China’s construction on Pangong Tso

In the last two months, it has been observed that China is constructing a bridge connecting the north and south banks of the Pangong Lake.

Highlights

  • Construction of the bridge is taking place on the Chinese side. However, it is 25-30 km away from India’s claim of Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The bridge still connects the north and south banks of the Pangong Lake, allowing the Chinese army quick access to both sides.

Background

In August 2020, India had occupied key heights on Kailash range on the southern bank. It provided troops a strategic advantage as they overlooked the Chinese Moldo garrison. India had pulled back from the height following a “mutual pullback plan” for easing the tensions.

Significance of the bridge for China

Construction of the bridge is significant, as it bridge will facilitate quick induction since it will reduce the distance and time to reach the contested areas at the Pangong Lake. It will connect the two banks and thus allow Chinese forces easy access on either side to combat any threat.

New Border Law

  • On January 1, 2021, China implemented its new border law. The new law calls to strengthen its border defence, infrastructure near the borders and development of villages.
  • It also lays down conditions, under which emergency measures can be imposed across the border areas.

What are India’s concerns?

Ever since tensions started in Ladakh, in May 2021, China has enhanced its troop deployment of about 50,000 in this sector. Apart from Ladakh, China has been making aggressive moves in Eastern Sector bordering Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Recently, China also renamed 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh on its map.

Does the law mean for India only?

The Chinese law is not specially meant for India. however, it has significant implications on the border dispute between India and China, which has intensified since May 2020.

Why China is increasing deployment and construction at the LAC?

Possible Reasons are:

  1. India’s decision to strengthen its border infrastructure (eg- construction of Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie road).
  2. India’s tilt towards United States (eg- Quad).
  • China consider India’s assertions on Gilgit-Baltistan, as an attack on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project of China.
  • China’s growing assertiveness in South China Sea.

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