The latest update on Google Earth – Google’s satellite mapping application – shows what appears to be Chinese construction of a road in the strategic Shaksgam valley, north of Mount K2 and the Siachen Glacier in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, reports The Print.
A 36 km-long road and two new military posts are visible on the map, which could lead to a possible western front by China. The strategic Shaksgam Valley is a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and was ceded to China in 1963 when an agreement was signed. India does not recognise this agreement as the land is India’s territory.
While this construction is not yet a military threat to India, a former Indian Northern Army Commander has said that the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) actions are provocative.
The images of the construction were tweeted by Colonel (Retired) Vinayak Bhat.
Google updated imagery of the region in late 2017, suggesting that the construction began last year, possibly after the Doklam stand-off at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction. Satellite imagery of 2016 does not show either the road or any military posts.
The PLA’s Border Defence Personnel have also been observed patrolling the area in the recent past.
Former Northern Army Commander, Lieutenant General D S Hooda expressed his concerns over the matter and told The Print that China increasing military presence in the area would be provocative.
Shaksgam Valley is disputed. Article 6 of the Pakistan-China agreement states that the boundary agreement would be renegotiated after the Kashmir dispute is settled.Lieutenant General D S Hooda
The road is aligned along the northern bank of a river, built using a compressed earth technique that China uses in XIngjiang and is expected to be complete by this summer. No bridge construction is visible yet, although the road requires a few over several rivulets.
Imagery also shows two military posts, along the road outside the Valley with one of them thought to be the PLA local unit’s headquarters. Both posts have a dugout trench overlooking the river with a training area behind them, while one has a double-wire fencing around it.
A third post is seen under-construction with construction equipment visible nearby.
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