China’s expansionist and encroachment policy has once again been highlighted after satellite imagery showed that Beijing has constructed at least six settlements along its disputed border with Bhutan
These lie less than 30 km from the Doklam plateau where India and China had a tense stand-off in 2017 when Indian soldiers physically blocked Chinese road construction activity.
It is also clear that there is more construction underway. “In addition, heavy machinery and earth moving equipment is observed preparing similar pockets of land for future use.” This is connected with a well-developed road network that connects the settlements. It remains unclear, at this stage, where these settlements are meant to station military forces or are, essentially, a territorial grab of the land of a nation which is essentially defense-less against the might of China’s armed forces.
Bhutan and China have been in border talks for over four decades and while the outcome of these has never been revealed, there has never been any international declaration by Thimpu handing over an inch of its territory to China.
Bhutan has, historically, always relied on India, not just as a net-security provider but as an ally with a say in its foreign policy. While Bhutan’s foreign policy decisions are now seen to be entirely independent.