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Satellite Images Allegedly Show Chinese Infrastructure Upgrades in Region Contested by India

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Satellite imagery of alleged Chinese roads and other infrastructure leading to the Depsang Plains have surfaced online, raising tensions between Beijing and Delhi.

New unverified satellite images dated 17 August, which surfaced on Wednesday, reveal what seems to be upgraded infrastructure near the Depsang Plains along the western sector of the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“It appears the Tianwendian Highway that leads up to the Depsang Plains area under China PLA’s control in AksaiChin has been undergoing roadworks, widening and upgrades this year,” tweeted the handle @detresfa_, which has been releasing images since tensions between India and China began building in May 2020.

​The Tianwendian highway connects the PLA’s Tianwendian all-season post in Aksai Chin to the Depsang Plains. Tianwendian post is situated barely 24 km from India’s highest airstrip – Daulet Beg Oldie (DBO) in Ladakh.

Last year, the PLA built additional auxiliary structures and camps in the area as escalations threatened to boil over into all out war. Media reports based on Indian military sources claim that PLA troops were stationed 15 km inside Indian territory. China has countered the claim and refused to withdraw troops from the area, which is strategically significant for the Indian Army as it’s very close to the Karakoram Pass.

In the first week of this month, India’s Army announced it was disengaging in the Gogra Post and claimed that troops from both sides had moved back to their permanent bases. China’s PLA is yet to issue any statement related to such an agreement, while recent media reports suggest that the disengagement has not changed the deployment of troops in the vicinity of Gogra Post. “What worries the  Indian Army is the permanent construction of infrastructure on the Chinese side of the LAC,” the report added.

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