Pentagon Worried About Chinese Military Buildup Near Indian Border
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is worried about the new buildup of Chinese forces near the demarcation line along its shared Himalayan border with India, as well as new airports and highways that China has recently built near the border.
Last month China deployed long-range strategic bombers to the border. A senior defense official spoke with Foreign Policy after the deployment of the long-range bombers that the buildup of forces on their border with India fits the same pattern of 'regional Chinese aggression' seen in other places in the Indo-Pacific.
Chinese coast guard ships blocked Philippine supply ships in November and have been harassing and even ramming and sinking Filipino fishing vessels for some time.
Jeff SMith from the Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center said "It’s just clear that [China has] become more assertive all across their territorial fault lines. Arguably India is the one where they’ve met the most resistance. The Indians will not be cowed, coerced, or intimidated".
Smith stated that China's aggressiveness towards India has been ramped up since Indian soldiers used bulldozers to stop construction of a Chinese road near their shared border in Doklam in 2017 which apparently embarrassed Chinese officials.
"That has only further fed this sort of aggressive, nationalist inclination to double down and harden their positions" Smith stated.
Indian officials have taken note of China's growing number of military personnel near the border as of late and in response has been carrying out more military drills and exercises which has the Pentagon concerned about tensions elevating to the point of sparking an all out conflict.
The timing of the military buildup is also suspect, with Russia having amassed over 100,000 troops near their own border with Ukraine and Ukraine and Washington saying that they believe Russia plans to invade the country late January or early February as well as China's continuous nearly daily incursions into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, all of which are possible flash points for conflict.
Democrat Representative Brad Sherman told Foreign Policy "The uptick in Chinese aggression in India’s Ladakh region underscores why security cooperation with India is so vital to both countries’ national interests".
"Given that India is a natural American partner with which we share a unique bond based on common democratic values, it is critical that we deepen our existing defense and security engagement with India as it faces escalating Chinese aggression. In light of past, and possible future Chinese aggression in the Ladakh region, I know India appreciates U.S. support" he stated.