Satellite images suggest Chinese activity at Himalayan border with India before clash

SINGAPORE/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – In the times main as much as essentially the most violent border conflict between India and China in a long time, China introduced in items of equipment, reduce a path right into a Himalayan mountainside and should have even dammed a river, satellite tv for pc footage recommend.

An Indian Army convoy strikes alongside a freeway resulting in Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

The photos, shot on Tuesday, a day after troopers engaged in hand-to-hand fight within the freezing Galwan Valley, present a rise in exercise from per week earlier.

India stated 20 troopers have been killed in a premeditated assault by Chinese troops on Monday night time at a time when high commanders had agreed to defuse tensions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), or the disputed and poorly outlined border between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

China rejected the allegations and blamed frontline Indian troopers for upsetting the battle which came about on the freezing peak of 14,000 ft (4,300 metres) within the western Himalayas.

The 4,056-km (2,520-mile) border between India and China runs by way of glaciers, snow deserts and rivers within the west to thickly forested mountains within the east.

The Galwan Valley is an arid, inhospitable space, the place some troopers are deployed on steep ridges. It is taken into account essential as a result of it results in the Aksai Chin, a disputed plateau claimed by India however managed by China.

The satellite tv for pc footage, taken by Earth-imaging firm Planet Labs and obtained by Reuters, present indicators of altering the panorama of the valley by way of widening tracks, shifting earth and making river crossings, one skilled stated.

The photos reveals equipment alongside the bald mountains and within the Galwan River.

“Looking at it in Planet, it looks like China is constructing roads in the valley and possibly damming the river,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at California’s Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

“There are a ton of vehicles on both sides (of the LAC) – although there appear to be vastly more on the Chinese side. I count 30-40 Indian vehicles and well over 100 vehicles on the Chinese side.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated he was unaware of the specifics on the bottom however reiterated that the Indian military had crossed into Chinese territory in a number of locations in current days and that they need to withdraw.


The conflict was essentially the most severe since 1967. Since early May, troopers have confronted off on the border the place India says Chinese troops had intruded and arrange non permanent buildings. The confrontation become a lethal brawl on Monday.

The combating was triggered by a row over two Chinese tents and statement towers that India stated had been constructed on its aspect of the LAC, Indian authorities sources in New Delhi and on the Indian aspect of the border within the Ladakh area stated.

China had sought to erect a “structure” within the Galwan Valley on India’s aspect of the LAC even after army officers had reached an settlement on June 6 to de-escalate, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar informed China’s senior diplomat, Wang Yi, in a cellphone name on Wednesday, the Indian Foreign Ministry stated. It was not instantly clear to what construction he was referring.

The downside arose when an Indian patrol visited the realm close to a ridge to confirm a Chinese assertion that its troops had moved again from the LAC, the 2 authorities sources conscious of the army scenario stated.

The Chinese troops had thinned out and left behind the 2 tents and small statement posts. The Indian get together demolished the towers and burnt the tents, the sources stated.

The satellite tv for pc photos present doable particles from the statement posts on Tuesday morning on a ridge on India’s aspect of the LAC. There was no such construction within the picture taken per week earlier.

A big group of Chinese troopers arrived and confronted the Indian troops, led by Colonel Santosh Babu. They have been calmly armed consistent with the foundations of engagement on the LAC, one of many sources stated.

India and China haven’t exchanged gunfire on the border since 1967, regardless of occasional flare-ups. Soldiers are beneath directions to maintain their rifles slung at their backs.

It was not clear what occurred subsequent, however the two sides quickly clashed, with the Chinese utilizing iron rods and batons with spikes, one of many sources stated.

Colonel Babu was one of many 20 victims, they stated. More Indian troops have been rushed in and the confrontation become an hours-long brawl ultimately involving as much as 900 troopers, the supply stated. Still no pictures have been fired on both aspect.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao rejected the Indian model of the occasions. “The rights and wrongs of this incident are very clear. The responsibility does not lie with China.”

Additional reporting by Gabriel Crossley in Beijing, Fayaz Bukhari in Srinagar and Devjyot Ghoshal in New Delhi; Editing by Nick Macfie


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