Talking about the Bhutan-China boundary talks the Foreign Minister Dasho (Dr) Tandi Dorji said they have made substantial progress with the border negotiations and there is a deep desire and commitment from both countries to resolve the border at the earliest.
The minister said there were two main changes over the last five years during their tenure.
Lyonpo said there were 24 rounds of border talks with China and every time the border talks were held there was no progress in the negotiation because both countries took their own stand on the claim lines on the border.
He said in 34 years there were 24 rounds of border talks and only 7 Expert Group Meetings (EGMs) held.
“EGM people are those who know about the border like the two International Boundary Secretaries, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs representatives.”
Lyonpo said to enhance the discussions between the two countries in the last year alone they had 4 EGMs compared to 7 EGMs in 34 years.
“That shows the strong will and commitment from both countries to resolve the border.”
Lyonpo said the second change is that in 34 years Bhutan has signed only two agreements with China which are the Guiding principles agreed to in 1988 and the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility in the Bhutan-China Border Areas signed in 1998.
“During our tenure after COVID we signed 2 agreements. The first is the three-step roadmap which clearly delineates how we will resolve the border and this time when I went to China we signed the Cooperation Agreement on the roles and responsibilities of the Joint Technical Team (JTT). This JTT team is another team that will inform and advice the EGM. This is the immense and rapid progress we have reached this time.”
Lyonpo said he is very confident that in the next few rounds there will be even more progress.
“We had hoped that we would be able to resolve it at this stage but the two EGMs and the JTT will starts their work and hopefully they will reach an agreement soon.”
In a press release Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Bhutan said that the 25th Round of Boundary Talks between Bhutan and China was held in Beijing on 23rd and 24th October 2023.
Lyonpo (Dr) Tandi Dorji, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Bhutan, led the Bhutanese delegation and Mr. Sun Weidong, Vice Foreign Minister of China, led the Chinese delegation.
The two sides held in-depth discussions on the boundary negotiations and noted the progress made through a series of Expert Group Meetings since the 24th Round of Boundary Talks in 2016. The two leaders of the delegations commended the Expert Group for the work done and agreed to build on the positive momentum.
During the talks, the two leaders of the delegations signed the Cooperation Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Responsibilities and Functions of the Joint Technical Team (JTT) on the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Bhutan-China Boundary. The JTT was established during the 13th Expert Group Meeting to assist the Expert Group in the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Three-Step Roadmap.
The two sides agreed to continue working together to simultaneously push forward the implementation of all the steps of the Three-Step Roadmap.
The discussions were held in a warm and friendly atmosphere in keeping with the ties of friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and China. The two sides also exchanged views on enhancing bilateral relations and matters of mutual interest.
Lyonpo (Dr.) Tandi Dorji also had meetings with Mr. Han Zheng, Chinese Vice President, and Mr. Wang Yi, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister for Foreign Affairs of China. The Bhutanese delegation also visited places of historical and cultural significance.