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Home / World / India and China are racing at the disputed border

India and China are racing at the disputed border

Men build railroads

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India builds many roads and bridges in the Ladakh region

India and China are trying to help each other on their disputed Himalayan border.

The new road to a high-altitude Indian air base is said to have been one of the main causes of last month’s clashes with Chinese troops, killing at least 20 Indian troops.

Last year, nearly two decades later, the construction of the 255 km (1

40 miles) Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DSDBO) road, which winds through mountain passes to the world’s highest airline at more than 5,000 m above sea level in the Ladakh region, was completed. work. Its implementation could increase India’s ability to rapidly move men and materials in the event of a conflict.

June 15 The clash in the Galvan Valley in Ladakh has raised concerns that tensions between the two nuclear powers could escalate. They have never consulted on the exact position of their 3,500 km border, and their armies – the two largest in the world – go face to face in many places on uneven and inconsistent terrain.

The disputed map of the Sino-Indian border


India and China have allocated money and manpower for the construction of roads, rail links and aerodromes at the LAC, the de facto border separating them, as well as the modernization of their military equipment in the region.

India’s recent construction work, including the DSDBO road, appears to have angered China – but China has been engaged in border employment for many years. Both sides tend to view the other party’s construction efforts as calculated steps to gain a tactical advantage, and tensions ignite when someone announces an important project.

In the summer of 2017, neighbors were taken to the field on the Doclam Plateau, far east of Ladakh. The confrontation also ended in construction – this time China tried to widen the border road at the three crossroads between India, China and Bhutan.

India is playing catch-up

Completing the DSDBO route connecting the important Daulat Beg Oldi airway – reopened in 2008. – With the regional capital, Lehu, India’s ability to move equipment quickly has intensified. The all-weather road is about 20 km from the Karakoram crossing and runs parallel to the LAC in the eastern city of Ladakh.

India has long deployed men Daulat Beg Oldi, but before activating the airstrip and completing the road, the men could only get supplies there through helicopter drops, and could not remove anything by turning the airstrip into an “equipment cemetery.” “.

Additional roads and bridges are now being built to link the road to inland water supply bases and LBR border posts, allowing Indian patrols to move forward and change tactical dynamics in the area.

Plane in the Daulato Beg Oldi mountain air belt

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India lands heavy-duty aircraft on Daulat Beg Oldi

Despite recent clashes, India has said it will continue to improve its infrastructure. Currently, 12,000 workers are being relocated from its eastern state of Jharkhand to build roads along the border with Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, all areas bordering China.

Many years after its infrastructure was abandoned, India is frantically trying to expand its border areas to neutralize China’s logistical advantage. An extensive road and rail construction program has been launched in the region.


A total of 73 strategic roads and 125 bridges were authorized in different sectors, in the LAC region. However, progress has been slow. So far, only 35 roads have been completed, the main ones being Ghatibagarh-Lipulekh in Uttarakhand and Damping-Yangtze in Arunachal Pradesh. Another 11 are planned to be built by the end of this year.

Delhi has also approved nine “strategic” railway lines, including the Missamari-Tenga-Tawang and Bilaspur-Mandi-Manali-Leh sections. They walk along the border with China and allow the Indian military to carry heavy armor into place.

Military personnel on the Sino-Indian border

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India has accelerated road construction on its border with China

In terms of aviation facilities, there are about 25 aerodromes along the LAC in India, but recently the focus has been on expanding its Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) network.

2018 India has announced that it will modernize eight existing HLGs and also create seven new ones close to the border. Sukhoi-30 modern fighter jets and Chetak helicopters are deployed in Chabua, India’s main air base in the state of Assam, along the eastern border with China. This base has recently been updated and modernized.


India continues to expand capacity at Chabua Air Force Station in Assam, near its disputed territory with China, near Arunachal Pradesh.

2020 July 9

Satellite view from Chabua Air Force Station 2020  July 9

2018 October 27

Satellite view of Chabua Air Force Station 2018  October 27


Although the situation has improved in recent years, Indian construction continues to be hampered by uneven terrain, land acquisition problems, bureaucratic delays and budgetary constraints.

And much remains to be done.

China’s main start

In recent years, China has used its known construction capabilities to build a network of air bases, cantons, and other physical infrastructure.

Beijing began building roads in the Himalayan region as early as the 1960s, and now has an extensive road and rail network in Tibet and Yunnan Province.

Basic infrastructure along the India-China border


Since 2016 China has increased its stake by increasing connectivity to areas near its borders with India, Bhutan and Nepal.

The aim is to link the old Xinjiang-Tibet road with the G219 national highway, which runs almost across the China-India border. The concrete road between Medog and Zayu near the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, claimed by China, will be completed later this year.

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A new railway line is also being built connecting Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city, to Chengdu via Nyingchi, near the Indian border.

Another railway section is planned between Shigatse and Yadong, a shopping mall near Sikkim, in the northeastern Indian state of Himalayas. A clash took place between Indian and Chinese troops in early May.

Rain line in Tibet

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Despite the treacherous terrain, China has built high-speed rail lines in Tibet

China has about a dozen planes flying to India, five of which are dual-use airports in Tibet, with both civilian and military targets in mind.

Here, it is building three new airports and modernizing Gonggar Airport in all-weather conditions at Shigatse, Ngari Gunsa and Lhasa, adding underground shelters and new runways.

Ngari Gunsa aerodrome, located at an altitude of 4,274 m (14,022) feet above sea level, approximately 200 km from Lake Pangong, is reported to be equipped with air-to-air missiles and advanced fighter jets.


The construction of a new taxiway and parking lots have been greatly improved in the area of ​​Ngari Gunsa Airport in recent months.

2020 July 2

Satellite view of Ngari Kunsha Airport in China.  2020  July 2

2020 March 26

Satellite view of Ngari Kunsha Airport in China.  2020  March 26


In terms of air power, India has a comparative advantage in terms of air power, as Chinese bases tend to be further away from the LAC and at higher altitudes, where thinner air means the nozzles can carry less fuel and payload.

Suspicions of border infrastructure

These infrastructure improvements on both sides are aimed at one main goal: to enable the rapid movement of troops and military equipment to the border in the event of a comprehensive conflict.

“Once these ambitious infrastructure projects are finally completed, many Indian forces will be able to move more freely in certain critical subgroups without fear of being damaged or physically blocked,” the New American Security Center said in 2019. A study was conducted. .


India has long distanced itself from extensive development, believing that improving infrastructure on its side of the border will facilitate Chinese movement on Indian territory in the event of a conflict. But it moves away from this reasoning.

Both countries fought in only one war, in 1962, when India suffered a humiliating defeat.

Chinese military vehicles during recent drilling

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Chinese Ministy Online

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China has demonstrated its logistics capabilities during a recent military exercise

Rajeswari Pillai, a contributor to the Observer Research Fund, described India’s infrastructure development as “primarily a defensive response, as China’s infrastructure poses a threat because it can allow the Chinese army to participate in offensive operations and allow forces to be mobilized quickly anywhere. there is a dispute ”.

“India’s poor infrastructure has meant that it has always been difficult for it to defend itself against Chinese attacks,” he said. Pills.

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China denies encroachment, as does India when it is accused of crossing the line. Several rounds of negotiations over the last three decades have failed to resolve border disputes.

Chinese state media, meanwhile, highlighted how quickly the military was able to focus on the recent exercise near the Indian border using an efficient transportation network.


“The scale and the short time it took to complete the mobilization showed that the army could very quickly project its power anywhere in China and send reinforcements to more remote locations, including highlands,” an unnamed Chinese army veteran told state-run Global. Times.

With the emergence of many new roads, railways and bridges on both sides of the border, there are many opportunities to confront Indian and Chinese armies in the future.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyzes news from around the world on TV, radio, the internet and print media. You can follow BBC monitoring on Twitter and Facebook. Graphics from the BBC Visual Journalism team.

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