New Pentagon report details India, China clashes at LAC; says Beijing continuing to press boundary claims

Insight Online News

Washington, Nov 4 : The Pentagon, in a new report on China, has dwelt in detail on the clashes between the Chinese and Indian forces on the Line of Actual Control in the eastern Ladakh sector, and said that Beijing is seeking to prevent the border tensions from causing India to partner more closely with the US.

The report also says that despite the ongoing diplomatic and military dialogue between the two sides to reduce border tensions, China has “continued taking incremental and tactical actions to press its claims at the LAC”.

It also says that in 2020, the “Peoples Republic of China built a large 100-home civilian village inside disputed territory between the PRC’s Tibet Autonomous Region and India’s Arunachal Pradesh state in the eastern sector of the LAC. These and other infrastructure development efforts along the India-China have been a source of consternation in the Indian government and media”.

In its China Military Power Report, which was presented to the US Congress, the Pentagon says that the People’s Liberation Army Army (PLAA) has approximately 975,000 active duty personnel in combat units. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, border clashes with India, and other significant events in 2020, the PLAA accelerated its training and fielding of equipment from the already fast pace of recent years.

“In 2020, acute tensions and clashes along the border with India resulted in significant PLAA force build up and establishment or enforcement of forward positions along the Line of Actual Control. These tensions likely provided the PLAA with valuable real-world operational and tactical experience,” it noted.

It said that at the height of the border standoff between the PRC and India in 2020, the PLA installed a fiber optic network in remote areas of the western Himalayas to provide faster communications and increased protection from foreign interception.

It noted that the PLA’s “Western Theater Command is oriented toward India and counterterrorism missions along China’s Central Asia borders.”

“Beginning in early May 2020, tensions along the India-China border dominated the Western Theater Command’s attention. Differing perceptions of border demarcations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) joined with recent infrastructure construction, led to multiple unarmed clashes, an ongoing standoff, and military buildups on both sides of the India-China border.

“In response to an unarmed skirmish in June 2020 between PRC and Indian patrols in Galwan Valley—the most violent clash between the two countries in 45 years—the Western Theater Command led a large-scale mobilization and deployment of PLA forces along the LAC. China-India.”

The current standoff between the two nations resulted in the first deaths in the last 45 years.“

It noted that “Diplomatic efforts are making slow progress as both sides resist losing perceived advantages on the border”.

“The PRC blamed the standoff on Indian infrastructure construction, which it perceived to encroach on PRC territory, while India accused the PRC of launching aggressive incursions into India’s territory.”

On the Galwan clash, it said “This incident was the deadliest clash between the two nations in the past 45 years. On June 15, 2020, patrols violently clashed in Galwan Valley resulting in approximately 20 Indian soldiers and, according to PRC officials, the death of 4 PLA soldiers. In addition, on September 8, 2020, a PLA patrol fired warning shots at an Indian patrol near Pangong Lake—the first shots fired along the LAC in decades.”

“Throughout the standoff, PRC officials sought to downplay the severity of the crisis, emphasizing Beijing’s intent to preserve border stability and prevent the standoff from harming other areas of its bilateral relationship with India. The PRC seeks to prevent border tensions from causing India to partner more closely with the United States. PRC officials have warned U.S. officials to not interfere with the PRC’s relationship with India,” the report said.

It says that “As of June 2021, the PRC and India continue to maintain large-scale deployments along the LAC and make preparations to sustain these forces while disengagement negotiations have made limited progress.”

Tracing the tensions, it said ”Beginning in May 2020, the PLA launched incursions into customarily Indian-controlled territory across the border and has concentrated troops at several standoff locations along the LAC. In addition, a substantial reserve force from the Tibet and Xinjiang Military Districts were deployed to the interior of Western China to provide a rapid response.”

It said the “PRC has attempted to blame India for provoking the standoff through India’s increased infrastructure development near the LAC. Asserting that its deployments to the LAC were in response to Indian provocation, Beijing has refused to withdraw any forces until India’s forces have withdrawn behind the PRC’s version of the LAC and ceased infrastructure improvement.”

“Despite agreements to disengage in the spring of 2021, both sides maintain troops along the LAC as Corps Commander-level negotiations progress slowly.”

“Despite the ongoing diplomatic and military dialogues to reduce border tensions, the PRC has continued taking incremental and tactical actions to press its claims at the LAC.”

“Beijing has voiced its intent to return bilateral relations with New Delhi to a state of economic and diplomatic cooperation it had perceived to be improving since the 2017 Doklam standoff.

“PRC state-controlled media forcefully asserted China’s intent to refuse any territorial concessions demanded by India. PRC officials, through official statements and state media, had also sought unsuccessfully to prevent India from deepening its relationship with the United States during and subsequent to the standoff, while accusing India of being a mere “instrument” of U.S. policy in the region,” it said.


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