Beijing takes its South China Sea strategy to the Himalayas

At the time of its National Day in October, China completed the construction of a new village in the mountains where the Chinese territory of Tibet meets the Kingdom of Bhutan. One hundred people moved into two dozen new homes along the Torsa River and celebrated the holiday by raising the flag of China and singing the national anthem.

“Each of us is the coordination of a great motherland,” a border guard Was quoted According to China Tibetan News, an official state news agency.

The problem is, these new “coordinates” are more than a mile to Bhutan inside its territory.

The construction, documented in satellite photographs, is a playbook China has used for years. It has rejected claims of sovereignty of neighbors to cement its position in territorial disputes. Unilateral change of facts on the ground.

It used a similar strategy in the South China Sea, where it was strong for strong and armed shoals despite claims by Vietnam and the Philippines Promise of The United States does not do so.

This year, the Chinese Army built forces in the Himalayas and crossed into the region that the Indians claimed were on the edge of the actual border. It faced China’s bloodiest in decades, killing at least 21 Indian soldiers, as well as reducing the number of Chinese soldiers. Violence Badly sour relationship It was constantly improved.

When challenged, it is still difficult to reduce China’s use of regional force, as the Indian government has learned. Since the border dispute, Chinese troops have camped in areas that India once controlled.

“Finally, it marks the consolidation of China’s control over the claiming region,” M., director of the security studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Said Taylor Fravel and an expert on China’s military.

In the past year, China has Aggressively advanced against many of his neighbors, With little regard for diplomatic or geopolitical collapse. Its actions reflect Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s ambition of winning the country’s land. Claims, economic interests and strategic Is needed worldwide.

Mr. Xi often justifies his aggressive strategic activities, using his past to cite historical complaints against China’s historical encroachment and colonialism.

The creation of the Himalayan village suggests that China has expanded a comprehensive campaign to strengthen its southern regions to include Bhutan, a Buddhist nation of 800,000 people that popularized the concept of “Gross national happiness. “

As construction work was underway on that long-disputed border, China made a new claim over an area of ‚Äč‚Äčabout 300 square miles this summer. Sakateng Wildlife Sanctuary, A protected area on the other side of Bhutan from where the village was being built.

In advancing its borders, China has for decades rejected quiet and ultimately fruitless negotiations to finalize the border of the two countries. This year the 25th round of negotiations was postponed due to coronavirus.

“The Chinese are apparently looking to lose patience,” Tenzing Lamsang, editor of the newspaper, president of Bhutanese and Bhutan’s media association, Wrote on twitter.

Controversy arises from various interpretations The treaty was signed in 1890 By two now-defective imperial powers, the United Kingdom as the colonial ruler of India and the Qing dynasty in China.

The new village is near the Doklam plateau, where China, India and Bhutan share their borders. The plateau was the site of a 73-day standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in 2017, which began with the construction of a road in the Bhutanese region. India, which is obliged to defend Bhutan under a long-term security agreement, pushed troops forward to stop Chinese work.

Bhutan, which Have felt the squeeze in recent years Between the two giants, there is no military threat to China. For China, control of the territory will give its army A strategic position In India, near a narrow strip of land called the Siliguri Corridor.

The area, also known as Indian military strategist Chicken Neck, connects the borders of Bangladesh, Myanmar and China with India’s largest provinces.

Mr. Lamsang said that Bhutan has had to postpone prolonging India’s security interests. In its repeated negotiations with China, Bhutan has not yet agreed to make any regional concessions along the western and central borders.

“We are now paying a price when Bhutan refuses to negotiate or China agrees to compromise,” Mr. Lamsang wrote.

Neither Bhutani nor the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to requests for comment.

The Global Times, a Communist Party newspaper that often has disgusting views among Chinese officials, Ridicule the claims The newly formed village was in Bhutan, blaming India for the tense tension with China’s southern neighbors. One day later, the newspaper Warn “Against foreign forces repelling the China-bashing campaign on the Himalayas.”

The exact location of the new village, called Pangra, emerged in a series of recently published satellite images Maxar Technologies, A company based in Colorado. He showed that construction began at the end of last year and was completed, it seems, no earlier than October 1, China’s national day. The Chinese version of the border is south of the village.

According to Maxor spokesman Stephen Wood, the pictures show extensive new road-building and the construction of military storage bunkers. The bunkers are undeniably in Chinese territory, however, indicating that China has sought to build its military presence over much of the Himalayan border region. There were images of China’s new construction First reported by, A broadcaster in India.

China has made no secret of construction, as is evident from many state media reports of the village. One An opening ceremony was held on October 18, attended by senior Shanghai officials, including Yu Sholiang, deputy secretary of the city’s Communist Party committee.

In China, wealthy provinces often sponsor development projects in poor areas, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang. China assimilated Tibet in 1950, with the new communist government seeking sovereignty over the lost Tibetan people and territory after the fall of the Qing dynasty. Although the Chinese called its declaration “peaceful liberation of Tibet”, many Tibetans are unhappy with Chinese rule.

MIT’s Mr. Fravel said that with its recent construction, China appeared to back out of potential agreements that had been floated in the first round of border negotiations with Bhutan, in which it had offered trade to the region.

“Previous settlement ideas from the 1990s can no longer be on the table,” he said, “as China may be reluctant or unlikely to move away from the region where it has erected such infrastructure.”

Elsie Chen contributed to the research.

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