“It is as tense as earlier”: China laying optical fibre cables at border flashpoint

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Chinese troops are laying a network of optical fibre cables at a western Himalayan flashpoint with India, suggesting they were digging in for the long haul despite high-level talks aimed at resolving a standoff there, Reuters quoting two unnamed Indian officials has reported.

According to the report, such cables, which would provide forward troops with secure lines of communication to bases in the rear, have recently been spotted to the south of Pangong Tso lake in the Himalayan region of Ladakh.

An Indian official told the news wire on Monday that there had been no significant withdrawals or reinforcements on either side since the foreign ministers of the two countries met last week.

“It is as tense as earlier,” he said.

“Our biggest worry is that they have laid optical fibre cables for high-speed communications,” one of the officials was quoted as saying by Reuters , referring to the lake’s southern bank, where Indian and Chinese troops are only a few hundred metres apart at some points.

“They have been laying optical fibre cables on the southern bank at breakneck speed,” he said.

Indian intelligence agencies noted similar cables to the north of the Pangong Tso lake around a month ago, another government official said.

A former Indian military intelligence official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said optical fibre cables offered communications security as well as the ability to send data such as pictures and documents.

“If you speak on radio, it can get caught. Communications on optical fibre cables is secure,” he said.

The Indian military still depends on radio communications, the first official said, although he said it was encrypted.

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