India-China Tensions Rise in Ladakh

While Indian and Chinese troops exchanged blows earlier this month in Ladakh, their governments could soon be trading barbs over the LAC in that region.

On Thursday, China’s foreign ministry attacked India for building a road between two points, Hot Spring and Marsimik Lo, not far  from the chilly waters of Pangong Tso, where Indian and Chinese troops had clashed on Independence Day.

“It seems that Indian side is slapping its own face,” said Hua Chunying, spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry.

On Wednesday, Hindustan Times had reported that the Home Ministry had approved the construction of the 32-kilometre long road by the Border Roads Organisation.

Hua linked the planned road to the ongoing Doklam standoff, now more than two months old.

‘Now, the current road construction in that area by the Indian side is not conducive to peace and stability in that area. It will not help with settlement of the current situation,’ Hua said.

Hua also pointed out that while India was objecting to Chinese road building in Doklam, it was building its own road in an undemarcated section of the LAC. ‘Its words are complete contradictions to its deeds on the border issues’, she said.

A Chinese bridge

India has its own worries about Chinese construction further south from Pangong Tso, in Demchok. Here, according to reporting from Manu Pubby of ThePrint, ‘China has built a bridge over a disputed stream in Demchok that gives it access to traditional Indian grazing grounds’.

Earlier, Pubby had reported that ‘Indian villagers who had gone with cattle to grazing grounds near the Nelung Nala were confronted by a Chinese border patrol on 8 August and threatened with dire consequences if they returned.’

The area from which the Indian herders were driven away is reportedly where India and Chinese troops were involved in a standoff in 2014 even as President Xi Xinping was in India on a state visit.

Dr Sonam Dawa Lonpo, chairman of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council told Pubby that ‘the construction of the bridge seems to be serious. This is on the nala, we are on one side and on the other side are the Chinese. The bridge has given them a crossing to get to our side’.

The Indian government is still playing down the incidents in Ladakh, but if clashes with the Chinese continue, that could very well change.

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