Bji Gewog

Bji Gewog
Bji Gewog is located in Haa District
Bji Gewog
Bji Gewog
Bji Gewog in Bhutan's Haa district
Coordinates: 27°28′28″N 89°11′30″E / 27.4745°N 89.1917°E / 27.4745; 89.1917
Country Bhutan
DistrictHaa District
 • Total802.2 km2 (309.7 sq mi)
 • Total3,230
 • Density4.0/km2 (10/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+6 (BTT)

Bji Gewog[a] (Dzongkha: སྦྱིས་) is a gewog (village block) of Haa District, Bhutan.[1][2] It is the northernmost gewog of the Haa District, bordering China's Chumbi Valley (Yadong county). The gewog has mostly mountainous terrain, with rivers flowing into Amo Chu in the west and the Ha Chu in the east. China claims a large part of the gewog as its territory and has recently started building roads and villages in the border areas.[3][4]


Map 1: Bji Gewog shown in a red border; the grayed area is claimed by China.[b]

In 2002, the Ninth Plan document reported that the Bji Gewog had an area of 832 square kilometres and contained 234 households in 8 villages.[6] In 2013, in the Eleventh Plan document, the area was reported as 802.2 square kilometres.[7]: 1  The reduction of 30 square kilometres is attributable to a possible cession of the Kongbu region[8] to China. It is not being shown as belonging to Bhutan in the current maps.[7]: 8 

The Bji Gewog mostly consists of mountainous terrain, with mountains belonging to the Massang-Chungdung range (also called Jomolhari range). The western part of the gewog is part of the Amo Chu river basin, with a series of tributary rivers rising in the range and flowing into Amo Chu. The eastern part of the gewog is part of the Haa River basin. The lower portion of the Haa River valley, below the Damthang camp is well-populated.[2] (Map 2)

Amo Chu basin

The Amo Chu basin in the gewog is part of Torsa national forest and is designated as a "strict nature reserve". There is no permanent habitation in the area, but the area is open for grazing by pastoral nomads, who use several campsites for their halts.

The rivers flowing into Amo Chu are, from the north to south, Shakhatoe (or Sharkhatoe), Dramana, Langmarpo, Charitang (or Sharitang), Gambala Chu, and Yak Chu.[3] (Map 2)

Map 3: A CIA map of Bhutan, 2015. Dramana and Shakhatoe marked as forming a disputed area at the northwest of the Haa District

The Dramana and Shakhatoe valleys have been recognised by Bhutan as forming a disputed area. Said to measure a combined area of 138 square kilometres,[9][10] the valleys are included in Bhutanese territory, but marked as disputed on maps published after 1989 (Map 3). According to Bhutan's secretary for international boundaries, the pastures of Shakhatoe had always been used by the yak herders of the Haa district.[11] Since August 2004, China has started building its own motor roads in the region, disregarding Bhutanese protests.[11] By 2022, Chinese occupation of the region seems complete, with a trunk road running through the area, with several branch roads and multiple built-up townships.[12][13][c]

The Langmarpo river is the longest of the tributary rivers. The lower western portion of its valley, with a stream called Kongbu (Chinese: 空布), appears to have been ceded by Bhutan to China by 2018.[7]: 8  The remaining course of the Langmarpo Chu has not been ceded but is under effective occupation of China with a highway and several villages constructed along it.[13] China has also constructed a road in the eastern part of the valley towards the Phutegang ridge, where it overlooks the Charitang valley.[11][15][16] Further up along its course, there is a high plateau with several small lakes at elevations ranging from 3700 to 4400 metres. It is referred to as Sinchulung[9][17] or Sinchulungpa[d] by the Bhutanese.[18][19] It is said to measure 42 square kilometres, and is part of the 269 square kilometre area that China included in its "package deal" for border settlement.[9][10][e]

The Charitang valley has formed the traditional trade route between the Chumbi Valley and Bhutan. It has a camp at Dolepchen at the base of the valley, a Charitang guest house along the way, and two passes called Kyu La (or Chu La) and Ha La at the top, which must be crossed before entering the Haa Valley where a camp called Damthang is located.[20][21] Damthang is connected to the Ha Town by a motorable road.

The Yak Chu river in the south covers a considerably large basin.[22] China calls this river Lulin Chu (Chinese: 鲁林曲) and uses the name "Lulin" to describe the region covering both the Charitang and Yak Chu basins.

At the southwestern end, the Amo Chu river forms the border of the Bji Gewog. China's Chumbi Valley begins near the Sinchela Pass according to Bhutan's border definition. From this point, the western bank of the river belongs to China, while the eastern bank is part of the Bji gewog.

To the south of Bji Gewog lies the Sangbay Gewog, where again China claims the area called Doklam, which includes the Doklam plateau and the Torsa Nala basin.

Haa Chu basin

The Haa river is deemed to originate below the Khungdugang peak, which extends to an elevation of 18,730 feet (5,710 m). It is the second tallest peak in the Massang-Chungdung range after Chomolhari. Two streams originate below the mountain, flowing west and east, and join near the Damthang camp. The result of their merger is the Haa Chu river.

Below Damthang, the Haa Chu valley broadens, containing numerous villages with farmlands. In a branch valley running northeast, there are further villages, and a path to Saga La, allowing one to cross into the Paro Valley near Drukyel Dzong.[23]


According to the current demographic data based on the 2017 census, the Bji Gewog has a population of 3,230 living in 23 villages.[f] This appears to be a steep rise from the data reported in the 2002 Plan document. (The simplest explanation is the pastoral nomads in the region are now being counted more effectively.) The villages are grouped into five chiwogs (village blocks), viz., Taloong, Yangthang, Chumpa, Gyansa, and Chempa.[1]

The majority of the population is involved in farming and pastoralism. Wheat, potatoes and vegetables are cultivated, and the surplus is sold in markets in the Ha Town.[1]

According to the district administration, most people are well-off.[1]


  1. ^ Alternative spellings: Bje and Bjee.
  2. ^ The borders shown are those of the Large Scale International Boundaries dataset produced by the US Office of the Geographer, 2012.[5]
  3. ^ In 2010, the secretary for international boundaries mentioned only Dramana as being in dispute without any mention of Shakhatoe.[14]
  4. ^ Alternative spellings: Sinchulumpa and Sinchulumba.
  5. ^ The "package deal" reportedly offered by China in 1990 was to trade Chinese claims to 495 square kilometres along the northern border for Bhutanese claims to 269 square kilometres adjacent to the Chumbi Valley. Bhutan is said to have turned down the offer.[9][10] The package deal is always presented as if it constitutes a full settlement of the border dispute, but there is no explicit statement to this effect. Other Chinese encroachments into the Langmarpo and Charitang valleys call this implication into question.
  6. ^ The growth in the number is due to recognising remote mountain settlements as independent villages. The bulk of the population continues to live in the farming villages in the Ha Valley.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Bji Gewog, Haa Dzongkhag Administration, retrieved 2 August 2022
  2. ^ a b c "Chiwogs in Haa" (PDF). Election Commission, Government of Bhutan. 2011. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-02.
  3. ^ a b Barnett, Robert (7 May 2021), "China Is Building Entire Villages in Another Country's Territory", Foreign Policy
  4. ^ Vishnu Som, Exclusive: In Latest Threat To India, China Builds Illegal Villages Inside Bhutan, NDTV News, 13 January 2022.
  5. ^ Large Scale International Boundaries (LSIB), Europe and Asia, 2012, EarthWorks, Stanford University, retrieved 2 August 2022.
  6. ^ "Bji Gewog Ninth Plan (2002-2007)" (PDF). Haa Dzongkhag Royal Government of Bhutan. Retrieved August 25, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b c Eleventh Five-Year Plan, Haa Dzongkhag (PDF), Gross National Happiness Commission, Royal Government of Bhutan, 2013, ISBN 978-99936-55-01-5
  8. ^ Kongbu region, OpenStreetMap, retrieved 2 August 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d Proceedings and Resolutions of the 75th Session of the National Assembly held from 20th June to 16th July, 1997, National Assembly of Bhutan, 1997, pp.5–6. "His Majesty the King also reminded the members that the disputed areas of the northern border were 495 square kilometres in the central sector and 269 square kilometres in the western sector comprising of 89 square kilometres in Doklam, 42 square kilometres in Sinchulung and 138 square kilometres in Dramana and Shakhatoe."
  10. ^ a b c Penjore, Dorji (Summer 2004), "Security of Bhutan: walking between the giants" (PDF), Journal of Bhutan Studies, 10: 118, doi:10.14288/1.0365158
  11. ^ a b c "5. Bhutanese Assembly members alarmed by road construction across northern boundary", Kuensel, 8 June 2005, archived from the original on 27 October 2017 – via World Tibet Network News
  12. ^ Shakhatoe Valley road, OpenStreetMap, retrieved 13 August 2022.
  13. ^ a b Nature Desai, How Chinese presence continues to grow in Doklam, The Times of India – TOI+, 8 August 2022.
  14. ^ S. Chandrasekharan, Bhutan's Northern Border:China's Bullying and Teasing Tactics, Chennai Centre for China Studies, 15 January 2010.
  15. ^ English Translation of the Resolutions of the 83rd Session of the National Assembly of Bhutan, June 2005, p. 15.
  16. ^ Doslinma Road, OpenSreetMap, retrieved 13 August 2022.
  17. ^ Kumar, Pranav; Acharya, Alka; Jacob, Jabin T. (2011). "Sino-Bhutanese Relations". China Report. 46 (3): 247. doi:10.1177/000944551104600306. ISSN 0009-4455. S2CID 153382221.
  18. ^ Bart Jordans (17 April 2018). Trekking in Bhutan: 22 multi-day treks including the Lunana 'Snowman' Trek, Jhomolhari, Druk Path and Dagala treks. Cicerone Press Limited. ISBN 978-1-78362-599-4.
  19. ^ Rudra Chaudhuri, Looking for Godot, The Indian Express, 3 September 2017. Image 4.
  20. ^ Kyu La route, OpenStreetMap, retrieved 2 August 2022.
  21. ^ English Translation of the Resolutions of the 83rd Session of the National Assembly of Bhutan, June 2005. p. 15. "[..] the track going from Charithang to Dolepchen and the Langmarpo Chhu was the traditional trade route used by Bhutanese traders in the past. Many of our senior officials in government service today also used to travel through this route, crossing over from Dolepchen to Jumu [Dromo] and Sikkim on their way to study in the schools in Kalimpong."
  22. ^ Yak Chu, OpenStreetMap, retrieved 14 August 2022.
  23. ^ Brown, Lindsay David (2014), Lonely Planet: Bhutan (5th ed.), Footscray/Lonely Planet, p. 93 – via

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