Home Top Stories Exclusive: Satellite Images Hint At Renewed China Threat In Doklam

Exclusive: Satellite Images Hint At Renewed China Threat In Doklam


Chinese village ‘Pangda’ on Oct 28, 2020 in comparison with development on Dec 8, 2019. High-res: here and here

New Delhi:

High decision satellite tv for pc imagery accessed by NDTV signifies that along with establishing a village greater than two kilometres inside Bhutanese territory on the jap periphery of the contested Doklam plateau, China has constructed a street in the identical space that stretches roughly 9 kilometres inside Bhutanese territory.

It is believed that this street may in the end give the Chinese forces an alternate path to the Zompelri ridge, which the Indian Army had prevented Chinese forces from accessing in 2017 when the 2 sides confronted off on the Doklam plateau.


Map exhibiting extent of Chinese development in Doklam space. Copyright: Maxar Technologies 2020. Click here for prime decision picture.

On that event, Chinese development employees had tried to entry the ridge by extending their present observe close to the Indian Army’s publish at Doka La which lies on the boundary between Sikkim and Dokala.

Soldiers of the Indian Army had then bodily blocked Chinese street development employees on grounds that entry to the Zompelri ridgeline (which lies additional south) was unacceptable since it could permit Chinese forces a transparent sight of the “Chicken’s Neck”, the susceptible sliver of land that hyperlinks the northeast of India with the remainder of the nation.


Map exhibiting China-Bhutan border area. Construction exercise in Pangda village. Copyright: Maxar Technologies 2020. Click here for prime decision picture

Now, three years later, Chinese development employees, engaged on a distinct axis, have constructed a brand new street alongside the banks of the Torsa river, which extends southwards from the border between China and Bhutan.

This lies lower than 10 km from the positioning of the 2017 face-off between Indian and Chinese forces which lasted greater than two months and was solely resolved when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Xinping of China met in Wuhan in April 2018 the place they agreed on de-escalating tensions.

“The Chinese have left untouched the 2017 stand-off site, which is located in one corner of Doklam,” says strategic affairs expert, Dr Brahma Chellaney. ”But, step by step, they have been changing the status quo in the rest of Doklam, including by building permanent structures and roads and even setting up villages on a plateau that was uninhabited until three years ago.”

Clear evidence of Chinese road and village construction on the eastern periphery of the Doklam plateau emerged on Thursday when Shen Shiwei, a senior producer with CGTN, China’s state-sponsored media, showcased several images of a village with several chalets by the side of a river.

He tweeted, ”Now, we have permanent residents living in the newly established Pangda village. It’s along the valley, 35 km south to Yadong country. Here is a map to show the location.”


Click here for high resolution image of Shen Shiwei’s tweet

The new images shown in this report are from Maxar which provides some of the most comprehensive satellite imagery commercially available. According to Maxar, ”There has clearly been significant construction activity this year all along the Torsa River valley area with extensive road-building/construction activity underway as well as new military storage bunkers being built in China near the Doklam area”.

The lead picture on this report, contradicts an announcement by the Bhutanese Ambassador to New Delhi, Major General Vetsop Namgyel.


In an announcement to NDTV on November 19, Major General Namgyel mentioned, ”There is not any Chinese village inside Bhutan”.

Asked whether Bhutan and China had reached any understanding on realigning the border in the contested area, the Ambassador said he ”does not comment on border matters.” He did, however, confirm that Bhutan and China were involved in border talks.

Bhutan and China have been involved in border disputes for decades. According to Tenzing Lamsang, the Editor of The Bhutanese, ”Bhutan and China recognise the 269 sq km in the west and 495 sq km in north-central Bhutan as [being] disputed and so while there are maximalist claim lines from both sides, there is no mutually accepted international border there yet”.

What appears clear although is that Beijing’s coverage, referred to in 2017 as “salami slicing” by General Bipin Rawat, now the Chief of Defence Staff, stays a actuality, not simply in Eastern Ladakh however in Doklam and in different components of the Sino-Indian boundary as properly.


Road development alongside Torsa river, Bhutan. Copyright: Maxar Technologies 2020. Click here for prime decision picture

Contrary to rhetoric in 2017 that India compelled China to ‘withdraw’ from the Doklam stand-off website, the brand new photographs appear to point that Beijing’s willpower to make probes within the contested space continues with utter disregard to New Dehi and Thimpu’s sentiments.

For the Indian Army, any Chinese push southwards is certain to lift red-flags since Chinese forces will doubtlessly have clear line-of-sight to delicate areas within the “Chicken’s Neck” for the primary time.

“It is past time for India to call China out on its expansionism in Doklam by pointing out how it is encroaching on the territories of one of the world’s smallest countries,” says Brahma Chellaney. “As Bhutan’s de facto security guarantor, India cannot turn a blind eye to China’s aggressive activities in Doklam,” he added.

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