China is continuing to build infrastructure on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. Apart from a bridge on Pangong Lake’s north bank, the PLA is building roads, helipads, gun positions, troop shelters, and jetties between Finger 8 and its military bases near the LAC.
China is continuing to build roads, bridges and helipads on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. Latest satellite imagery has revealed that China is building a bridge on Pangong Lake, which will provide an additional axis to move troops and heavy weaponry faster, media reports said.
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According to Indian Express, the bridge is being constructed over 20 km east of Finger 8 on the Pangong Lake’s north bank, east of Khurnak Fort where the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has frontier bases.
Apart from the bridge, the PLA is building roads, helipads, gun positions, troop shelters, and jetties between Finger 8 and its military bases to the east at Sirijap-I and II on the north bank of Pangong, The Times of India reported. For India, Finger 8 denotes the LAC.
Satellite imagery accessed by geo-intelligence expert Damien Symon showed that the bridge is almost complete across a narrow part of the lake.
“China obviously wants to counter India’s quick-reaction capability that saw our soldiers take the Kailash Range heights on the south bank towards end-August 2020,” TOI quoted an unnamed source as saying.
Towards the end of August 2020, Indian soldiers gained an early edge over Chinese forces in the area by moving atop the previously unoccupied Kailash range on the south bank of Pangong lake, which was a key flashpoint in the face-off between the soldiers of the two countries.
Positioning Indian troops on peaks like Magar Hill, Rezang La, Rechin La and Gurung Hill gave them a strategic dominance over Spanggur Gap and a view of the PLA garrison at Moldo.
Earlier in June 2020, around 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in action in a violent faceoff in the Galwan river area. Since then, both countries have not only built infrastructure in the area, but also mobilised more than 50,000 troops in eastern Ladakh between Depsang plains and Demchok area. In July 2021, India and China both agreed to withdraw the troops 2 km from the clash site.
The new bridge will give the PLA multiple routes to induct additional soldiers into the contentious area, NDTV said.
Meanwhile, China’s state-run media Global Times released two videos of the PLA troops celebrating the New Year. One video showed troops training on the Tibetan plateau and unfurling the national flag in the Galwan Valley. The second video showed Chinese troops at the Galwan Valley, “near the border with India”, standing under Mandarin characters painted on a rock that read: “Never yield an inch of land.”
Indian army sources dismissed a video showing Chinese troops hoisting the national flag. “The PLA must have flown it somewhere else,” an army source told ToI.