India says China is laying cable to increase communication at border flashpoint

LEH, India (Reuters) – Two Indian officials said Chinese troops were laying a network of fiber-optic cables with India on a Western Himalayan flashpoint, suggesting they were digging despite high-speed talks, The aim was to resolve the deadlock there.

The Indus River flows through Leh in the Ladakh region till 14 September 2020. REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui

A senior government official said that such cables, which provide forward detachment with secure lines of communication to the rear bases, have recently been spotted south of Pangong Tso Lake in the Himalayan region of Ladakh.

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

The two sides have accused each other of escalating the most serious confrontation at the border between nuclear-armed neighbors in decades.

A third Indian official said on Monday that there had been no significant withdrawal or reinforcement of the two since the foreign ministers of the two countries met last week.

“It’s just as stressful as before,” he said.

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry expressed doubts over the cable network’s report.

“As I know, the relevant report is not true,” said Wayne Webin, spokesman, when asked on Tuesday.

China and India will remain in communication through diplomatic and military channels, ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told in a news briefing in Beijing.

Chinese defense officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

In June, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a fight with Chinese troops in the area. Both sides agreed to pull back after that skirmish, but the Indian Army accused the Chinese military of violating that agreement.

Secure communication

Over the main city of Leh, Ladakh, Indian fighter jets flew all morning on Monday, their engines leaping and buzzing in a valley surrounded by gray, barren mountains.

“Our biggest concern is that they have laid optical fiber cables for high-speed communications,” the first official said, referring to the southern bank of the lake, where the Indian and Chinese forces were only a few hundred meters apart from some points Are at a distance.

“They are laying optical fiber cables across the southern bank at breakneck speed,” he said.

Indian intelligence agencies mentioned similar cables north of Pangong Tso Lake about a month ago, another government official said.

The first Indian official said officials were alerted to the activity when satellite imagery showed unusual lines in the sand of high-altitude deserts south of Pangong Tso.

These lines were judged by Indian experts – and confirmed by foreign intelligence agencies – as communication cables laid in trenches, he said, including the hiltops, near the Spangur Gap, where troops fired in the air for the first time in recent decades Of.

Indian officials say that there is also a possibility of a confrontation on their part in the border infrastructure which play a role in the confrontation.

China has complained to India to build a road and airstrip in the area, and Beijing says it increased tension.

A former Indian military intelligence officer, who was refused to be identified because of the case’s sensitivity, said fiber optic cables offered communication security as well as the ability to send data such as pictures and documents.

“If you speak on the radio, it can be caught. Communication over optical fiber cable is secure, ”he said.

The Indian Army still relies on radio communications, the first official said, though he said it was encrypted.

Reporting by Devjit Ghoshal; Additional reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Yu Lun Tian; Editing by Hugh Lawson