As India and China grapple with rising tensions in the Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Pangong Tso on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Chinese army has crossed the border in another strategic area to the north, the Depsang plains. This intrusion is seen as another attempt by the Chinese to shift the LAC further west on the disputed boundary.
Around 30 km south-east from the important airstrip of Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), the Chinese army has moved and deployed in large numbers up to a place called Y-junction or Bottleneck on the Depsang plains. Sources said the Chinese deployments include troops, heavy vehicles, specialist military equipment.
Bottleneck, which derives its name from a rocky outcrop that prevents vehicular movement across the Depsang plains, is the place at which the Chinese had pitched tents after an ingress in April 2013. The standoff between the soldiers on both sides had then lasted three weeks and the status quo ante was restored after diplomatic talks.
Bottleneck is around 18 km on the Indian side of the LAC, even though the Chinese claim line lies another five kilometres further west. This location is seven kilometres to the north-east of Burtse, a Ladakhi town which falls on the 255-km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road and has an Indian Army post.
Bottleneck is known as Y-junction because the track coming from Burtse forks into two tracks, one going northwards along the Raki Nala to Patrolling Point-10 (PP-10) and the other south-eastward towards PP-13. These two tracks are followed by Indian patrols on foot up to PP-10, PP-11, PP-11A, PP-12 and PP-13.
Those dealing with the situation contend that if China is able to link up from PP-10 to PP-13 via Bottleneck, it could easily shift the LAC further west of the present Indian Limit of Patrolling (LoP). This would deny India access to a significant part of the LAC close to the DBO airfield and bring the Chinese closer to the strategic DSDBO road.
On Wednesday, a border meeting was held between India and China. The meeting was attended by Members of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC). Since the military build-up on both sides of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in May of this year, several military and diplomatic level talks have been held between the two countries.
The most important of these discussions were held on June 6 at the Moldo border personnel meeting point where both sides discussed de-escalation and disengagement. However, the meet was followed by a violent face-off between troops from both sides in the Galwan Valley on the night of June 15. This resulted in 20 Indian soldiers getting killed in the line of duty.
China has opened another front against India with sustained DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks on Indian information websites and the country’s financial payments system. DDOS attacks are malicious attempts to overwhelm a network by flooding it with artificially created internet traffic. A variety of targets were zeroed in on, including government websites and the banking system including ATMs.
Most of the attacks were traced back to the central Chinese city of Chengdu. The capital of Sichuan province, Chengdu is known for being the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army’s Unit 61398, the Chinese military’s primary covert cyberwarfare section. The attacks began on Tuesday and continued through Wednesday, said people aware of the developments, but they largely proved unsuccessful.
Chengdu is also home to a large number of hacker groups, many of whom are hired by Chinese government agencies to provide a cover for their operations. While cyberattacks against India normally come from Pakistan or from known hacker-for-hire centres in Central Europe or the United States, the past two days have seen a surge in attacks coming directly from China.