China has continued with its “incremental and tactical actions” to press claims at the Line of Actual Control with India even as talks to de-escalate tensions are underway, the Pentagon has said in a report released on Wednesday.
India and China have been locked in a border standoff since their troops clashed in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June last year. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clash. China put the number of casualties on its side at four.
After several rounds of talks, India and China had disengaged from Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh in February. After the commander level talks on July 31, the two countries also agreed to disengage from Gogra.
India and China are now discussing ways to resolve pending matters in a quick manner.
The Pentagon’s report, titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021”, explained how China strengthened its border infrastructure during the peak of its dispute with India.
China set up a fiber optic network in remote parts of the western Himalayas for faster communication and better protection from foreign interception, the report said.
“PLA field commanders view near-real-time ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] and situational data as well as redundant and reliable communications as essential to streamlining decision making processes and shortening response timelines,” Pentagon added.
The document said that in 2020, China also built a village between the “Tibet Autonomous Region and Arunachal Pradesh”. “These and other infrastructure development efforts along the India-China have been a source of consternation in the Indian government and media,” the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon added that China quickened its “training and fielding of equipment” despite the coronavirus crisis, the border standoff with India and other key events that took place in 2020.
The report said that China has tried to blame India for the border tensions.
“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to the LAC were in response to Indian provocation, Beijing has refused to withdraw any forces until India’s forces have withdrawn behind the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China’s] version of the LAC and ceased infrastructure improvements in the area,” it added.
The Pentagon also claimed that China tried to stop India from improving its ties with the United States.
China’s nuclear expansion faster than expected
The Pentagon report said China planned to possess 700 deliverable nuclear warheads or weapons by 2027. “China likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, exceeding the pace and size the DoD [Department of Defence] projected in 2020,” it added.
The document said that China is expanding its nuclear delivery platforms and building necessary infrastructure to support its nuclear expansion.
“China is also supporting this expansion by increasing its capacity to produce and separate plutonium by constructing fast breeder reactors and reprocessing facilities,” the Pentagon said.
On Thursday, China criticised the United States on the report about expansion of its nuclear arsenal, reported AFP.
“The report released by the US Department of Defense, like previous similar reports, ignores facts and is full of prejudice,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperon Wang Wenbin said.
The spokesperson claimed that the United States was using the report to “hype up talk of the China nuclear threat”. He added the United States was the “world’s largest source of nuclear threat”.