Satellite Footage Shows China Accelerates Construction Near Disputed Bhutan Border

- 13 January 2022 21:16 WIB
China continues construction across border near Bhutan. (Unsplash/Violette Filippini)
China continues construction across border near Bhutan. (Unsplash/Violette Filippini)

JAKARTADAILY.ID - According to a satellite data analysis by Reuters today (January 13, 2022), China has escalated settlement construction across its disputed border with Bhutan, with structures under construction in six areas.

The footage provided by HawkEye 360 to Reuters, an American data analytics company that utilizes satellites to obtain information on ground-level developments, verified by experts, offers a thorough insight into China's recent activity along its border with Bhutan.

Constructions have been ongoing in certain locations along Bhutan's western frontier since early 2020, with China at first constructing routes and clearing out areas based on data provided by Capella Space and Planet Labs, according to Chris Biggers, mission applications director at HawkEye 360.

Biggers explained the images reveal that development accelerated in 2021, with smaller structures being formed, possibly to store supplies and equipment. Then, the foundations were formed, and eventually the construction.

"To me, 2021 was the period for acceleration," Biggers added.

Barnett and M. Taylor Fravel, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Security Studies Program, the settlements are parts of a plan Beijing announced in 2017 to construct over 600 villages in border regions in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which is on the Chinese side of the disputed area.

Bhutan has been talking with Beijing for nearly four decades to resolve their 477-kilometer border conflict. Bhutan is concerned not only about its territorial sovereignty, but also the possible security consequences for India, the Himalayan kingdom's strong ally and industrial collaborator.

An Indian defense source and one analyst said that the settlements would allow China to effectively manage and monitor many further locations, as well as possibly use them to create security-focused outposts.

However, the satellite footage reveals that neither India nor Bhutan has responded to China's development efforts on the ground.

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Editor: Djauhari Effendi

Source: Reuters

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