China is beefing up its presence along its disputed border with India near the spot where an unplanned June 15 clash between soldiers of two of the world’s largest militaries left several soldiers dead.
Satellite operator Maxar Technologies said that an image taken along the border, referred to as the Line of Actual Control, showed China’s expansion.
The site is near where a disputed June 15 clash left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China has not said how many troops were killed on its side.
Maxar has found that China is continuing to expand its camp, according to CNN.
“The small outpost … has grown hugely in size,” Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, tweeted on Thursday. “Indian troops aren’t dismantling this one.”
Satellite imagery from the Galwan Valley on June 22nd shows that ‘disengagement’ really isn’t the word that the government should be using. This gif shows the small outpost that sparked the June 15th clashes. It has grown hugely in size. Indian troops aren’t dismantling this one. pic.twitter.com/8Q78ftr3uW
— Nathan Ruser (@Nrg8000) June 24, 2020
The recent photos appear to show a Chinese tank company and artillery units near the border, Ruser said. He added that Chinese troops regularly cross the border into India.
Maxar vice president Steve Wood said that since May 22, satellite images showed “convoy after convoy of heavy trucks, diggers, bulldozers and some military armored equipment” rumbling through the Galwan Valley toward the disputed border, according to The New York Times.
China was building up military assets before the clash and has continued to do so since, said Chris Biggers, senior analyst at geospatial intelligence company HawkEye 360.
“The Chinese were obviously pushing toward the junction and what they perceive as their claim line. They have now built a post and a track reinforcing their claim, thus changing the status quo in the area,” he said, saying that construction equipment, soldiers and military hardware have all been flowing to the border camp.
Fears that the collision could lead to something more were reflected in headlines such as that from Britain’s The Express that read, “World War 3: China’s troops massing on India border — new satellite images.”
Predictably, each side has blamed the other for the clash.
“It was shocking that Indian troops publicly violated the agreement, broke their own promise and crossed the LAC to provoke the Chinese side on June 15,” Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry, said Wednesday. “When Chinese military troops arrived to negotiate, they were suddenly attacked by Indian troops, and that led to a physical fight between the two sides and caused casualties.”
India’s Ministry of External Affairs, however, said that “[i]t has been the Chinese actions thus far which have led to increase in tension in the region and also to the violent face-off of 15th June with casualties.”
“At the heart of the matter is that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC,” the Indian ministry said.
India and China fought over the region in 1962.
“We should not overestimate India’s response, but we must also not let our guard down,” wrote Qiao Liang, a retired air force major general.
China must “take the initiative” if escalation takes place, he wrote.
“If we must fight a war, we must strike quickly and contain the scale in a small and mid-sized war aimed at causing pain to our opponents and hence gaining respect via small wars,” he wrote.
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