India 'decisive' factor in solving China-Bhutan border dispute
Beijing: India's influence over Bhutan would be a "decisive" factor in resolving border dispute between Beijing and Thimpu, a Chinese expert has said.
"India has tremendous influence over Bhutan," Fu Xiaoqiang, a researcher with the state-run China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations told the Global Times newspaper referring to the close Indo-Bhutan ties.
"If Bhutan can settle border issues with China, the result will certainly create norms that will likely be followed in the border talks between China and India," he said.
His comments came as Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying made a rare visit to Bhutan last week to take part in the 20th round of boundary talks between the two countries.
Fu's visit took place in the backdrop of a surprise meeting between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Bhutanese counterpart Jigmi Y Thinley on the sidelines of a UN meet in Rio de Janeiro in June, where the two expressed their desire to establish diplomatic ties.
Though neighbours, the two countries have not yet established diplomatic relations as Bhutan, a strongly ally of India, had remained aloof since 1951 from China after Beijing took firm control of Tibet, which shared borders with Bhutan.
Relations between Beijing and Thimpu remained traditionally strained following their border dispute.
The two countries shared about 470-km long contiguous borders and held 20 rounds of talks to resolve the dispute and inked an agreement promising to 'Maintain Peace and Tranquillity on the Bhutan-China Border Areas' in 1998.
Any settlement of the Bhutan-China border is regarded as significant for India as Chumbi Valley, a vital tri-junction between Bhutan, India and China border is just 500 km from Siliguri corridor.
Known as "Chicken Neck" it connects India's land links with its North Eastern states as well as Nepal and Bhutan.
Fu who visited Bhutan on August 10 also met Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Fu appreciated the importance the King attached in developing ties with China and his commitment to resolve the border issues, Chinese Foreign Ministry said.