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China-India standoff in Ladakh may drag on for months

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The China-India standoff in Ladakh is likely to drag on through the summer as troops dig in on both sides, Times of India reported Tuesday.

At this point, the two sides are facing off at four points three points in Galwan, and the fourth face-off point is at Pangong Tso, according to the paper.

The Times of India quoted Indian officials as saying that India will not climb down on its infrastructure build-up. With reinforcements in men and weapons, officials said India could match China in weapons, troops and strategy.

So far, the Indian government believes the issue of Chinese incursions can be resolved at the local level between military commanders, the paper said adding: India is also prepared for a longer standoff as Indian and Chinese officials have been in constant touch in New Delhi and Beijing.

India building infrastructure in Ladakh

Taylor Fravel, author of "Active Defense: China's Military Strategy Since 1949" told ThePrint the simplest explanation is that China viewed India's road-building in the area, especially around Galwan and Pangong Lake, as changing (from its standpoint) the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

However, the scope, scale, and posture of China's response is something that has not occurred for a very long time, he added.

"China is putting pressure on the LAC simultaneously in multiple areas across a large front in the western sector (of LAC). Although reports vary, in terms of scale, China may have placed an additional 5,000 soldiers along the LAC," he said. "Finally, in several places, China appears to have crossed the LAC, where it was believed to have been 'settled', adopting an assertive posture in specific places."

India has been catching up at building in road infrastructure at the line of actual control when compared to China. Border Road Organisation (BRO) has been given the task to build 61 strategic Indo China Border Roads (ICBRs) having a total length of 3,409 kilometers, according to Indian media.

Out of the 61 Indo China Border Roads, 28 roads of length 981.17 km were completed by 2018. In North East, among the crucial projects, BRO is currently working on the Sela Tunnel which will ensure all-weather connectivity between Guwahati in Assam and Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.

Despite the Chinese army threat, India has decided to go ahead with the construction of roads at the line of actual control (LAC). Defense ministry has asked railways to provide it with 11 trains to send laborers to LAC for the road building activities, the Deccan Chronicle reported.

The Chinese army, which has entered 3-4 kilometres into Indian territory, at the Galwan area in Ladakh sector is unhappy with the 255 kilometer Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road, which connects to base of the Karakoram pass -- the last military post. This road is near Aksai Chin and the Chinese fear that this gives Indian army capability to threaten the Lhasa-Kashgar highway.

Chinese presence at Galwan is a threat to Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road as China can cut of this crucial road. With this road, which is at a height of 17,000 feet, it will take Indian army six hours to reach Daulat Beg Oldie from Leh against two days without it, the paper said.

India may lose vital link

In what the army is recognizing as a repeat of Pakistan's 1999 Kargil intrusions, but this time by China in eastern Ladakh, troops of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) continue consolidating their defences in the Galwan River and Pangong Lake areas, up to three km inside territory that the Indian Army has patrolled and claimed for decades, Ajai Shukla, a retired Colonel of Indian Army wrote in Business Standard Tuesday.

Just as the Kargil intrusions allowed Pakistani troops to dominate the Srinagar-Zojila-Kargil-Leh highway and threatened to cut off Ladakh from the north; the Chinese intrusion into the Galwan River valley allows PLA troops to overlook the strategic Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DSDBO) highway and cut off the army's lone year-round connection with its isolated "Sub-Sector North" (SSN), at the base of the Karakoram Pass.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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