India Concerned Over China Building Bridge Across Ladakh's Pangong Lake

28 Jan, 2022 10:23 IST|Sakshi Post

China constructs a bridge across Pangong Lake amid a standoff in Ladakh.

New Delhi: Amid a military standoff with India, China is constructing a bridge across Pangong Lake in Ladakh. According to security analysts, China's construction of the bridge is a source of "great concern" for India.

As per Indian media, the 400-meter-long and 8-meter-wide bridge being built near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the two nuclear powers, was seen through high-resolution satellite photographs last week, Bilal Kuchay of Al Jazeera reported.

China's construction of the bridge, according to Pravin Sawhney, a defence specialist and editor of Force magazine, is "part of their grey-zone activity, which is done below the war threshold level."

Sawhney told Al Jazeera that the total military threat will continue to grow, not lessen."While presenting the threat of war, they will continue with their grey-zone operations, which is what they are doing by building up the bridge. The overall military threat will keep increasing; it will not decrease."

The bridge is being built on lands that have been "under the unlawful occupation of China for about 60 years now," according to India's foreign ministry, which added that the Indian government is "closely watching" the building work.

Since April 2020, when the two sides accused each other of trespassing, India and China have been involved in a military standoff along the LAC in the Ladakh area.

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According to Kuchay, the tensions have resulted in a surge in the development of military facilities on both sides of the disputed boundary.

According to Indian media sources, India's Border Roads Organisation completed more than 100 projects in 2021, most of which were closer to the Chinese border, as reported by Al Jazeera.

The bridge is part of Chinese infrastructure along the LAC, according to New Delhi-based security expert Ajai Shukla, "so that they can move well, move quickly, and deploy their forces quickly."

He explained, "That is the standard Chinese way of border management."

Shukla claims that the Chinese are "able to deploy quickly," whereas India "takes too much time to do it".

However, a retired Indian army officer who served in Ladakh for many years told Al Jazeera that the area where the bridge is being built was under Chinese control long before India's 1962 conflict.

In 1962, India and China went to war over disputed border territories. The two countries have been unable to reach an agreement on their 3,488-kilometer (2,167-mile) border since then.

"They (Chinese) secured this area in 1959. The LAC is a further 25 km (15 miles) away from the bridge. It is very much in the vicinity of the old international border," the retired official, who did not want to reveal his identity, told Al Jazeera.

"In modern militaries, such bridges or anything that is fixed can be destroyed by surface-to-surface missiles or air-to-ground missiles. There are countermeasures and I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference, but certainly, better connectivity helps everybody."

Since April-May 2020, India and China have been at odds over Chinese army violations in several regions, including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot Springs, and Kongrung Nala. In June 2020, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in brutal skirmishes with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley, worsening the situation.

To end the standoff, New Delhi and Beijing have been holding talks along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh. There have been 14 rounds of negotiations thus far.

Some troops were disengaged from various friction points along the LAC as a result of the talks, but not all of them. The talks also fell short of reaching an agreement on the border.

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