The US Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China has no good news for India. The report says that China has increased defence capabilities and deployed more troops along the Indian border, and it has warned of increasing Chinese military presence including bases in various parts of the world, particularly Pakistan.
So what has the report said?
“We have noticed an increase in capability and force posture by the Chinese military in areas close to the border with India,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for East Asia Abraham M Denmark told reporters during a news conference here after Pentagon submitted its annual 2016 report to the US Congress on ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China’.
However, Denmark said it is difficult to conclude on the real intention behind this.
“It is difficult to say how much of this is driven by internal considerations to maintain internal stability, and how much of it is an external consideration,” he said when asked about China upgrading its military command in Tibet.
US will continue to improve its relationship with India
“We’re going to continue to enhance our bilateral engagement with India, not in the China context, but because India is an increasingly important player by themselves. And we are going to engage India because of its value,” the official said.
China’s widening its scope to other parts of the world
The Defence Department also warned of China’s increasing military presence including bases in various parts of the world, in particular Pakistan – with which it has a “longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests”.
China’s expanding international economic interests are increasing demands for the PLA Navy (PLAN) to operate in more distant seas to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication, it said.
“China most likely will seek to establish additional naval logistics hubs in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the report said.
Concerns about buildup near India
The Pentagon in its report expressed its concerns about Chinese military buildup near the Indian border.
“Tensions remain along disputed portions of the Sino- Indian border, where both sides patrol with armed forces…After a five-day military standoff in September 2015 at Burtse in Northern Ladakh, China and India held a senior-level flag-officer meeting, agreed to maintain peace, and retreated to positions mutually acceptable to both sides,” it said.
The Pentagon said tensions remain with India along their shared 4,057-km border over Arunachal Pradesh (which China asserts is part of Tibet and, therefore, of China), and over the Askai Chin region at the western end of the Tibetan Plateau, despite increases in China-India political and economic relations.
China’s biggest buyer of arms equipment remains Pakistan
The Pentagon said Pakistan remains China’s primary customer for conventional weapons. China engages in both arms sales and defense industrial cooperation with Pakistan, including LY-80 surface-to-air missile systems, F-22P frigates with helicopters, main battle tank production, air-to-air missiles, and anti-ship cruise missiles.
In June 2014, Pakistan started co-producing the first two of 50 Block 2 JF-17s, which is an upgraded version of the Block I JF-17, it said.
But China’s has also started settling its territorial disputes peacefully
Noting that China’s use of force in territorial disputes has varied widely throughout its history, it said some disputes led to war, such as China’s border conflicts with India in 1962 and Vietnam in 1979.
In more recent cases, China has been willing to compromise with and even offer concessions to its neighbours.
Since 1998, China has settled 11 land-based territorial disputes with six of its neighbours. In recent years, China has adopted a coercive approach that eschews military conflict in order to deal with several disputes continue over exclusive economic zones and ownership of potentially rich, offshore oil and gas deposits, the Pentagon said.
Featured image source: Reuters