Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary

Mains level : China's territorial expansion plans

In a bid to further its territorial ambitions, China has recently claimed the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary in Eastern Bhutan as its own territory.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What are the various fronts of Chinese imperial expansionism across the South Asian Region?

About the Sakteng WLS

  • Sakteng is a wildlife sanctuary located mostly in Trashigang District and just crossing the border into Samdrup Jongkhar District, Bhutan.
  • It is one of the country’s protected areas.
  • It is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion.

Certain unresolved issues

  • The boundary between China and Bhutan has never been delimited.
  • There have been disputes over the eastern, central and western sectors for a long time.
  • China last month attempted to stop funding for the Sakteng sanctuary from the U.N. Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) on the grounds that it was “disputed” territory.

Reasons for the dispute

  • According to written records, there has been no mention of Eastern Bhutan, or Trashigang Dzongkhag (district), where Sakteng is based as per boundary negotiations held between the two countries between 1984 and 2016.
  • The negotiations have not been held since the Doklam standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in 2017.
  • Bhutan has always maintained a discreet silence on its boundary negotiations with China, and it does not have any formal diplomatic relations with Beijing.

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