US shares vital border intelligence with India to check China

The information provided India with ‘actionable satellite imagery’ and 'was more detailed and delivered more quickly’, media reports said

India, China, Ladakh, border dispute, Jaishankar, Jairam Ramesh, Congress
Real-time intelligence provided by the US about Chinese positions along the disputed frontier helped India to ward off a potential Chinese military “incursion” last year. (File photo)

Amid fears of another Sino-Indian war, the US is engaged in a more active role in sharing intelligence as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy to check Chinese activity in the region, media reports said.

Real-time intelligence provided by Washington about Chinese positions along the disputed 3,200-km frontier helped India to successfully ward off a potential Chinese military “incursion” last year.

That “caught Chinese armed forces off-guard” and “enraged” Beijing, while preventing the crisis from mutating into something more serious, the US News & World Report cited anonymous officials as saying.

Also read: Tawang clash: India held ‘frank, in-depth’ talks with China, says MEA

The information provided India with “actionable satellite imagery” and “was more detailed and delivered more quickly”, the South China Morning Post quoted the American publication as saying.

Maiden US help

This was the first time Washington passed on key intelligence on Chinese strength along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in advance to India, according to the report.

Hundreds of Indian and Chinese troops wielding spiked clubs and tasers engaged in fistfights on December 9 last year in Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh, a state in India’s northeast claimed by Beijing as Southern Tibet.

Also read: Tawang clash: US urges India, China to use bilateral channels to sort out border row

While giving a speech in the contested state on Sunday (April 9), the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said: “Nobody can take even a pin’s tip worth our land.”

Beijing opposed Shah’s visit saying it “violated China’s territorial integrity” and was “not conducive to peace and tranquillity in the border areas”. The war of words coincided with US and Indian Special Forces conducting joint war games in India.

In 2020, at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers died in the Galwan Valley in a deadly outbreak of fighting.

Intelligence sharing

An agreement on geospatial intelligence signed between Washington and New Delhi a few months after the clashes in Galwan became the basis for the new intelligence exchange in December, according to the US News & World Report.

India and China fought a border war in 1962, and each country accuses the other of holding its territory.

Also read: Congress, TMC demand discussion on Tawang issue, walk out of Lok Sabha

Lisa Curtis of the Centre for a New American Security and Derek Grossman of the RAND Corporation have urged Washington to conduct joint intelligence assessment of Chinese plans and “enhance coordination with Indian officials on contingency planning in the event of a future India-China conflict”.

Beijing has blamed Washington for opportunism.

(With inputs from agencies)