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China’s Muscle-Flexing In The Arunachal Border

China’s Muscle-Flexing In The Arunachal Border

xi jinping pointing at Arunachal

Having forced to withdraw troops from the trouble Galwan valley in Ladakh, China is strategically trying to intimidate India in Arunachal through some veiled measures.

By Prasanta Paul

Winter snow at the international border in Ladakh has not melted as yet; sounds of heavy tank and artillery-mounted vehicles pulling back to their original positions are yet to die.

More importantly, bugle of peace between India and China, two nuclear-armed nations, has just been taken off the shelf in anticipation of being blown after the two fought a pitched, bloody skirmish in June last.

Amidst this, portends of a new front being born slowly have become visible in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. If the latest grapevine is to be believed, China may be in undue hurry to keep the Indian defence establishments engaged in a new front at Arunachal Pradesh.

Reports received from across the international  border and sources privy to the information have cited satellite images showing Beijing might be going out of the way to advance commissioning of its newly-built superfast railway track in the Himalayas, connecting the Chinese capital with Lhasa, erstwhile capital of Tibet.

At the outset, it is supposed to originate at Ninghchee and then travel to Lhasa, which will be turned into a major junction for transshipment of goods and other stuff in the Himalayan region. The track would be approximately 435 km long and efforts are being made to commission the train latest by the end of June this year.

And the point of worry for India stems from the fact that the proposed bullet train track at Ningchee has been laid as close as 50 kms from the international border with Arunachal Pradesh.

Secondly, once the bullet train is operational, Beijing will be able to dangerously close to twin crucial international border points – Na Thu La in Sikkim and a village(name withheld for strategic reasons) in Arunachal.

That India would need to redesign and redeploy its security bandobast at these twin areas effecting a thorough overhaul of strategic equipment, goes without saying.

According to a defence analyst, China has more than one reason to start exerting pressure on India. First, the murky hand-to-hand combat at Galwan in the Ladakh region last year demonstrated India’s might at the Himalayan heights. Despite the world reeling under the impact of the Covid 19, India proved that it would be a blunder to conclude that she would cow-tow to the might of China in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation.

That India would gain international mileage at the cost of China, gave the latter quite a heartburn. Post the Galwan clash, India has gone on a defence equipment purchasing spree, much to the chagrin of Beijing. The US and Israel have become the obvious choices for the latest weaponry.

Secondly, India’s increasing influence in the Asia-Pacific region and the latest alliance of powers under Quad, must have rattled China to a great extent.

The United States and three of its closest Indo-Pacific partners had last week committed to supplying up to a billion coronavirus vaccine doses across Asia by the end of 2022 at a summit. And the entire exercise was carefully choreographed to counter China’s growing influence.

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President Joe Biden and the leaders of Australia, India and Japan – countries together known as the Quad – pledged at their maiden summit to work to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region and to cooperate on maritime, cyber and economic security, issues vital to the four democracies in the face of challenges from Beijing.

Confronting China has been a rare area of agreement for Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress. In a statement, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, said he was pleased by the Quad meeting.

Interestingly, Beijing just rubbished away the Quad assertions and developments, terming it as opportunist alliance that would make little headway in future. But India’s leading role in the meet and countries reposing faith in India’s ability to manufacture corona virus vaccine, must have given the Marxist nation a lot of headache.

India’s latest decision to go ahead with mining of uranium at the snow-clad mountain range, just three kms from the Indo-China border in Arunachal Pradesh, is another surprise for Beijing.

That India could undertake uranium exploration in such a close proximity to the international border, has not augured well for Chinese defence experts. With India claiming that it would shortly be in a position to export uranium once actual mining starts in Arunachal, China’s hidden intention of land aggrandizement along the international border may not click as planned, despite commissioning of the bullet train.

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