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China says India-border situation stable, but seen building up in Tibet with expansionist design

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(TibetanReview.net, Jun07’23) – The Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi, Mr Wang Xiaojian, has reiterated his government’s position Jun 6 that the situation in its occupied-Tibet border with India was stable and brooked no interference from a third party, referring to the United States. However, a report by a UK-based think tank says there has been massive ramping of military infrastructure on the occupied-Tibet side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), raising a huge question on China’s intention behind it.

Reacting to US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin’s remarks during his India visit the day before, that the world was witnessing “bullying and coercion” from Beijing, Wang has said the current China-India border situation was stable and that the boundary question was a matter between China and India, and brooked no interference of any third party.

“Preserving and protecting the freedoms that are essential to peace and prosperity will require vigorous leadership from the United States and India. And we still have a lot of work to do, but I am confident that the US-India partnership will help to secure an open and prosperous future for the Indo-Pacific and the wider world,” the indianexpress.com Jun 7 quoted Austin as saying at a media briefing.

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Meanwhile, on the occupied-Tibet side of the Sino-India border in Ladakh, China has built an extensive set of installations and established an ecosystem to support its troop deployments in the disputed Aksai Chin region, expanding roads, outposts, and camps in the area, according to a report from Chatham House.

The report is based on an analysis of satellite images taken in the six months since Oct 2022 and builds on other evidence of the massive ramping of infrastructure in the Aksai Chin region since the start of a military standoff with India in May 2020, said the hindustantimes.com Jun 6.

The satellite images of Aksai Chin was stated to show “expanded roads, outposts and modern weatherproof camps equipped with parking areas, solar panels and even helipads”.

A new heliport is being built in disputed territory, away from the frontlines and near Aksai Chin Lake. This facility comprises 18 hangars and short runways for use by helicopters and possibly drones, which will “significantly enhance the operational capabilities” of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in and around Aksai Chin, Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, has said in its report.

The study by the UK-based think tank corroborates earlier reports about China upgrading its infrastructure near the border, noted Wionews.com Jun 6. It said Planet Labs, a US imaging company, had last week also shared images of China’s expansion of airfields along the LAC since 2020.

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The Chatham House report was further cited as saying that a number of PLA bases connected by roads “can now be seen leading up from the main standoff site” across the Indian border in Ladakh.

Apart from Aksai China, the think tank has noted major Chinese military activity at the Depsang plains—one of the remaining friction points in Ladakh near the LAC.

This includes the fact that the Chinese outposts visible at Raki Nala, a river valley south of the Depsang plains, can potentially block Indian patrols in the area.

And at Pangong Lake in Ladakh, the think tank has found PLA completing the construction of a bridge which when finished will allow rapid deployment of Chinese forces from PLA’s Rutog military garrison to mountain ridges overlooking the water body. And the proposed Chinese G695 highway, intended to link Xinjiang with Tibet, is due to be completed in 2035. The new highway will run the length of Aksai Chin through the Depsang Plains, south past Galwan Valley, and towards Pangong Tso, the report has noted

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