New Satellite Images Show Second Chinese Settlement in Arunachal: Report

After a Pentagon report expressly detailed the first Chinese settlement in the state, satellite imagery has revealed another, 93 km away from the first.

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New Delhi: New satellite images have revealed a second Chinese settlement consisting of at least 60 buildings within the Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh, NDTV reported on Thursday, November 18.

This second enclave, in Arunachal’s Shi Yomi district, lies 93 km east of the first such settlement revealed through satellite images in January this year, the existence of which was confirmed by a report submitted by the US Department of Defence (DOD) to the country’s Congress which made explicit reference to a 100-home civilian village constructed in Arunachal Pradesh in 2020.

According to the images accessed by NDTV, this second settlement lies six kilometres within India, between the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the international boundary which each nation claims as its own territory. Images of the same area from 2019 do not show any such settlement, indicating that it was constructed within the past year.

When the news organisation asked the Indian Army for a response, they did not get a clear statement refusing that the new structure had come up within Indian territory.

The NDTV report also mentioned that Tapir Gao, BJP MP from Arunachal East (which also includes the Shi Yomi district) had spoken on the encroachment of China into Arunachal Pradesh in Parliament in 2019, saying, “Please don’t allow the next Doklam in Arunachal Pradesh as China has encroached more than 50 km of land of the state.”

Also read: Doklam Stand-Off Ends: Indian Troops Withdraw, China Says Will “Exercise Sovereign Rights”

The Wire contacted Gao for a response but was unable to get one as he was attending a party meeting in Kolkata. However, former Arunachal East MP and state Congress leader Ninong Ering, who has also been raising the issue, responded to the NDTV report on Twitter, saying, “Is the Govt taking cognisance of this development?”

After the Pentagon report was published, Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs (MEA) stated that India “taken note” of the report and went on to assert that China had  “undertaken construction activities in the past several years along the border areas including in the areas that it has illegally occupied over the decades”.

Bagchi further noted that India has not accepted any illegal occupation of its territory or any “unjustified Chinese claims”.

General Bipin Rawat, India’s Chief of Defence Staff, however, junked these claims altogether, saying that China had only undertaken construction on its own side of the LAC. At the Times Now Summit 2021, Rawat said, “…as far as we are concerned, no such village development has taken place on our side of the LAC”, referring to the US report’s claims.

“The present controversy – that has erupted – that the Chinese have come across into our territory and built a new village is not true,” he said.

Also read: General Bipin Rawat Dismisses Pentagon Report on Chinese Construction in Arunachal

The NDTV report confirms that the coordinates of the new structure revealed through the satellite images fall within Indian territory as recorded by the Union government’s official map service, Bharatmaps as well as official data from the Survey of India website.

Also read: New Chinese Land Border Law Should Not Be Pretext for Action at LAC: India to China

The Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency even published photos of this settlement in July of this year when President Xi Jinping visited the same to check on the progress made on a railway line along the country’s border with Arunachal Pradesh.

The recent developments have come to light against the backdrop of China enacting a land boundary legislation on October 23. Set to be enforced from January 1, 2022, the law stipulates that the state must “resolutely safeguard national integrity” and “combat any act” which undermine land boundaries.

New Delhi recently expressed hopes that Beijing would not take any actions on the LAC under the pretext of this new law.