It’s been a couple of weeks since the border standoff between China and India and while it’s still ongoing, it seems like China has now shifted focus towards Bhutan. 

Beijing recently made a claim, objecting to a request that seeked to develop a wildlife sanctuary called Sakteng in eastern Bhutan. In an online meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), China voiced their objection.  

GEF is a US- based global body made to finance projects pertaining to the environmental sector set up in 1992. While there was disagreement between both China and Bhutan which has been reflected in the minutes from the meeting, the GEF council proceeded to pass the project for funding after rejecting China’s claim.  

In the documentation, the Chinese representative is noted to have said:

In light of the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in the project ID 10561 is located in the China-Bhutan disputed areas which is on the agenda of China-Bhutan boundary talk, China opposes and does not join the Council decision on this project.

On the above statement, Bhutan retaliated by saying:

Bhutan totally rejects the claim made by the Council Member of China. Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral and sovereign territory of Bhutan and at no point during the boundary discussions between Bhutan and China has it featured as a disputed area. 

How India plays into the equation is the manner in which China and Bhutan communicated to one another. Since both countries do not have embassies in each other’s country, Bhutan conveyed it’s views through its embassy situated in New Delhi.

The sanctuary, located in the easternmost part of Bhutan, covers 650 sq km, and has not been disputed by China in the past. Moreover, the former Indian ambassador to Bhutan also substantiated this claim and said that no part of eastern Bhutan was in dispute.