(TibetanReview.net, Dec30’23) –China has built new border defence villages close to a spot called Yangtse where Indian troops brawled with intruding Chinese soldiers in Arunachal Pradesh a year ago, reported newsweek.com Dec 29, citing recent satellite images.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet. One year ago, its PLA troops and members of the Indian Army brawled at Yangtse in the Tawang region of the Indian state. It was another melee with fists and handheld weapons instead of firearms—part of a long-running understanding between the two sides – the report said.
In an area in Tibet known as the Nagdoh bowl, roughly 2.2 miles from the border with India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, China has consolidated its presence by building so-called “xiaokang” villages. The phrase means “moderately prosperous,” borrowed directly from Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s former development goal for the country, the report noted.
Newsweek‘s analysis of imagery from Sinergise’s Sentinel Hub website, captured by the Sentinel-2 satellite of the European Union’s Copernicus Earth observation program, has been stated to show a sprawling network of villages growing in the border city of Nyingchi (Tibetan: Nyingtri), in occupied Tibet since late 2020.
Whereas in 2017, satellite photographs showed one red-roofed settlement in the area, dozens more buildings, all with dark roofs, have now emerged alongside a field and running track. The three dual-use settlements of mixed civilian and military infrastructure were said to be occupied by local cattle herders, the report said, citing Chinese state media.
After last year’s melee in Twang district’s Yangtse—6.2 miles west of the Nagdoh bowl where Beijing’s three xiaokang villages are located—officials in New Delhi accused a Chinese patrol of an incursion into Indian territory.
In Yangtse, the Indian Army commands a strategic advantage thanks to its occupation of the region’s high ground. But the PLA wants to change the reality on the ground through permanent presence in the xiaokang villages near the border, the report noted.
“Yangtse’s importance lies in the fact that we can get a very good view of what is going on in the Nagdoh bowl. And…it is the fulcrum of the Chinese activities in the area opposite Tawang,” L Nishikanta Singh, a retired lieutenant general of the Indian Army, has said.
The report cited Indian experts as saying China’s xiaokang villages are a “gray-zone” tactic, a quasi-military move that deliberately falls short of the threshold of war. Policymakers in New Delhi have been warned that the new settlements could be used to secretly house garrisons, and to launch offenses into Indian land.
“Chinese efforts to strengthen its claims in the area have led Beijing to adopt new ways and means: building xiaokang ‘model’ villages in strategic areas, renaming places, and issuing new border laws that India sees as giving more legal cover to its forces,” Amrita Jash, an assistant professor at India’s Manipal Academy of Higher Education, has written in an October report for the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Advanced Study of India.