China stepped up its military presence and infrastructure build-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 2022 amid the border tension with India, a Pentagon report has said. Underground storage facilities, new roads, a dual-purpose airport and multiple helipads are part of Beijing’s infrastructure push along the LAC, according to ‘Military and Security Developments involving the People’s Republic of China’ report 2023.
“Since early May 2020, sustained tensions along the India-China border have dominated the Western Theater Command’s attention. 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,” the report says.
It adds that China’s Western Theater Command implemented large-scale mobilisation and deployment along LAC in response to the Galwan Valley clash that claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers. The deployments, the report said, are likely to continue through this year.
The report underlines that negotiations between India and China “made minimal progress as both sides resisted losing perceived advantages on the border”.
Listing Beijing’s infrastructure build-up along LAC, the report says, “In 2022, China continued to develop military infrastructure along the LAC. These improvements include underground storage facilities near Doklam, new roads in all three sectors of the LAC, new villages in disputed areas in neighboring Bhutan, a second bridge over Pangong Lake, a dual-purpose airport near the center sector, and multiple helipads.”
On military deployments, it says, “In 2022, China deployed one border regiment, supported by two divisions of Xinjiang and Tibet Military Districts with four combined arms brigades (CAB) in reserve in the western sector of the LAC. China also deployed as many as three light-to-medium CABs in the eastern sector from other theater commands and an additional three CABs in the central sector of the LAC. Although some elements of a light CAB eventually withdrew, a majority of the deployed forces remain in place along the LAC.”
Earlier, in June this year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said India is talking to China at both military and diplomatic levels to resolve issues. He had added that the government would never let the sanctity of India’s borders be violated.
“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,” Mr Singh had said at a security conclave, responding to the Opposition’s charge at the Narendra Modi government over tension along the LAC.
The Pentagon report also says China has more than 500 operational nuclear warheads and will probably have over 1,000 by 2030. It added that the Chinese Navy, already the largest in the world, is growing further.