China has expedited construction at six sites with over 200 structures, including two-storey buildings, along its disputed border with Bhutan. This has been revealed in the satellite image analysis done by the news agency Reuters.
American data analytics firm हॉकआई-360 (HawkEye-360) Images provided by Reuters to Reuters illustrate the case that China is carrying out several construction works in disputed areas near the Bhutan border.
The firm Hawkeye 360 uses satellites to gather intelligence on ground-level movements and then the images are scrutinized. Chris Biggers, Mission Applications Director at Hawkeye 360, said construction-related activities in some places along Bhutan’s western border have been underway since early 2020.
Work picked up in 2021. Many small structures were built, possibly for household appliances and supplies. After this the foundation was laid and then the buildings were constructed. Two other experts who studied new construction sites and recent satellite images taken by Capella Space said all six settlements appeared to be in areas disputed by China and Bhutan.
In response to media queries, Bhutan’s Foreign Ministry has said that it is Bhutan’s policy not to discuss border issues with the public. The ministry declined to comment further. Foreign affairs experts and an Indian defense source said the build-up shows China is intent on resolving its border claims by solidifying its ambitions.
China The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that this is purely to improve the working and living conditions of the local people. It is within the sovereignty of China to carry out normal construction activities in its territory.
The new construction near the disputed border is 9 to 27 km from the Doklam area at the junction of the borders of India, Bhutan and China where Indian and Chinese troops had a standoff for more than two months in 2017.
Bhutan has taken nearly four decades to settle its 477 km long border. China conversing with. At present, this issue is not only of territorial integrity, but also of concern about possible security for India.
Barnett and M. Taylor Frawell, directors, said the settlements are part of a plan made public by Beijing in 2017 to build more than 600 villages along the border areas in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), located on the Chinese side of the disputed border. Is. of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Frawell said the construction indicated that China was looking to consolidate its control and improve infrastructure in the border areas. The Chinese-controlled TAR was established in 1965, six years after the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in the wake of a failed rebellion against Chinese rule. There are some villages near the border where no construction has taken place before. Barnett said the Chinese government subsidizes residents to settle there.
“All the cross-border villages in the western Bhutan sector are located in areas where no natural villages will be found, as these areas are hardly habitable,” he said.
up to the “Chicken Neck” area
Control over the remote Doklam Plateau would potentially give China greater access to the adjacent “Chicken Neck” region, a strategic strip of land that connects India to its northeastern region. India shares a 3,500 km long border with China.
Troops from the two countries remain stationed near each other in a separate border dispute in the Ladakh region, about 1,100 km from Doklam – where they clashed in a one-on-one fight in 2020. India is closely monitoring Chinese manufacturing along its borders, the Indian defense source said, refusing to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. Biggers said satellite imagery shows that neither India nor Bhutan has responded on the ground to China’s construction activities.
Nathan Russer, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute research organization, said countering Chinese manufacturing would be a challenge for India and Bhutan.
“Any action taken against these Chinese establishments will inevitably put the civilian population at risk,” Russer said. “This limits the ways in which India and Bhutan have been able to counter Chinese encroachment into disputed areas.”