Tensions are flaring between India and China after China moved troops into an area which India says is Indian territory. The move happened in the disputed Ladakh region of Kashmir, which is bordered by Tibet to the east. China and India share a 4,000 km long border, called the Line of Actual Control [LAC], which is the longest unmarked border in the world.
The Indian news service “ThePrint” is reporting that Chinese troops have pushed about 3 km into territory that India claims although there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the actual situation on the ground given the remoteness of the area and the restricted access to it. Adding to that uncertainty almost all information coming from the area appears to be coming from either Chinese or Indian military sources.
India’s largest newspaper, India Today, has now released satellite footage which it says shows evidence of the building of camps and fortifications by Chinese soldiers in the region.
Nathan Ruser, who works at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute [ASPI], an Australian think-tank that focuses on defense and strategic policy, told India Today that the move showed, “China is in a position where it wants to show strength to its neighbors after suffering some weak economic figures following the coronavirus outbreak.”
He also said that one of the newly constructed Chinese camps was only “about 500 meters away from the nearest Indian encampment.”
There is a long history of border disputes in the area, with a previous standoff in 2017, caused by China beginning construction of a road in the disputed territory of Doklam, leading to a 2-month standoff between armed Indian and Chinese forces. The Indian government says that Chinese military forces crossed into Indian territory over 1,000 times between 2016 and 2018.
Over 100 soldiers were injured following a clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers earlier this month. No shots were fired in the clash, with the injuries caused by stones, iron bars, and fists.
India has begun to move additional troops into the region in response to China but both sides already have substantial military assets along the border.