Two-lane ‘frontier highway’ will allow India to rapidly deploy troops against Chinese aggression

Indian army soldiers stand guard at the snow-cleared Srinagar-Leh highway on March 19, 2022 in Zojila. Photo used for representation purpose only. (Photo by Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

New Delhi has announced that it will construct a 'frontier highway' along more than 1,000 miles of its border with China to strengthen military resupply routes, after renewed clashes with Chinese soldiers.

According to The Telegraph, the new highway will stretch along the India-China border throughout the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and will be completed in five years.

The British outlet said that the proposed road will run as close as 12 miles from the Chinese-Indian border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), allowing Delhi to rapidly deploy troops and equipment to combat potential Chinese aggression.

Senior Indian Army figures told The Telegraph that People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers have regularly entered Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh over the last few months and Delhi is coming under increasing pressure from the Indian public to react.

On December 9, PLA troops, allegedly armed with clubs and stones, crossed the border into the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh and injured at least 20 Indian soldiers in hand-to-hand fighting before they withdrew.

The London-based newspaper said that the proposed road will also help prevent nomadic Chinese herdsmen from crossing into Indian territory and building settlements there. PLA troops are allegedly using the herdsmen as cover to cross the border and seize strategically important land.

Increasing tensions

Beijing has been rapidly scaling up infrastructure on its side of the LAC, building major roads, airstrips and heliports.

On Thursday, Delhi also successfully tested its Agni-V nuclear-capable strategic missile off the eastern coast of India, in what was seen as a message to Beijing. The weapon has a range of over 4,000 miles.

Beijing and Delhi agreed to an uneasy ceasefire in 1962 after fighting a short war which ended in humiliating defeat for India.

But Beijing still claims the region of Arunachal Pradesh in its entirety, arguing the Indian state had historically been part of South Tibet in China.

China has stepped up its aggression along the LAC in recent years. In June 2020, PLA troops killed at least 20 Indian soldiers during brutal hand-to-hand combat in the western Indian union territory of Ladakh, seizing over 20 square miles of Indian land in the process.

On Friday, one of India’s leading opposition politicians, Rahul Gandhi, warned that China was not just preparing for further incursions into Indian territory but for a full-out war. India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dismissed his claims.