China Turns on Charm Offensive for Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan

Bhutan is nestled among the Himalayas and between Asia’s two giant powers – India to the south and China to the north. The small kingdom, a country of 750,000, has long had ties with India. So India watches closely as China steps up attempts to settle longstanding border differences and strengthen ties with Bhutanese leaders including Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji who visited Beijing in August. Author Bertil Lintner points out that “Bhutan would find it difficult to act independently when it comes to its foreign relations. Imports from India account for 75 percent of the total, and 85 percent of all exports goes to India.” India and Bhutan have a long history, and a 2007 treaty states that “Neither government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interests of the other.” Lintner concludes that tiny Bhutan could find itself caught in the middle and not prepared to handle the consequences of angering either giant. – YaleGlobal

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