Nepal | July 13, 2020

New Indian roads, air strips sparked border standoff with China, India observers say

Reuters
Share Now:

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: A Himalayan border standoff between old foes India and China was triggered by India’s construction of roads and air strips in the region as it competes with China’s spreading Belt and Road initiative, Indian observers said on Tuesday.

Soldiers from both sides have been camped out in the Galwan Valley in the high-altitude Ladakh region, accusing each other of trespassing over the disputed border, the trigger of a brief but bloody war in 1962.

About 80 to 100 tents have sprung up on the Chinese side and about 60 on the Indian side where soldiers are billeted, Indian officials briefed on the matter in New Delhi and in Ladakh’s capital, Leh, said.

People play polo in Leh, the largest town in the region of Ladakh, nestled high in the Indian Himalayas, India September 24, 2016. Photo: Reuters/File

Both were digging defences and Chinese trucks have been moving equipment into the area, the officials said, raising concerns of a long faceoff.

“China is committed to safeguarding the security of its national territorial sovereignty, as well as safeguarding peace and stability in the China-India border areas,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s office said in a statement.

“At present, the overall situation in the border areas is stable and controllable. There are sound mechanisms and channels of communication for border-related affairs, and the two sides are capable of properly resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation.”

There was no immediate Indian foreign ministry comment. It said last week Chinese troops had hindered regular Indian patrols along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

But interviews with former Indian military officials and diplomats suggest the trigger for the flare-up is India’s construction of roads and air strips.

“Today, with our infrastructure reach slowly extending into areas along the LAC, the Chinese threat perception is raised,” said former Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao.

“Xi Jinping’s China is the proponent of a hard line on all matters of territory, sovereignty. India is no less when it comes to these matters either,” she said.

After years of neglect Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has pushed for improving connectivity and by 2022, 66 key roads along the Chinese border will have been built.

One of these roads is near the Galwan valley that connects to Daulat Beg Oldi air base, which was inaugurated last October.

“The road is very important because it runs parallel to the LAC and is linked at various points with the major supply bases inland,” said Shyam Saran, another former Indian foreign secretary.

“It remains within our side of the LAC. It is construction along this new alignment which appears to have been challenged by the Chinese.”

China’s Belt and Road is a string of ports, railways, roads and bridges connecting China to Europe via central and southern Asia and involving Pakistan, China’s close ally and India’s long-time foe.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Sterling scores hat-trick as City hit Brighton for five

BRIGHTON: Raheem Sterling struck a hat-trick as Manchester City crushed Brighton 5-0 at the AmEx Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday. Second-placed City had lost their previous three away games but never looked likely to extend that streak against a Brighton side that struggled fro Read More...

La Liga, Barcelona

Sloppy Barca grind out win over Valladolid to stay on Real's heels

VALLADOLID: Lionel Messi notched a 20th assist of the season to help a lacklustre Barcelona secure a 1-0 win away to Real Valladolid on Saturday, maintaining the pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid. Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal struck the only goal of the game in the 15th minute, fir Read More...

NCP Standing Committee divided on one-on-one talks

Kathmandu, July 11 Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Asta Laxmi Shakya said Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli should have used his address to the nation yesterday to calm down youths protesting in the street in his support. “I was expecting the PM to say that our party had won people’s Read More...

Security Printing Bill registered in National Assembly stipulates reliable service

KATHMANDU, JULY 11 The Security Printing Bill registered by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in the National Assembly on July 8 stipulates the provision of a security printing centre. As per the bill, the centre shall be an autonomous body. The functions, duties and p Read More...

Population management government priority, says Health Minister Dhakal

KATHMANDU, JULY 11 Minister of Health and Population Bhanubhakta Dhakal said the government has prioritised management of population for the country’s development. Delivering a message on the occasion of the 25th World Population Day today, Minister Dhakal claimed that Nepal had made progres Read More...

90 houses at risk, 40 people sheltering in school

POKHARA, JULY 11 Carrying a 19-month-old child, Susmita Pariyar was searching for an apartment in Kharane Phant this afternoon. Since yesterday’s disaster that took the life of her neighbour Durga Bahadur Sunar in Paitedanda of Pokhara, she has been afraid of staying in her house in Paitedanda. Read More...

Technology to empower children, youth

KATHMANDU, JULY 11 Rakuten Viber, one of the world’s leading messaging apps for free and secure communication, and UNICEF, working for child rights in Nepal, have collaborated to launch U-Report Nepalchatbot on Viber. U-Report Nepal is a community participation tool empowering young people t Read More...

‘Waterborne disease, another threat for nation’

KATHMANDU, JULY 11 While the country is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, health workers have warned that people are under the risk of waterborne diseases during monsoon. “With flooding and water logging, there are chances of a surge in waterborne diseases,” said Anup Bastola, consu Read More...