Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s Xiaokang Border Defence Villages along LAC


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Xiaokang Border Defence Villages

Mains level: China's motive to populate LAC



  • Recent reports reveal a concerning development along India’s northeastern border with China as the Chinese people have begun occupying several Xiaokang border defence villages. Let’s delve into the details of these villages, their significance, and India’s response to this escalating situation.

About Xiaokang Border Defence Villages

  • Construction Initiative: China initiated the construction of 628 Xiaokang or “well-off villages” along India’s borders with the Tibet Autonomous Region over five years ago, including areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Infrastructure: These villages boast mostly double-storey, spacious buildings, designed for dual-use purposes, raising concerns from a defense standpoint.

Purpose and Concerns

  • Dual-Use Infrastructure: The exact purpose of these villages remains unclear, but they are perceived as strategic assets, capable of serving both civil and military functions.
  • Territorial Assertions: Many in the strategic community view these villages as a means for China to assert its claims over specific areas along the LAC, exacerbating tensions between the two nations.

India’s Response

  • Vibrant Villages Programme: In response, India launched the Vibrant Villages Programme in 2022, aiming to modernize border villages and promote tourism.
  • Pilot Projects: At least 17 border villages along the China-India border have been selected for development, including areas in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Focus on Northeast: Villages in Arunachal Pradesh’s eastern region and the Tawang area are specifically targeted for development, highlighting India’s strategic focus in this region.

Infrastructure Developments

  • China’s Initiatives: China has been actively constructing infrastructure along the LAC, including roads, bridges, and housing in Bhutanese territory.
  • India’s Countermeasures: India is also bolstering its border infrastructure, focusing on enhancing connectivity and developing alternate routes to the LAC, particularly in the northeast region.


  • The occupation of Xiaokang border defence villages by China raises significant concerns about regional stability and territorial integrity.
  • India’s proactive response through developmental initiatives underscores its commitment to safeguarding its borders and promoting socio-economic progress in border areas.
  • As tensions persist, both nations continue to navigate this complex geopolitical landscape with vigilance and strategic foresight.

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