In a new Policy Paper, Gray Sergeant analyses the unfolding geopolitical competition in the Himalayan region and how the United Kingdom with its interests in mind should respond.
Attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to alter the borders by infringing upon the territory of others and exploiting the region’s resources for political leverage demand the United Kingdom’s (UK) attention. In this Policy Paper, titled ‘Geopolitics in the Himalayas: Towards a British strategy’, Gray Sergeant investigates Chinese activity in the region that is at odds with regional powers, particularly India, Bhutan and Nepal, before recommending British responses.
Just as [the People’s Republic of China (PRC)] has built artificial islands on low tide elevations in the South China Sea to establish de facto control, it has altered facts on the ground in Bhutan by building villages and infrastructure inside Bhutanese territory. Likewise, in Nepal, Chinese interference has grown more pronounced in recent years, resulting in harsh policies towards Tibetan refugees. And in its border disputes with India, the PRC has leveraged its control over the upper reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo-Brahmaputra River, most notably during the 2017 Doklam standoffGray Sergeant
The author recommends that His Majesty’s (HM) Government consider crafting a British Himalayas Strategy, which should:
- Support Bhutan’s territorial integrity;
- Counter PRC influence in Nepal and support further democratisation there;
- Deepen cooperation with India;
- Encourage greater cooperation over transboundary rivers;
- Promote the wellbeing of Tibetan refugees in Nepal; and,
- Stand up for Tibetans.
As HM Government ‘refreshes’ the Integrated Review it should begin to broaden the so-called ‘tilt’ towards a more systematic Indo-Pacific posture which covers the maritime and terrestrial theatres of the region.Gray Sergeant