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Sino-India dispute: Building infra on territory within our ‘sovereignty’, says China

Sino-India dispute: Building infra on territory within our ‘sovereignty’, says China

China on Friday said it was building infrastructure within its “sovereignty”, a day after New Delhi accused Beijing of constructing a bridge across a portion of the strategic Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh it has illegally occupied for 60 years. Dismissing India’s indignation over the new construction in a disputed area, the Chinese foreign ministry said the infrastructure was also aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the Sino-India border. The exchange of words over developments in a sensitive and highly-militarised region comes in the backdrop of the ongoing 20-month long border tension between the two countries in eastern Ladakh, which has plunged bilateral ties to its worst in decades. India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said New Delhi has been closely monitoring the construction of a bridge on Pangong Lake by China. The de facto Sino-India border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) passes through the lake and part of it is occupied by China but claimed by India. Responding to a question on the topic in Beijing on Friday, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin declined to go into details but said China was within its rights to build infrastructure on its territory. “I am not aware of the situation you mentioned. I want to stress that China’s infrastructure construction on its territory entirely falls within its sovereignty and is aimed at safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the China-India border area,” Wang said. In New Delhi, Bagchi on Thursday had said that the bridge is being “…constructed in areas that have been under illegal occupation by China for around 60 years now. As you are well aware India has never accepted such illegal occupation”. “Recent satellite imagery has shown that the Chinese bridge spanning a narrow section of the 134km lake is nearly complete. Experts believe it will drastically reduce the time needed by the Chinese side to move troops and equipment from in-depth bases to forward locations near the LAC,” an HT report from New Delhi said. The Chinese official media seldom publishes news about specific infrastructure projects near the border with India though it does share news about how the living conditions and facilities for People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers deployed near the LAC are being strengthened. In September, Chinese official media announced that both Xinjiang and Tibet, bordering India, will soon have 30 airports at the disposal of the Western Theatre Command (WTC) to facilitate the movement of PLA personnel. The WTC is the largest military command of the PLA and oversees the disputed border with India. While some of these airports have already been built and are functional, the remaining are under construction..

world-news 2022-01-08 hindustantimes