Source : Hindustan Times
China ramps up construction of tunnels, bunkers in Aksai Chin, 70km from LAC
China has ramped up the construction of reinforced personnel bunkers and underground facilities in Aksai Chin, at a location about 70km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), to better protect its military assets from aerial or missile strikes, according to an analysis of satellite imagery.
Indian officials declined to comment on the analysis. During an informal conversation on the margins of the Brics Summit in Johannesburg last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Chinese President Xi Jinping that maintaining peace and tranquillity in border areas and respecting the LAC are “essential” for normalising bilateral relations.
Using satellite imagery, HT reported in May that China has expanded crucial airbases all along the LAC by building new runways, hardened shelters to protect jets, and new support and military operations buildings. This created capabilities for its military to conduct a wider range of operations and to counter India’s comparative advantages in some areas.
Air Vice Marshal (retired) Manmohan Bahadur, an aviator who served extensively in the Ladakh region, concurred that the underground facilities were not for troops. “Tunnels are purely for equipment that is sensitive. These underground facilities appear to be for explosives, missiles or armament that would be destroyed by an aerial weapon,” he said.
He added, “This strategic move continues to highlight China’s intent to solidify a permanent foothold in Aksai Chin, coupled with their efforts to develop their depth areas to swiftly offer support and reinforcement to frontline troops. This shift in China’s strategic approach brings to light the evolving dynamics of the LAC, which are gradually resembling the heightened militarisation observed along the Line of Control (LoC).”
The reinforced personnel bunkers have earth raised around them to provide additional protection from aerial or missile attacks and entry and exit points designed in a forked manner to dissipate the impact of bombardment.