Beijing has put its claim on a disputed piece of land near the border with India on the map by writing the word ‘China’ in large letters.
Satellite images show Mandarin characters meaning ‘China’ written near the shore of Pangong Lake, a remote area of disputed territory high in the Himalayas.
Troops also seem to have drawn a map of China on a section of the lake shore, which is close to the site of brutal hand-to-hand fighting between Indian and Chinese forces in May.
Satellite images show what resemble Mandarin letters spelling ‘China’ (left) and a map of the country (right) scribbled on the shoreline of a lake near the disputed border with India
Located at 14,000 feet in the Himalayas, Pangong Lake is divided into ‘fingers’ of the territory of India and China – marked on this map as one to eight. India claims the entire coastline, up to finger eight (border shown at top). China claims up to ‘finger four’ (border shown in the center of the map, with disputed area in yellow). Chinese writing has appeared close to that line, marked by the Chinese flag. A further Chinese base has been built further up the coast, also marked with a Chinese flag
Pangong Lake lies along the disputed rule of de facto control, which roughly marks the boundary between the two nuclear-armed forces.
It is 75 miles south of the Galwan Valley, another area where clashes have taken place in recent months and where China has built new bases.
Indian and Chinese troops divide the area around Pangong into ‘fingers’ – land edges that run from the top of a nearby mountain to the lake shore.
India claims ownership of the entire coastline – from ‘finger one’ at the northwestern tip of the lake to ‘finger eight’ at the southeastern end.
However, China has recently made a claim in the territory from ‘finger eight’ to ‘finger four’, which is located about halfway up the coast.
The tip of ‘finger four’ is where troops from both sides would have fought earlier this year after China was accused of hindering an Indian patrol.
Satellite images also show what appears to be a Chinese-built pier with a fast watercraft parked at the base of ‘finger five’ (left) and new construction on the China-claimed side of ‘finger four’, where collisions occurred in May (right)
China has built at least 186 huts (some of the huts in the photo) in disputed territory it claims, including up to five miles inland, Indian media reported.
India now accuses China of occupying the disputed territory and refuses to let its troops go past ‘finger four’.
Analysis of the images performed by the Indian station NDTV also shows significant Chinese construction in the disputed zone between fingers four and eight.
There are now at least 186 huts visible along the stretch of shoreline, stretching five miles along a ridge running inland, the site reports.
There is also significant construction taking place at the tip of ‘finger four’, images show.
A pier with two fast watercraft has also been built at the tip of ‘finger five’.
China and India have been involved in a series of border clashes that have blamed each other in recent weeks.
India says it sent ‘large numbers’ of troops to the region to match the size of the Chinese troops, which were increased in May (photo, an Indian convoy)
An Indian outpost is depicted along the Srinagar-Leh Highway leading from the nearby town of Srinagar to the disputed region
An Indian convoy enters the mountainous region amid distances with China at multiple points along the poorly marked border
The most serious came in the Galwan Valley on June 15, when soldiers armed with pointed clubs and rocks engaged in a vicious battle that killed 20 Native Americans and an unknown number of Chinese.
Soldiers fought hand in hand over a 1996 deal banning firearms and explosives from the border area.
Clashes also broke out on the shores of Pangong between May 5 and 6, when dozens of troops were again involved in close-quarters combat.
Some Indian troops were so badly injured that they had to be evacuated by helicopter, although no casualties were reported.
Since the Galwan Valley confrontation, both sides have agreed to conduct high-level military talks aimed at “decoupling” the region.
However, India has admitted that “large numbers” of its troops have been sent to the region, which it believes is necessary to counter early Chinese military buildup.
The lake is located 75 miles south of the Galwan Valley, where 20 Indian troops were killed in clashes with the Chinese earlier this month, and China is also building new camps (photo)
Beijing declines to comment on the ongoing dispute.
The Himalayan border between India and China has been disputed for centuries, but the two countries have been fighting about it last since the 1960s.
In the 18th century, it was fought by the Russian, Chinese and British empires, and after India gained independence, the region’s ownership became more confused.
China values the region for providing a trade route to Pakistan, and recent hostilities have been fueled by Beijing’s fears that India will cut it off the crucial land corridor.
The current official boundary between the two was established by Britain and is known as the McMahon Line. It is recognized by India, but not by China.
In reality, the boundary between the two countries lies on Line of Actual Control (LAC), where Indian and Chinese troops ended after the Sino-Indian War of 1962.