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The South Asian Insider

Increasing Chinese power on a global scale: Major headache for India?

People’s Republic of China (PRC) is gradually increasing strength across borders that it shares with India, as per U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd James Austin, in the 19th Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The approach is more of a coercive and aggressive route to its territorial claims. For this very reason, the USA is also taking the Indo-Pacific region as its operation priority while implementing the American grand strategy.

From the South China Sea to Ladakh to Arunachal, China is investing resources to gradually increase its military presence, which can be the cause of a major headache for India. Even in the East China Sea, the ever-expanding fishing fleet is causing frequent clashes with its neighbours. In the South China Sea, PRC uses man-made islands with advanced weaponry to ascertain its marine border claims. At the same time, Mr Austin stated that further to the west, it is seen that Beijing continues to harden its position along the border that it shares with India.

The USA has expressed concern about the Chinese ongoing construction along the Pangong Tso Lake. The Commander of U.S. Army Pacific, General Charles A. Flynn, who was in India recently, branded the Chinese activity in Eastern Ladakh as “eye-opening” and infrastructure being created in their Western Theatre Command as “alarming.”

Recently, PRC expressed its aggressive attitude towards Taiwan, claiming that they would even consider a war if needed. The western countries and their allies condemned this attitude. They have also expressed concern about how PRC is increasing its infrastructure and military presence along the Indian border.

The US Department of Defence, in their report to the US Congress, analyzed the military and security developments of the PRC. It was stated that despite the ongoing diplomatic and military approaches to reduce border tensions, the PRC took incremental tactical action to assert its claim at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). There were several instances when the People's Liberation Army (PLA), which is the army of PRC, crossed the LAC to launch incursions into the Indian-controlled territory and concentrated troops at several standoff locations.

To prevent such incidents from repeating, the U.S. Department of Defence plans to maintain an active presence across the Indo-Pacific. As Mr Austin stated in the Shangri-La Dialogue, no Indo-Pacific countries should face any political intimidation, economic coercion, or harassment by maritime militias. The goal is to achieve a region free of aggression and bullying, and for that, the USA promised continuous support for the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling.

PRC has often been involved in clashes with the Indian border force across various sectors. At the Ladakh border, the conflict began in May 2020 and reached its peak in June, 2020 when the armies had a face-off. In the Doklam valley, too, there has been an ongoing conflict. The PRC continues to strengthen its position on the Arunachal Pradesh border too, by building bridges and increasing road connectivity. The USA has warned India officially about this presence and they think that it is a cause enough for worry.

The Chinese policy of constant expansion is affecting India to a large extent. The border issue to the north-west, north, and north-eastern fronts, along with a Chinese collaboration on various foreign seaports, is quite worrisome to India. For this reason, an Indo-US collaboration across various fields and agencies can be a way out, which will be mutually beneficial for both the sides to handle the Chinese troubles globally.