According to the Pentagon's Annual Report, presented to the US Congress, China uses tactics that are short of armed conflict to achieve its objective of pursuing territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas as well as along its border with India and Bhutan.
It says Beijing, in recent years, has employed “a more coercive approach to deal with several disputes over maritime features and ownership of potentially rich offshore oil and gas deposits”.
Stating that in recent years, the PLA has also increased patrols around and near Taiwan using bomber, fighter, and surveillance aircraft to signal Taiwan, the report says: “China also employs non-military tools coercively, including economic tools during periods of political tensions with countries that China accuses of harming its national interests.”
China’s nuclear policy, the Pentagon report further states, intends to ensure the viability of its strategic forces in the face of continued advances in the US and, to a lesser extent, Russian strategic ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) and precision strike and missile defence capabilities, as well as India’s nuclear capabilities.
“Chinese and Indian patrols regularly encounter one another along the disputed border, and both sides often accuse one another of border incursions,” the report observed.
China’s tensions with India persist along the north-eastern border near the state of Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing asserts is part of Tibet and therefore part of China, and near the Aksai Chin region at the western end of the Tibetan Plateau.
India lost 20 soldiers in mid-June during a violent clash between Chinese and Indian army men in the Galvan Valley, in the east of the Ladakh Union Territory.
Subsequently, the two countries have engaged in talks at military commander and diplomatic levels to disengage the armies, returning them to their peacetime positions.
The Chinese army had reportedly withdrawn from all, but two friction points following the talks. However, on the night of 29-30 August, according to the Indian External Affairs Ministry, the Chinese army allegedly attempted to transgress into territory which New Delhi perceives to be under its control.
“....PLA troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo,” the Indian Defence Ministry stated on 31 August.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, however, said, his country has always been committed to maintaining stability along the China-India border and would not be the first to complicate or escalate the situation.
China was ready to work with its neighbors to resolve issues left over from history through friendly consultation in the spirit of building friendship and partnership, said Wang during a recent visit to France.
India and China have unresolved border disputes over Arunachal Pradesh and in Ladakh. Both neighbours have been engaged in dialogues to resolve the issue, albeit without much success so far.
The India-China border is defined by the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC), mainly a land border in most regions. But in the Pangong Lake area in eastern Ladakh, the LAC passes through a lake.
India controls the western portion of the 45-km long lake, while the rest is under Chinese control. Most of the clashes between the two countries have taken place in the Galvan Valley, in Ladakh.