New Delhi: Continuing with its construction spree, China has built at least one more village on Bhutanese territory, near the tri-junction with India, taking the total number of such constructions to six, latest satellite images have revealed.
News agency Reuters has put out new satellite images with more than 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 firm Capella space, the report said all six settlements “appear to be in territory disputed by China and Bhutan — including a contested tract of roughly 110 square kilometres — with little in the way of resources or native population”.
In a statement to the news agency, Bhutan’s foreign ministry refused to speak on the matter, saying, “It is Bhutan’s policy not to talk about boundary issues in public.”
China’s foreign ministry said the construction is “entirely for the improvement of the working and living conditions of the local people”.
“It is within China’s sovereignty to carry out normal construction activities on its own territory,” the ministry told Reuters.
In November 2021, Damien Symon, a satellite images expert who goes by his Twitter handle @_detresfa, had put out images of at least four new villages being constructed.
This construction was said to be on Bhutanese territory close to Doklam, the area that saw a stand-off between Indian and Chinese forces in 2017.
When images showing China constructing its first village on Bhutanese territory came out in November 2020, Thimphu denied any such development.
However, sources in the Indian defence and security establishment later said the construction did occur on Bhutanese territory that is now claimed by China.
The sources expressed no surprise at the spate of Chinese construction on Bhutanese territory, saying that China was consolidating the territory as its own.
In 2019, ThePrint had reported that China and Bhutan were in talks to strike a deal on the Doklam boundary dispute.
The Chinese holding line in the contentious region is likely to become the working boundary between the two, sources had then said.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)