Electronic Weapons: Border Vidcams In The Himalayas

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June 19, 2018: In early 2018 China began using wirelessly networked security cameras along disputed (or troublesome) parts of the LAC (Line of Actual Control) that serves as the border between China and India. Both nations have been increasing air patrols over the remote border areas but the weather often makes that impractical. China has announced that it has dedicated some multi-sensor space satellites to monitor these areas and the sensors in those satellites are becoming more powerful each decade and capable of finding large groups of people moving about, but not smaller groups. This is where the portable networked vidcams (and other sensors) come in.

China has also announced the introduction of new portable shelters for personnel, equipment and command centers for use in these remote areas. The shelters are built to be quickly assembled and disassembled and withstand the harsh weather. Thus the Chinese are making it clear that they can put very intense security on any part of their border with India. The camera systems, shelters and troops can be brought in via helicopter but usually, trucks are used, operating on newly built roads. India is the one that needs this capability more because India has always been on the defense. These new Chinese tools are another way of intimidating the Indians and it is working.

Most of the disputed areas are in northeast India (Arunachal Pradesh, or “southern Tibet” to the Chinese) and the northwest (the Ladakh region near the Pakistan border). Most of the disputed borders are in high-altitude (over 3,000 meters) thinly populated or unpopulated areas. Much of these remote border areas are not patrolled on a regular basis because it would require too much manpower operating in very hostile conditions. Sustaining troops in those areas is very expensive and dangerous for the troops. The danger is not people but the climate and geography. There are few roads, which is why the Chinese effort to build more roads to these remote areas was seen as an aggressive act by India.

Fortunately for India, much of the Tibet border is occupied by the small nations of Nepal and Bhutan. These two states have well defined and generally agreed on borders with China and India. Both of those nations have borders with China that are virtually impassable on foot at least some of the year (especially in Winter). But more than a third of the China-India border is passable on foot or with pack animals or even vehicles designed for off-road use. While there is some smuggling, or people trying to sneak out or into China the most frequent illegal movements are by Chinese troops seeking to assert control over contested territory.

The LAC is also known as the MacCartney-MacDonald Line. This is the unofficial border between India and China and China has become increasingly aggressive in asserting its claims. The LAC is 4,057 kilometers long and is mostly Tibet on the Chinese side. China claims a lot of territory that is now considered part of India because when Tibet was independent in the early 20th century, Tibet agreed to the MacCartney-MacDonald Line. When China reconquered Tibet in the 1950s, that border agreement was renounced as “unfair”. China has never backed away from its claims on Indian territory and its violation of the LAC is a major crisis for India (which has a defense budget one third that of China’s). Since 2000 China has, for all practical purposes, taken control of about a thousand square kilometers of territory on the Indian side of the border of the LAC.

 


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