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  • 26 June, 2022

  • 7 Min Read



China has expanded its troop accommodation within 100 km from the line of actual control in the western sector along with long-range artillery, rocket system, upgraded air defence system, expanded runways, and hardened blast pen to house fighter aircraft.

In 2020 the accommodation capacity was for 20,000 troops which has now been expanded to 1.2 lakh. They have also set up captive solar energy and small hydel power projects all along the LAC.

Weapons upgrade

  • China has installed third generation modern light tank, replacing the ZTZ-88 first-generation tanks in service. In terms of technology upgradation, the fire control systems of the tanks have also been upgraded.
  • China has also inducted the CSK series of assault vehicles akin to U.S. Army Humvees.
  • In the eastern sector, opposite Arunachal Pradesh, China has moved artillery guns within 50 km range of the LAC.

Upgradation of air defence and airbases closer to LAC

  • China has developed heliports at Shigatse and Rudok and airbases have been upgraded with extended runways and blast pens at Gargunsh, Lhasa and Guangzhou.
  • In air defence, the older systems have been replaced with HQ-17 surface-to-air missiles and the long-range HQ-9 has been deployed. The HQ-9 is believed to be based on the Russian S-300 missile system with a range from 100 to 300 km.

Better mobility

  • In terms of long-range firepower, China has upgraded its artillery by replacing the towed howitzers with truck-mounted howitzers having a range of 50 km. This gives better mobility, faster shoot and scoot ability, and less deployment time.
  • Launch Systems (MRLS) with a range of over 100 km and has better targeting than earlier versions.
  • China has also expanded its Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) network and usage in areas close to the LAC with their employment for a variety of tasks from intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities and logistics support.

In response, India too has significantly expanded its military capability and augmented infrastructure on its side of the LAC. India too has deployed Smerch MLRS and BrahMos cruise missile systems in Arunachal Pradesh closer to the LAC.

Why do face-offs occur?

  • The Face-off and stand-off situations occur along the line of actual control in areas where India and China have overlapping claim lines.
  • The LAC has never been demarcated. Differing perspectives are particularly acute in around two dozen spots across the Western (Ladakh), Middle (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), Sikkim, and Eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors of the India-China border.
  • The boundary in the Sikkim sector is broadly agreed upon by both but has not been delineated.
  • Face-offs occur when patrols encounter each other in the contested zones between overlapping claim lines.
  • Protocols agreed to in 2005 and 2013 gave detailed rules of engagement to prevent such incidents, but have not always been followed.

Why has not the LAC been clarified?

  • India has long proposed an exercise to clarify the divergence perceptions of the LAC to prevent such incidents.
  • Maps were exchanged in the Middle Sector, but the exercise fell through in the Western Sector where divergence is the greatest between them.
  • China has since rejected this exercise, which is adding another complication to the ongoing boundary negotiations.
  • India’s argument is rather than agree on one LAC, the exercise could help both sides understand the claims of the other, giving the way to regulate activities in contested areas until a final settlement of the boundary dispute.

India and China attach the highest importance to ensuring peace and tranquillity in all areas of the Sino-India border regions and referred to an affirmation about it by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in their two informal summits. At the summit, the two leaders also decided to issue “strategic guidance” to their militaries to strengthen communications so that they can build trust and understanding among themselves.

Source: The Hindu

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