Chinese Bridge Over Pangong Lake In Illegally Held Territory: Government

Chinese Bridge Over Pangong Lake In Illegally Held Territory: Government

A Chinese bridge has come up across Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh

New Delhi:

India on Thursday came down strongly on China for building a bridge across the Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh, which the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said was being constructed in areas “that have been under illegal occupation by China for around 60 years now”.

“Regarding reports of 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,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

“As you are well aware, India has never accepted such illegal occupation and the government has been taking all necessary steps to ensure our security interests are fully protected,” he told reporters during a scheduled press briefing this evening.

Mr Bagchi said these steps included a significant increase in funding for development of border infrastructure (roads and bridges) to provide better logistical support for the armed forces.

On Monday NDTV reported on satellite imagery accessed by geo-intelligence expert Damien Symon, which indicates China may be constructing a bridge across the lake.

The bridge is being built across a part of the lake that falls within Chinese territory, but it connects both banks and gives China the ability to move soldiers and heavy weaponry into India at pace.

A tweet by Mr Symon shows the bridge to be almost completely built.

A fully constructed bridge means China will have multiple routes to add troops in the contentious area.

Since 2020 – and particularly after the violent face-off in the Galwan river area in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action – more than 50,000 troops from both sides have been deployed in eastern Ladakh – from the Depsang plains to the north to the Demchok area further south.

In July last year India and China agreed to mutually withdraw – 2 km each – from the clash site.

China’s bridge construction, while threatening to wreck the delicate calm that has reigned since, has also triggered a political spat with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi hitting out at the government.

The PM’s silence is deafening. Our land, our people, our borders deserve better,” Mr Gandhi, who was severely critical of the Prime Minister and his government after the Galwan face-off, tweeted.

Meanwhile, at today’s briefing the External Affairs Ministry also dismissed as “antics” that China has given Chinese names 15 locations in Arunachal Pradesh. Of these locations, eight are residential places, four are mountains, two are rivers and one is a mountain pass.

This follows a similar move in 2017, in which six locations were given Chinese names.

“We had seen reports of the Chinese side naming some places in Arunachal Pradesh. We conveyed our views on such a ridiculous exercise to support untenable territorial claims,” Mr Bagchi said.

Last week the government said: “Arunachal Pradesh has always been, and will always be an integral part of India. Assigning invented names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not alter this fact.”

”We hope that instead of engaging in such antics, China will work constructively with us to resolve the outstanding friction points in areas along the western sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in India-China border areas,” Mr Bagchi stressed today.

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