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Both sides have substantial and growing military deployments along a mostly disputed border which is the longest unmarked frontier in the world. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been challenging India’s military readiness and political resolve in several strategic areas along the border for more than 10 years. And defence analysts warn peace can no longer be taken for granted.
China needs to strengthen military strength as deterrence and to ensure that the US dares not carry out a reckless attack
The most recent skirmishes took place earlier this month when Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed near the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh.
Tensions boiled over into violence on May 5 when PLA officers objected to Indian military patrols in the area.
And on May 9 in the Naku La region near Tibet, soldiers from both sides came to blows and threw stones at each as PLA soldiers tried to force Indian troops back from their positions.
According to reports, no weapons were fired but several dozen soldiers were injured, including a senior Indian officer who was required to be airlifted to a hospital.
Defence experts said the clashes centre on disputes over the location of the so-called Line of Actual Control — the de facto international border.
China has developed an aggressive streak in its foreign affairs in recent years, from its muscle-flexing military presence in the South China Sea to its tough stance against international criticism of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
And analysts suggest the tough-guy approach means China’s bid to assert itself military along the Indian border should come as no surprise.
India is building strong strategic partnerships with Beijing’s rivals in Washington and Tokyo while China works to stabilise relations with Russia and tried to undermine the US at every opportunity.
And Premier Li Keqiang told China’s National People’s Congress on Friday that the despite an economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic the country intended to increase its military budget by 6.6 per cent to £150bn this year.
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Hu Xijin, the editor of nationalist tabloid Global Times – widely regarded as the media mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, said China needed to keep increasing its budget owing to the shifts in the global order during the pandemic, which made the US act in an “unprecedentedly rash” manner.
He said: “China needs to strengthen military strength as deterrence and to ensure that the US dares not carry out a reckless attack.”
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