18:45 GMT25 July 2021
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    As India and China approach the first anniversary of the Galwan clash, there is still no concrete solution to the ongoing border dispute. Reportedly, 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in a deadly altercation in eastern Ladakh, on 15-16 June 2020.

    China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has begun a domestic promotional campaign to highlight success achieved in the Galwan clash with India last year. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), groups formed by the PLA are hoisting China’s national flag “once raised on Pangong Lake” across the country as a show of military strength.

    A large number of the country’s most advanced J-20 stealth fighter jets participated in a rehearsal for celebration activities during the anniversary.

    “The rehearsal was held from 9 p.m. Saturday to the wee hours on Sunday in the Tiananmen area, with more than 14,000 people involved in the rehearsal and related supporting services”, China’s defence ministry said in a statement.

    On Monday, The Hindu reported, citing intelligence sources, that the PLA has built additional accommodations, both permanent and temporary, in Rudok, Kangxiwar, Gyantse and the Golmud areas of Ladakh region.

    “Construction of field hospitals and procurement of additional snow mobility vehicles by the PLA also indicate that they are preparing for the long haul and permanent winter occupation of these posts,” a source told the publication.

    India's intel reports also suggest that Beijing has been conducting final trials of its H-20 strategic stealth bombers at its Hotan airbase some 250km northeast of Karakoram Pass and 380km from the Finger 4 area of Pangong Tso, in eastern Ladakh. Defence analysts allege that the PLA will deploy bombers near the Ladakh border to counter air power India has acquired through the purchase of Rafale jets from France.

    Last week, Qi Fabao, a Chinese regimental commander who sustained head wounds in the Galwan clash, stated in a widely-circulated military press release that he is willing to give his life for the country’s sovereignty in the mountainous region. Qi was given a top military award in February alongside battalion commander Chen Hongjun, who was honoured posthumously.

    Progress on Border Disengagement Stalled

    While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh remain cautious of publicly mentioning the “remaining issues” with China, intelligence input suggests significant chunks of areas claimed by India in eastern Ladakh, including the Depsang Plains, the Kugrang river valley adjacent to Hot Springs-Gogra and the Charding Nala, south of Demchok remain occupied by Beijing's PLA.

    "We have repeatedly stressed that completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way for the two sides to consider deescalation of forces and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquility and enable progress in bilateral relations," Arindam Bagchi, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, said on Thursday.

    After a deadly border clash in June 2020, the two sides agreed to withdraw forward deployment along the banks of the Pangong Lake in February. However, the disengagement process stalled as several unsuccessful rounds of diplomatic and military level talks were held thereafter to reach a consensus on friction points such as Depsang Plains, Gogra and Hot Springs.


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