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US to hold joint war games with India near Chinese border

A US soldier aims his assault rifle while participating in the Yudh Abhyas 2012 military exercise in Rajasthan, India. (Photo by AFP)

US and Indian military forces will hold joint war games in the Himalayan mountains in October, less than 100 kilometers from India’s disputed border with China, a report says.

The military drills will be waged in mid-October near the Indian town of Auli in the country’s northern state of Uttarakhand, CNN reported on Saturday citing an Indian army officer, noting that the town sits on the southern slopes of the Himalayas and that the war games will focus on warfare at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

The location of the drills was announced amid intensifying tensions between the US and China over the self-ruled island territory of Taiwan while India and China have also been engaged in clashes along their mountainous borders.

According to the report, Auli is also situated nearly 100 kilometers from the Line of Actual Control, a loosely-defined border that divides India and China. While both sides claim territory on the other side of the line, it has served as the de-facto border between the two countries since the end of the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

Clashes also broke out along this line in 2020 after China objected to India’s construction of a road in its claimed territory. India claimed that it lost 20 soldiers, while China reported four casualties.

The development comes as ties between Washington and Beijing have also deteriorated significantly in the wake of a visit to Chinese Taipei earlier in the week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Beijing reacted strongly to the deliberately provocative visit by launching large-scale military drills near Taiwan, cutting imports from island territory, sanctioning Pelosi and her family, and severing diplomatic ties with Washington in a number of key areas.

With China’s ongoing military exercises continuing into the weekend, White House national security spokesman John Kirby declared on Thursday that the US would conduct “air and maritime transits” through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks, while the USS Ronald Reagan Aircraft Carrier Strike Group will remain stationed in the region.

China ignores phone calls by US Defense Sec.

Meanwhile, as both sides are flexing their military muscle, the US-based Politico news outlet reported on Friday that Chinese defense officials are ignoring phone calls from their US counterparts.

Citing people with knowledge of the attempts, the report said top Chinese military officials “have not returned multiple calls from their American counterparts this week” as a crisis erupted in the Pacific over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Beijing’s ghosting of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley comes as China continues launching missiles and positioning warships and aircraft in unprecedented military drills around Taiwan, it added, noting that US officials and experts view China’s silence as “a shortsighted and reckless move that increases the risk of escalation in an already tense situation.”

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