China strengthening air defenses with eye on India

Feb 22, 2018

Border tensions between China and India could again flare-up, say analysts, following a report in Chinese state media detailing the country’s build-up of air defense capabilities close to its western frontier.

According to a Global Times report, reposted on the English version of the People’s Liberation Army’s website Tuesday, China is upgrading air defense in its Western Theater Command — the strategic area covering security along the country’s mountainous far western border — “in order to confront any threat from India.”

The article notes that images of Chinese J-10 fighter jet and J-11 fighter jets conducting aerial combat training exercises in western China were released by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), on February 13, two days before the traditional Lunar New Year holiday.

“With India importing new jets, China will continue strengthening its fighter jets in the Western Theater Command,” military expert Zhongping Song was quoted as saying.

The announcement is an important signal after last summer’s territorial standoff between the two countries in Doklam, near the borders of India, China and Bhutan, analysts say.

Speaking to CNN, Kanti Prasad Bajpai, the director of the Centre on Asia and Globalization at Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said the article could be interpreted as China signaling to India that Doklam “isn’t over” and that India shouldn’t “get too complacent.”

“It’s fairly clear they (the Chinese) are trying to send a message in the post-Doklam period about their resolve to be strong,” said Bajpai.


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