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Tensions between Beijing and New Delhi have escalated over recent weeks after at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed during a conflict in the Galwan Valley, in Ladakh. It marked the first bloody altercation between the two nations in 45 years.
The conflict sparked outrage in India and protesters were seen burning Chinese products on the streets in retaliation.
Now, China has deployed warplanes to the country’s far west putting them in striking distance of Indian troops along the border.
According to Twitter user, @detresfa, a so-called ‘open-source intelligence’ practitioner, commercial satellite imagery uncovered six H-6 bombers at Kashgar airport.
The imagery also appears to reveal Chinese J-16 fighters on the tarmac of the airport.
Kashgar is approximately 500 miles from Ladakh.
The H-6 is a Chinese update of the twin-engine Soviet Tu-16 medium bomber but Beijing has enhanced its sensors, avionics, engines and weapons.
The move comes after a recent clash when India’s external affairs ministry accused China of breaching agreements over respecting the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley.
India has also accused China of sending thousands of troops into Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, and says China occupies 38,000sq ft of its territory.
It comes after India built a new road in what experts say is the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh.
Since the altercation, warplanes from both sides have been spotted patrolling the border zone.
India deployed Su-30, MiG-29 and Mig-29K fighters to the region as the relationship with China becomes more strained.
At the end of May, local Indian media claimed China’s border forces had been armed with new tanks, drones and helicopters.
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They also claimed the Chinese military held high-altitude infiltration exercises in the Tanggula Mountains in Tibet, another highly contested boundary.
Physical blows were also exchanged between Indians and Chinese soldiers on the North-Eastern border of Sikkim in May.
But as fears rise over China expanding its territory in the region, Indo-Pacific powers are looking for closer cooperation to counter the Communist nation.
Over the last three decades, several rounds of talks have been held attempting to resolve the dispute, with no success.
The tensions have stretched back further in time, with 2017 seeing the two counties clash over China attempting to extend a border road through a disputed plateau.
Only once has outright war been fought between the two – in 1962 which saw India suffer a devastating defeat to China.
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