Despite ongoing diplomatic and military dialogue to reduce border tensions, China continues to take incremental and tactical actions to press its claims along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India. Moreover, China also unsuccessfully sought to prevent New Delhi from deepening its relationships with the United States, said pentagon in its major report on China’s military developments.
In the report Military and Security Developments Involving the people’s Republic of China”, Pentagon said Beijing accused India of being mere instrument US policy in the region. The report has come up at a time of heightened tension between the US and China over Taiwan issue. Chairman of Joint Chief Staff General mark Milley had issued a strong warning to China’s ’ military progress.
CHINA WARNS US OVER SUPPORT TO INDIA
Pentagon says in the report that throughout the standoff, People’s Republic of China (PRC) sought to downplay the severity of the crisis along LAC, emphasizing Beijing’s intent to preserve border stability and prevent the standoff from harming other areas of its bilateral relationship with India. The PRC seeks to prevent border tensions along LAC from causing India to partner more closely with the United States. PRC officials have warned US officials to not interfere with the PRC’s relationship with India.
The report stated that diplomatic efforts are making only slow progress as both India and China resist losing perceived advantages on the LAC. The pentagon also mentioned that despite PRC building a large 100-home civilian village inside disputed territory between Tibet Autonomous Region and Arunachal Pradesh of the LAC, it had attempted to blame India for provoking the standoff through India’s increased infrastructure development near the LAC. On the clashes between the two countries in Galwan Valley near the LAC, that killed 20 Indian soldiers, the Pentagon points out that this was the deadliest clash between the two nations in the past 45 years. “Acute tensions and clashes along the border with India resulted in significant People’s Liberation Army (PLAA) force build-up and establishment or enforcement of forward positions along the Line of Actual Control. These tensions in the LAC likely provided the PLAA with valuable real-world operational and tactical experience,” the US said. Moreover, the Pentagon said that China installed a fiber optic network in remote areas of western Himalayas to provide faster communications and increased protection from foreign interception at the height of border standoff.
China’s National Strategy
- The PRC’s strategy aims to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation by 2049 to match or surpass US global influence and power, displace US alliances and security partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, and revise the international order to be more advantageous to Beijing’s authoritarian system and national interests.
- Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing continued its efforts to advance its overall development including steadying its economic growth, strengthening its armed forces, and taking a more assertive role in global affairs. In response to both long and short-term economic trends, China unveiled a new economic strategic task, or a new “development pattern,” called “dual circulation.
- Beijing views the United States as increasingly determined to contain the PRC, creating potential obstacles to its strategy. Additionally, the PRC’s leaders are increasingly willing to confront the United States and other countries in areas where interest diverge.
- PRC seeks to build a “community of common destiny” that supports its strategy to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
- In 2019, the PRC recognized that its armed forces should take a more active role in advancing its foreign policy, highlighting the increasingly global character that Beijing ascribes to its military power
- In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was a driving force behind the PRC’s foreign policy efforts, as Beijing sought to deflect any culpability for the virus and its initial spread, and to capitalize on its narrative of domestic success and foreign assistance
- Through economic, technological, political, social, and security development efforts, the PRC is trying all efforts to shape international and regional environments that accept and facilitate its interests.
- The PRC’s economic development supports its military modernization not only by providing the means for larger defense budgets, but through deliberate Party-led initiatives such as Made in China 2025 and China Standards 2035, as well as the systemic benefits of the PRC’s growing national industrial and technological base.
- In the rollout of the PRC’s 14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025), the Party announced a shift to a new “development pattern” of “dual circulation”. Dual circulation is focused on accelerating domestic consumption as a driver of economic growth, shifting to higher-end manufacturing, and creating “breakthroughs” in key technologies along critical high-end global supply chains.
Military-Civil Fusion Development Strategy
- The PRC pursues its Military-Civil Fusion Development Strategy to fuse its economic, social, and security development strategies to build an integrated national strategic system and capabilities in support of the PRC’s national rejuvenation goals.
- The MCF strategy includes objectives to develop and acquire advanced dual-use technology for military purposes and deepen reform of the national defense science and technology industries, and serves a broader purpose to strengthen all of the PRC’s instruments of national power.
- Its development strategy encompasses six interrelated efforts:
(1) fusing China’s defense industrial base and its civilian technology
and industrial base;
(2) integrating and leveraging science and technology innovations across
military and civilian sectors;
(3) cultivating talent and blending military and civilian expertise and
(4) building military requirements into civilian infrastructure and
leveraging civilian construction for military purposes;
(5) leveraging civilian service and logistics capabilities for military
(6) expanding and deepening China’s national defense mobilization system
to include all relevant aspects of its society and economy for use in
competition and war.
Defense Policy and Military Strategy
- In 2020, the PLA added a new milestone for modernization in 2027 to accelerate the integrated development of mechanization, informatization, and intelligentization of the PRC’s armed forces, which if realized would provide Beijing with more credible military options in a Taiwan contingency.
- In November 2020. China came up with “Chinese People’s Liberation Army Joint Operations Outline (trial). Described as the top level law of PLA’ combat doctrine system , national defence mobilisation, and political work, among others.
- In 2020, the PLA remained primarily oriented toward “safeguarding” its perceived sovereignty and security” interest in the region, while emphasizing a greater global role for itself, such as through delivering COVID-19 aid abroad and the pursuit of overseas military facilities, in accordance with the PRC’s defense policy and military strategy
MISSIONS AND TASKS
- China is modernising its capabilities and improving its proficiencies across all warfare domains so that as a joint force it can conduct the range of land, air, and maritime operations as well as space, counterspace, electronic warfare (EW). and cyber operations
- In 2020, the PLA continued to make progress implementing major structural reforms, fielding modern indigenous systems, building readiness, and strengthening its competency to conduct joint operations. Modernization and Reform
- Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, border clashes with India, and other significant events in 2020, the PLAA accelerated its training and fielding of equipment from the already fast pace of recent years. The PLAA also strove to increase the realisere of its training and the effectiveness of Opposition Force (OPFOR) units.
- The PRC is developing new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The PLARF continues to grow its inventory of roadmobile DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM). It continues to develop counter space capabilities including direct ascent, co-orbital, electronic warfare, and directed energy capabilities that can contest or deny an adversary’s access to and operations in the space domain during a crisis or conflict.
- The PRC is employing more sophisticated satellite operations and is probably testing dual-use technologies in space that could be applied to counterspace missions.
- In addition to strike air and missile defense, anti-surface and anti-submarine capabilities improvements, the PRC is focusing on information, cyber, and space and counterspace operations.
- The PRC is investing in, and expanding, the number of its land, sea and air -based nuclear delivery platforms and constructing the infrastructure necessary to support this major expansion of its nuclear forces.
- The PRC is also supporting this expansion by increasing its capacity to produce and separate plutonium by constructing fast breeder reactors and reprocessing facilities
- The accelerating pace of the PRC’s nuclear expansion may enable the PRC to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027.
- The PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, exceeding the pace and size the DoD projected in 2020.
- The PRC has possibly already established a nascent nuclear triad with the development of a nuclear capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) and improvement of its ground and sea-based nuclear capabilities.
Global Military Activities
- In 2020, a revision to the National Defense Law tasked the PLA with defending overseas development interests.
- Beyond its base in Djibouti, the PRC is pursuing additional military facilities to support naval, air, ground, cyber, and space power projection. The PRC has likely considered a number of countries, including Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand. Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles. Tanzania, Angola, and Tajikistan, as locations for PLA facilities.