China Builds New Bridge On Pangong Tso
Just as news broke out of Indian and Chinese soldiers exchanging sweets and greetings on Jan 1, to mark the arrival of new year celebrations. A new satellite image showing China building a bridge on its side of the Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh emerged amid the prolonged Sino-India military standoff in the border area.
The bridge which spans a narrow section of the 134 km lake and is almost complete - is expected to enhance road connectivity for the PLA in the area and allow the speedy movement of both troops and heavy equipment. On the North Bank, there is a PLA garrison at Kurnak fort and on the South Bank at Moldo and the distance between the two is around 200 kms. The new bridge between the closet points on two banks which is around 500 will bring down movement time between the two sectors from around 12 hours to 3-4 hours. The bridge is located around 25 km ahead of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The North and South Banks of the lake were among the several friction points that surfaced after the start of the standoff. Before India and China pulled back troops from the North and South banks in February 2021, the area had seen massive mobilization and the two sides even deployed tanks, barely a few hundred metres apart in some locations. Towards the end of august 2020, India outmanoeuvred China to capture the previously unoccupied heights of the Kailash Range on the South Bank of the lake. Troops from the two countries remained on these heights through the harsh winter months. The significance of these positions was one of the main factors that compelled China to negotiate a pullback. Both countries agreed to pull back from the North Bank of the lake and positions on the Kailash Range in the Chushul sub-sector south of Pangong Tso.
Since the military standoff begin in May 2020, India and China have not worked to improve existing infrastructure, but have also built several new roads, bridges, landing strips along the entire frontier. Following the disengagement of frontline troops on the banks of Pangong Lake and at Gogra last year, the two sides have been unable to make headway on de-escalation at several other friction points such as Depsang.
In a separate incident of a video by Chinese media showing PLA soldiers with chinese map in Gallwan on January 1 & the new boundary law is a manifestation of a long-standing Chinese ploy of using 'lawfare' for gaining legal norms to highlight what they believe is right in legal terms, and they are not in a hurry to resolve disputes unless the resolution is favorable to them. Frankly, China's political establishment wishes to win wars without fighting in the real sense. They are mobilizing public opinion, including in the opposing nation and resorting to psychological warfare to highlight their own strength and beating down the opponent.
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