China's foreign ministry on Tuesday denied reports that Chinese troops are setting up a network of fibre optic cables at Ladakh flashpoint. China and India will remain in communication through diplomatic and military channels, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Earlier, the news agency reported that two Indian officials had said that Chinese troops were laying optical fibre cables south of Pangong Lake in Ladakh, even as high-level talks were underway to resolve a standoff there. A senior government official was quoted as saying that such cables would provide forward troops with secure lines of communication to bases in the area. Another official said that there had been no significant withdrawals or reinforcements on either side since the foreign ministers of the two countries met last week "It is as tense as earlier," he added.
"Our biggest worry is that they have laid optical fibre cables for high-speed communications," the first official said, referring to the lake's southern bank, where Indian and Chinese troops are only a few hundred metres apart at some points. "They have been laying optical fibre cables on the southern bank at breakneck speed," he said.
Indian intelligence agencies had discovered similar cables to the north of the Pangong Tso lake around a month ago, the second government official said. The first Indian government official said the authorities were alerted to such activity after satellite imagery showed unusual lines in the sand of the high-altitude deserts to the south of Pangong Tso.
These lines were judged by Indian experts – and corroborated by foreign intelligence agencies – to be communication cables laid in trenches, he said, including near the Spanggur gap, among hilltops where soldiers fired in the air recently for the first time in decades.
Amid reports of Chinese troops laying network of optical fibre cables in Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is set to make a statement in Parliament on Tuesday on the continuing standoff, sources told News18.
India and China are embroiled in a tense standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in several key areas, including the Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot Springs and Kongrung Nala. The situation deteriorated following the clashes in Galwan valley in June where twenty Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand fighting, an incident that led to China and India deploying additional forces along the frontier.
Earlier this month, a fresh border confrontation erupted between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh. The Indian Army said Chinese troops fired shots in the air and attempted to close in on an Indian position in eastern Ladakh as it rejected charges by China's People's Liberation Army(PLA) that it transgressed across the LAC.
(With inputs from Reuters)