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Chinese bellicosity on Indian borders

Recently Pentagon report submitted by the US Secretary of Defence on security and military developments warns India

Indian borders

Sentinel Digital Desk

Mahmood Hassan

(The writer can be reached at mahmoodhassan61786@gmail.com)

Recently Pentagon report submitted by the US Secretary of Defence on security and military developments warns India about China's 'two-pronged war' against India and Taiwan. An assertive China is planning to advance its bases into the border areas of India. The report has clearly stated the aggressive and coercive behaviour of China with its neighbours and India in particular. It has made reference to the incursions into India controlled territory in May 2020. PLA has continued to build up in forwarding positions along the LAC. The growing bellicosity of China starting the face-off at Pangong Tso Lake and Galwan valley last year continues to create tension across the Indo-China borders even in the harsh winters. Both countries have not withdrawn troops from the border areas despite holding several rounds of talks after the stand-off.

The borders of both countries are now heavily fortified. At a time when the Pentagon has published this report, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China has passed a law for the protection and exploitation of China's land border area with the objective to maintain sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country that are sacred and inviolable. India reacted to the new border laws and it expects Beijing to avoid taking any action under the pretext of the legislation that could 'unilaterally' alter the ground situation in the border areas. India sees it as a matter of concern as it can have implications on the existing bilateral pacts on the management of the borders and the overall boundary question. Over the years both nations have signed several bilateral agreements, protocols and arrangements to maintain peace and tranquillity on an equal footing even though the settlement to the border dispute still remains elusive.

As a part of this land law, China is planning to set up model villages close to the borders to settle people and develop a strategy as to how can they make dual civil and military use of these facilities in the villages. The country is trying to change the status quo on the ground not only through the military but also with civilian presence. The photograph published by the Pentagon report shows the construction of 100 huts for 'dual use' villages by PLA by locating the public from Tibet Autonomous Region or Hans from mainland China. The photograph depicts a river flowing by identified as the Tsari Chu located close to the town of Migyutin which is approximately 2.5 km towards the west and located in Shannan Prefecture in China. Indian Ministry of External Affairs has this place is located at a place illegally occupied by PLA since 1959. No such Tsari Chu valley exists in India. Similarly, PLA occupied Longju and Asaphila which is also located across the LAC during the 1962 war. Tsari Chu river merges with Chayul Chu to enter India by taking the name of Subansiri river. Below the LAC is the village of Taking which is considered the last village of India. Unfortunately, infrastructural developments are yet to pick up in these areas. To date 14 strategically important road networks have been completed across the state. Trans-Arunachal Pradesh highway under construction will certainly thwart any Chinese attempt at expansion in future.

Now the big question is why China is planning to placate people in newly constructed villages close to the borders where survival at such high altitude is a huge challenge? One report states that the main intention of Beijing is to support settling civilian settlement in border areas a key part of its strategy of attempting to make its territorial claims permanent since international law recognises civilian settlement as evidence of a nation's effective control over an area. As a part of this process, China has created massive infrastructure across the borders. Airstrips, helipads, roads and railway networks are developed close to the borders. Recently a superfast train service has been introduced between Lhasa and Nyinghchi and has future plans to connect Sichuan in coming years.

A large airport has been opened at Nyingchi which is not very far from Dibang valley. The National Highway S202 runs close to Tawang from Shannan to Nyingchi parallel across the borders. A missile site has been developed at Shannon. One road named G 318 also runs close to the borders near Walong. Another road named G 318 runs from Boro to Medog which is inaccessible in the winter months. The road S 204 runs close to Nathula in Sikkim and ends near Chumbi valley. The Nyingchi prefecture surrounds Arunachal state in the north where there is a small population of 1.95 lakhs only. Tibetans are now brought by PLA to populate the bordering areas to inhabit the inhospitable areas. No food is available in these areas and has to be supplied from Kunming located 2000 km away. Presently China is constructing roads in these treacherous terrains in the Galung La and Doxong La mountains close to Indian borders.

Despite the face-off at Galwan valley last year and ongoing border disputes at Depsang plains, Pangong Tso Lake and Hot Springs apart from the occupation of several tracts in Arunachal Pradesh after 1959 are illustrations of expansionist designs of China. After the face-off several rounds of talks among the Military commanders of the nations continues to date despite stalemate. In the 13th round of talks held at the Moldo-Chusul area of Eastern Ladakh, the Indian army said the "constructive suggestions" were made at the negotiations but was neither agreeable to the Chinese side nor Beijing could provide any "forward-looking" proposals. Even when the winter has set in the Himalayan altitudes the threat perception across the borders still exist and each side has maintained more than 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the LAC even today.

Reacting to the Pentagon report, the Ministry of External Affairs has clarified that construction of new villages has taken place in China side of the border which was illegally occupied after 1959. China is now worried about the large scale infrastructure activities close to the borders. It is the sovereign duty of the country to enhance the activities at the borders. India has to improve its infrastructure through a better border management system. The Northeast is still vulnerable and so border infrastructure has to be upgraded no matter how much militarization is carried out. China has taken an aggressive posture not only against India but over a number of countries like Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong and various other countries as well as the ongoing conflict over South China seas. This is nothing sort of imperialist design of a totalitarian state out to prove its geopolitical dominance.

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