Hot Snow-Eastern Ladakh Heats Up As Chinese Provocations Continue

Courtesy: Twitter | Damien Symon

New Delhi- Days after a propaganda video emerged showing Chinese troops celebrating New Year in what they called Galwan Valley, satellite imagery now shows a new bridge being built by the Chinese to link both banks of Pangong Lake, another flashpoint in eastern Ladakh.

Interestingly Galwan propaganda video circulated by official Chinese media was in contrast to Indian media's reports on January 1 of troops of the two countries exchanging sweets and greetings on New Year at several locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The latest satellite images suggest China building a bridge to connect the north and south banks of the Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh for the faster movement of its troops in the sector.

The banks of Pangong Tso besides Galwan valley were the most tense standoff point between the Indian and Chinese armies in Ladakh for nine months in 2020. The sector had seen hand-to-hand clashes between the troops from the two sides and had also seen the first incident of firing at the LAC in 45 years.

Two days after images of Chinese activity in Ladakh surfaced, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said India was closely monitoring Chinese activity. However it said the bridge is being constructed in areas that have been under Chinese illegal occupation for around 60 years.

“Regarding reports of a bridge being made by China on Pangong Lake, GoI monitoring this closely. This bridge is being constructed in areas that have been under illegal occupation by China for around 60 years,” MEA official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, according to ANI.

The MEA official spokesperson said the Indian government is taking all necessary steps to ensure “our security interests” are fully protected.

Many in the Indian establishment see Chinese Galwan video and now satellite images of new construction activity as part of Beijing’s psychological warfare. Interestingly, the latest Chinese provocation came days after Beijing came up with its own names for over a dozen places in Arunachal Pradesh.

It is noteworthy that this is the second straight winter when India and China have deployed their troops at the front lines in the freezing Ladakh sector.

China is reportedly maintaining around 60,000 military personnel across the LAC in Eastern Ladakh during extreme winters for the first time in decades forcing India to deploy a similar number of troops there to preempt any Chinese 'misadventure'.

With military level talks for disengagement and de-escalation deadlocked chances of military escalation have only grown stronger. A statement issued by India after the last talks had noted “the Indian side...made constructive suggestions for resolving the remaining areas but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals”.

These tactics adopted by China, coupled with mounting evidence of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) beefing up infrastructure, roads, bridges, helipads, dual-use airports and missile and air defence positions on its side in Ladakh sector, has forced the Indian security establishment to conclude that the Chinese side is not serious about the negotiations. And in absence of negotiations and continued Chinese provocations the situation in eastern Ladakh is only getting dicey.

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