New Delhi: In a shocking revelation on Wednesday, Army Chief General VK Singh told media persons that around 4,000 Chinese are currently present in the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).
"There are certain construction working teams, a large number is available. Around 3,000 to 4,000 of these people are present including certain people for security purposes. There are certain engineers troops. Now (like) our own engineers are combat engineers. So, in some way they are part of the PLA," he told reporters here.
The Army Chief was responding to a query on the presence of Chinese Army troops in the PoK on the sidelines of the 16th Field Marshal K M Cariappa Memorial Lecture delivered by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.
The statement comes against the backdrop of concerns in India about the presence and engagement of Chinese troops in PoK, which India considers as its own land.
IAF Chief N A K Browne had made this clear when he said in an interview that increasing presence of China in PoK warrants India`s "attention".
New Delhi has already conveyed its concerns to China over the presence of its troops in PoK and its activities in that region.
Last year, there were reports of presence of about 11,000 Chinese troops in Jammu and Kashmir`s Gilgit-Baltistan region held by Pakistan but Beijing said there was no wrong-doing.
Recently, a senior Indian Army commander had said that Chinese are mainly engaged in construction activities of highways and dams in PoK as well as the northern areas which
are very close to the LoC.
This Chinese presence in PoK is widely seen as a move by the Dragon to keep a vigil over India with the help of its good friend Pakistan and also as interference in the Indo-Pak issues.
Pakistan, however, has time and again accepted the Chinese presence in its territory by saying that the Asian superpower is helping it build infrastructure on the other side of Kashmir.
This is the second time in the last one month when India and China are at loggerheads.
Sometimes back, China had taken strong exception to India’s plan to explore oil in South China Sea saying that any exploration activity in its coast would amount to "infringement" of its sovereignty.
"China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and our position is based on full historical and jurisprudential evidence," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hong Lei had said.
India had, however, rebuffed China’s objection saying its cooperation with Vietnam was as per international laws and it would like the cooperation to grow.
Importantly, China’s biggest neighbourhood rival, Japan, has backed India’s oil hunt favouring greater interaction between Indian and Japanese Navies.