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China steps up surveillance along strategic lake with patrol boat, camera network

It was near the strategic Pangong lake, located at a height of more than 4,250 metres near the disputed border between the two countries, that Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed last August over allegations of territorial intrusions.

world Updated: Apr 09, 2018 19:58 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Pangong lake,India,patrol boat
It was near the strategic Pangong lake, located at a height of more than 4,250 metres near the disputed border between the two countries, that Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed last August over allegations of territorial intrusions.(AP File)

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has developed and deployed a new type of non-metallic patrol boat on the Pangong lake that falls between Ladakh in India and Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to strengthen its border forces.

It has also built a surveillance camera network and is planning to deploy a satellite early-warning monitoring system in some border areas, state media reports said.

It was near the strategic Pangong lake, located at a height of more than 4,250 metres near the disputed border between the two countries, that Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed last August over allegations of territorial intrusions.

The area has a history of confrontation between border troops of the two countries.

Last year’s incident occurred in the midst of the military standoff in Doklam near the Sikkim border.

The deployment of new patrol boats is part of PLA’s larger plan of strengthening its border outposts.

“At Pangong Lake, which at an altitude of 4,250 metres is divided between Southwest China's TAR and India, the PLA has put a new patrol boat into use, made of non-metallic materials. The craft has a top speed of 40 kilometres per hour and can resist ice collisions,” the Beijing Evening News said in a report.

In February, China had announced that it was upgrading the air defence of its Western Theatre Command, which looks after the security along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), to “confront any threat from India.”

The PLA had then released photographs of a J-10 fighter jet—a lightweight multi-role fighter aircraft—along with J-11—a single-seat, twin-engine fighter jet—flying over the high-altitude plateau in western China.

The new report said the PLA was plugging gaps in its management and monitoring of border areas, especially areas with extreme climate and hostile terrain. The report, quoted by the nationalistic tabloid, Global Times, didn’t specify – other than the mention of Pangong lake – but implied that deployment of at least some of the “new types of equipment” could be along the disputed border with India. “A satellite early-warning monitoring system is planned in some border areas that are in dispute or are difficult to enter and to patrol,” the Beijing Evening News reported.

“A surveillance camera network has also been built in border zones, and the density of coverage is set to increase to cover blind spots, although the report did not mention which, or if all, of China's border regions are covered,” the report added.

“The informatisation and mechanisation of equipment, vehicles and monitoring methods of PLA border defence will give an early warning of any risks to security as well as overcoming previous blind spots,” Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the Global Times.

The report implied that in the jungles of southwest China’s Yunnan, the sparsely populated deserts ofXinjiangin the northwest and the high plateaus in Tibet, “…PLA troops began using drones to patrol more areas than 10 years ago, which has resulted in a 25-fold increase in efficiency”.

The report added that border troops in Koktokay in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region recently tested more than 20 types of new equipment. “Koktokay, in northern Xinjiang and bordering Mongolia, has an average temperature of -20 degree Celsius in winter. A new type of hot water bottle that can keep water hot for 24 hours has been issued to soldiers in Koktokay.”

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 14:36 IST