Bhutan protests against China's road construction

NEW DELHI • Bhutan has protested to China over the construction of a road in disputed territory that has already heightened tensions between Beijing and the Indian government, reports said yesterday.

Bhutan's ambassador to New Delhi, Mr Vetsop Namgyel, said his government had called on China's People's Liberation Army to stop building the road in the district of Sikkim at a point where the Bhutan, Indian and Chinese borders meet.

"We have issued a demarche to China through its diplomatic mission here," Mr Namgyel told the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency. He said the road was "in violation of an agreement between the two countries".

Bhutan and China do not have formal relations but maintain contacts through their missions in New Delhi.

"Doklam is a disputed territory and Bhutan has a written agreement with China that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, peace and tranquillity should be maintained," the ambassador said.

The tiny Himalayan kingdom has found itself dragged into a mounting dispute between India and China over the territorial limit between India's Sikkim state and Tibet.

India's army chief travelled to Sikkim yesterday, days after Beijing accused Indian border guards of crossing into its territory to stop the construction of the road.

Indian media said China had stopped pilgrims crossing into Tibet to visit a mountain revered as the home of the Hindu god Shiva.

India and China have long disputed parts of their frontier in the Himalayas. In 1962, there was a brief war over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

In 2014, Chinese troops moved into Sikkim territory claimed by India, sparking a two week stand-off.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2017, with the headline 'Bhutan protests against China's road construction'. Print Edition | Subscribe