(TibetanReview.net, Jul20’22) – China has built a fully inhabited new village in Bhutanese territory close to the Doklam plateau, the site of a 72-day standoff between it and Indian troops in 2017 when the latter intervened to stop the former from building a road over the intruded area, reported the ndtv.com Jul 20, citing satellite images.
India strongly opposed the construction of the road at the Doklam tri-junction as it would have impacted its overall security interests.
The village, which the Chinese have named Pangda, has cars parked in front of most of the houses. Close to Pangda is an “all-weather carriageway” which enters 10 km into Bhutan and is along the banks of the Amo Chu river.
During the 2017 stand-off, India prevented Chinese army workers from accessing a strategic ridge – Jhamperi – adjacent to the Doklam plateau.
But the construction along the Amo Chu means that Chinese forces could get access to a strategic ridge in the adjacent Doklam plateau, the report said.
This ridge is said to give an advantage to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in that it would give it a “direct line-of-sight” to the Siliguri corridor or the ‘Chicken’s Neck’ which connects India to its northeast states.
Besides, the Jhamperi ridge indicates that the PLA now seeks to go around Indian army defences by using an alternate route to reach the feature, the report noted.
“Pangda village and the ones to its North and South are classic examples of the Chinese trying to establish their legitimacy over the Jhamperi ridge and the Doklam plateau”. The report quoted Lieutenant General (retired) Praveen Bakshi, who was the Eastern Army Commander during the Doklam crisis, as saying.
Raising villages along the border that the PLA disputes are “essentially a manner of giving legitimacy to its territorial claims,” Bakshi has added.
“The speed and development of this remote area are noteworthy, underlining how China is extending its borders uncontested,” Damien Symon, a geospatial intelligence researcher at The Intel Lab, has said.
“The road construction activity in this distant, isolated sector highlights efforts taken by China to ensure all-weather, uninterrupted connectivity to remote, new habitats across its frontier,” Symon has added.
Bhutan shares an over 400-km-long border with Chinese occupied Tibet and the two countries have held over 24 rounds of boundary talks in a bid to resolve the dispute.
The two countries also held 10 rounds of negotiations at the ‘Expert Group’ level.
The Doklam tri-junction is seen as strategically important from the point of view of India’s security interests.