The construction of a Chinese village in the territory of Bhutan and what it wants to achieve with this creeping invasion
In the territory claimed by China in western Bhutan, she built a village called Pangda. Roads and other infrastructure have also emerged to support the village, which is not far from Doklam. The village, located about 2.5 km inside Bhutanese territory from the border with China, is one of 628 xiaokang villages, just like Gyalaphug.
These villages will serve as permanent monitoring posts for the PLA. Residents of these villages, which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) calls “defenders of sacred lands and builders of happy houses,” will be additional eyes and ears for the PLA in areas where China’s claims overlap. with those of Bhutan and India.
The CCP has made no secret of the construction of villages along the Himalayan border or the goal it wants to achieve with it. In 2018, Zhuang Yan, deputy secretary of the Tibet Party Committee, said border villages were being developed to ensure “the consolidation of border areas and border security.”
“It is about implementing … the central policies of improving support for border residents, stabilizing and consolidating the border,” said the Chinese. the plan says.
To attract its loyalists and cadres, the CCP invests in the construction of infrastructure such as the road network and the electricity network. About 30.1 billion yuan, or nearly 4.6 billion dollars, was allocated in 2017 to the construction of new houses and infrastructure of transport, energy, water and communication and equipment for the education, health and culture as part of the program.
The project received constant attention from the highest echelons of the CCP.
In 2018, Che Dalha, the president of the Tibet Autonomous Region, visited the village of Yumai, home to sisters who wrote to Xi Jinping, to take stock of the construction of the border village. In August 2020, just weeks after clashes between the Indian army and the PLA in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a visit to the border areas of Tibet. to inspect “the construction of infrastructure and construction of villages”.
A new Chinese village which has sprung up in the Upper Subansiri of Arunachal has been built under this program. While the area where the village originated is part of Arunachal Pradesh, it has been under Chinese control since 1959. Construction of the village will improve Beijing’s control over the remote region.
But in Bhutan, China’s plan is goes beyond land grabbing.
In negotiations on the border issue that began in 1984, Beijing offered to give up its claims to 495 km2 of territory in the north if Thimphu cedes 269 km2 of its territory in the west, including Doklam. Bhutan, sensitive to India’s security concerns related to Doklam, rejected the offer.
China’s interest in Doklam stems from the plateau’s proximity to the Siliguri Corridor, a 22 km wide passage that connects northeast India with the rest of the country. The corridor – also known as the “chicken neck” – is seen as a strategic vulnerability, a bottleneck that China could exploit in the event of war.
In 2017, China started building a road on the Doklam Plateau towards Jampheri Ridge. From this ridge begins the descent into the hills that lead to the Siliguri corridor. Access to the ridge will bring China closer to the corridor, making it vulnerable, and that is why India has sent troops to Bhutanese territory to stop construction of the road.
But given Bhutan’s refusal to trade Doklam for settlement in the northern territory, China adopted a strategy of poking Thimphu with transgressions and occupation of its territory to induce him to accept the offer.
Part of China’s strategy is to give Bhutan the impression that it is unable to protect its interests in reaching a deal with Beijing due to India’s security concerns related to Doklam. He has tried to create a situation where India is seen as the hand behind Bhutan’s refusal to trade its claim on Doklam for concessions in other areas to inflame public sentiment in Bhutan against India. . According to China, this will force Bhutan to consider its offer to exchange Doklam for a settlement in other regions and create a diplomatic space for it in Thimphu.
Read also: Why China is building hundreds of border villages along the Himalayan border with India