With harsh winter conditions fast approaching in the Himalayas, China seems to have pushed further into territory once exclusively patrolled by India, Bloomberg News reported.
The report said: “A summer of fighting saw India lose control over about 300 square kilometers (115 square miles) of land along the disputed mountainous terrain, according to Indian officials familiar with the situation. Chinese soldiers now prevent Indian patrols in the area, which is about five times the size of Manhattan.”
Tensions between the countries are at their highest point in decades. Both armies are preparing to stand their ground at terrains where temperatures during winter months plunge below -40°C.
The current conflict between the nations escalated over a year back, weeks after the Narendra Modi government scrapped Article 370 in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. In September 2019, Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed on the banks of Pangong Tso, which is at a height of about 14,000ft.
Quoting an Indian official, the report said by the time harsh winter abated in May this year, India was surprised to find Chinese army had built forward bases, occupied mountaintops and also sent thousands of soldiers to prevent Indian patrols.
It also realised it had lost control of about 250sqkm of land in Depsang Plains that hold key roads leading up to the Karakoram Pass, as well as 50sqkm of land in Pangong Tso.
Karakoram Pass is a strategic outpost that runs from India into China’s Xinjiang region. A hold on the ancient Silk Road route could give Beijing easier access to its long-time ally Pakistan.
While foreign ministry, defence ministry and the Indian military establishment didn’t respond to a request for comments, China’s foreign ministry said it couldn’t comment on information “without a clear and unconfirmed source”.
Amidst increasing tensions, New Delhi is awaiting Beijing’s confirmation on a date for the eighth round of military-diplomatic level dialogue on disengagement in East Ladakh.