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Chinese Troops Along LoC:INDIA ON HIGH ALERT, by Dr. PK Vasudeva, 11 Apr, 2011 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 11 April 2011

Chinese Troops Along LoC


By Col. (Dr.) P. K. Vasudeva (Retd)

Recently a top Indian Army General warned that India not only faces the threat from Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China but it could well extend to the Line of Control (LoC) along Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan due to the expansive Beijing-Islamabad military nexus.


The massive build-up of Chinese military infrastructure all along the 4,057-km, LAC especially in the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as the expanding Chinese footprint in infrastructure projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is by now well-documented.


However, this is the first time a senior Army commander has publicly expressed apprehensions about the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops actually being stationed along the volatile 778-km-long LoC between India and Pakistan.


"It poses military challenges to India not only along the Sino-Indian border but also along the LoC. And we hear many people today who are concerned about the fact that if there were to be hostilities between Pakistan and us what would be the complicity of the Chinese. Not only because they are in the neighbourhood but the fact that they are actually stationed and present on the LoC," said Northern Army Commander, Lt-General K T Parnaik, at a seminar in Jammu.


True, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has dismissed the General’s reports about Chinese troops presence in POK as “baseless and ridiculous”. But the ground reality is different and the nexus between China and Pakistan is well established.


The Indian Army's new doctrine and "pro-active strategy" is also a factor in the worst-case scenario of grappling with China and Pakistan simultaneously in a two-front war. Also worrisome is that China’s defence spending is almost three times that of India at $91 billion.  In actual practice it is more than $100 billion because some of the defence expenditure is kept secret by Beijing. Various experts have assessed China’s defence spending at 7.5 per cent of its GDP in comparison to India’s 1.4 per cent of the GDP this year which is not sufficient for the modernisation of the armed forces.


Not only that. China has already constructed airstrips, railways and broad roads in the difficult and hazardous mountainous terrain up to the borders with India so that its forces remain within striking distance to Indian strategic locations. Beijing is also helping Pakistan defence forces with the acquisition of modern defence equipment and jet fighters for attaining air and marine superiority over India.


Expressing "serious concern" over China's military modernisation, Defence Minister Antony recently said on the sidelines of the Asian Security Conference. Adding, that India should carry out a "comprehensive review" of its defence preparedness and "remain vigilant" to meet its security challenges. "Modernisation of armed forces in China and its ever-increasing military spending is a matter of serious concern but we are not unduly worried because we also will have to modernise and strengthen our armed forces. We also must strengthen our capabilities and infrastructure in our area and we are doing it. The Government is also modernising armed forces and strengthening infrastructure in border areas," he stated. After China started deploying missiles and strengthening its military infrastructure along India’s territory, New Delhi has also upgraded its roads and aviation infrastructure there.


It is unlikely that China will take adventurism either across the LAC or LoC in the near future as it is involved in far too many other serious problems. However, if India’s claim of Aksai Chin and China’s claim of Arunachal Pradesh is not settled during bilateral talks, Beijing may launch an offensive for which New Delhi has to be always prepared.


Besides, a Government white paper on defence "China's National Defence in 2010," issued by the Information Office of the State Council, made plain that China's military development remains focused on national security and not regional hegemony. Security in China's Capital remains at a high level after calls for protests against the authoritarian Government, akin to the Middle East-style democracy movement, forced a crackdown against the protesters.


Beijing will continue to improve its military capability and strengthen military cooperation with many nations, including the US. But cooperation with the US remains difficult because of Washington’s support and military sales to Taiwan, which Beijing’s communist Government considers a part of China since the Chinese nationalist forces fled during the 1949 civil war. Notwithstanding, Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the US earlier this year, Taiwan remain an issue for disagreement.


"We admit that our military ties continue to face difficulties and challenges," asserted the Defence Ministry’s spokesman. Adding, “China is willing to work with the US based on respect, trust, equality and mutual benefits.” He further warned that a "Taiwan independence" separatist force and its activities were still the biggest obstacle and threat to the peaceful development of relations with Taiwan. Moreover, separatist forces working for "East Turkistan independence" and "Tibet independence" have inflicted serious damage on national security and social stability, he averred.


No matter, Beijing’s paper stating, China's overall military strategy is to attack "only after being attacked" and its defence policy remains peaceful in nature. "China will never seek hegemony, nor will it adopt the approach of military expansion now or in the future, no matter how its economy develops," the defence paper states. But with a rider, “China helps recipient States enhance their self-defence capability without impairing peace, security and stability of the relevant region or the world as a whole and not interfering in the recipient state's internal affairs,”. Sic


Recall, in November last, China reiterated its claim to the Diaoyu Islands, currently under Japanese control. Disputes over who owns the five islands and three rocky outcrops predate to World War II. At the end of the war in 1945 they were under US jurisdiction as part of the captured island of Okinawa. But they have been under Japanese jurisdiction since 1972 when Okinawa was returned to Japan. China also is in dispute with Viet Nam, Taiwan and the Philippines over islands in the seas close to their shores.


Needless to say, China’s white paper on national security is an eye opener. Clearly, India must analyse this keeping in view the Chinese problems with various countries. It is unlikely that China would launch an offensive across LAC or LoC, however, India has to remain always vigilant and prepared and not be taken by surprise like the 1962 Chinese offensive. ---- INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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