China apprehends that India will deploy the 36 nuclear-capable Rafale fighter jets to be acquired from France in the border regions of China and Pakistan to enhance its deterrence capability, a media report here said.
India will deploy the new French-made fighters in the disputed areas bordering Pakistan and China, state-run Global Times reported quoting Shenzhen Television.
A recent report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said India is the largest arms importer in the world, the newspaper said.
Increased arms imports into the Asian region are primarily due to the unstable security environment in the Middle East and concerns from China's neighbours over its rise.
The Rafale fighters in flyaway condition carry tactical nuclear warheads, and this means India's nuclear deterrence capability will be greatly improved, Shenzhen Television reported.
"India also wants to purchase the Rafale technology from Dassault but France refused, meaning France has no intention to help India promote its military industrial system," Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies said.
While India is rapidly expanding its military capabilities spending an estimated $100 billion on new defence systems, many other countries with an advanced military industry are also competing for India's market, such as Russia, the US and Israel, the daily quoted SIPRI report as saying.
Zhao said before this deal with France, India was also considering the US-made F-16s.
"India picked French-made jet fighters+ because they are cheaper and have a nuclear deterrence capability," he said.
SIPRI's list of the top 10 arms importers for 2011-2015 has nine Asian or Asia-Pacific countries.
Many of China's neighbours are also on the list of top 10 importers, such as Vietnam, South Korea and India, he said.
"Due to the South China Sea dispute and the increasing power of the Chinese navy, countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are very concerned, but the US is not helping China solve the problem peacefully," said Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert.
"The US government and media are hyping the 'China Threat Theory,' trying to convince countries in Asia that China is on the offensive," he said.