Responding to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurating 44 key bridges built in areas of strategic importance, China on Tuesday said it was strongly opposed to the move and that it did not recognise the Union Territory of Ladakh “illegally” set up by India.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said neither side should take actions that would complicate the situation. The comments came a day after the seventh round of military talks between the two nations.
India and China have been engaged in a bitter stand-off since earlier this year after 20 Indian soldiers died in clashes with the PLA at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh in June.
“China does not recognise the so-called Union Territory of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh illegally set up by India,” Zhao said, reported the Global Times. “We are opposed to infrastructure construction for the purpose of military surveillance in disputed border areas.”
Zhao said according to the recent consensus reached between the two sides, neither China nor India should take any action in the border areas that would “complicate the dispute” and to “not undermine the efforts made by both nations to de-escalate the situation”.
Zhao also accused India of being the “root cause” of tensions along the border. This, he said, was because “India has continued to enhance infrastructure construction and troop deployment in the disputed areas over a period of time”. He urged India to take “practical actions” for peace and tranquility in the border areas.
The bridges inaugurated by India have been built in strategically key areas of Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
A majority of these bridges are expected to significantly improve movement of troops in areas along the border with China in Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh sectors, officials said. Both India and China held a series of diplomatic and military talks to resolve the border standoff. However, no breakthrough has been achieved to defuse the situation.
“Our armed forces personnel are deployed in large numbers in areas where transport is not available throughout the year,” he said, noting improvement in border infrastructure will significantly help armed forces. “These roads are not only for strategic needs, but they also reflect equal participation of all stakeholders in the development of the nation,” Rajnath Singh had said after the inauguration.
Amid the border standoff, India is expediting work on several key projects including on a strategic road linking Darcha in Himachal Pradesh with Ladakh that will criss-cross a number of high-altitude snow-bound passes.
The nearly 290-km-long road will be crucial for the movement of troops and heavy weaponry into the frontier bases of the Ladakh region and will provide a crucial link to the Kargil region.