China downplays report of upgrading air defences along India border
Beijing: China on Thursday downplayed an official media report that its military is upgrading air defence along the Indian border and said both countries should work together to uphold peace and tranquillity along the border areas.
State-run Global Times on 20 February reported that China is upgrading air defence of its Western Theatre Command, which looks after the security along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), to “confront any threat from India”.
Asked about the report during a media briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, “I am not aware of the information mentioned by you. I may refer you to the military.” Geng said, “We hope the Indian side can work with China to uphold the peace and tranquillity of the border areas because this is in common interests of both sides.”
The Chinese defence ministry is yet to comment on the report. In the report, the daily also quoted an expert as saying that the measure is aimed at “confronting any threat from India” in the light of India acquiring new fighter aircraft, an apparent reference to India’s acquisition of Rafale fighter jets from France.
The Global Times report was based on the Chinese military releasing photographs of a J-10 jet fighter, a lightweight multi-role fighter aircraft along with J-11 a single-seat, twin-engine jet fighter, conducting high-altitude plateau in western China during the current Chinese New Year.
The jets are attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theatre Command, the website of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said. China has also recently commissioned its stealth fighter, the J-20, which is first in the region. The Western Theatre Command is mainly responsible for mountain warfare at the border area with India.
The LAC stretches 3,488km including the high altitude Tibetan plateau. India and China have been trying to reset their ties after last year’s 73-day standoff between the two sides at Dokalam in Sikkim section of boundary. PTI