Assessments

India Tries to Catch Up in a Road Race With China

Aug 21, 2017 | 09:00 GMT
Workers in Tibet work to develop a road near Lhasa. China's drive for infrastructure improvements in the region has given it an advantage over India in a dispute over their disputed border.

Construction workers build a road near Lhasa, Tibet in 2006. Infrastructure improvements in the area have given China a strategic advantage in its confrontation with India over the Doklam Plateau border region.

(PAULA BRONSTEIN/Getty Images)

Infrastructure is easy to overlook when examining a country's defensive capabilities. Compared with artillery, troops and armored vehicles, the roads and rail lines that enable their movement seem less exciting. But in the singularly austere environment of the Doklam Plateau along the border between China and India -- known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) -- infrastructure is critical to determining the balance of power. Bridges, tunnels and road networks could all play a decisive role in a skirmish or larger conflict between China and India over the 4,057-kilometer (2,521-mile) LAC. And for New Delhi, that may mean a steep battle ahead should its standoff with Beijing give way to war....

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