Even as China pushes to resolve border issues with India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) “peacefully,” it is building infrastructure to house air defense systems near Doklam.
Satellite images published by open source intelligence expert detresfa_ Friday shows evidence of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) constructing air defense infrastructure near the China-India-Bhutan tri-junction.
"Bearing in mind the big picture of bilateral ties and putting the border issue in an appropriate position in this big picture, India and China need to avoid misjudgement, keep divergences from escalating into disputes, and take concrete steps to bring bilateral relations back to the right track of normal development," China's Defence Ministry spokesperson Colonel Wu Qian said in a statement yesterday.
The PLA has S-300, HQ-9 and HQ-16 (Buk) air defence systems (ADS) currently in service. Russia has delivered S-400 missile systems to China, which has also been ordered by India. Amid simmering tensions with China, India is said to have sped up procedures to establish a new Air Defence Command with a target set for October.
The alleged Chinese ADS site is roughly 50km from known clash points of India-China standoff of 2017 and 2020. The 72-day 2017 Doklam Crisis started when the Chinese Army began constructing a road into the Bhutanese territory.
On 26 August, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, in an interview to Rediff, called the ongoing fracas "the most serious situation after 1962” when India and China fought a war. After the skirmish broke out in June, military from both sides along the border were armed to the teeth. The two countries have held several rounds of military and diplomatic meetings since then, only to observe limited disengagement having taken place in parts of eastern Ladakh.