Analyst John Pollock’s recent observations highlight China’s ongoing construction of settlements along the contested border with Bhutan, stirring increased tensions in the Himalayan region.
Pollock pointed out new Chinese activity in Bhutan’s Jakarlung Valley, substantiated by an image from Maxar, which underscores the escalation of settlement projects in Bhutan’s north. “Courtesy of Maxar, new Chinese activity can be seen in the Jakarlung Valley, in the north of Bhutan,” Pollock highlighted in X post.
The presence of multiple projects in both the Jakarlung Valley and the Menchuma Valley raises concerns that Thimphu might be on the brink of conceding this land to Beijing in an anticipated border agreement.
The emergence of new outposts in Bhutan’s remote Jakarlung Valley, situated in the Beyul Khenpajong region, signals the possibility of these areas becoming permanent Chinese territories. An imminent announcement on a border deal between Bhutan and China may solidify these changes, with Bhutan expected to concede the lands seized by China in both Jakarlung and the neighboring Menchuma Valley.
Courtesy of @Maxar, new Chinese activity can be seen in the Jakarlung Valley, in the north of Bhutan.
Multiple projects are now visible here as well as in the Menchuma valley, suggesting Thimphu may be about to concede the land to Beijing in a border deal.
— John Pollock (@John_Pollock22) December 10, 2023
China’s territorial claims in Bhutan encompass four areas in the west, three in the north, and Sakteng in the east. Notably, the regions actively contested by China in the north are the Beyul Khenpajong and the Menchuma Valley, while official Chinese maps also incorporate the Chagdzom area as part of their territory.
These actions have raised concerns and sparked discussions regarding potential implications for Bhutan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The construction of settlements or outposts in these disputed areas, coupled with speculation about an impending border agreement between Bhutan and China, has intensified global attention and concern over China’s maneuvers in these regions.
The situation underscores the delicate geopolitical dynamics in the Himalayan region and the implications of China’s actions on regional stability, especially considering Bhutan’s historically strategic location between India and China.