China is 'enemy No. 1', border 'villages' not new, says India's CDS

China has only upgraded infrastructure along the border in India's northeast, and new villages have not come up, India's Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said on Thursday, saying pointedly that the country's main adversary was China, and not Pakistan

Nov 12, 2021
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India's Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat

China has only upgraded infrastructure along the border in India's northeast, and new villages have not come up, India's Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said on Thursday, saying pointedly that the country's main adversary was China, and not Pakistan.

Speaking at the Times Now Summit 2021, Gen Rawat, India's top military official, when asked who was India's main military adversary, replied: "Our northern neighbour China".

"We have too long focused on our western adversary. Our government has been saying a major threat lies with China," he said.

Asked about the recent reports of China building villages along the border with India, he said, "Chinese building villages along the Line of Actual Control is true, but Chinese are building villages possibly for locating their civilians or their military in future all along the Line of Actual Control, particularly after the recent faceoff that we had. But the recent controversy that erupted that Chinese have built in our territory is not true," General Rawat said.

"What the Chinese have done is they have got posts on their side of Line of Actual Control and we have got posts on our side. Wherever the Chinese have developed their posts we saw some old, dilapidated huts in the area where labour supporting the Chinese stayed. Some of those huts have been broken and modern huts are coming up. Maybe couple of villages have increased in size, what I would probably feel the Chinese soldiers they may also been planning to facilitate arrival of their families once in a while," he said.

"They are building this infrastructure, these kinds of so-called villages on their side of the LAC, they have not transgressed anywhere on our perception of LAC. We are very clear where LAC is. Chinese have a perception, in some areas we know, some areas we don't know," the CDS said.

"I wouldn't call it muscle flexing, they are reaching out to their border area, something that we should also be doing, We are also encouraging people to go and live in their villages close to the border".

The CDS' comments come on a day when the external affairs ministry said it has taken note of last week's Pentagon report on China having built a large 100-home civilian village inside the disputed territory on the boundary with India, and added that New Delhi has neither accepted such illegal occupation of its territory nor has it accepted the unjustified Chinese claims.

Talking about disengagement and de escalation in the area, he said disengagement has happened in almost all areas, and said there is a moratorium on patrolling but it will be resumed. He said the effort is now to go back to the original position to avoid any proximity situation.

"There is a stalemate because we want both sides to go back and want some assurance that these positions would not be reoccupied. This kind of mutual suspicion is on both sides," he said.