Washington: China remains concerned about strategic ramifications of India's rising economic, political, and military power even as it quickly modernises its own military, according to a new US defence department report.
With sights set on extending its influence deep into the Pacific and Indian oceans, the People's Liberation Army is advancing across the board commensurate with China's burgeoning economic power, said Pentagon's annual report to Congress on China's military Monday.
"To improve regional deterrence, the PLA has replaced older liquid-fuelled, nuclear capable CSS-3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles with more advanced and survivable solid-fuelled CSS-5 MRBMs and may be developing contingency plans to move airborne troops into the region," the report said.
"China is currently investing in road development along the Sino-Indian border primarily to facilitate economic development in western China," it said noting "improved roads would also support PLA border defence operations.
The 83-page report, "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China" noted "China has deepened its ties with India through increased trade, high-level dialogues, and an improved military-to-military relationship."
"China and India agreed to boost trade from $11.4 billion in 2007 to $40 billion in 2010, and they have held several rounds of dialogue over disputed territorial claims.
"Sino-Indian Defence ties were institutionalised in 2007 with the establishment of an Annual Defence Dialogue and by conducting three bilateral Defence exercises since 2007."
"Nonetheless, Beijing remains concerned with persistent disputes along China's shared border with India and the strategic ramifications of India's rising economic, political, and military power," the Pentagon said.
"Despite increased political and economic relations over the years between China and India, tensions remain along their shared 4,057 km border, most notably over Arunachal Pradesh, which China asserts is part of Tibet and therefore of China, and over the Askai Chin region at the western end of the Tibetan Plateau," the report said.
Suggesting both countries in 2009 stepped up efforts to assert their claims, the report recalled "China tried to block a $2.9 billion loan to India from the Asian Development Bank, claiming part of the loan would have been used for water projects in Arunachal Pradesh (India's northeastern state bordering China)."
"This represented the first time China sought to influence this dispute (China lays claims to Arunachal Pradesh) through a multilateral institution," it said.
Turning to China's cyberwarfare capabilities, the report noted "In March 2009, Canadian researchers uncovered an electronic spy network, apparently based mainly in China, which had reportedly infiltrated Indian and other nations' government offices around the world. More than 1,300 computers in 103 countries were identified."
Listing numerous areas in which China's military is on the march, the report said China is developing and fielding large numbers of advanced medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles and deploying a new class of nuclear-powered submarines equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles.
It is also pouring money into "increasingly capable long-range air Defence systems, electronic warfare and computer network attack capabilities, advanced fighter aircraft, and counter-space systems."
China has "the most active land-based ballistic and cruise missile programme in the world," the report said. Beijing "now possesses one of the largest" forces of surface-to-air missiles in the world, it added. And it has the "largest force of principal combatants, submarines, and amphibious warfare ships in Asia."
First Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 00:03