China is planning to build a new highway through the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, reported The Hindu on Wednesday, citing a highway construction plan released by Beijing last week. The highway will run along the Indian border, according to the plan.
The G695 national expressway will be the second national highway through the Aksai Chin plateau, where China controls 38,000 square kilometres of land claimed by India. The highway is expected to be completed by 2035.
In the 1950s, China had constructed the G219 highway in the disputed area. India considers Aksai Chin as part of the Union Territory of Ladakh, while China considers the plateau a part of its Xinjiang province and Tibet.
The new highway will run closer to the Line of Actual Control than the G219 highway, according to South China Morning Post. It is likely to run from Mazha town in Xinjiang, through Aksai Chin, and along China’s borders with India, Nepal and Bhutan to Lhunze in southeastern Tibet, across the border from Arunachal Pradesh.
“Details of the new construction remain unclear, but the highway, when completed, may also go near hotly contested areas such as the Depsang Plains, Galwan Valley and Hot Springs on the LAC [Line of Actual Control],” the South China Morning Post report noted.
The new highway is part of China’s new national road network plan that aims to build 4,61,000 kilometres of roads by 2035.
The development came amid a border standoff between India and China since their troops clashed in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June 2020. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clash. China had put the number of casualties on its side at four.
So far, India and China have held 15 rounds of commander-level talks to resolve the conflict along the border. The last meeting was held on March 12 in which both sides agreed to maintain “security and stability” on the ground.