Chinese bridge at Pangong Tso
Amid the ongoing standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh, China is building another bridge on the Pangong Tso. Construction of new bridge was spotted in satellite images.
Location of the bridge
- China is building the bridge near to friction points on north bank of Pangong Tso and Chushul sub-sector on south bank. The bridge is around 400 m long and 8 m wide.
- This bridge is being constructed at around 20 km east of Finger 8 on the north bank.
What is the issue?
- In India’s perception, the Line of Actual Control lies at Finger 8.
- Site of the bridge is within India’s claim line. However, this area has been under Chinese control since 1958.
- Pangong Tso is a 135-km-long landlocked lake. Around two-thirds part of the lake are under Chinese control. This bridge is near the halfway mark.
Significance of the bridge and area
Finger 4 was one among the first friction areas in current standoff. It has seen frequent clashes. Furthermore, banks of Pangong Tso lake were among most sensitive friction points in May 2020. Troops and tanks faced each other a few hundred meter closer in some places, until their disengagement in February 2021.
Why is this bridge important for China?
This bridge will help China in quick mobilisation of PLA troops between the two banks at one of the narrowest points of the lake. The Kailash range is at about 35 km west of the bridge site. As per sources, when India carried out this operation, Chinese troops were not able to mobilise quickly. Now, this bridge will enable Chinese troops to simply cross over, and reduce travel time to the Kailash range to 4 hours, from 12 hours.
India has been monitoring the bridge construction activity closely. Since, this bride is being constructed in areas that China has occupied illegally for 60 years now, government has been taking necessary steps to ensure India’s security interests. India is also upgrading and developing infrastructure along the northern border, including tunnels, roads, all weather connectivity, additional bridges, strategic railway lines and storage facilities for supplies. India has also been inducting additional troops. Infrastructure and billeting facilities have been constructed for 25,000 additional troops in this area.
Though, several friction points have been resolved with disengagement of Indian as well as Chinese troops from Patrolling Point (PP) 14 in Galwan Valley, PP17A near Gogra Post and north & south banks of Pangong Tso. Currently, there is a platoon-sized strength of troops from both side at PP15 in Hot Springs. China has been blocking Indian troops to access its five traditional patrolling points in Depsang Plains namely, PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12 and PP13. In Demchok, civilians have pitched tents on Indian side of the LAC and are refusing to vacate.
Category: International / World Current Affairs