A day after India asserted that the area where China is currently building a bridge across the Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh has been under illegal occupation of that country for around 60 years, Beijing claimed that its “infrastructure construction” is aimed at safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty. India on Thursday said the bridge being built by China across the Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh is in an area that has been under illegal occupation of China for around 60 years and it has never accepted such action.
At a media briefing in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said as regards reports about a bridge being made by the Chinese side on Pangong lake, the government has been monitoring this activity closely.” “This bridge is being constructed in areas that have been under illegal occupation by China for around 60 years now. As you are well aware India has never accepted such illegal occupation,” he said. Bagchi said India has been taking all necessary steps to ensure that its security interests are fully protected.
Asked for his reaction to Bagchi’s remarks, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here on Friday that I’m not aware of the situation you mentioned without directly mentioning the Pangong Tso bridge. I want to stress that China’s infrastructure construction on its territory entirely falls within its sovereignty and is aimed at safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the China-India border, Wang said.
Satellite images of the bridge being built in the Khurnak area surfaced on Monday following which military experts said the aim of the construction is to ensure that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is able to quickly mobilise its troops in the region. China has been focusing on strengthening its military infrastructure after Indian troops captured several strategic peaks on the southern bank of the Pangong lake in August 2020 after the PLA attempted to intimidate them in the area.
The Chinese move to build a key bridge came in the midst of the eastern Ladakh border standoff that had erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas. As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.
The 13th round of Corps Commander-level military talks in October ended in a stalemate with the Indian Army saying that the “constructive suggestions” made by it were not agreeable to the Chinese side. In their virtual diplomatic talks on November 18, India and China had agreed to hold the 14th round of military talks at an early date to achieve the objective of complete disengagement at the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh.
Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.