US general calls Chinese activity across Ladakh ‘eye-opening’

Updated on Jun 09, 2022 05:03 AM IST

The general, who is on a four-day visit to India, met army chief General Manoj Pande on Tuesday and discussed issues related to bilateral defence cooperation.

Army chief General Manoj Pande with General Charles A Flynn. (PTI)
Army chief General Manoj Pande with General Charles A Flynn. (PTI)

NEW DELHI: A top American general on Wednesday described Chinese activity across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh theatre as “eye-opening” while calling the infrastructure development by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “alarming.”

General Charles A Flynn, Commanding General, United States Army Pacific, said, “The [Chinese] activity level is eye-opening. Some of the infrastructure being created in the PLA’s Western Theatre Command is alarming. One has to ask the question ‘why’, and get a response as to what are their intentions.”

Flynn was responding to a question on the overall situation in the Ladakh theatre while interacting with a group of journalists. His comments come at a time when India’s border row with China in eastern Ladakh is in its third year, and a full resolution is still not in sight even though the two sides have had partial success in disengaging rival soldiers from some friction areas on LAC.

Also Read | Cong leader reacts after US general's remarks on China's LAC infra build-up

The US general, who is on a four-day visit to India, met army chief General Manoj Pande on Tuesday and discussed issues related to bilateral defence cooperation.

The Chinese have had the multidimensional and state-of-the-art infrastructure in Tibet for a long time, and they are constantly upgrading it to meet their security requirements, said former director-general of military operations Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia (retd).

“We have serious differences on the boundary question. These differences need to be resolved through political, diplomatic and military talks,” he said. Bhatia added India’s military capabilities and infrastructure along LAC are adequate to match what the Chinese have.

Talks are on between India and China to end the deadlock that has cast a shadow over the bilateral relationship. The Indian Army and PLA have held 15 rounds of military talks to cool border tensions, but problems at Patrol Point-15 near Kongka La, Depsang Bulge in Daulet Beg Oldi sector and Charding Nullah Junction in Demchok sector are still on the negotiating table.

The two countries have been locked in the row since early May 2020. Despite disengagement of soldiers from Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and Gogra-Hot Springs area, the two armies still have around 60,000 troops each and advanced weaponry deployed in the Ladakh theatre.

Flynn said China’s “destabilising and corrosive behaviour” in the region was simply not helpful. “I think it is worthy of us to work together as a counterweight to those destabilising activities,” he said.

Over the last two years, India and China have hardened their stance on LAC with increased military activities on both sides of the boundary, deployment of modern weapons, infrastructure development, and a series of combat manoeuvres by their armies.

In May, Pande said the Indian Army aimed to “re-establish trust and tranquillity” with PLA, but cautioned that “it cannot be a one-way affair.”

Trust deficit still persists between the Indian and Chinese armies after their soldiers were involved in the brutal clash in Galwan Valley on June 15, 2020, and the lack of confidence in each other has hampered the disengagement process.

It was the first deadly skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops along LAC in more than five decades, and pushed the bilateral relationship to a breaking point. The clash left 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese troops dead.

Flynn separately said India and the US would carry out the Yudh Abhyas joint drills at an altitude of 9,000 to 10,000 feet in the Himalayas in October to sharpen interoperability between the two armies. The next edition of the exercise is to be held in Alaska in 2023. Flynn said the drills presented “invaluable opportunities” that the two sides could capitalise on.

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