China has constructed at least three villages about five kilometers from the Bum La pass close to the tri-junction between India, China, and Bhutan in Arunachal Pradesh
The boundary has been disputed by China and the setting up of new villages in the area is being seen as a Chinese step towards restarting its territorial claims along the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
The news report quoted Dr. Brahma Chellaney, a geo-strategist, and author, as saying that “China has been using a strategy of settling Han Chinese and Tibetan members of the Communist Party along the India border to strengthen its territorial claims and escalate border intrusions. Like it used fishermen 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 are situated within Chinese territory and were reportedly being constructed while soldiers from both sides were facing off in eastern Ladakh.
The standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers at multiple points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh has continued for nearly eight months. Both sides have prepared for a long deployment through the harsh winter conditions. Military talks have so far failed to bring about a breakthrough.
The new satellite imagery showing these three new Chinese villages near the Arunachal Pradesh border comes just a week after high-resolution satellite images appeared of a Chinese village construction reportedly inside Bhutanese territory. In that case, the village was just nine kilometers from the Doklam site where Indian and Chinese forces had a standoff in 2017.
For a long, experts have warned of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) trying to attempt a “salami-slicing” into Indian territory. ‘Salami slicing’ refers to taking over an opponent’s territory in a gradual manner.
According to the news report, which cites an August report by the Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times, suggests that authorities are planning to “relocate 3,222 people of 960 families to the weakly controlled areas on the borders on a voluntary basis” in Cona – a crucial border county in Shannan Prefecture. These villages being constructed in Shannan’s border county is said to have access to water, electricity, and internet.