●China claims over Bhutan’s Sakteng Wildlife sanctuary
•China made this claim at an online meeting of the 58th Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council, while objecting to the funding request to develop the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary project in eastern Bhutan
•Sakteng wildlife sanctuary is based in Eastern Bhutan, or Trashigang Dzongkhag (district) that borders Arunachal Pradesh
•Bhutan and China do not have any formal diplomatic relations, both the countries conduct their diplomatic communication through their missions in Delhi.
[Bhutan has conveyed its position to China through its embassy in New Delhi— since both countries don’t have embassies in each other’s countries.]
•According to China, the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the China-Bhutan disputed areas which is on the agenda of China-Bhutan boundary talk
[Bhutan totally rejected the claim made by China. It said that Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral and sovereign territory of Bhutan]
•China’s new territorial claim is a part of the larger Chinese tactics of putting pressure on India’s smaller neighbours, to punish them for any closeness to India.
•In 2017 China had intruded into Doklam plateau, which is claimed by Bhutan, leading to a standoff between Indian and Chinese Armies.
•China might be doing this to put a pressure on India, or to divert India’s attention from its aggression at Ladakh.
•(Sakteng is situated along the border with Arunachal Pradesh, some part of which is also claimed by China.)
•Even after the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 2007, Indian military is virtually responsible for protecting Bhutan from the kind of external threat that the Chinese military poses.
•According to the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 1949, Bhutan allowed India to “guide” its foreign policy and defence affairs.
•However, the 1949 treaty was amended in 2007 to respect the sensitivities of Bhutan regarding its sovereignty.
•Under the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 2007, the two sides have agreed to cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests.
•Neither Government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other.
•China has said that a third party should not point fingers in the China-Bhutan border issue, which is an apparent reference to India.