A few defense and security stories you may have missed to start the week:
Chinese troops in another incursion into India? Indian sources, citing a report from Leh, note that Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops crossed the Line of Actual Control (LoAC), which demarcates the working border between India and China in Kashmir. Reports note that 11 PLA troops entered the Indian side of the LoAC and were “countered and engaged” by an Indo-Tibetan Border Police patrol. The incident occurred on March 8.
Over the weekend, reports noted that PLA troops were spotted along the India-Pakistan Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Though Indian reports suggest that “military sources” said the PLA will be building infrastructure on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control, this is highly unlikely and would be unprecedented.
In 2013, a several weeks-long incursion by PLA troops shook India-China bilateral ties. India and China signed an agreement to manage their border later that year. In 2014, during Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to India, PLA troops crossed over the LoAC as well, leading Xi to stress his leadership to the PLA on his return from New Delhi. Recently, India and China have held good-will exchanges and even joint exercises along their disputed border to reduce tensions.
Infrastructure moves on the eastern Sino-Indian border. Meanwhile, over on the eastern end of the disputed Sino-Indian border, both New Delhi and Beijing are making moves to bolster infrastructure. Beijing is continuing its bid to increase regional connectivity between Tibet and the rest of China by adding a new railway link with the area, which will run near the disputed border with Indian at Arunachal Pradesh, which India administers but China claims nearly in its entirety.
The Indian Air Force recently launched two upgraded Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) at Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh. “The ALGs will further enhance our existing operational capabilities in Eastern Air Command,” IAF Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command said during the inauguration of the ALGs. “The capacity build-up will enable operations by some of our new inductions including the C-130J Super Hercules,” he added.
Remember the OPM hack? It was worse than you thought. Over at Lawfare, Michael Adams revisits last year’s data breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in which the sensitive security clearance information for millions of U.S. federal government employees was stolen by foreign attackers. U.S. government officials have not officially named the culprit, but many in government believe that the attackers were based in China and may have had state backing. Adams outlines the reasons why the OPM breach was far worse than initially thought and how U.S. mitigation efforts have been counterproductive.
Japanese navy heads to Vietnam. Continuing its involvement in and around the South China Sea, Japanese warships are expected to make a port call at Vietnam’s strategic Cam Ranh Bay. Vietnam recently opened the port, which sits on the South China Sea, with President Truong Tan Sang noting that it “would play a part in stabilizing regional peace.” As Prashanth Parameswaran reports at The Diplomat, Japan will also send a trainer submarine to visit the Philippines’ Subic Bay.
Does North Korea really have a compact nuclear device? Last week, as I discussed here at The Diplomat, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un held a rare photo op with what appeared to be a mock-up of the country’s compact nuclear device. Over at 38 North, Jeffrey Lewis has a helpful look at what we should be taking away from that photo op. At Foreign Policy, Lewis distills recent developments in North Korea’s nuclear program for a U.S. audience, arguing that American policymakers are in denial about the ultimate goals of North Korea’s nuclear program. “If the propaganda doesn’t persuade us to start dealing with this problem, I shudder to think what Kim will do to get our attention next,” he concludes.