Secret satellite images of new village reveal China's invasive act

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi Attacks Modi Gov't Over Reports of a New Chinese Village at Bhutan's Doklam Plateau CC BY-SA 4.0 Sidheeq Rahul Gandhi

"There has clearly been significant construction activity this year all along the Torsa River valley area with extensive road-building [and] construction activity underway", a Maxar spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia in a statement.

Maxar said there had also been construction of "new military storage bunkers" near the Doklam area.

However images captured by US-based satellite imaging company Maxar suggest China is deploying the same strategy of expansionism it has done in disputed areas of the South Chia Sea by unilaterally building up its physical presence, including a village which appears to be well inside the Bhutan border.

The report by Indian news channel NDTV, based on satellite imagery, has claimed that not only has China built a new village two kilometres inside Bhutan on the eastern side of the Doklam Plateau, but also a road that now stretches 9 kilometres inside Bhutanese territory.

It cites Zhang Yongpan, a research fellow of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, as saying: "The Pangda village is within the territory of China".

An annotated satellite image of the China-Bhutan border in the disputed region of Doklam which appears to show a newly constructed village and supply depot.

Indian forces crossed over into Bhutan from the bordering state of Sikkim in June 2017 and physically blocked Chinese workers from carrying out road construction near the Jhamperi Ridge, thus sparking a two-month face-off between the militaries of the two Asian powerhouses back then.

Satellite imagery of the Chinese village of Pangda.

"The Chinese have left untouched the 2017 stand-off site, which is located in one corner of Doklam, " says strategic affairs expert, Dr Brahma Chellaney.

He tweeted, "Now, we have permanent residents living in the newly established Pangda village".

Bhutan's ambassador to India Major General Vetsop Namgyel defiantly declared there "is no Chinese village in Bhutan". It's along the valley where 35km south to Yadong county.

Asked whether or not Bhutan and China had reached any understanding on realigning the border within the contested space, the Ambassador stated he "doesn't touch upon border issues".

China announced the area was part of its territory and refuted Bhutan's allegations.

Bhutan and China have been involved in border disputes for decades. According to Tenzing Lamsang, the Editor of The Bhutanese, "Bhutan and China recognise the 269 sq km in the west and 495 sq km in north-central Bhutan as [being] disputed and so while there are maximalist claim lines from both sides, there is no mutually accepted worldwide border there yet".

As per the 1949 Treaty of Friendship between New Delhi and Thimpu, India is mandated to "guide" the Himalayan country in matters related to foreign policy and defence.

For the Indian Army, any Chinese push southwards is sure to lift red-flags since Chinese forces will probably have clear line-of-sight to delicate areas within the "Chicken's Neck" for the primary time.

Tensions between India and China have brewed over the LAC standoff this summer in May.

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