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 in Washington 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 relationship 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.
�China�s interests are getting more global as their economy expands and as their economy grows more sophisticated and modern. Their interests are growing more global, which we see as a primary driver for, for instance, in the announcement of establishing a facility in Djibouti,� Denmark said.
�And so naturally, it�s understandable that they would be operating in new areas. But that does not include a value statement about the intentions behind these actions or the effects of these actions,� he said.
The Pentagon said as China�s global footprint and international interests grow, its military modernisation programme has become more focussed on investments and infrastructure to support a range of missions beyond its periphery, including power projection, sea lane security, counterpiracy, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance.
People Liberation Army�s (PLA) global operations in 2015 included counterpiracy patrols, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, exercises, and sea lane security operations. China�s November 2015 public confirmation of its intention to build its first overseas military support facility in Djibouti likely reflects this more global outlook, as it will be utilised to sustain the PLAN�s operations at greater distances from China, it said.