CHINA IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH: Enemy at the Gate

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Indian Army soldiers demonstrate a drill in Tawang sector near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to tackle any threat from the Chinese side. (ANI Photo)

A Pentagon report says the Chinese have built a village inside the Indian territory in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The government has denied the claim but New Delhi is seriously worried about the Chinese moves in the eastern front

Our Bureau
Washington, DC/New Delhi  

The situation on the eastern front is getting serious by the day. A mobile detachment of the Xinjiang Armed Police Corps organised chemical defence forces and carried out anti-nuclear, biological and chemical combat drills in the past few days. According to sources, the drills simulated the actual combat environment to the maximum extent and effectively tempered chemical defence forces’ handling under complex conditions for emergencies, sources added.

Last week, the US Department of Defence in its latest report had said that China has engaged in biological activities with potential dual-use applications, which raise concerns regarding its compliance with the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

This development came amid a recent Pentagon report about China developing a 100-home village between Tibet autonomous region and India’s Arunachal Pradesh. It has also been reported that Beijing has been doing illegal construction in occupied territories.

According to sources, the village has been built by China in the upper Subansiri district that was occupied by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) after overrunning an Assam Rifles post in 1959, in an operation known as the Longju incident along the frontier in Arunachal Pradesh. China has built huge infrastructure including motorable roads, bridges and small villages in disputed territories.

The village built by the Chinese in the Indian side, as per the Pentagon report

But New Delhi has never accepted China’s unjustified claims. “As we had stated that China has undertaken construction activities over the past several years along the border areas including in the areas that it has illegally occupied over the decades. India has neither accepted such illegal occupation of our territory nor has it accepted the unjustified Chinese claims. The Government has always conveyed its strong protest to such activities through diplomatic means and will continue to do so in the future,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters here. “We have taken note of the US Department of Defence’ report to US Congress which inter-alia also makes a reference to construction activities by Chinese side along the India-China border areas particularly in the Eastern Sector,” he added.

India has also stepped-up infrastructure development. Friction between India and China continues as military talks for disengagement at pending friction points in eastern Ladakh have not made headway. China is not ready for complete disengagement and there is a huge built of armies on both sides. The last round of military talks between the two sides was held in October this year.

Earlier this week, sources in the Indian security establishment had clarified that “large 100-home civilian village” mentioned in a Pentagon report was built over the years in the area in Arunanchal Pradesh that was occupied by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) after overrunning an Assam Rifles post in 1959.

The sources said that the village is along the disputed border in Upper Subansiri District in Arunanchal Pradesh which is in territory controlled by China. “The village has been built by China in an area that was occupied by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) after overrunning an Assam Rifles post in 1959, in an operation known as Longju incident along the frontier in Arunachal Pradesh,” the sources said.

“For years, they have maintained an Army post in the region and various constructions undertaken by Chinese haven’t happened in a short time,” the sources had said.

Every year since 2000, the Pentagon in the USA has issued a report discussing developments in its chief protagonist, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. The 2021 report was delayed by a couple of months compared to last year, but it was worth waiting for as it was full of thought-provoking summaries about China’s military.

The Chinese PLA and Indian Army have been face to face on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) (ANI Photo)

Entitled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021, or China Military Power Report (CMPR) for short, the 192-page document was published on 3 November. The CMPR only covers developments till the end of 2020, the better part of a year ago. For that reason, it did not mention the test of a fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS) several months ago. A FOBS is an alternative means of delivering a nuclear warhead compared to the more common intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

This CMPR makes sober reading, warning early on, “The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen China’s ability to ‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘strong enemy’ (a likely euphemism for the United States), coerce Taiwan and rival claimants in territorial disputes, counter an intervention by a third party in a conflict along China’s periphery, and project power globally.”

Andrew Erickson, Professor of Strategy at the US Naval War College, told ANI: “Over the past two decades, the PLA has achieved a rapid hardware build-out in quantity and increasing quality, together with sweeping reforms to address ongoing weaknesses in organization, coordination, sophistication and training. China has already arrived as a great power. It has the world’s second largest economy and defense budget, and the world’s largest standing ground force. Its three sea forces [navy, coast guard and maritime militia] are each the world’s largest by number of ships. It has the Indo-Pacific’s largest air force, the world’s largest sub-strategic missile force, and arguably the world’s largest and most sophisticated surface-to-air missile force.”

The most startling developments revolve around the PLA Rocket Force (PLARF), the keeper of China’s nuclear weapon arsenal.

Following the Pentagon report on Chinese village along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki on Wednesday said that Chinese transgression keeps on occurring, adding that a solution should be brought in.

“Heard about it. I did not visit the site. Chinese transgression keeps occurring. A solution should be brought in. For how long will the issue continue? I urge both (China and India) governments to talk,” Tuki told ANI. The US Department of Defense in its annual report to Congress said that China has built a large 100-home civilian village inside disputed territory between the Tibet Autonomous Region and India’s Arunachal Pradesh in 2020.

The sources said that the village is along the disputed border in Upper Subansiri District in Arunanchal Pradesh which is in territory controlled by China.

The US Department of Defense report blamed China for the series of confrontations along the border that culminated into the violent clash in June 2020 in Ladakh’s Galway Valley, which was one of the worst crashes seen in 45 years.

Meanwhile, Congress national spokesperson Pawan Khera on Saturday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the “clean chit” given to China that it has not intruded in Arunachal Pradesh since a report given by the Pentagon to the US Congress confirmed that the country has intruded 4.5 km within the territory of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Congress spokesperson has further asked the Prime Minister to issue an apology and give a deadline to the country when the status quo ante of April 2020 would be restored across all our borders with China. “According to the 152-page report Military and Security Developments involving the People’s Republic of China 2021 given by the Pentagon to US Congress, it has been confirmed that China has intruded 4.5 km within Arunachal Pradesh’s territory and has constructed a village,” said Khera while addressing the media.

“Today is the time PM Modi should take back the clean chit given to China that it has not intervened in Arunachal Pradesh. We need an apology from the Prime Minister for misleading the world that China has not entered the territory,” he added.

“The Prime Minister must withdraw the clean chit and give a deadline to the country when the status quo ante of April 2020 will be restored across all our borders with China,” he added.

He said, “In June 2020, BJP Lok Sabha MP from Arunachal Pradesh, Tapir Gao had written letters to the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Foreign minister, and also raised the issue in parliament, warning the country about the transgression by China into Arunachal Pradesh.”

“That clean chit is being used by China across the world. Because it has come by none other than the Prime Minister, China has been emboldened by this clean chit. Not just, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Ghogra, Depsang, Gogra Hot Springs, Daulat Beg Oldi, the PLA has also entered Uttarakhand,” he added.

Khera said, “According to the report, across the LAC they have constructed several villages and these are dual-purpose villages. These villages not only have a civilian population residing but also these villages will act as cantonments for the Chinese army. It has 101 structures, some of which are multistorey structures.”

“All this is happening to protect the ‘macho’ image that has been created for PM Modi since 2013,” he said hitting at the Prime Minister.

The Pentagon report is definitely a serious warning to India. The Chinese are not only at the border but have moved into the Indian side and reinforcing their position. This does not portent well for India’s security.

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