Home Asia Bhutan Welcomes Chinese Officials Months before Election, First after Doklam

Bhutan Welcomes Chinese Officials Months before Election, First after Doklam

Chinese Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou is on a three-day visit to Bhutan. This is a first high-level visit by any senior Chinese official after the border stand-off at Doklam last year

Kong has met Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, according to Bhutanese officials.

Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji and Kong also held discussions on “matters of mutual interest”, officials said. Interstingly, Kong has visited India twice in last six months,too.

As per reports published by The Indian Express Bhutan had kept India “in the loop” about the visit of Kong, who holds a position equivalent to India’s Foreign Secretary.

What generates more interest in the meeting is its timing. Bhutan is all set to go in polls in the coming October which makes timing of the visit significant.

While Bhutan has formal diplomatic relations with 53 countries, it does not have official bilateral relations with its northern neighbor. The Chinese Ambassador to India liaises with Bhutanese Ambassador in New Delhi for official communication.

Sources said Prime Minister Tobgay had briefed India about Bhutan’s current state of relations with China during his visit earlier this month.

Bhutan and China have unresolved border issues, and the two countries are in negotiations to resolve the dispute.

They have held 24 rounds of boundary talks so far — the last round took place in in August 2016. The 25th round could not take place in 2017, because of the two-and-a-half-month border stand-off.

Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui had visited Thimphu in January 2017.

While India has been supportive of Bhutan’s outreach to the world, it has always been cautious when it comes to Thimpu’s ties with Beijing. In June 2012, the then Bhutanese PM Jigme Thinley met Chinese Premier at the time, Wen Jiabao, setting off alarm bells in Delhi.