China’s building spree in Bhutan doesn’t stop as new village pops up, satellite images show

New Delhi: Continuing its construction spree, China has built at least one more village in Bhutanese territory, near the tri-junction with India, bringing the total number of such constructions to six, the latest satellite images have revealed.

Press Agency Reuters released new satellite images with over 200 structures, including two-storey buildings, under construction in six locations in Bhutan.

Citing experts who had studied the locations of the new construction and recent images taken by satellite imagery company Capella space, the report says the six colonies “appear to be in territory disputed by China and Bhutan – including a disputed tract of approximately 110 square kilometers – with few resources or indigenous population.”

In a statement to the news agency, Bhutan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the matter, saying, “It is Bhutan’s policy not to talk about border issues in public.”

China’s Foreign Ministry said the construction is “entirely aimed at improving the working and living conditions of local people.”

“It is within China’s sovereignty to carry out normal construction activities in its own territory,” the ministry said. Reuters.

In November 2021, Damien Symon, a satellite imagery expert who goes by his Twitter handle @_detresfa, had broadcast images of at least four new villages under construction.

The construction is believed to be in Bhutanese territory near Doklam, the area that saw a confrontation between Indian and Chinese forces in 2017.

When images showing China building its first village on Bhutanese territory came out in November 2020, Thimphu refuse such a development.

However, sources in India’s defense and security establishment later said the construction took place on Bhutanese territory which is now claimed by China.

The sources expressed no surprise at the wave of Chinese construction in Bhutanese territory, saying China was consolidating the territory as its own.

In 2019, ThePrint had reported that China and Bhutan were in talks to reach an agreement on the Doklam border dispute.

The Chinese holding line in the disputed region is likely to become the working boundary between the two, sources said at the time.

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)

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