DPG China Monitor

China Monitor

Inauguration of the ‘Sela Tunnel’ on March 9, 2024, connecting Tezpur in Assam with Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, sparked a war of words between India and China. Beijing asserted that India has no right to arbitrarily develop the area it calls Zangnan (Arunachal Pradesh), adding that this would “complicate” the boundary dispute. India categorically rejected China’s “absurd claims” and “baseless arguments”, emphasising that Arunachal Pradesh will always be an integral and inalienable part of India.

In a major move, India plans to deploy an additional 10,000 troops in the Central Sector of the LAC. This formation will be part of a newly established corps, manning the LAC in the northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

Amidst the Arunachal Pradesh controversy, the 29th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China Border Affairs was held in Beijing on March 28, 2024. The two sides exchanged views on complete disengagement in the remaining areas along the LAC in the Western sector, but without any tangible outcomes. India maintained its consistent stand that there can be no forward movement in bilateral relations till the full restoration of peace and tranquility along the border.

China reacted cautiously to India’s successful maiden test of the IRBM Agni-5, featuring the indigenous Multiple Independently Targetable Re-Entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology. The test was seen as India’s bid to enhance strategic deterrence against China and Pakistan.

A delegation of US business, strategic, and academic communities met President Xi in Beijing on March 27, 2024. In his remarks, Xi reiterated that China and the US should view each other as partners and adhere to principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation. Notwithstanding, the US Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, described the growing military and technology competition between the US and China as “quite profound” and emphasised that the two countries are likely to remain “systemic rivals” for the next decade.

Amidst ongoing tensions between China and the Philippines, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed Washington's commitment to the Philippines, including their Mutual Defence Treaty. Following Blinken’s visit, the Chinese Coast Guard used water cannons against Philippine vessels in a contested area of the South China Sea, causing “heavy damage”.

On March 5, 2024, Premier Li Qiang delivered a Report on the Work of the Government to the 14th NPC. China's GDP growth target for 2024 has been set at around 5 percent, while its defence budget has been increased by 7.2 percent to CNY 1.69 trillion (around USD 232 billion).

To read this China Monitor, Vol. VII, Issue 3, please see the PDF attached.