expel three Chinese journalists working with Xinhua news agency following the findings of Indian intelligence agencies. After several visa extensions, India finally refused to renew their visas and ordered them to leave India by 31 July. The three journalists include Wu Qiang, heading Xinhua’s bureau in New Delhi, Lu Tang heading the one in Mumbai and She Yonggang a reporter in Mumbai. The three expelled journalists are experts on Indian affairs and Lu Tang was working with researchers on India-China relations. The three journalists are reported to have travelled to Bengaluru recently and met exiled Tibetan activists, which became an issue with the government. Though the Tibetan government in exile is headquartered in Dharmsala, Himachal Pradesh, thousands of Tibetans live in Karnataka.

The move also comes at a time when ties between the two countries got strained following China’s refusal to support India’s application for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at a meeting in Seoul in June. In April 2016, China prevented India’s attempts to have Jaish-e- Mohammed chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, mastermind of many terror attacks in India, including the Pathankot air base in early January this year, declared as a terrorist at a United Nations committee. China has repeatedly provided cover for Pakistan-based terrorists and Islamabad. Following this, India, very shortly, again in April, reacted by issuing visas to World Uyghur Congress leader Dolkun Isa and three others, allowing them to visit India for a conference in Dharmsala.

China’s growing belligerence, Pakistan becoming an ever increasing liability to the US and its involvement in terrorism and its global spread and a common interest in ensuring the safety and security of the sea lanes of communication in the Indo-Pacific region are major factors which led to significantly upgraded India–U.S. relations. During US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s visit to India, the two nations decided to sign a logistics support agreement, which reportedly will allow the United States and Indian militaries to share facilities for refuelling, supplies and spares.

Through the “Maritime Silk Road” initiative, China has been trying to reach out to India’s close neighbour countries Sri Lanka and Maldives. Although China has asked India to be part of the Maritime Silk Road, some Indian analysts feel that it could be a ruse for China to increase its strategic presence in the region without arousing the suspicion of India and other nations. China’s relations with its “all-weather friend” Pakistan are at an all-time high, with Beijing announcing that it will invest $46billion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will connect Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province with the port of Gwadar in Pakistan.

On the Line of Actual Control, incursions and transgressions by Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are business as usual, with the only major saving grace being that since October 1967, not a bullet has been exchanged between the two armies. A transgression is for a short period, unlike an incursion where the troops remain stationed in an attempt to dominate the area, like the three week stand off between the Indian and Chinese troops in Daulat Beg Oldi, Jammu and Kashmir. Cases of transgression are often due to differences between the two nations in perception of the LAC. Incursions/transgression by PLA during the period from 2010-2014 (up to August 4, 2014) are as: 228 in 2010, 213 in 2011, 426 in 2012, 411 in 2013 and 334 in 2014- till August 4.

On June 9, 2016, a Chinese patrol party transgressed in Yangste, in Arunachal Pradesh’s East Kameng district. This is the first known transgression by the PLA this year in the region. On June 14, 250 PLA soldiers entered another part of East Kameng district. On July 22, for the first time PLA soldiers not only intruded into the northern state of Uttarakhand but also claimed that the land belongs to them and that they recognised it as “Wu Ye,” On July 25, Chinese helicopters violated India’s air space in the same region.

In Arunachal Pradesh, five of the eight old advanced landing grounds (ALG) have been upgraded. These are at Walong, Ziro, Along, Mechuka and Pasighat. Two more ALGs, one each at Tuting and Tawang are expected to be ready by the year end. However much more needs to be done to match the Chinese in strategic infrastructural development and acquisitions in weapon systems.

Lt Col Anil Bhat

Col Anil Bhat (retd) is an independent defence and security analyst he is also an Editor at Word Sword Features

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