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China is fortifying defenses across all Ladakh border: Hindustan Times

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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Contrary to media reports, the Peoples Liberation Army is not moving back from Finger 4 on the north bank of Pangong Tso in disputed Galwan Valley and the PLA is widening and carpeting a road between Finger 6 and Finger 8 to enable faster deployment of troops, according to Hindustan Times.

India and China have major differences on their respective perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at these points, as noted during the failed exchange of maps on June 17, 2002, the Hindustan Times said Wednesday adding: "This difference is as significant as 176 sq-km at Samar Lungpa, and 129 sq-km at Mount Sajum. Qizil Jilga is a major PLA outpost. Although a section of South Block believes that PLA wants to disengage and de-escalate soon, available intelligence, such as this, point to the contrary, and means that the Indian Army may well have to spend the entire winter in subpolar Ladakh."

Chinese and Indian military officials have so far held eight round of high level military talks to end months-long deadlock in Ladakh. The last such meeting was held on November 6 but failed to resolve the dispute as Indian side insisted on early restoration of status quo ante of April and comprehensive disengagement of troops by China from all the friction points to resolve the row.

According to Hindustan Times, the movement of over 60 heavy-equipment transport vehicles has been noticed on the road from Shendong to Spanggur Gap, just south of Chushul, and surveillance equipment is being installed by the Chinese all along the LAC in Ladakh. "Chinese tank transporters have also been noticed at Gobak, 60km east of LAC indicating that PLA has not let their guard down. Finally, there has been redeployment of troops in Aksai Chin at Rudog, Mapotheng, Sumxi, and west of Chang La, north-east of Demchok."

The Hindustan Times report on the Ladakh standoff also pointed out:

"According to Indian national security planners, the Chinese army is undertaking strategic road construction for faster deployment on LAC with focus on the Depsang Bulge area and the DBO sector. It is understood that PLA is constructing a road north of Karakoram Pass to Chip Chap Valley for faster deployment across the DBO post. Road construction is also ongoing near Chuti Chang La, across the Depsang Bulge, a mere 8km from LAC.

"Depsang Bulge has been a friction point between the two armies since early 2013 transgressions by PLA. While there have been news reports about PLA deciding to move back to Finger 8 on the north bank of Pangong Tso from its present position of Finger 4, it is, in reality, undertaking an exercise to widen and black tar a road from Finger 6 to Finger 8. Again the motive is faster deployment of PLA in case of a flare-up on the north banks of the frozen salt water lake.

"With PLA fully deployed across LAC, China has stationed container housing modules across all the friction points including Jeevan Nullah in Depsang Plains and Dehra La across the Bulge area. At least 285 container units have come up south west of Samzungling, in the depth area of the Galwan Valley, which saw a flare-up on June 15. Shiqaunhe Town across Chumar has been turned into a major army supply depot with heavy construction materials stationed there to maintain continuous supply of heavy equipment."

On October 26, the Hindustan Times had reported that China has been massively ramping up its military infrastructure, not just around the stand-off locations but along other stretches of the Line of Actual Control under the People's Liberation Army's Western Theatre Command. The deployment and the renewed focus on infrastructure upgrade has prompted Indian officials to suspect that the rapid militarization of the border may be also linked to continuing efforts by President Xi Jinping to drive Sinicization of Tibet with Han domination.

"We would ordinarily have expected the mobilization and the focus of the infra upgrade to be limited to the stand-off points, mostly aimed at warding off any armed threat from India to occupied Aksai Chin. But this is not the case," a top Indian security planner said. "There has been a clear effort to militarize the autonomous region through infrastructure upgrade".

The Indian official cited recent satellite imagery of the Tibet region that shows shelters to house fighter jets in an excavated hill at Gonggar airbase in Lhasa, massive storage facility at Golmud in Qinghai province, a new road between Xinjiang region's Kanxiwar, used as forward deployment base during 1962 war, to the Hotan airbase and border upgrade at Nyangulu and Nyingchi across Arunachal Pradesh. Nyangulu, 60 kilometres from the Arunachal border, was again used as a forward PLA camp in the 1962 war.

Tellingly, China has a claim over the whole Arunachal Pradesh now under Indian control. China considers it part of Tibet.

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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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