WASHINGTON: China has increased defence capabilities and deployed more troops along the Indian border, the Pentagon has said, as it warned of increasing Chinese military presence including bases in various parts of the world, particularly Pakistan.
“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 in response to a question on China upgrading its military command in Tibet.
Referring to US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s recent trip to India, Denmark said he had a very positive and productive visit.
“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,” he said.
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 re-lationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the report said.
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. .