China Military Assets 'Fully Deployed' on Disputed Border, India Air Chief Says

People's Liberation Army forces are "fully deployed" in the disputed border region between India and China, New Delhi's air force chief said Tuesday as the stand-off in the Himalayas nears its eighth month.

"Serious and robust actions" by India's military have successfully stopped Chinese ground and air forces in their tracks since tensions escalated into a deadly melee in June, said Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria.

Speaking at a virtual seminar hosted by New Delhi think tank Vivekananda International Foundation, Bhadauria said the country's armed forces were capable of handling the latest dispute along its 2,100-mile Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.

Military representatives from Beijing and New Delhi have met for eight rounds of negotiations since the summer. Despite talk of de-escalation and a reduction of military deployment, reports from both countries describe a build-up of personnel, arms and equipment as troops dig in for the winter months.

The PLA Army's Western Theater Command in Tibet has "deployed heavily" in terms of troop numbers, the Indian Air Force chief said.

China's "frontier air force" was "fully deployed" he added, noting a significant presence of radars and missiles in Ladakh, which is under Indian control but also claimed by Pakistan.

"Their deployment has been very strong," said Bhadauria, who added there was "no need to worry" about India losing territory or sovereignty in the ongoing dispute.

The Indian Air Force chief suggested China's motives in the region were still unclear, describing the LAC skirmishes as either "military signaling" or "overreach."

"China's aspirations are on the global front and regional domination is a part of the route," he said. "Any serious India-China conflict is not good for China at the global front. If Chinese aspirations are global, then it does not suit their grand plans."

Some 20 Indian soldiers, including an officer, were killed in June when Chinese and Indian forces clashed in the Galwan River valley. The number of PLA casualties was reported as more than 40, but the Chinese government has yet to confirm the figures.

A ninth round of talks between military leaders is expected, but Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday was pessimistic when asked about the potential for a positive result.

"It is true that in order to reduce the standoff between India and China, talks were taking place on a military and diplomatic level. But no success has been achieved so far," Singh told India's Asian News International.

He said talks had yielded "no meaningful outcome," and he dismissed any likely reduction in military deployment in the area.

Despite initial assurances from New Delhi that trade between the neighbors would not be impacted by the fresh border dispute, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has since banned Chinese apps including Weibo, WeChat and TikTok. It also began phasing out Huawei equipment from its 5G networks.

Chinese military websites have reported increased troop mobilization in Tibet, with the PLA ordering additional fighter jets and sending self-propelled howitzers to the high-altitude region.

Communist Party media outlets have accused New Delhi of allowing negative reporting and analysis on China in the country, describing it as a sign India was not ready for a rapprochement.

India Air Force Chiefs Addresses Troops
File photo: India's Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria. NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images