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China laying optical fibre cables for communications at Ladakh flashpoint

As per the sources, Chinese troops were laying a network of optical fibre cables south of Pangong Lake in Ladakh, suggesting they were digging in for the long haul despite high-level talks aimed at resolving a standoff there. Such cables, which would provide forward troops with secure lines of communication to bases in the rear, have recently been spotted to the south of Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh, a senior government official said.

 

Thousands of Indian and Chinese troops backed by tanks and aircraft are locked in an uneasy stalemate along a 70 km-long front to the south of the lake.

 

Above Leh, Ladakh’s main city, Indian Air Force fighter planes flew throughout the morning, their engines booming and echoing across the valley surrounded by brown, barren mountains.

 

According to officials, “Our biggest worry is that they have laid optical fibre cables for high-speed communications,” 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 noted similar cables to the north of the Pangong Tso lake around a month ago. The optical fibre cables offered communications security as well as the ability to send data such as pictures and documents.

 

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 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.

 

Officials say a build-up in border infrastructure on their side is also likely to have played a part in the months-long confrontation.