India-China standoff: Why PLA soldiers are eyeing the Galwan valley

WION New Delhi May 26, 2020, 08.15 PM(IST) Edited By: Palki Sharma

The Indian and Chinese delegations meet in eastern Ladakh. (Image source: Indian Army) Photograph:( Others )

Story highlights

India is stepping up infrastructure, on its own side of the border, and on its own land. The idea is to help Indian forces reach remote locations quickly

Union defence minister Rajnath Singh today held a meeting with the chiefs of India's Army, Navy, and Air Force along with CDS chief Bipin Rawat to review the situation in Ladakh. The Prime Minister's Office also held a meeting to discuss the India-China standoff.

China, meanwhile, is in no mood for dialogue. In fact, Beijing is blaming India and China's state-run newspaper the Global Times is at it again. It has been publishing aggressive and anti-India commentary. It claims that India has "illegally constructed defence facilities across the border into Chinese territory". 

Needless to say, the Global Times is echoing Beijing's line since it is the state mouthpiece. 

India and China haven’t fired a bullet at each other in decades but, the situation at the border is precarious. It is being called an escalation of a scale not seen since the 1962 war and that too in the middle of a pandemic. 

The Line of Actual Control(LAC) runs at 15,000 feet above sea level and it is an undefined border. On one end is Kashmir and on the other is Myanmar. The India-China border is close to 3,500 km long. In the past couple of weeks, two places have emerged as border hotspots- Sikkim and the other close to Ladakh. 

Right now the focus is the Galwan valley. Chinese troops are said to have moved in the Galwan valley.

India has been ramping up its border infrastructure. Last year, India’s border roads organization built a road called the Darbuk–Shyok-DBO road which is in Indian territory. It is at least 10 kilometers inside the LAC which is also technically Indian territory but China doesn't agree.

The road runs perpendicular to the Galwan river. In order to connect this road to the LAC, India was building feeder roads which worked up China. All of this construction is well within Indian territory. 

India is stepping up infrastructure, on its own side of the border, and on its own land. The idea is to help Indian forces reach remote locations quickly. It saves them time and effort and allows them to keep Chinese military aggression under check and that is why China is protesting because its border transgressions are being challenged.

Meanwhile, China has been building its way to glory along the border but has been protesting when India does the same on its side although India needs these border checks because China’s expansionism knows no bounds. 

The Galwan valley was a flashpoint in the 1962 war. According to a report, China has changed its claims over the valley thrice. It started with a small territory. Now, Beijing says that the entire Galwan valley belongs to China which the  Global Times editorial also repeats. 

China has reportedly positioned 5,000 PLA troops along the LAC. Many of them are said to be in Indian territory. In the Galwan valley, the PLA is said to have erected around 100 tents in the last two weeks. In fact, an open source intelligence expert has captured some satellite images of the Ngari Gunsa airport, 200 kilometers away from the Pangong lake in Ladakh - the site of the skirmish between the Indian and Chinese forces earlier this month.

There are Chinese fighter jets now positioned on what looks like a runway. India is stepping up its own presence at the border. On Wednesday, Indian Army chief MM Naravane will meet his top commanders as part of the two-day Army commanders conference in which the situation at the border is expected to come up. 

So this is where things stand right now, a large number of Chinese troops positioned at the border at multiple locations with assertive and aggressive commentary from China. Beijing seems to be fine with this unprecedented level of tension at the border and it is making territorial claims at a time when the world is trying to control the virus, that came from China.

China caused the biggest pandemic in a century and is now indulging in military adventurism. India has taken a stand without trying to exacerbate the situation pushing back the Chinese at the border and backing a global investigation into the outbreak.