India, China, Indian Army, Chinese Peoples Liberation Army, Sikkim, Indo-China border
The Pentagon report said China reacted to the Galwan Valley clash by going in for large-scale mobilisation and deployment along the LAC. The deployment of troops is likely to continue this year as well. | File photo

China ramped up military forces, infrastructure along LAC in 2022: Pentagon report

China built underground storage facilities near Doklam, new roads, new villages in disputed areas in neighbouring Bhutan, says the report

A recent Pentagon report mentions how China significantly boosted its infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 2022 amid escalating border tensions with India. At that time, Beijing had been active building underground storage facilities, new roads, a dual-purpose airport and multiple helipads near the LAC it shares with India, said the report.

The Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an over three-year confrontation in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.

According to 'Military and Security Developments involving the People's Republic of China' report 2023, continuous tensions along the India-China border since early May 2020 have been the focus of the Western Theater Command. The report was released by the US Department of Defence this month.

“Differing perceptions between India and the PRC regarding border demarcations along the LAC, combined with recent infrastructure construction on both sides, led to multiple clashes, an ongoing standoff, and military buildups along the shared border," said the report.

Galwan Valley clash

On June 15 last year, China and India had clashed at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, which led to 20 Indian soldiers being killed. It was considered to be one of the worst clashes in 45 years, and led to a military standoff with China and at least 11 rounds of military talks for the disengagement process.

Now, the Pentagon report highlighted that negotiations between India and China "made minimal progress” with both sides striving hard not to lose “perceived advantages on the border". The report talks about how China's Western Theater Command reacted to the Galwan Valley clash by going in for large-scale mobilisation and deployment along LAC.

However, the report points out that the deployment of troops are likely to continue this year as well.

Military infrastructure and deployment

Describing the military infrastructure that Beijing built near the LAC in 2022, the report states that there were underground storage facilities near Doklam, new roads in all three sectors of the LAC, new villages in disputed areas in neighbouring Bhutan, a second bridge over Pangong Lake, a dual-purpose airport near the center sector, and multiple helipads.

In terms of military deployment, in 2022, Beijing had one border regiment, supported by two divisions of Xinjiang and Tibet Military Districts with four combined arms brigades (CAB) in reserve in LAC’s western sector, said the report.

But the report claims that China also brought on the eastern sector three light-to-medium CABs from other theater commands and an additional three CABs in the central sector of the LAC. Although, some elements of a light CAB were gradually withdrawn, a majority of the deployed forces remain in place along the LAC.

The Pentagon report also says China is in possession of more than 500 operational nuclear warheads and this may go up to over 1,000 by 2030. The Chinese Navy, too considered to be the largest in the world, is also growing further.

India China talks

India has maintained that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.

Addressing a national security conclave in Jammu in June this year, defence minister Rajnath Singh said the government will never let the sanctity of India's borders be violated and talks are going on at military and diplomatic levels with China to resolve issues in a peaceful manner.

Further Singh had said that the "Chinese Army ignored the agreed protocols and unilaterally tried to make some changes on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The talks are going on at military and diplomatic levels" and that India will not compromise on its border, its honour and self-respect, he added.

"We will never allow violation of the sanctity of our borders," the defence minister said, adding that the government has learnt from the 1962 war with China and has focused on building border infrastructure.

Singh also dispelled Opposition claims of encroachments on the LAC after their government was formed. He said, "I want to repeat that there have been some activities on the LAC since 2013, but I outrightly reject (claims) that there has been any significant change or encroachment on the LAC after our government was formed."

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