China has strongly condemned the recent Pentagon report (submitted to the Congress) in which the US Department of Defence mentioned that Beijing enhanced its military capabilities along the border with India in order to ramp up its geopolitical ambitions in the region, saying that it was Washington’s deliberate attempt to “severely” damage the mutual trust between the two Asian neighbours.

Over the weekend, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence (for East Asia) Abraham M Denmark expressed serious concern over troop build-up by China on Sino-Indian border, saying: “We have noticed an increase in capability and force posture by the Chinese military in areas close to the border with India.” He also said that China added substantial military infrastructure, including communications and surveillance systems, to artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Senior spokesperson of the Chinese Defence Ministry Yang Yujun firmly opposed the American Defence Department’s assessment, stressing that the Pentagon report, which “hyped up” Beijing’s military threat, lacks transparency. He asked the US not to distort Chinese defence policies and depict Chinese activities in the East and South China seas “unfairly”.

The Chinese official further claimed that his country’s National Defence Policy is defensive in nature. Yang said that the main aim of China’s military build-up and reforms is to maintain sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, apart from guaranteeing the country’s peaceful development.

Meanwhile, Indian defence experts have welcomed the Pentagon report, saying that China triggered fresh tension in Asia through its military activities. India, like the US, has accused Beijing of militarising the South China Sea and of crossing the McMahon Line – a line agreed to by Britain and Tibet as part of the Simla Accord signed in 1914. It is the effective boundary between China and India, although its legal status is disputed by the Chinese government.

India also slammed China for trying to block the former’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), saying that Beijing’s stand on India’s NSG membership bid is full of duplicity because it had helped North Korea, Pakistan and Iran acquire nuclear and missile technology in the past, thus, violating the international non-proliferation regimes. Indian experts also advised China not to obstruct New Delhi’s bid to gain full NSG membership on the back of clear-cut commitments on proliferation. They argued that India’s seat at the policy table would in fact strengthen the non-proliferation regime.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]