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China builds 10 new airbases along border with India, report says

Soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/WikiCommons)
September 21, 2021

China has reportedly built 10 new airbases along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, according to sources in the security establishment, The Telegraph India reported.

“Intelligence reports suggest the Chinese have built at least 10 new airbases along the LAC in Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. This is very serious considering the 16-month-old border standoff in eastern Ladakh,” one security official said.

The official added that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has previously erected military camps, in addition to watchtowers equipped with CCTV cameras, inside the India-claimed territory in Ladakh to watch for Indian troop deployments.

“It’s a matter of extreme concern the way they have been ramping up their military and air force infrastructure close to the LAC and also inside the occupied zones,” the security official said. “It’s apparent that the Chinese are bolstering their positions while talks are under way to resolve the border standoff.”

According to the outlet, the Chinese are working nearly 18km (11 miles) inside India-claimed territory on the Depsang Plains. A standoff between the two nations continues in both Hot Springs and the Desang Plans, with “partial” disengagements occurring at the Galwan Valley, Pangong Lake and Gogra. However, the disengagements involve both countries withdrawing an equal distance within Indian territory, meaning Chinese troops still remain inside Indian lines.

Military veterans believe China is working to establish a new normal at the Line of Actual Control, marking the area as Chinese territory since it began occupying the space in May last year.

In response to Chinese aggression along the LAC, India’s Defence Ministry has been regularly reviewing the country’s military preparedness along the China frontier. India has executed mirror deployment at the line to reflect the Chinese, including additional troops, artillery, and infantry combat vehicles, as well as extra aerial surveillance.

“The defence top brass have been conducting regular meetings to discuss infrastructure and capability development along the LAC,” a ministry official said.

India has built more than 70 roads along the China frontier, the official noted, but at a pace much slower than China’s expansion in the region.

In June, India moved around 50,000 troops to its border with China. In total, India has roughly. 200,000 troops focused on the border, a jump of nearly 40 percent over last year.

People familiar with the matter said the redirection will give India more options to attack and seize territory in China if necessary, a strategy one of the people called “offensive defense.”