The Indian military, as part of efforts aimed at increasing its presence and capabilities along its border with China, has successfully landed a C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, which has the capacity of carrying nearly 150 soldiers, at an airstrip near China.
According to The Times of India (TOI), the Indian airstrip, identified as the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) located about 18 miles from the border, had only previously been used to land smaller transport aircraft, capable of carrying up to 50 service members.
“The nearby town was a key strategic location during the 1962 war with China. The McMohan Line, the disputed basis for the border between the two Asian giants, is around [25 miles] from Mechuka town,” adds TOI.
All three neighboring countries — China, India, and Pakistan — have competing territorial claims to the region. China reportedly maintains a closer military and economic relationship with Pakistan.
Nevertheless, the two former military adversaries, China and India, have held joint military exercises in recent years.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday successfully landed a C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft at the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh. The move is aimed at calibrating India’s response capabilities at the border with China.
ALGs are airstrips close to the international border. They play a critical role in the defense of the border in remote areas, by enabling the armed forces to either quickly deliver troops to a particular region or supply rations to troops already stationed in remote areas.
India has landed other military transport aircraft near China in recent years “as part of similar efforts at increasing its capacities along the eastern extremity of the border with China,” notes the newspaper.
On October 19, China and India held the first ever joint military drill in the Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir region.
“I would like to point out that this activity is simply a normal exchange between the frontier troops of China and India to properly deal with border affairs,” Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told the Press Trust of India (PTI).
“It does not target any third country nor have anything to do with China’s position on the Kashmir issue,” she added.
“China and Pakistan view their relations as ‘all weather.’ Beijing has always maintained that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan through consultations,” explains PTI.
China’s autonomous province of Xinjiang, home to the largest concentration of the Muslim Uighur minority in the country, borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Despite the recent joint military exercise, diplomatic tensions exist between India and China over Beijing blocking New Delhi’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and imposing a United Nations ban on Masood Azhar, chief of the Pakistan-based jihadist group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JM). Both the UN and the United States have designated JM a terrorist group.
The NSG is a coalition against nuclear proliferation, made up of 48 nuclear supplier nations. It was formed in response to the Indian nuclear test of May 1974. Neither Pakistan nor India, both of which have nuclear capabilities, are members.
During demonstrations last month over the India-Pakistan clashes in Kashmir, JM-linked terrorists reportedly waved Chinese and Pakistani flags.
The demonstrations coincided with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India during the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) nations summit that took place last n the Indian city of Goa.