Beijing’s Expansionism in the Himalayas
SADF Comment, No. 219, South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF), Brussels, Belgium, 2021 DOI: 10.48251/SADF.ISSN.2406-5617.C219
7 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2021 Last revised: 13 Oct 2021
Date Written: September 21, 2021
‘China Is Building Entire Villages in Another Country’s Territory’ is the title of a report by Robert Barnett, an eminent scholar on modern Tibetan history and politics. The report regarded an official visit by Chinese authorities to the new village of Gyalaphug (Jieluobu), ‘key to the settlement of the Beyul (Baiyu) [within Bhutan] by China’. Hundreds of such structures are being built along the Tibetan side of the Himalayas; however, these ones in particular are being built in another country.
After elaborating on Chinese constructions in Gyalaphug and its surrounding area (a process depicted as the ‘settlement of entire districts’), Barnett draws the larger picture as concerns Beijing’s claims over Bhutanese territory. According to the scholar, currently ‘China claims four areas in the west, three in the north (Beyul Khenpajong [Baiyu; were Gyalaphug is located], Menchuma Valley [Minjiuma] and Chagdzom area and one in the east (Sakteng [Molasading])’ of Bhutan. In sum, the Chinese leadership no longer pretends to follow a ‘soft-power’ approach to achieve its national interests. Instead, we now witness the forthright use of coercive force as the defining criteria in its relations with other countries – namely, as a means to solve disputes. This is a reality that China’s neighbouring states (from Japan, via the Philippines and Vietnam, to India) have been experiencing for years. It’s time to understand that Beijing’s lulling ‘Panda diplomacy’ is over.
Keywords: Bhutan, borders, China, Expansionism, Gyalaphug, Himalaya India, Land-grabbing, South China Sea, Territorial claims, Tibet, Village constructions
JEL Classification: N85, F55, F63, F64, F66, F68, H50, H56, H60, H70, F50, H10, H11, H70, N40, N45, I28, J18, J68
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation