Bhutan contributed in a major way in ending the Sino-Indian military standoff by remaining firm on its position on territorial sovereignty withstanding diplomatic, political and military pressure from Beijing.
While India and Bhutan were engaged in hectic diplomatic parleys since the standoff began mid-June, Thimphu came under immense diplomatic pressure from China with senior diplomats and their families travelling to Thimphu from Delhi. China even went on to claim that Bhutan has accepted Doklam as part of the bigger neighbour only to be refuted by Thimphu.
Bhutan, under pressure from Beijing to establish diplomatic ties, invoked 1949 and 2007 bilateral treaties with India — allowed Indian military to camp at Doklam. It further abided by 2012 Sino-Indian understanding that all trijunction points must be addressed through trilateral dialogue and not bilateral between Thimphu and Beijing.
It was not an easy task for Bhutan – sandwiched between India and China – to undertake delicate balancing act. But it did that with finesse. Besides unlike China, Bhutan did not indulge in any war of words but allowed diplomacy to take precedence. All eyes were on Bhutan’s role as to whether it would dilute its position during the episode. On the contrary, Thimphu was diplomatic, issuing only one statement on June 29, followed by a remark from one of its senior diplomats and finally sharp statement on Tuesday that status quo must be respected based on the existing agreements between the respective countries.
The media in Bhutan too was cautious in the entire episode and even after Sino-Indian disengagement on Monday that ended the crisis, it reacted in a mature fashion.