China claims that India’s border infrastructure work along the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) has to do with the current imbroglio of military tensions. However, India declines this claim and contradicts that it is China and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that has built and continues to construct roads and communication networks on its side of the border.
Indian military commanders have maintained that PLA has drawn optical fiber for secure communication at disputed Gogra-Hot Springs. They have dropped solar heated containers as accommodation for forwarding troops on the north bank of Pangong Tso with the help of heavy-lift cranes.
Apart from that, the Chinese have built a hospital in the depth area to tend to soldiers grappling with high-altitude sickness and medical problems associated with the rarefied atmosphere.
Rebutting China’s claims, a senior official says, “First, the bridges inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday are away from the LAC and would facilitate civilian movement and access apart from military logistics. Second, China has never raised the issue of India’s infra upgrade at the on-going military-diplomatic talks. Third, what about the road, bridges, optical fibers, solar-heated huts, and missile deployments of the PLA close to the LAC. India is only building infra on its side of the LAC and for that, we do not need Chinese permission.”
But the actual reason for the Chinese unease over India upgrading its infrastructure is the direct impact it would have on the multi-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC to Pakistan. The Chinese have already discussed this with Pakistan, their eternal ally. India has very strongly opposed Beijing exploiting the ecologically sensitive Gilgit-Baltistan area and PoK.
The heightened Indian military capacity and capability on the LAC will also thwart the PLA from encroaching East Ladakh in pursuance of its maximalist 1959 cartographical claim line.