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China objects to Indian Air activities near LAC, Hastens Road Development before Winter sets in

Source : News18

China objects to Indian Air activities near LAC, Hastens Road Development before Winter sets in
Indian Air Force Dassault Rafale fighter in Ladakh (Left) and Indian Outpost in Pangong Tso Lake near LAC Eastern Ladakh (Right)

China has lately been raising objections over major air activities carried out by India near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), particularly in the eastern sector, two government officials familiar with the matter told News18.

This includes routine helicopter sorties for transportation of men and equipment for construction works as well as drone operations conducted within the Indian side of the LAC in the past few weeks, an official said.

The objections were discussed between local commanders of the two sides.

The development comes at the heels of India detecting a Chinese aircraft flying close to the LAC in eastern Ladakh in June this year. Subsequently, as reported by News18, one of the discussion points in the 16th round of military talks between India and China was to keep each other informed of any air activity that either side may plan.

What also makes this development critical is that it comes amid the ongoing military stand-off with China in eastern Ladakh, with the last few rounds of military talks between the two countries making little progress, thus giving way to lingering tensions at the LAC.

Moreover, past records show that most incursion attempts by China have taken place during these months, just before the onset of winters. As first reported by News18, in September-October last year, India foiled an incursion attempt by Chinese troops at the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh.

Concerns over large-scale infra development

With the winters about to set in within the next few months, India and China have both upped the pace of their infrastructure development work.

The sources quoted above said this especially holds true for approach roads to the LAC. “China has been constructing roads near the LAC at a breakneck speed. India has also been building roads and other critical infrastructure near the LAC,” a government official told News18.

Aside from the many connecting and approaching roads, China has also been working on strategic highway projects for the long term.

Last month, a South China Morning Post report said that Beijing is planning to construct a new highway that will run through the disputed Aksai Chin area. The G695 highway will connect Lhunze county in Tibet to Mazha in Xinjiang, and run north of the LAC.

Sources said India has raised concerns over China’s development of infrastructure close to the disputed LAC in the last several rounds of military talks.

A Mystery

However, China’s ‘Xiaokang’ border defence villages continue to remain unoccupied for over a year after they were constructed.

China has been building 628 such “well-off” villages along India’s borders with the Tibet Autonomous Region’s periphery, including along Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

The exact purpose of the spacious buildings is not known, though India is concerned that they could be put to dual — civil and military — use.

India has taken up three border villages at Arunachal Pradesh alone — at Kibithoo, Kaho and Musai —to develop them as model villages as a pilot project. However, full fledged work is yet to start on it.

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