China has constructed new villages in Bhutan territory near Doklam in the last one year, new satellite images have revealed.
The images show that four villages have been built by the Chinese PLA in about 100 sqkm.
The images also revealed that the villages were constructed between May 2020 and November 2021. It seems that construction started at the same time when Chinese People’s Liberation Army ingressed into Indian territory at multiple locations in eastern Ladakh and Sikkim sector.
The Doklam plateau was in limelight in 2017 when the Indian Army and the China’s PLA were locked in the standoff for over 70 days. The Chinese had to retreat from the area after the Indian troops contested the plateau.
Dhoklam is an area of 100 sq km comprising a plateau and a valley at the trijunction between India, China and Bhutan. The plateau is circled by the Chumbi Valley of Tibet, Bhutan’s Ha Valley and India’s Sikkim.
In 2017, China was making infrastructural development work at Doklam, the tri junction of three countries – India, China and Bhutan, to which India objected. China then claimed that there was boundary dispute between Bhutan and China and to which India had no claims.
However, India refuted and stood there matching the deployment of the Chinese troops for 73 days.
The standoff was triggered by China saying it was constructing a road within its territory. This was disputed by India, which said that the site of the Chinese road construction was Bhutanese territory.
This year in October, China and Bhutan have signed a pact on a 3-step roadmap to resolve their boundary disputes. India in its response had said, “It has noted the development.”
Foreign Minister of Bhutan Lyonpo Tandi Dorji and the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wu Jianghao signed the memorandum of understanding between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the three-step road map for expediting the Bhutan-China Boundary negotiations.
“The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in a virtual signing ceremony on 14th October 2021,” Bhutan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had stated.
Boundary negotiations between Bhutan and China began in 1984 and the two sides have held twenty four rounds of boundary talks and ten rounds of meeting at the expert group level.
The negotiations which have been conducted in a spirit of understanding and accommodation have been guided by the 1988 Joint Communique on the Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the Boundary and the 1998 Agreement on the maintenance of peace, tranquility and status quo in the Bhutan-China Border Areas.
“During the 10th Expert Group Meeting in Kunming in April this year, the two sides agreed on a Three-Step Roadmap that will build on the 1988 Guiding Principles and help to expedite the ongoing boundary negotiations,” the ministry had stated.
The memorandum of understanding on the three-Step road map will provide a fresh impetus to the boundary talks. It is expected that the implementation of this road map in a spirit of goodwill, understanding and accommodation will bring the boundary negotiations to a successful conclusion that is acceptable to both sides.
Earlier, Bhutan has objected several times to Chinese intrusion into their land.
Defence experts said that for India it is more worrying because it is generally India that advises Bhutan on its External affairs especially to do with China.