Amid the ongoing border talks happening between Bhutan and China to formally demarcate their boundary, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has shown utmost hypocrisy by continuing unsanctioned construction activities in North Bhutan’s Jakarlung Valley.
Satellite images between August 2021 to December 23 depict how fast the illegal Chinese construction activities have been taking place in the valley with over 100 residential quarters standing there when there were zero to begin with in 2021. These are not just isolated outposts but rather important components of a comprehensive system being developed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to further their ambitions of territorial gains. The satellite images support proof of the ongoing construction of at least 129 buildings and another 62 buildings of a different enclave, not far away from there.
We had earlier too, in our statement dated April 15, 2023 (Link) warned of Bhutan being heavily pressurised by China and the latest PRC attempts establish the same. On one hand the PRC is trying to appease Bhutan by showing interest in upscaling bilateral relations and the willingness to solve border disputes but on the other hand they are trying to sinicise the Bhutanese landscape. Even after formally signing an agreement with Bhutan in 1998 to not alter the status quo in disputed areas, the PRC violated the agreement by occupying and settling in the Jakarlung Valley.
The main reason for the CCP to do this is the vicinity of Jakarlung vtalley to the Amu Chu River Valley which lies adjacent to the Doklam plateau. By coming close to this territory the PRC wants to increase its presence near the Siliguri Corridor that connects India’s Northeast Region with the rest of the country. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has already been attempting to unilaterally change the status quo of the Indo-Tibet border and any Chinese expansion in Bhutan means gaining them advantage in its ‘salami slicing’ strategy and moving forward step by step to reach India.
Although Bhutan might not have the required capacity to retaliate, India has reacted strongly to the illegal Chinese activities. Red Lantern Analytica stands with Bhutan and condemns the PRC for its attempts to indulge in unsanctioned building activities in the Bhutanese territory. We will also urge the International community to come forward to ensure a rule based world order where aggressors like the PRC are made accountable for their acts.