Chinese Checkers

China is deploying more troops on the border with India while modernising its nuclear force and improving its strike capabilities, the Pentagon has said, even as the Obama administration challenged Beijing's assertion that New Delhi does not meet the criteria to be a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The state department, referring to Obama's statement in 2015, said India “meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership“.
The shadow play between Washington, Beijing, and New Delhi was very much in evidence as the US defence establishment highlighted China's growing military strength, ostensibly with an eye on courting India as a strategic counterweight. “We have noticed an increase in capability and force posture by the Chinese military close to the border with India,“ US deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia Abraham Denmark said during a news meet after Pentagon submitted its annual 2016 report to the US Congress on `Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China'. “It's difficult to say how much of this is driven by internal considerations to maintain stability, and how much of it is an external consideration.“ But as far as Washington is concerned, he added, it would continue to enhance bilateral engagement with India “not in the China context but because India is an increasingly important player“ by itself. “We are going to engage India because of its value,“ Denmark said.
A series of reports and remarks from Washington amid continuing tensions with China is coming just ahead of PM Narendra Modi's visit alongside India's own issues with Beijing, notably its use of Pakistan to needle India on issues such as terrorism and access to advanced nuclear technology . But in a report to the US Congress, the Pentagon warned of China's increasing military presence including bases in various parts of the world, in particular Pakistan -with which it has a “longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests“.
China's expanding international economic interests are increasing demands for the PLA Navy (PLAN) to operate in more distant seas to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication, it said, adding, “China most likely will seek to establish additional naval logistics hubs in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and a precedent for hosting foreign militaries.“
The US Navy itself is now working even more closely with the Indian Navy , outlining the emerging contours of efforts to dominate the sea lanes in the Indian Ocean through which some 60% of the world's energy trade passes.Meanwhile, Washington also endorsed India's claim for a membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group that the China-Pakistan axis has been thwarting.
“I'd point you back to what the President said during his visit to India in 2015, where he reaffirmed that the US view was that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership,“ State Department spokesman John Kirby said when asked about reports about Beijing and Islamabad joining hands to stall India's NSG membership.
China has claimed that many members of the 48-nation NSG share its view that signing of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty is an “important“ standard for the group's expansion, an assertion that Washington does not agree with. The western world's support for India's membership is based in part on its sterling non-proliferation record.

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