By Yashwant Raj
Washington, Dec 1 (IANS): China has told the US "to not interfere" in its relations with India, according to a report by the US department of defense, which was followed shortly by claims by a think tank that the Chinese military has built a headquarters and garrison on the contentious border with India in preparation for a long stay.
"PRC officials have warned US officials to not interfere with the PRC's relationship with India," the US defense department said in a report on the state of China's military, calling it by the initials of its official name Peoples' Republic of China (PRC).
The report said that China "sustained the deployment of forces and continued infrastructure build up" along the Line of Actual Control, as the unsettled India-China border is called.
The report also said "minimal progress" has been made in negotiations to untangle the aftermath of the 2020 Galwan clashes as both sides "resist losing perceived advantages on the border".
Clashes in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 between military patrols of the two country (China and India) were the most violent in decades. The Pentagon report calls out China for seeking to "downplay" the severity of the crisis and trying to prevent it from affecting other areas of the relationship.
China also sought to prevent India from getting closer to the US. "The PRC seeks to prevent border tensions from causing India to partner more closely with the United States," the report stated, adding that Chinese officials actually warned the US from getting involved - "to not interfere", as it was put.
The US was not only vocal in its condemnation of the crisis and blaming China for it, it also quietly provided India all the help it needed to deal with Chinese aggression - in equipment and intelligence - which has never been acknowledged by New Delhi.
Even as talks have been going on between India and China to disengage their militaries, Beijing has been digging in for a long haul, according to US media reports based on satellite images.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US think-tank, has obtained satellite images that show the Chinese military has constructed a headquarters and garrison to house troops at Pangong Tso, a lake that forms a part of the India-China border in Ladakh region.
The think tank said in a blogpost, which was first reported by Politico, "the new division-level headquarters and garrison that likely support a considerable number of People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops stationed around the lake".
These images date from October 4, 2022, show the construction work is over. The CSIS report said: "At its center are headquarters and support buildings, which are flanked by a bevy of trenches and revetments for storing and securing equipment. On the south side are numerous shelters for weapons - likely artillery and anti-aircraft systems. The northern portion shows a full company of armored personnel carriers (APCs), as well as vehicle shelters and additional weapons positions."
The CSIS called the construction a "considerable upgrade in the PLA's presence in one of the most remote and inhospitable spots on the globe".
It could serve "as a new node connecting troops at Pangong Tso with military authorities elsewhere in the PLA Western Theater Command, which is headquartered thousands of kilometers away and is responsible for military operations on China's western frontiers".
Further, the think tank said, the facility's "considerable armament of equipment and weaponry could prove critical in a future skirmish or conflict with India".