The Union Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday that it is closely monitoring the construction of a bridge by China across East Ladakh’s Pangong lake, PTI reported.

The bridge is being constructed in an area that is under China’s illegal occupation and the Indian government is taking steps to safeguard the country’s security interests, the ministry’s spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters.

China is constructing a bridge across East Ladakh’s Pangong Tso that would potentially allow its People’s Liberation Army to deploy troops faster between the north and south banks of the lake.

One-third of the nearly 160 kilometre-long lake lies in India, and the other two-third in China. It was one of the prominent flashpoints when border tensions between the two countries flared up in June 2020.

Bagchi also commented on a purported video shared by Chinese media of People’s Liberation Army soldiers in the Galwan valley on New Year’s day. The spokesperson said that the media reports are factually incorrect, and that media outlets in India have released photos contradicting the claim, ANI reported..

On China renaming 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh, Bagchi said that Beijing should work constructively with India to resolve friction points rather than “engaging in such antics”, according to ANI.

“We had seen reports of the Chinese side naming some places in Arunachal Pradesh last week,” the spokesperson said. “We had also conveyed our views on such a ridiculous exercise to support untenable territorial claims.”

China claims that Arunachal Pradesh is “South Tibet” – an area that falls under its administrative control. The country’s Ministry of Civil Affairs said last week that it had standardised in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of 15 places in Zangnan, or South Tibet.

The Ministry of External Affairs also commented on the Chinese embassy writing to Indian legislators after they took part in an event hosted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. Its spokesperson said that the tone and tenor of the letter were “inappropriate”, and urged the mission not to “hype up normal activities” of MPs, PTI reported.

Meanwhile, Bagchi said on Thursday that India has taken up the matter of the early release of Indian fishermen currently in the custody of Sri Lankan authorities. He said 12 fishermen have been released as a result of the government’s efforts.

“India and Sri Lanka are in consultation on early holding of joint working group on fisheries,” the spokesperson added.