when, perhaps not coincidentally, the Dalai Lama visited Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh the followingmonth.India is concerned over the build-up of Chinese military capabilities and stepped-up construction ofinfrastructure such as roads and railway lines near the LAC, providing China's armed forces with greatercommunication and access to the region. The world's highest railway line from Xining, Qinghai Province, toLhasa, Tibet, was opened in 2006 and is now being extended to Xigaze and Nyingchi in southwestern andsoutheastern Tibet respectively. In July 2010, the highest civilian airport in the world was opened at Gunsain Tibet's Ngari Prefecture, and an airport in Xigaze is scheduled to open soon.India is also concerned over unexplained Chinese constructions on the Yarlung Tsangpo River, which laterbecomes the Brahmaputra. In late 2009 it emerged that China had begun to build a dam at Zangmu, but ithas reassured India that it will have no impact on the downstream flow of the river through ArunachalPradesh. Meanwhile, China unsuccessfully attempted
to block a $2.9bn Asian Development Bank loan toIndia last year, because it included $60 million funding for a watershed project in Arunachal Pradesh.
China and South Asia
China and Pakistan have a longstanding and close relationship, but Beijing has maintained a policy ofneutrality on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. However, there are indications of a shift. ToNew Delhi's annoyance, China has for the past few months been refusing to grant normal visas to Indiannationals of Kashmiri origin travelling to China, insisting that their visas be stapled, not stamped, on theirpassports. The implication is that Beijing is treating Indian-held Kashmir as disputed territory. Indiasuspended high-level defence exchanges with China in August, following China's denial of a visa to athree-star Indian general responsible for troops in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.Also in August, it was reported that over 7,000 People's Liberation Army soldiers had been deployed inGilgit-Baltistan, the mountainous territory in the far north of Pakistan, to assist ongoing work on road andrail access between China and Pakistan. Although the Chinese and Pakistani governments denied thesereports, India countered by publicly stating that Gilgit-Baltistan was part of India, occupied by Pakistansince 1948.At the same time, India is concerned over Chinese involvement in construction of deep-water ports inSouth Asia that could potentially have military uses. Projects include providing funding for the constructionof Gwadar port in Pakistan's Baluchistan province, the development of ports, as well as oil and gaspipelines in Myanmar, and the financing of Sri Lanka's Hambantota port and development zone. China hasalso shown an interest in investing in Bangladesh's largest port of Chittagong.
In an attempt to counter China's assertiveness and growing influence in South Asia, India has respondedwith a mix of rhetorical, diplomatic, infrastructural and defence-led initiatives while still pursuing efforts atbilateral confidence-building.On the diplomatic front, India is seeking to build key strategic relations with countries in Southeast andEast Asia, especially Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore. In November, the first military-to-military talks between India and Japan took place, building on a security-cooperation agreement signed in2009. Indian defence exchanges and cooperation with Singapore and Vietnam take place regularly. Thefirst visit of an Indian defence minister to South Korea took place two months ago, and agreements on jointmilitary training and development of defence equipment were signed. At the same time, India disregarded
Beijing’s démarches not to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for ja
iled Chinese dissident Liu Xiaoboin Oslo.India is also responding to China's infrastructural development in Tibet by stepping up the building of roadsin Arunachal Pradesh. In August 2009, Defence Minister A.K. Antony announced that nearly $200m hadbeen allocated in 2009
10 to build roads near the LAC, twice what had been spent the previous year. TheIndian Supreme Court recently gave clearance for the construction of two strategic roads near the tri- junction of Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim, due for completion in 2012.India's military chiefs have begun to voice concerns over China's rising military proficiency. In August2009, then-Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta
stated that India had neither the military capabilitynor the intention 'to match China force for force' and advocated the use of maritime-domain awarenessand network-centric operations 'along with a reliable stand-off deterrent' as a means of coping with China'smilitary rise. Three months later, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik warned thatIndia's aircraft strength was inadequate and was only a third of China's. In December 2009, then-Chief ofArmy Staff General Deepak Kapoor went further and reportedly stated that the army was revising itsdoctrine so as to be able to fight a two-front war with both Pakistan and China. His successor, Generaldevelopments reportedin thereview suggest that