Strategic experts caution over increasing face-offs along China border

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New Delhi, June 9 (ANI): Giving an alarming view of the poor border infrastructure, strategic experts have cautioned that increasing face-offs along the China border may lead to firings and skirmishes as India and China grow economically and militarily.

Participating in a roundtable discussion on "India's border Infrastructure" organized by Observer Research Foundation in the capital on Wednesday, a group of experts pointed out that the lack of clarity on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China and the so-called perceived borders by both the countries are a big threat to strategic stability along the border.

Presiding over the discussion, Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal pointed out that while there was cohesiveness in the border management of China through single command structure, India is lackadaisical in its approach even now.

Brigadier Kanwal said Chinese have set up camps very near to the border with their men acclimatized to the situation while Indian forces are based in Assam valley and they would take months even in acclimatizing.

Dr. Rajeswari Rajagopalan, Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, pointed out that though the economic content of the India-China bilateral relationship has gone up significantly with trade touching close to 60 billion dollars, there are tensions and suspicions on the politico-strategic fronts.

"These tensions can manifest themselves from time to time on the border and also at various diplomatic fora. This is likely to continue until there is clarity on the LAC," Dr. Rajeswari said.

"Despite the border talks since 1981, there has been hardly any progress. There has been no demarcation and delineation of the LAC," she stated.

She said as part of its pressure tactics to gain leverage on the boundary issue, China has increased its border incursions.

"There were nearly 200 incursions in 2007, 270 in 2008 and 60 until March 2009," Dr. Rajeshwari pointed out.

Senior BJP leader and Member of Parliament Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who visited some of the border areas in Leh, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and northern Sikkim as part of a team set up by his party to study reported Chinese incursions, on this occasion said that they were surprised to see the difference in the pictures painted during talks, in the maps and the media and the real situation.

"The whole border is a matter of perception for both India and China. While we say this is part of India as per our perception, the Chinese have a different perfection. For thousands of miles there is no population and one has to believe what the system tells him," Rudy said.

"In such a situation, it is very difficult to really assess the situation (of incursions). You have to believe what you were told," he said, appreciating the way our armed forces personnel are staying in these areas.

Gen. Sheru Thapliyal on this occasion said while the massive construction of roads and rail links has alarmingly increased the mobility and deployment of Chinese forces, we are a long way away from matching China.

Sunjoy Joshi, a distinguished Fellow at ORF, said while China has spent 1.2 trillion dollars since the 90s on border infrastructure, India is still in a dilemma, thinking what to do to.

Senior serving and retired defence officers, academics and scholars participated in the discussion and unanimously agreed that India should take urgent action to improve border infrastructure. (ANI)

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