According to satellite images, China seems to have expanded and rebuilt a military camp in the Himalayas, where a deadly clash occurred with India a few weeks earlier.
The satellite images, captured by US Maxar Technologies, were taken on Monday, just a week after the hand-to-hand combat between the two armies that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
China reported no casualties after the incident at Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The border is ill-defined and disputed between the two powers up in the Himalayan mountains. Also Read– Can China afford India as an enemy?
China claims the clash began when Indian troops crossed over the LAC, onto the Chinese side and attempted to dismantle a tent camp in the Galwan Valley at Patrol Point 14.
The satellite images show a large expansion of the Chinese encampment along the river since the clash broke out on June 15.
“The small outpost … has grown hugely in size,” Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who first shared the images, said, “Indian troops aren’t dismantling this one.”
One analyst cast doubt on the images and said, “It looks to me where someone had camped, and it looks like it was a large camp, but they dismantled it,” said Manoj Joshi, a member at the Observer Research Foundation.
According to the analysis by Ruser of the satellite images, the number of Chinese troops since may have increased from 3 to 46. On the other hand, the Indian troops have decreased from 84 to 17.
Tensions at the border continue despite peace talks on June 15 to defuse the situation. China claims India is entirely to blame for the clash after the Indian troops crossed the LAC, violating a previous agreement.
“It was shocking that Indian troops publicly violated the agreement, broke their own promise and crossed the LAC to provoke the Chinese side on June 15,” Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry, said Wednesday. “When Chinese military troops arrived to negotiate, they were suddenly attacked by Indian troops, and that led to a physical fight between the two sides and caused casualties.”
Furthermore, India’s Ministry of External Affairs responded to China’s claims and said China instigated the clash.
“It has been the Chinese actions thus far which have led to increase in tension in the region and also to the violent face-off of 15th June with casualties,” it said in a statement.
China has been increasing the number of forces in the region for over a month, the ministry said: “At the heart of the matter is that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC.”