China carves map, Mandarin characters into earth at disputed borderjuillet 1, 2020
The Chinese government’s stance towards its neighbours has displayed a strange new twist as satellite photos show what appears to be the carving of the word “China” on the edge of its disputed border with India.
The Pangong Lake area in the Himalayas has been the site of recently inflamed border tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations.
At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a deadly clash in the region in mid-June.
Delhi and Beijing each blamed the other for the violence, even as they publicly called for peace.
There also appears to be a map of China gouged into the ground.
Other photos show what appear to be further construction – including buildings within the disputed zone and a dock on the lake.
Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have built public support in large part on nationalism and a promise of future greatness.
This often translates into aggressive rhetoric, particularly when playing to a domestic audience.
Such an approach was evidenced in Chinese coverage of the PLA manoeuvred in the Himalayas, calling for China’s sovereignty to be respected.
Equally, despite Delhi’s public calls for easing tensions, leading Indian government figures have struck an aggressive tone, with Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah telling a rally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier this month that “any intrusion into the borders of India will be punished”.
Part of the issue is that the border remains ill-defined, with India and China claiming different Lines of Actual Control (LAC).
It is between these claimed LACs that tensions have traditionally risen.
But the violent clash in June – the deadliest in more than 40 years between the two countries – took place right at the edge of China’s claimed territory.