By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 24: China has reportedly set up a village 2 km within Bhutan’s territory near Doklam where the Indo-China stand-off took place in 2017, according to satellite images published in a Chinese state media on Thursday. In the tweets that were since deleted, Shen Shiwei from Chinese CGTN News posted the images of the village with a controversial description, “Now, we have permanent residents living in the newly established Pangda village. It’s along the valley, 35 km south to Yadong country.”
After the social media row over the claims, Bhutan’s envoy to India, Major General V. Namgyal denied any encroachment on their land, “There is no Chinese village on Bhutanese territory.” Both India and Bhutan consider the Doklam plateau as an integral part of Bhutan, whereas China sees it as an extension of its Chumbi Valley which lies between Sikkim and Bhutan.
Global Times on Monday blamed India for the unsettled border row and stalled negotiations. “The border dispute between China and Bhutan is very minor, but it has not been formally demarcated because of India’s obstruction”, Qian Feng, Director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Chinese government mouthpiece. It reported that the village entailed “a public square, village committee, health room, police room, kindergarten, supermarket, and a plastic runway”.
The Doklam area which borders all three countries is claimed by both China and Bhutan, but it has strategic importance for India due to its proximity to Siliguri, a vital region between New Delhi and its north eastern states. The 2017 military standoff was the most incident in decades between India and China, before the confrontation in eastern Ladakh peaked in June with a clash that claimed lives of 20 Indian soldiers and unspecified number of Chinese casualties.