NEW DELHI: The US says China has been undertaking “incremental and tactical actions to press its claims” along the frontier with India, with its military also gaining “valuable real-world operational and tactical experience” due to the “acute tensions and clashes” in eastern Ladakh since May last year.
The Pentagon’s latest annual report on ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China’ also refers to Beijing building a “large 100-home civilian village inside disputed territory between the Tibet Autonomous Region and Arunachal Pradesh” last year.
The village in question on the banks of River Tsari Chu is on “disputed territory” under Beijing’s control for over 60 years. But the fact remains that China’s construction of several such villages along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control in recent times, which are “dual-use” and can act like “extended cantonments” for military use, are a major source of concern for India, as was earlier reported by TOI.
Eastern Army Command chief Lt-General Manoj Pande, for instance, recently said China’s “construction of such dual-use villages has been factored into our operational plans”.
The Pentagon report says China’s construction of such villages and other border infrastructure development efforts “have been a source of consternation in the Indian government and media”.
The report dwells upon China’s fast-expanding military power across the entire spectrum, and even contends the number of Chinese nuclear warheads could triple to 700 within the six years and top 1,000 by 2030.
Taking note of China’s quest for technologically advanced C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) systems, Pentagon said the People’s Liberation Army installed “a fibre-optic network in remote areas of the western Himalayas to provide faster communications and increased protection from foreign interception” at the height of the stand-off with India last year. As was reported by TOI last year, these areas included the face-off sites at Pangong Tso and Gogra-Hot Springs.
The Pentagon said China and India “continue to maintain large-scale deployments along the LAC and make preparations to sustain these forces while disengagement negotiations have made limited progress”.
“Beginning in May 2020, the PLA launched incursions into customarily Indian-controlled territory across the border and has concentrated troops at several standoff locations along the LAC,” it said.
“In addition, a substantial reserve force from the Tibet and Xinjiang Military Districts were deployed to the interior of Western China to provide a rapid response,” it added.
China has “attempted to blame” India for provoking the stand-off by its increased infrastructure development near the LAC, which it perceived to encroach its territory. India, in turn, has accused China of launching aggressive incursions into its territory.
“Asserting that its deployments to the LAC were in response to Indian provocation, Beijing has refused to withdraw any forces until India’s forces have withdrawn behind China’s version of the LAC and ceased infrastructure improvements in the area,” said the Pentagon.
The report, however, said China has expressed its aim to prevent the stand-off from worsening into a wider military conflict, with Beijing also voicing its intent to return bilateral relations with New Delhi to a state of economic and diplomatic cooperation it had perceived to be improving since the Doklam stand-off in 2017.
“China seeks to prevent border tensions from causing India to partner more closely with the US. Chinese officials have warned US officials to not interfere with China’s relationship with India,” the report said.
“Chinese officials, through official statements and state media, had also sought unsuccessfully to prevent India from deepening its relationship with the US during and subsequent to the stand-off, while accusing India of being a mere “instrument” of US policy in the region,” it added.




Source link