The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting training for its soldiers at Depsang Plains along the LAC in Ladakh, satellite images show. China has also released a video of its troops undergoing training in Depsang.
— d-atis☠️ (@detresfa_) January 12, 2021
Satellite images shared by open-source intelligence Twitter handle @detresfa_ show activity after China released the video. It said: “Satellite imagery of the areas where this activity has been recorded puts the units roughly 36 km east of DBO airstrip.” The Indian Air Forces’ Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip in Ladakh is the world’s highest airstrip.
Importance of Depsang Plains
India and China have been locked in a border stand-off since May 2020. The Depsang Plains has been a major friction point between the two countries.
Prior to the current logjam, the Indian and Chinese troops had locked horns at Depsang Plains in 2013 and 2015 as well. Experts have warned about how the Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DS-DBO) road continues to be vulnerable to enemy attack.
The importance of the 972-sq km area at over 16,400 feet lies in its strategic location. Experts say the Depsang Plains would offer a defensive advantage to the army in the event of a war.
The latest military training activities clearly indicate that China is not looking at disengagement as an immediate option. However, sources had told South China Morning Post that China had withdrawn 10,000 troops from its disputed border with India.
The report said that development came as Beijing calculated there is a slim chance of conflict in the Himalayan region this winter and both sides are aware that it’s impossible to fight in such extreme weather conditions.
India Refutes Troop Withdrawal claims
Meanwhile, Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane refuted claims about the reduction of troops on either side as far as the friction points are concerned.
He said PLA troops come to traditional training areas every year and leave the place after the training gets over. He also said there has been no change in the status quo and that China has developed infrastructure in central and eastern sectors.
Both sides have engaged in several rounds of diplomatic and military-level talks ever since the June 15 violent clash in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in Galwan Valley.