Indian Spokesperson: China Building Second Bridge in Disputed Border Area

Reportedly in an advanced stage, the new construction will support heavier movementIndia has received reports of the Chinese regime building a second bridge across the Pangong Lake, a disputed border area in Eastern Ladakh that China has “illegally occupied” since the 1960s, a government official said on Friday. “We have never accepted such illegal occupation of our territory, nor have we accepted the unjustified Chinese claim or such construction activities,” Arindam Bagchi, the External Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson, said in a statement. “We have made it clear on several occasions that the Union Territories of Jammu [and] Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral part of India, and we expect other countries to respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Bagchi added. This comes amid reports that China was building a new bridge, right next to the first bridge it built earlier this year, in an area claimed by India. China did not immediately respond to India’s claims. Damien Symon, an analyst at The Intel Lab, said on Twitter that satellite images indicate that “a large bridge” is being built on Pangong Lake, raising the likelihood that the new construction will “support larger/heavier movement” of the Chinese military over the lake. The first bridge, which Symon referred to as a “service bridge,” was completed in April, while the second bridge is in “an advanced stage,” local news outlet Hindustan Times reported. “The current assessment indicates there could be a space or gap left to allow for the movement of boats under the second bridge as well,” Symon said. The new bridge is estimated to be 10 meters wide and 450 meters long. According to local reports, the two bridges will enable Chinese troops to reduce travel time from the north bank to Rutrog, its key military base on the eastern end of the lake, by 150 kilometers (93 miles). India has stepped up border infrastructure development in the areas since 2014, including roads and bridges, to protect its security interests. The government said it will monitor the areas’ developments and take “all necessary measures” to safeguard India’s sovereignty. Both India and China have deployed thousands of troops on the high-altitude border since hand-to-hand fights reportedly killed at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh in June 2020. Talks between senior military officers have made little progress, though there have been 15 rounds of talks between the two countries’ senior commanders. Beijing has repeatedly said that the border standoff does not represent the entirety of China-India relations, while New Delhi has maintained that peace along the frontier is essential for the two countries to work together. Earlier in March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Delhi and expressed Beijing’s intention to restore normalcy with India. But Jaishankar said that restoration of normalcy is impossible as long as the border situation remains “abnormal,” with the large deployments of Chinese forces in border areas. “If we are both committed to improving our ties, then this commitment must find full expression in ongoing disengagement talks,” he told reporters. Reuters contributed to this report. Follow Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.

Indian Spokesperson: China Building Second Bridge in Disputed Border Area

Reportedly in an advanced stage, the new construction will support heavier movement

India has received reports of the Chinese regime building a second bridge across the Pangong Lake, a disputed border area in Eastern Ladakh that China has “illegally occupied” since the 1960s, a government official said on Friday.

“We have never accepted such illegal occupation of our territory, nor have we accepted the unjustified Chinese claim or such construction activities,” Arindam Bagchi, the External Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson, said in a statement.

“We have made it clear on several occasions that the Union Territories of Jammu [and] Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral part of India, and we expect other countries to respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Bagchi added.

This comes amid reports that China was building a new bridge, right next to the first bridge it built earlier this year, in an area claimed by India. China did not immediately respond to India’s claims.

Damien Symon, an analyst at The Intel Lab, said on Twitter that satellite images indicate that “a large bridge” is being built on Pangong Lake, raising the likelihood that the new construction will “support larger/heavier movement” of the Chinese military over the lake.

The first bridge, which Symon referred to as a “service bridge,” was completed in April, while the second bridge is in “an advanced stage,” local news outlet Hindustan Times reported.

“The current assessment indicates there could be a space or gap left to allow for the movement of boats under the second bridge as well,” Symon said. The new bridge is estimated to be 10 meters wide and 450 meters long.

According to local reports, the two bridges will enable Chinese troops to reduce travel time from the north bank to Rutrog, its key military base on the eastern end of the lake, by 150 kilometers (93 miles).

India has stepped up border infrastructure development in the areas since 2014, including roads and bridges, to protect its security interests. The government said it will monitor the areas’ developments and take “all necessary measures” to safeguard India’s sovereignty.

Both India and China have deployed thousands of troops on the high-altitude border since hand-to-hand fights reportedly killed at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh in June 2020.

Talks between senior military officers have made little progress, though there have been 15 rounds of talks between the two countries’ senior commanders.

Beijing has repeatedly said that the border standoff does not represent the entirety of China-India relations, while New Delhi has maintained that peace along the frontier is essential for the two countries to work together.

Earlier in March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Delhi and expressed Beijing’s intention to restore normalcy with India.

But Jaishankar said that restoration of normalcy is impossible as long as the border situation remains “abnormal,” with the large deployments of Chinese forces in border areas.

“If we are both committed to improving our ties, then this commitment must find full expression in ongoing disengagement talks,” he told reporters.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Aldgra Fredly

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Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.