China Creeping Up In Ladakh7 November 2011
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: The dragon is breathing down the neck where India is most vulnerable - part of the ancient silk route that connects the Ladakh region in the northern most part of Jammu and Kashmir to the bordering Xinjiang region in China. The Indian defence establishment recently began counter-measures after coming across intelligence that China had set up at least two missile storage facilities just across the line of actual control (LAC) in that area. While New Delhi began building infrastructure in northern Ladakh, particularly at Daulat Beg Oldi on the old silk route, the intelligence on the missile site at Xaidulla came as a big surprise just three months ago. The Indian Army has proposed deployment of short-range missiles, such as the BrahMos, along the LAC with the option of using the long-range ones also to act as a deterrent. Satellite images showed 13 tunnels had been built at Xiadulla, an old base of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army of China, just 98 km from the Karakoram mountain pass between Ladakh and the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region. Another missile facility has been located at Qizil Jilga, 40 km off the LAC in eastern Ladakh near the Western Tibet highway. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) beefed up its overall capability along the line of actual control (LAC) in Aksai Chin with new observation towers coming up across Indian positions. Beijing is also working on a new road to link Kashgar in the Uyghur region to the Khunjerab pass in the Karakoram to connect Gilgit-Baltistan and the Xinjiang region and bypass the landslide-prone highway to Pakistan. Even though Beijing has vastly improved its military capabilities in Ladakh, the PLA is not showing any aggression on that front. But the Indian Army believes that China has planned new activities and installations in the region to get an upper-hand in the political brinkmanship game.