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It is according to satellite imagery newly acquired by Indian news outlet NDTV and captured by US satellite firm Maxar. The construction has taken place near the Doklam region of the Himalayas, with a village having been set up over a mile into Bhutan and road stretching roughly six miles into the country, reports claim.
However, a Bhutanese official, Major General Vetsop Namgyel, has denied the existence of any such village – reportedly called Pangda – within Bhutan’s borders.
The ambassador to New Delhi told NDTV: “There is no Chinese village inside Bhutan.”
He reportedly added Bhutan and China were involved in border talks but said he would not “comment on border matters”.
The imagery – dated to October 28 this year – shows several houses connected by a road located next to a river.
Maxar also captured an image of the same site in December 2019, which showed what appears to be a construction project not yet connected by road.
The village’s existence has been confirmed by Chinese state news outlet Global Times, but the report denies that the village sits within Bhutanese territory.
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It cites Zhang Yongpan, a research fellow of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, as saying: “The Pangda village is within the territory of China.”
The report also claimed that ‘open records’ show 124 people relocated from Yadong in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region to Pangda village in September this year.
Meanwhile Maxar said “there has clearly been significant construction activity this year all along the Torsa River valley area”.
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It added there were also “new military storage bunkers” being built near the Doklam area but within Chinese territory.
The Doklam area saw tensions in 2017 when Chinese construction workers attempted to access a piece of land known as the Zompelri ridgeline.
However, they were prevented from building a road there by Indian forces, who said it would give Chinese soldiers a clear view of a slim area of land known as the “chicken’s neck”, which analysts say is strategically important for India.
The resulting stand-off lasted months, and only eased when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping physically met to discuss de-escalation.
Dr Brahma Chellaney, a strategic affairs expert, has said China have left the stand-off site alone since then but have built structures “in the rest of Doklam”.
CNN has referred to Bhutan as a “strong ally” of India traditionally, though it notes this may be shifting.
Border tensions between India and China remain following a clash in the Himalayas in June this year which left at least 20 soldiers dead.
Military officials from both sides have been engaged in talks aimed at de-escalation since then.
However, Chinese and Indian forces are reportedly bedding in for a harsh winter with troops and artillery.
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