China is building a second bridge, parallel to the first one, across East Ladakh’s Pangong Tso lake, reports said on Wednesday, citing satellite images from the region. The bridge can potentially give the People’s Liberation Army quicker connectivity through the terrain.

Pangong Tso lake was one of the prominent flashpoints when border tensions between the two countries flared up in June 2020. One-third of the nearly 160 kilometres-long lake lies in India, the other two-thirds in China. In February 2021, Indian and Chinese armies agreed to pull back troops from the north and south banks of the lake.

The new bridge could have a width of 10 metres and a length of 450 metres, reported the Hindustan Times, citing Damien Symon, an analyst who tracks Chinese activities along the Line of Actual Control. Symon posted satellite images of the bridge on Twitter.

“Recent imagery [dated April 29] shows roadworks have begun to join the bridge most likely to Rutog, giving China’s PLA troops in the area quicker connectivity through the terrain,” Symon wrote in a tweet.

According to the current assessment, there could be a space under the bridge to allow for the movement of boats, Symon said, reported the Hindustan Times.

Indian Army and government officials have not commented on the reported construction of the bridge.

Reports of China building the first bridge across the Pangong Tso lake in East Ladakh, more than 20 kilometres east of Finger 8 on the lake’s north bank, had surfaced on January 4.

While India claims the Line of Actual Control to be at Finger 8, China claims it at Finger 4. India has a permanent position at the Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3, while China has a base east of Finger 8.

Symon described the first bridge as a “service bridge” and said that its construction was completed in April, reported Hindustan Times.

Both the bridges will reduce the distance between the Chinese Army positions on the northern bank of the lake to a base on the eastern side in Rutog by almost 150 km.

China has continued to build infrastructure along the border with India.

On Monday, Lieutenant General RP Kalita, the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Eastern Command, said that the Chinese armed forces are developing infrastructure along the international border in Arunachal Pradesh.

In November, satellite images showed that China had constructed a cluster of at least 60 buildings in Arunachal Pradesh. In January, another set of satellite images showed that China had constructed a new village consisting of 101 homes, approximately 4.5 kilometres within the Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh. It has also conducted several drills along the border over the year.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet, while India contests it.

Tensions have been brewing between India and China since their troops clashed in Galwan Valleyin eastern Ladakh in June 2020. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clash. China put the number of casualties on its side at four. Since the violent face-off, the two countries have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks to reduce tensions.