China Accused of Staking Territorial Claims in India

( – China has used a series of small villages constructed in a disputed region between itself and India to further its territorial claims. The concrete structures are likely inhabited by the Chinese military, but the government has claimed that cow herders use them seasonally.

The two countries have continuously debated over the official border since fighting a war over the issue in 1962. The 2,100-mile Line of Actual Control remains disputed to this day. In recent years, new clashes have sprung up along the border as both sides compete for control of the inhospitable region which includes parts of Tibet.

China has constructed so-called “xiaokang” villages, a phrase that means “moderately prosperous” and is derived from Communist leader Xi Jinping’s rhetoric.

The European Union’s Copernicus Earth satellite program revealed photographs of the region which showed numerous buildings growing out from the border city of Nyingchi, in southwestern China, near Tibet. They included photographs of one settlement which had all red roofs which had existed since 2017, indicating the expansion has been ongoing for several years.

Chinese state media reported that the settlements were used by Chinese herders, while Indian sources suggested there were military units housed in the villages. China claims the region as part of Tibet. In late 2022, Chinese and Indian soldiers fought over the region using hand held weapons and melee combat. The basic mode of combat is part of a mutual understanding between the two sides.

Xi has been rather expansionist in his aims towards Taiwan and the region near India as well as disputes over territory in the South China Sea.

Asian experts warned that the tactic of building the outposts in contested territory is a “gray-zone” tactic, which falls short of directly inciting war. Israel has been accused of engaging in similar behavior with outposts it builds in the occupied territories.

Last year’s brawl in the Yangtse occurred after both sides accused the other of violating the border. That was the most recent flare up in the conflict after a June 2020 incident in the Galwan Valley in India. In that battle, 20 Indian and four Chinese communist soldiers died.

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