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What is China Trying to Signal to India by Upping the Ante in Disputed Regions?

The US Pentagon in a report notes that China has a “large 100-home civilian village inside a disputed territory”.

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China, a country that is so singularly determined to expand its territorial claim in the Asia-Pacific, has now built an entire village inside a disputed territory with India.

You read that right. According to several media reports and satellite images, China has built a village that can house thousands in the disputed territory in Arunachal Pradesh. And though the news about the village being constructed is not new as NDTV had broken the story earlier this year, it got reignited after the US Pentagon published a report on 3 November, highlighting China’s growing claim along the LAC.

In its annual report, the Pentagon pertinently notes that China has been taking “incremental and tactical actions to press its claims” at the LAC with India and that sometime in 2020, China built a “large 100-home civilian village inside a disputed territory”.
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Taking note of this report, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday, 11 November, stated that it does not accept “such illegal occupation” and the “unjustified Chinese claims”. But in a bizarre contradiction to both the MEA and Pentagon report, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat stated that China’s construction “were well within their part of the LAC” and that "they have not transgressed anywhere".

To make matters worse and more confusing, China has also introduced a new land boundary law, which sends a clear signal that the country plans to use its civilian population to safeguard “territorial integrity”.

With Sino-India relations already on a tightrope since the most recent core-commander talks reaching a deadlock, China’s recent actions at the border may have only soured the relations between the neighbours further.

Their actions throw up the following questions: What is China trying to signal by upping the ante in the disputed regions? Does the new land boundary law state that China is no longer interested in a border resolution with India? And lastly, how worrying are these moves for India?

To analyse China's recent actions, for today’s episode, we speak to Harsh V Pant, Director, Studies & Head of Strategic Studies Programme at the Observer Research Foundation.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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