China has constructed at least 3 villages near Bum La pass, close to the tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan, reported NDTV. The construction is possible for the relocation of citizens.
The satellite images acquired from Planet Labs, show that a single village with more than 20 structures was constructed by February 17, 2020. The second image, dated November 20, 2020 shows an addition of 3 additional enclaves with at least 50 structures.
As per the NDTV report, there is at least another enclave with 10 structures. All of these enclaves lie within one kilometre of one another and are connected by tarred, all-weather roads.
In a tweet, open-source intelligence analyst @detresfa said there is evidence of “new villages and accommodation similar to what was seen in Pangda village, Bhutan”. The setting up of the villages will ensure stricter surveillance and border control for China.
China-watcher Dr. Brahma Chellaney says, “China has been using a strategy of settling Han Chinese and Tibetan members of the Communist Party along the Indian border to strengthen its territorial claims and escalate border intrusions. Like it used fisherman in the South China Sea, China uses civilian resources, herders and grazers as the tip of the spear to intrude into Indian patrolled Himalayan areas”.
The villages shown in these images seem to have been constructed around the same time that Indian and Chinese soldiers faced off in Eastern Ladakh, in what was the worst crisis between the two nations since the 1962 war.
In September 2017, the Chief of Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat had warned of China’s efforts at “salami slicing” into Indian territory. “As far as northern adversary is concerned, the flexing of muscle has started. The salami slicing, taking over territory in a very gradual manner, testing our limits of threshold is something we have to be wary about”, the General said.
State-owned Global Times cited Chinese authorities as saying that 27 households with 124 people had “voluntarily moved from… Yadong country to Pangda village in September”.
Belgium based security analyst for Force Analysis, Sim Tack, said that this is clearly a part of a strategy to “push Chinese presence and strengthen claims on disputed areas”. He says the Chinese are doing this “so they can infringe on the border and potentially build a case for their territorial claims”.