China's concerns about India have led it to replace ballistic missile systems with "more advanced" missiles. It is also considering "developing contingency plans to move airborne troops into the region (South Asia)", according to the annual assessment of China's military capabilities by the US Department of Defense.
The report, mandated by the US Congress, is titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China." The section Power Projection: Modernisation Beyond Taiwan, says "Beijing remains concerned with persistent disputes along China's shared border with India and the strategic ramifications of India's rising economic, political, and military power."
Indian military analysts said that China's ability to send airborne troops into South Asia was not an immediate concern.
Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies says, "China has carried out two military exercises in 2008 and 2009 to test an ability for rapid reaction force mobilisation within their country. This is probably for internal purposes. But once such a capability is developed, it can be aimed anywhere."
He noted that while China has airborne divisions, paratrooper capability was limited to a few battalions.
The report also noted that China was engaged in road development along the Sino-Indian border. While designed to facilitate economic development in western China, "improved roads would also support PLA (People's Liberation Army) border defence operations."
The report noted that Beijing had become assertive about Arunachal Pradesh, noting that "China tried to block a $2.9 billion loan to India from the Asian Development Bank, claiming part of the loan would have been used for water projects in Arunachal Pradesh…This represented the first time China sought to influence this dispute through a multilateral institution."
It also mentioned the report that a cyberspy network based in China had infiltrated computer networks of the Indian government, among others.
The report also stated that China had been developing "new platforms and capabilities" to extend its operational reach not only into its traditional domain of the East and South China Seas but "possibly to the Indian Ocean."
(With inputs from New Delhi)