New Delhi: A day after Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated 44 new bridges in seven border states, China on Tuesday refused to recognise the Union Territory of Ladakh as a part of India and said it was “illegally set up” by the country. The Chinese foreign ministry also opposed infrastructure building in the region. Also Read - Chinese President Xi Jinping Replaces 'Asur' in Bengal's Durga Idol; Picture Goes Viral

“First, I want to make it clear that China does not recognise the Ladakh Union Territory, illegally set up by the Indian side and the Arunachal Pradesh. We stand against the development of infrastructure facilities aimed at military contention along the border area,” asserted Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry. Also Read - Twitter Shows Leh as Part of China, India Warns CEO Dorsey Against Misrepresentation of Map

He was reacting to the opening of bridges that include two key bridges between Leh and Manali, along with eight in Arunachal Pradesh. Also Read - China: 9 of a Family Die of Food Poisoning After Eating Noodles Kept in Freezer For a Year

“Based on consensus, neither should take actions along the border that might escalate the situation that is to avoid undermining the efforts by the two sides to ease the situation,” Lijian added.

Notably, the opening of the bridges comes at a time when India and China have been locked in a six-month-long border standoff.

Inaugurating the bridges in a virtual event yesterday, Rajnath Singh said that the 44 bridges will enable the Indian Armed Forces to quickly move their troops and weapons in a crisis situation, especially amid the border tensions with Pakistan and China.

Amongst the new bridges, the 297-km-long Darcha-Nimmu-Padum road that holds the second-longest bridge across the Bhaga river has been identified as the third strategic alternative to Ladakh in wake of the threat from Pakistan and China. The double-laned road is under construction and likely to be completed by 2023, officials said.

It must also be noted that military officials of India and China met for the seventh Corps Commander-level meeting with a sole agenda of finalising a roadmap for complete disengagement and de-escalation of troops.

The two sides had a sincere, in-depth and constructive exchange of views on disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector of India-China border areas, Army officials said.

Discussions were positive, constructive & had enhanced understanding of each other’s positions. Both sides agreed to maintain dialogue through military & diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible, they added.

The talks lasted for more than 11 hours but did not reach any conclusive decision.