China building new bridge over Pangong Tso to enable PLA troops to reach LAC quicker
Once the Chinese construct their bridge, the distance between the north and south banks will be reduced by around 150 km to just 50 km.
Construction work underway ahead of the Sirjap base of China's PLA. Image Courtesy: Damien Symon/Twitter
Amidst the ongoing border standoff with India, China has been cranking up its border infrastructure in areas that have been claimed by India in eastern Ladakh's Pangong Tso. A new bridge is being built over Pangong Tso that will connect the north and south banks of the lake, which is over 20 km away from Finger 8. New Delhi has been claiming that the Line of Actual Control passes through Finger 8 while China claims it to be Finger 4.
As per the satellite images, which have surfaced on social media, construction work is underway ahead of the Sirjap base of China's People Liberation of Army, connecting the north and south banks of the lake. China's PLA has its permanent base at Sirjap.
Since the two countries engaged in a standoff, which even triggered a violent faceoff in the Galwan Valley, the two sides have been enhancing their infrastructure to reduce their quick response time in case of a war-like situation. The idea was to ensure that the troops can be easily mobilised as and when required.
Once the Chinese construct their bridge, the distance between the north and south banks will be reduced by around 150 km to just 50 km. Pangong Tso is a 135-km-long high altitude (around 14,300ft) lake with around 45 kilometres on the Indian side of the LAC and the rest in Tibet.
Image: One of the bridges that India has built on 255km long Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road
It is pertinent to mention here that in August 2020, taking a preemptive measure, the Indian Army had outmanoeuvred China to dominate the previously-unoccupied heights of the Kailash Range on Pangong Tso's south bank. Having dominated this range, the Indian troops had the advantage of being capable of executing an offensive strike against China’s Moldo garrison.
In February 2021, the Indian troops disengaged from this range after the two militaries decided to withdraw from other friction points. Sources in the Indian Army told, "The bridge is being built by China on their side. It is over 40-km away from LAC."
China has been against New Delhi ramping up its infrastructure along the border areas as it fears that India could capture Aksai Chin and Lhasa-Kashgar highway. In a major boost to its border infrastructure, India had completed a 255-km-long Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie road, which touches the base of Karakoram pass. It is almost 10-km away from the LAC. With the construction of the road, the travel time for the security forces is reduced from two days to just 6 hours.