Huge Chinese build-up near Doklam sets alarm bell ringing in Indian military

Source – India today

Serious concerns are being expressed by the Indian military over massive construction by China in the Amo Chu river valley in Bhutan. Amo Chu abuts the strategic Doklam plateau, from where India’s Siliguri corridor is in the direct line of sight of China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army). It is barely some distance from the India-China-Bhutan Doklam tri-junction, the site of an intense military stand-off between India and China in 2017 over construction of a road by Beijing.Latest pictures accessed exclusively by INDIA TODAY show the PLA’s permanent habitation for its troops along with communication towers in Amo Chu. Close to 1,000 permanent military hutments as well as multiple temporary sheds have come up in recent months to house thousands of PLA troops.After facing strong retaliation from the Indian Army in Doklam, the PLA is attempting to approach the same ridge through an alternate axis so that it can bypass Indian defences to the west of Doklam.Doklam is an isolated plateau, which was hardly patrolled by Chinese or Bhutanese forces before 2017, when the Indian military came into the scene. Chinese history claims Bhutan as part of its territory. In 1960, the Chinese government had issued a statement claiming Bhutan, Sikkim and Ladakh as part of ‘unified’ Tibet.Indian military planners believe any activity in China-controlled Bhutanese territory to the west of Doklam would threaten India’s security interests. Indian security experts say control of the Doklam plateau will give the Chinese strategic benefits. Besides offering a commanding view of the Chumbi Valley, located between Bhutan and Sikkim, the Doklam plateau overlooks the strategic Siliguri corridor to the south.In 1967, after India-China border clashes at Nathu La and Cho La mountain passes in Sikkim, the Chinese military had challenged Indian border demarcations on the Dongkya mountain range in Sikkim. Many Chinese fortifications were destroyed in the clashes since the Indian military controlled higher ground. Even now, the Chinese military is thought to be arguably weaker in the Chumbi because Indian and Bhutanese forces control the heights surrounding the valleyThe top Indian Army leadership recently met Indian officials engaged in capacity-building of the Bhutanese military in Haa district. The massive Chinese build-up came for mention at the meeting. Haa district is immediately to the east of the disputed territories where China is building new villages.Recently, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering had caused a furore with his statement that Beijing had equal say in finding a resolution to the dispute over Doklam plateau, which India considers as illegally occupied by China. In 2017, the Indian Army had countered the Chinese military’s illegal encroachment in the area, forcing the latter’s withdrawal.Tshering, in an interview to a Belgian publication, has said that bilateral negotiations to resolve the protracted Bhutan-China boundary dispute had reached an advanced stage. A delegation of the Bhutan government had visited Beijing in February while a ‘technical team’ from China was expected to arrive in Bhutan soon, he said.South Block-based Indian military observers are unclear if all of this suggests that Bhutan may be willing to hand over to China territories it has lost on its western frontier in an effort to retain areas in the north.


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