Modi’s Bhutan Visit: A Strategic Move Amidst Growing Chinese Influence

March 24, 2024 6:30 am

Modi's Bhutan Visit: A Strategic Move Amidst Growing Chinese Influence

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Bhutan has drawn attention to the strategic importance of the tiny Himalayan nation, particularly in the context of China’s expanding influence in the region.

Bhutan, known for its unique policy emphasizing “Gross National Happiness,” has traditionally maintained close ties with India, which views the country as a crucial buffer state within its sphere of influence. However, recent developments, including trade and infrastructure deals between Bhutan and China, have raised concerns in New Delhi about Beijing’s intentions in the region.

Modi’s visit, characterized by his office as part of India’s “Neighbourhood First Policy,” underscores India’s commitment to maintaining strong ties with Bhutan amidst shifting geopolitical dynamics. The timing of the visit is significant, coming against the backdrop of increasing Chinese engagement with Bhutan, including a recent “cooperation agreement” signed between the two countries.

India’s historical oversight of Bhutan’s foreign policy, prior to the kingdom’s transition to a multi-party democracy in 2007, highlights the deep-rooted relationship between the two nations. While Bhutan does not have formal diplomatic relations with China, the cooperation agreement signals a potential shift in its foreign policy stance.

Modi’s visit serves as a reaffirmation of India’s strategic interests in the region and its determination to counterbalance China’s influence. By strengthening ties with Bhutan, India aims to prevent further inroads by Beijing into what it perceives as its natural sphere of influence.

As Modi engages in discussions with Bhutanese leaders during his two-day visit, the focus remains on bolstering bilateral cooperation and reaffirming India’s commitment to supporting Bhutan’s sovereignty and development aspirations. In the broader context of regional geopolitics, Modi’s diplomatic efforts in Bhutan carry implications for the balance of power in South Asia.

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