Washington: India and China are fuelling mutual suspicion by their ongoing military build-up, even though neither of them currently appear to seek to overturn the strategic balance on their borders, US spy chief said on Tuesday.
"Neither India nor China currently seeks to overturn the strategic balance on the border or commit provocations that would destabilise the relationship. However, India and China are each increasing their military abilities to respond to a border crisis," James R Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, said during a US Congressional hearing on global threats.
Testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper said both India and China consider these moves to be defencive, but they are probably fuelling mutual suspicion and raising the stakes in a potential crisis.
"As a result, periodic, low level intrusions between forces along the border could escalate if either side saw political benefit in more forcefully and publicly asserting its territorial claims or responding more decisively to perceived aggression," he said.
"However, existing mechanisms, as well as a shared desire for stability by political and military leaders from both sides, will likely act as an effective break against escalation," Clapper said.
In his testimony, Clapper expressed strong concern over the Chinese military build-up, which he said is raising the anxiety and security concerns among its neighbours.
"China`s military investments favour capabilities designed to strengthen its nuclear deterrent and strategic strike, counter foreign military intervention in a regional crisis, and provide limited, albeit growing, capacity for power projection," he said.
In 2012, China`s People`s Liberation Army (PLA) introduced advanced weapons into its inventory and reached milestones in the development of key systems, thereby sustaining the modernisation programme that has been under way since the late 1990s.
Clapper said developments in Chinese military capabilities support an expansion of PLA operations to secure Chinese interests beyond territorial issues.