Concerns as China builds bridge on lake at disputed India border

China is building a bridge across the Pangong Lake in the frontier region of Ladakh in Indian-administered Kashmir, raising fresh security concerns in India.

India’s foreign ministry said the bridge is being constructed in areas that have been “under the illegal occupation by China for around 60 years now”, adding that the Indian government was “monitoring” the construction activity “closely”.

“The government has been taking all necessary steps to ensure that our security interests are fully protected,” ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi told reporters earlier this month.

India and China are locked in a military standoff along the LAC in Ladakh region since April 2020, when the two sides accused each other of trespassing.

The standoff turned deadly in June that year when 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley in a rare hand-to-hand combat using clubs and rocks.

The incident was followed by unprecedented mobilisation of troops on both sides of the border and the two armies holding multiple rounds of talks to resolve the standoff.

Meanwhile, the tensions also led to a spike in the construction of military infrastructure on both sides of the disputed border.

According to Indian media reports, more than 100 projects were completed by India’s Border Roads Organisation in 2021, most of which are closer to the border with China.

‘Standard Chinese way’

Security experts say the construction of the bridge by China is a matter of “great concern” for India.

“The Chinese are very good at building infrastructure on the border areas and this is just one example of that,” New Delhi-based security expert Ajai Shukla told Al Jazeera.

Shukla said the bridge is a part of Chinese infrastructure along the LAC “so that they can move well, move quickly and deploy their forces quickly”.

“That is the standard Chinese way of border management,” he said.

According to Shukla, the Chinese are “able to deploy quickly” while India “takes too much time to do it”.

“The absence of roads and tracks and motorable sort of infrastructure means India can deploy much more slowly compared with China and because of that China has an advantage.”

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