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‘India’s nukes driving China’s n-modernisation’

India’s nuclear weapons force is one of the drivers for continued Chinese nuclear force modernisation, the U.S. Department of Defence said in its annual China report, “Military and Security developments involving People’s Republic of China,” submitted to the U.S. Congress last week.

The report states that a new generation of mobile missiles with multiple warheads are intended to ensure viability of China’s strategic deterrent in the face of continued advances in the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, Russian precision strike and missile defence capabilities.

“Similarly, India’s nuclear force is an additional driver behind China’s nuclear force modernisation,” it added. The report noted “some ambiguity” in China’s stated “no first use” (NFU) policy over the conditions under which the policy would apply.

Border tensions

China continues to pursue a “long-term, comprehensive military modernisation programme designed to improve its armed forces’ capacity to fight short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts,” the report observed and referred to the contained tensions on the India-China border, “despite increases in China-India political and economic relations.” The report noted that, “Pakistan remains China’s primary customer for conventional weapons.”

The report also takes note of the growing Chinese maritime capabilities to operate far from mainland referring to the recent deployment of nuclear powered submarines in the Indian Ocean “ostensibly” in support of its counter-piracy patrols and “demonstrating an emerging capability both to protect China’s sea lines of communications and increase China’s power projection into the Indian Ocean.”

The huge difference in defence spending also found a mention in the report. While China’s defence budget of $165 billion for 2014 grew at an average of 9.5 per cent over the past decade, India’s budget currently stands at $38 billion.

Modi’s visit

The timing of the report coincides with the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China, which has raised expectations of a positive outcome on the contentious border issue. China on Monday expressed “strong opposition” to the U.S. report, which, it said ignores facts, makes speculation and continues to play up the “so-called China threat” and urged the U.S. to abandon its “Cold War mentality.”

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2020 7:17:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indias-nukes-driving-chinas-nmodernisation-says-usreport/article7198813.ece

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