January 30, 2010:
India has become alarmed at the extent to which China has improved its road network along their 4,000 kilometers border. Indian military planners calculate that, as a result of this network, Chinese military units can move 400 kilometers a day on hard surfaced roads, while Indian units can only move half as fast, while suffering more vehicle damage because of the many unpaved roads. Building more roads will take years, so India is building more airfields near the border, and stationing modern fighters there. India and China fought a short war, up in these mountains, in 1962. The Indians lost, and are determined not to lose if there is a rematch. But so far, the Indians have been falling farther behind China.
This situation developed because India, decades ago, decided that one way to deal with a Chinese invasion was to, well, make it difficult for them to move forward. This invasion fear came about when China resumed its control over Tibet in the late 1950s. From the end of the Chinese empire in 1912, to 1949, Tibet had been independent. But when the communists took over China in 1949, they began to reassert control over Tibet. This began slowly, but once all of Tibet was under Chinese control in 1959, this brought China into contact with India once more, and there was immediately a disagreement about the border. In 1914, the newly independent government of Tibet, worked out a border (the McMahon line) with the British (who controlled India.) China called this border agreement illegal, and wanted 90,000 square kilometers back. India refused, especially since thus would mean losing much of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. Putting more roads into places like Arunachal Pradesh (83,000 square kilometers and only a million people) will improve the economy, as well as military capabilities. This will be true of most of the border area. The one positive aspect of all this is that most of the border is mountains, the highest mountains in the world (the Himalayas). So no matter how much you prepare for war, no one is going very far, very fast, when you have to deal with these mountains.