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Turan Nishant asked: Is there any sign of Bhutan possibly titling towards China for economic reasons? If yes, then what should be India's strategy towards Bhutan?

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  • Medha Bisht replies: Bhutan has adopted a very cautious, guarded and pragmatic foreign policy towards China. Given the strong India - Bhutan relations, which is built on the foundation of trust and mutual benefit, it is unlikely that Bhutan will tilt towards China. There are three other reasons which will discourage Bhutan's tilt towards China. First, Bhutan's industrial belt is in the South and geographically trade facilitation becomes more convenient with India. Second, Bhutan- China boundary dispute has not been resolved as yet. I do not see both countries having an economic relationship with an unresolved boundary dispute in the back burner. Third, for establishing ties with China, Bhutan will have to reverse its policy of not having any diplomatic relations with P-5 countries. That would mean having diplomatic relations with the United States of America too.

    Having said this, I am not negating the possibility of the China factor. Domestic pressure is building up in Bhutan to resolve the boundary dispute with China. With Bhutan now encouraging the private sector to come up, there will be some circles in Bhutan, who will see business in engaging with China.

    Today, the Indo- Bhutan relations have become all encompassing, cross cutting various sections of society. India, therefore, has to be more sensitive and responsive in its engagement with Bhutan. India also needs to factor in the change taking place in Bhutanese society and politics.