Satellite images show consolidation of Chinese build-up near Pangong Tso

Satellite images show a Chinese jetty and possible helipad as well as permanent shelters on the north shore of Pangong Tso.

Satellite imagery from October shows China’s continued build-up at Pangong Tso. (Image: Twitter / @JackDetsch)

New satellite images posted on social media indicate continued Chinese consolidation at the safeguard position between Finger 8 and Sirijap, along the north shore of Pangong Tso. Images published by Jack Detsch, a reporter for Foreign Policy magazine, show a Chinese pier and a possible helipad as well as permanent shelters on the north shore.

The area beyond Finger 8 was under the control of Chinese forces even before the standoff between the two sides began in May 2020. India and China had agreed to pull out of sticking points on the northern shores. and south of Pangong Tso lake earlier. this year which covered the area between Finger 4 and Finger 8. Following the agreement, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) destroyed its temporary and permanent structures between Finger 4 and Finger 8. The upsurge visible in the images appears to be on the edge of the agreed disengagement zone.

The new satellite imagery was captured by US space company Maxar Technologies in October. A comparison between the latest images and another set of images released earlier by Maxar shows that the Chinese build-up solidified over a seven-month period.

The first set of images was released shortly after the disengagement announcement in February. The number of shelters seen in the February footage also increased significantly. Some of the structures under construction seen in February satellite imagery appear to be completed in October satellite imagery.

February satellite imagery and October satellite imagery.

The new images also show Chinese boats and a pier near Sirijap. During the standoff, China had moved ships closer to Finger 4 and Finger 5, an area much closer to Indian positions. Earlier, the media had suggested that China had destroyed its helipad near Finger 5; the new images show a new helipad-like structure approaching finger 8.

The build-up confirms intelligence reports indicating China’s strategy of strengthening its safeguard and support infrastructure amid continued attempts to seize new territory along disputed border regions. India matched Chinese swelling on safeguard positions near the disputed area in eastern Ladakh.

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