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India-China 2021 - Salami Settlements

China has purportedly built four new villages in Bhutan’s territory in the last one year, new satellite images revealed. It was reported that the villages were constructed between May 2020 and November 2021. The images released 17 November 2021 by leading satellite imagery expert “The Intel Lab” showed multiple villages being constructed over an area of 100 square kilometres in the disputed land near the Doklam plateau, which lies at a tri-junction between China, India and Bhutan. The latest images lent credence to the concerns raised by US and other countries over China’s aggrandisement policy along its neighbors’ borders and employing strong-arm tactics to usurp their territories.

The move is particularly alarming for India as it is responsible for the territorial integrity of Bhutan, which maintains a limited armed force. Historically, India has been advising Bhutan on its foreign policy and continues to train its armed forces. Bhutan had been facing constant pressure from China to renegotiate the land boundaries. Apart from the Doklam plateau, China also claims Sakteng wildlife sanctuary, which falls in Eastern Bhutan, as part of its territory, even though no such claims were raised in the past by the top leadership in Beijing.

 Doklam  Doklam  Doklam  Doklam

A 100-home Chinese village in Arunachal Pradesh [referred to as Kyungling (Qionglin), Milin County, Nyingchi], was first reported by NDTV in January 2021 and was confirmed by a Pentagon report. Nyingchi means "throne of the sun". It is located on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River in southeastern Tibet, with an average elevation of 3,100 meters. It has one of the most protected virgin forests in China, with a forest coverage rate of 53.6%. A Chinese drone photo of Qionglin Village, a well-off village on the border in Milin County, Linzhi City, Tibet, was taken on 19 June 2021 by Xinhua News Agency reporter Pubu Tashi.

New satellite images accessed by NDTV show that China has constructed a second enclave or cluster of at least 60 buildings in Arunachal Pradesh. The new enclave did not exist in 2019 according to the satellite images; a year later, it can be seen. It lies 93 km east of a China-constructed village in Arunachal Pradesh. India reacted sharply to that report, which corroborated NDTV's exclusive story, stating ''China has undertaken construction activities in the past several years along the border areas, including in the areas that it has illegally occupied over the decades. India has neither accepted such illegal occupation of our territory, nor has it accepted the unjustified Chinese claims.''

When asked for comment by NDTV, the Indian Army said, ''The location corresponding to the coordinates mentioned in your query lies to the North of LAC (Line of Actual Control) in Chinese territory.'' This statement does not refute the fact that construction of this enclave seems to lie between the Line of Actual Control and the International Boundary, in other words, within Indian territory illegally occupied by China. NDTV asked the army about this point; a senior Army officer said that there is no change in their response: ''The area indicated is North of LAC.'' So again, there is no rejection of the new enclave being constructed on Indian turf.v The new enclave, the second of its kind, is established through images from two of the world's premier satellite imagery providers, Maxar Technologies and Planet Labs. These images of the Shi-Yomi district of Arunachal show not just dozens of buildings, including a structure with a flag of China painted on a roof top, large enough to be spotted by imaging satellites. The giant flag appears to assert a territorial claim to the area.

"Based on GIS [Geographic Information System] data obtained from the official Survey of India website, the location of this village indeed falls within Indian territorial claims,'' said Sim Tack, Chief Military Analyst at the Europe based Force Analysis, which provides data and analysis on armed conflicts and defense policy. "This appears to be a location where local geography makes access to this valley much more conducive from the Chinese side than from the Indian side. The valley connects directly to nearby Chinese communities on the Yarlung Tsangpo [Brahmaputra] River, while it is separated by steep mountain ranges from Indian controlled territory."

Kyungling (Qionglin), Milin County, Nyingchi Kyungling (Qionglin), Milin County, Nyingchi Kyungling (Qionglin), Milin County, Nyingchi Kyungling (Qionglin), Milin County, Nyingchi Kyungling (Qionglin), Milin County, Nyingchi Kyungling (Qionglin), Milin County, Nyingchi Kyungling (Qionglin), Milin County, Nyingchi

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Page last modified: 05-01-2022 15:43:15 ZULU