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The move comes after China showcased its military might with a series of war games in the South China Sea, further underlining Beijing’s increasingly belligerent foreign policy. Pangong Tso is a strategically vital waterway where the Chinese Army lake fleet has deployed Type 928 B ships in a statement of intent.
The Indian Navy’s decision to counter by drafting in a dozen high-powered, bigger capacity and top-of-the-line surveillance equipped steel boats indicates New Delhi’s refusal to be bullied into ceding territory in Ladakh.
Indian and Chinese military commanders last week agreed to disengage troops from a heavily disputed stretch of their border where a clash earlier this month left at least 23 Indian soldiers dead.
Senior military officials from both sides met for several hours last Monday in an attempt to reduce tensions in the Ladakh region in the western Himalayas.
A source said: “Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in Eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both the sides.”
Nevertheless, the Hindustan Times reported there was a widespread belief among Indian national security planners that China was nevertheless determined to tighten its grip on key points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) which divides the two countries in Ladakh.
Speaking last week, Tory MP and former British Army officer Tobias Ellwood told Express.co.uk of the ongoing dispute: “It’s not just the two largest nations on the planet, these are ones with nuclear weapons in their back pockets.
“Therefore we need to watch developments here very carefully.
“What we are seeing with China is a greater resolve to promote its ambitions in a more aggressive style.
“There’s been the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Taiwan and now the Indian/Chinese border in eastern Kashmir.
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“What we are seeing here is China testing the mettle of India knowing that China has now got so large militarily, economically and indeed technologically that nobody is willing to take it on.”
Addressing the brutal clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers, Mr Ellwood cited a 1996 agreement banning firearms from the Ladakh region to avoid a potentially catastrophic exchange of gunfire.
He said: “To avoid that there is this large area in the Galwan Valley where no firearms are allowed which means that if you are going to have any impact you have go in there with bats and other things and go hand to hand in the old medieval way.
“But ironically it is abiding by the 1996 agreement.”
Separately, a statement issued by China’s military yesterday said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 73rd Group Army had undertaken a live-fire exercise off of the country’s southeast coast.
Zhou Zhirong, a flight commander of the army aviation brigade involved in the training, said: “In the exercise, we conducted the training through day and night, set multiple kinds of targets on land, at sea and in the air, and stressed on the tactical coordination in continuous strikes by multiple projectiles.
“The gunship pilots have greatly improved their combat effectiveness in such an actual combat environment.”
More manoeuvres are scheduled between now and Saturday.
China, which claims sovereignty of the waterway, has fortified numerous uninhabited islands in the South China Sea.
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