Washington: China has claimed the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan as its own territory. Border dispute already exists between China and Bhutan, as the borders have not been clearly defined. But now China has claimed rights over Bhutanese land and has once again made a dirty exhibition in its ‘Salami Slicing’ policy. But Bhutan has lambasted China that the wildlife sanctuary is an integral part of Bhutan. The crooked Chinese intent to stop the grant given by the GEF to the Sakteng Sanctuary, by claiming it as a Chinese territory, was also foiled by India, who represented Bhutan.
During the discussion, which was being held in the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Council, regarding the issue of sanctioning a grant for the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan, China suddenly came up with this claim that the territory belonged to China. Sakteng Sanctuary, located around 17 kilometres from the Sela pass in Arunachal Pradesh, is spread over nearly 650 square kilometres. This sanctuary is home to Red Panda, Himalayan Black Bear and many other rare species of wild animals. But Bhutan has not received any aid for this sanctuary from any international institution so far. The issue for providing financial assistance to the sanctuary was taken up for the first time by a global organisation like GEF. China stalled the grant claiming that this sanctuary was Chinese territory.
There has been no dispute between China and Bhutan over this sanctuary land. But there is a border dispute between the two countries at some locations. Taking advantage of these unresolved disputes, China has made this claim over the sanctuary land. But this Chinese attempt was foiled by senior Indian IAS officer Aparna Subramani, who represents Bhutan. India clarified that the opinion of Bhutan should be taken into consideration first. Thereafter, Bhutan too, lambasted China that the sanctuary land is a sovereign Bhutanese territory, it was their land and will continue to remain theirs. Meeting of the council was held again, and the grant was sanctioned for Bhutan.
Currently, Indian and Chinese soldiers are involved in a standoff over the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh. It has been recently exposed that China has encroached even Nepalese land. China has a border dispute with all the countries in the South China Sea. While the border dispute has flared up in the North China Sea with Japan, now, China has claimed rights over the Sakteng Sanctuary. Till date, China had never staked a claim on this territory.
It is an old Chinese ploy to stake a claim on the territories of neighbouring countries by using its influence and might and acquire the land and expand the Chinese map under its ‘Salami Slicing’ policy. But now, China is facing retaliation from all sides. The neighbouring countries have started aligning against this Chinese bullying. Therefore, it will be difficult for China to acquire territories of neighbouring countries in this manner. The analysts are pointing out that the anger against China at the international level is rising because of such Chinese policies. In 2017, India had foiled one such attempt, to build a road in the Doklam area. China could not digest the jolt. China has an objection that India handles Bhutanese foreign and defence policies.
Meanwhile, India and Bhutan traditionally share an amicable relationship. India is building a 600 Megawatt hydroelectric project in Bhutan, and the agreement for the project was signed on Tuesday.