatic relations are concerned not only China per se, the Government is gradually expanding its diplomatic relations which is considered on a case by case basis.”

With regard to the international reports, the senior official said that he will not be able to comment on it as the story has appeared in Rio and that he will try to ascertain the veracity of the story.

“We have no official report from Brazil and that is why we cannot confirm,” said a third foreign ministry official.

In September, 2008 a publication called ‘Council on Foreign Relations’ published a detailed interview with Lyonchhen in which one question was on diplomatic relations with China.

Lyonchhen is quoted as saying, “Well, everything will happen in good time. We do have good relations with China. China is our other neighbor. We have only two neighbors, contiguous countries neighboring Bhutan, and these are China and India. Because of historical and economic reasons, our relations with India have tended to grow. On the other hand, China being across the Himalayas, our relations have not developed in an equal way. But in a globalizing world, and given the good relations that we already have, formalization is something that will come in good time.”

The meeting between the Bhutanese Prime Minister and the Chinese Premier comes in the regional backdrop of growing military tensions between India and China along large areas of its unresolved Himalayan borders.

While the official denial has been issued to the Bhutanese Media at home news of a ‘diplomatic relations’ gaffe in the International media could create some ripples in the carefully calibrated Indo-Bhutan relationship.

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  1. Its a great move by our P.M considering the length of border we share with China. 

  2. I just hope that the Indian side are mature enough to realize that Bhutan has every right to pursue good relations with China, given that the whole of northern Bhutan borders China. At present we are facing  an economic crisis of sorts and I just hope that India does not punish us, which would be very unfortunate if it did happen. 

  3. India will always remain a great friend of ours, perhaps the best of best friends. There is no contradiction in this policy. It is permanently sealed. Nothing can shake that friendship.

    On the other hand as an independent country we have every right to forge relationship with the second largest economy in the world, China. In this globalized world we cannot remain like an enemy to China when we share almost half of our boundary with the northern neighbor. That is not good to our country in many ways. Bravo to PM for such great move. It is a small step but positive move towards forging a friendship with China. We have buffered this two great state physically. May be we can also provide a platform to share their differences and develop mutual friendship. After all we are all humans with similar basic needs, that is happiness.

    • In power politics, anything can happen and I am just a bit wary that PMs good intentions will be frowned upon by some people who want to create trouble. Otherwise, I agree with what you have written completely.

    • Sonam is truly a think tank…You read my mind and express with wisdom…Thanks for such healthy should keep on writing!Cheers!Cheers!

  4. The reality is that countries do not have friends, they have interests.

  5. Wen Jiabao’s face looks so blank, it seems that PM is standing next to a cutout photo.

  6. This has been long overdue. We need our border issue to be solved. 

  7. Good job PM. It’s time we have relation with china given the pressure we get from India. Besides china is our neighbor and there is no way we can live in denial. China will be the most powerful nation in the world very soon. We have no way out, 

  8. What a wonderful, welcoming news!!!

  9. While it is important to maintain continued strong relationship with India for what they have done with our developmental activities, including food supplies, its high time that we establish diplomats with China and save our mountains and map.

  10. Our country is independent and we have every right to choose our friends. But i think to develop diplomatic ties with China will need some thorough research, thinking, debate, consultation. It shouldn’t be handled like how they handled the Tuesday Pedestrian day – done unilaterally without any consultation. We are a small nation but a smart one, we should focus on what had always excelled in (diplomacy) and not jump into every opportunity that passes our way. 

  11. Great news and credit to PM for doing a job well done. Hopefully this will lead to further improvement and establishment of relations with China that are long over due. Bhutan can bridge the gap between India and China and act as a neutral point where the two giant nations can meet up and talk up strategies. India should see it as a step forward for their own geopolitical vision to have Bhutan as a conduit for discussions and better relations with China. Yippee…we could be the Switzerland of Asia after all.

  12. Not jump into every opportunity???….Hello….Chinese border and relations are vital for Bhutan’s development and it’s very existence. We cannot be a one trick India pony.

  13. China’s Wen Jiabao meets Bhutan’s very own Tsagey Bao!

  14. We don’t want to be like the tibetans

  15. Our PM has zero understanding of geopolitics or realpolitik. He has his head up in GNH land and it seems it is permanently stuck. He wants to be on the UN Security Council and for that he needs India’s support and he goes and steps on their toes by talking directly to China on all the sensitive topics.

    The reality of our border problem with India is that Bhutan has claimed land that belongs to China because India wants us to. And China is asking for it to be recognized as Chinese soil. India will never accept it because of their own strategic interests. So India’s policy regarding Bhutan negotiating with China is to keep us talking and talking but never coming to a solution.  Our great PM thinks he has achieved a huge breakthrough. Welcome to Bhutan Geopolitiks 101!

    That’s why he must be known as our Tsa Geybao! 

    • So what do you suggest Bhutan do, wise guy.

    • According to you Bhutan has claimed Chinese territory as our own on the orders of India and yet our country has become smaller by nearly 10,000 square kilometers, so how do you explain this if we are to believe you.

      • I believe this thing is not new in Bhutan. if you look at our cadastral survey records the size of land all over Bhutan keep changing every time they survey. 

    • what do I suggest? I suggest that in 2013 the voters vote to ensure that the DPT sit as our Opposition. I think they will make a good opposition. They have proven incapable of leading the country. 

      • For that you will have to go to each and everyone of our villages to campaign against the DPT, a few urban dwellers talking crap about the PM is certainly not going to get the DPT voted out, just mark my words.

        So I hope you can put your money where your mouth is and start campaigning for the PDP fast, your running out of time.

      • I like your confidence. Or should I say over-confidence. Especially after 4+ years of DPT-style mismanagement of the country.

        • If the PDP got their act together, I would not be that confident. Tell me something about the PDP that inspires confidence, at least I have not seen anything about them to make me think they would be a threat to the DPT, in fact my gut feeling tells me that PDP may not even be in the opposition after the next elections. 

  16. apkado and this paper can together spoil the whole country.!!!

  17. I agree with with Apkado’s point, ” He has his head up in GNH land and it seems it is permanently stuck. He wants to be on the UN Security Council.” Believe it or not, he is trying to get his next job, if he doesn’t win for next election, I don’t think he will stand as MP from Pemagatshel. So, he would rather resign from DPT and work abroad like any other high profiles. He is pushing very hard to do everything before his term. I also heard that PM got harsh words from Indian PM after our PM met with Wen Jiabao. I think if Indian governments cuts all the ties with Bhutan, then we are just gold fish in the pond. China is very powerful country. Better safe then sorry. Maybe PM wants to ‘Thanks’ Wen on behalf of his daughter who sells Chinese cars in Bhutan. Just my thoughts!!!

    • Wow, you seem to know everything the PM is going to do, why waste your time with your wild theories and if you want it to come true, you better start politicking for the PDP, otherwise he will be the PM again.

      • You bet, I am not going to vote for DPT again. 

        • That’s clear for everyone to see, my point is if you don’t want him as the PM for another term of 5 years, better go and start campaigning for the opposition. And your one vote is hardly going to make any difference to the outcome, so the DPT is certainly not going to lose any sleep over it.

  18. The secrecy of regional politics is well known. But JYT is not new to Geopolitics 101. He has read that subject before apkado was born.

    If we declare our self as independent, why are you afraid of India. Otherwise we are not independent if we have to seek approval from India all the time. We value their friendship so much. They are the best of best friend. No doubt. We respect Indians above many other nations.

  19. Apkado, welcome to Geopolitics 699

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