The defence infrastructure being built by China near Ladakh is alarming, United States Army’s Pacific Commanding General Charles A Flynn said on Wednesday, NDTV reported.
The top US Army general, who oversees the Asia Pacific region, is in India on a four-day visit.
Addressing a group of journalists, Flynn described the Chinese activity across the Line of Actual Control as “destabilising and corrosive behaviour”, according to NDTV.
Reports of China building a bridge across the Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh, more than 20 kilometres east of Finger 8 on the lake’s north bank, had surfaced on January 4.
On May 18, reports, citing satellite images from the region, had said that China is building a second bridge, parallel to the one built earlier. The bridge can potentially give the People’s Liberation Army quicker connectivity through the terrain.
“I believe that the activity level is eye-opening,” Flynn told reporters on Wednesday. “I think some of the infrastructure that is being created in the Western Theatre Command is alarming. And so much, like across all of their military arsenal, one has to ask the question, why.”
The People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command handles China’s borders with India, according to The Indian Express.
The American general said that Beijing’s “incremental and insidious path” to destabilise the Indo-Pacific region is not helpful. China has maritime border disputes with various countries in the region such as Vietnam and Japan.
“I think it is worthy of us working together as a counterweight to some of those corrosive and corrupted behaviours that the Chinese [demonstrate],” he added.
Pangong Tso lake was one of the prominent flashpoints when border tensions between the two countries had flared up in June 2020. One-third of the nearly 160 kms-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.
On May 20, India’s foreign ministry had said that the second bridge is in an area under the illegal occupation of China since the 1960s.
Flynn on Wednesday said he “do not have a crystal ball” to predict how the stand-off in Ladakh between India and China is going to end, PTI reported. “I will express to you that it is worthy of asking this question and try to get their response as to what are their intentions are,” he added.
The American general said that the military talks between both the countries is helpful. “However, behaviour matters here as well,” he said. “So, understanding what they are saying is one thing but the way they are acting and behaving by the way of build-up is concerning. It should be concerning to every one of us.”
On Tuesday, Flynn met Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande and discussed ways to boost defence cooperation.