China had installed a fibre optic network at certain remote locations of the western Himalayas during the height of the border standoff with India in 2020, a report published by the United States military on Wednesday, 3 November, indicates.
The Pentagon report titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2021" states:
"At the height of the border standoff between the PRC and India in 2020, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) installed a fibre optic network in remote areas of the western Himalayas to provide faster communications and increased protection from foreign interception."
The PLA field commanders were able to view near-real-time ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) and situational data as well as redundant and reliable communications, streamlining decision making processes and shortening response timelines, as per the report.
The long-running dispute between India and China over their shared international border had intensified in June last year, leading to a number of casualties on both sides. According to the Pentagon report, the clashes resulted in a significant buildup of the Chinese army along the border.
"In 2020, acute tensions and clashes along the border with India resulted in significant PLAA force buildup and establishment or enforcement of forward positions along the Line of Actual Control. These tensions likely provided the PLAA with valuable real-world operational and tactical experience," the report noted.
The standoff between the two countries over territory remains unresolved despite several rounds of talks. The latest round of discussion – the thirteenth round of Corps Commander talks between the Indian and the Chinese militaries – was held on 10 October, and had remained unsuccessful.
Pentagon Report Mentions Chinese Village in Arunachal Pradesh
The Pentagon report details the presence of a Chinese village located along LAC in Arunachal Pradesh, a settlement whose existence was first identified by NDTV in January this year.
"Despite the ongoing diplomatic and military dialogues to reduce border tensions, the PRC has continued taking incremental and tactical actions to press its claims at the LAC. Sometime in 2020, the PRC built a large 100-home civilian village inside disputed territory between the PRC’s Tibet Autonomous Region and India’s Arunachal Pradesh state in the eastern sector of the LAC. These and other infrastructure development efforts along the India-China have been a source of consternation in the Indian government and media."Pentagon Report
The village, located on the banks of the river Tsari Chu in the Upper Subansiri district, had been discerned using high-resolution satellite imagery of the conflicted region.