China and India: the great game's new players

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by ajtr, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    China and India: the great game's new players

    China's urge to break from the confines of its history is driving it to encroach on Himalayan redoubts and directly challenge India

    Two "great games" currently roil South Asia. In the west, Afghanistan – and what Henry Kissinger calls "Islamist jihadists" – challenges the international order. In the east, a large number of Chinese troops have entered Pakistani-held territory high in the mountain fastness of the Kashmir Karakorams, in the picturesque Gilgit-Baltistan region, not far from the glacial battlefield of Siachen, where India and Pakistan confront each other.

    Senge Hasan Sering, from Skardu, the director of the Gilgit-Baltistan National Congress, believes that the number of Chinese People's Liberation Army troops now present "could be over 11,000", as there are also additional "PLA construction corps personnel" deployed. It is here that China is currently investing "billions of dollars in mega projects like expressways, tunnels, and oil and gas pipelines". This, Sering says, is "surely not on account of any overflowing altruism".

    The Chinese say that some of their troops are present in Pakistan because of another sort of "overflowing", of which there has been a great deal in this part of Kashmir and in the rest of Pakistan. This year's heavy monsoon rains have wrought havoc in the area, severing road connections, washing away bridges and rendering over half a million people homeless in these mountains – without "dwellings, farmlands, moveable assets" or even "graveyards". This is over and above the many thousands in the Hunza region, who in January lost everything on account of a cloudburst that wiped out several villages and created a highly unstable artificial lake.

    Rudyard Kipling's old "great game" now has new contestants. Instead of an expansionist Russian empire confronting imperial Britain, it is now a China hungry for land, water and raw materials that is flexing its muscles, encroaching on Himalayan redoubts and directly challenging India.

    China's incursion reaffirms the ancient strategic axiom that "geography is the real determinant of history" – and, as a result, of foreign and security policy, too. Robert Kaplan wisely observes that "Indian geography is the story of invasions from a northwesterly direction" and "India's strategic challenges still inhere in this fact" – which is why Afghanistan, to Indian eyes, is linked to the subcontinent's history, and thus our future.

    It is also why there exists an "organic connection of India to Central Asia", the key to that link lying in the Himalayas, which is where the India-China rivalry is currently focused. Fortunately, at least for the present, this rivalry is far less emotional than India-Pakistan relations, having not been born of historical grievances.

    The Chinese urge is to break from the confines of their country's history, and thus China's own geography. An assertive and relatively stable China, it seems, must expand, lest pent-up internal pressures tear it apart. A strong and stable India, on the other hand, will always be a status quo power.

    It is against this backdrop that the latest contest between India and China must be assessed. Several thousand PLA troops are indisputably stationed in the Khunjerab Pass on the Xinjiang border to protect the Karakoram highway, which PLA soldiers are now repairing in several places. The road, after all, is a vital link in China's quest for direct access to the Arabian Sea. But this is also Indian territory, wherein lies the rub, for the region is now victim to a creeping China acquisitiveness, with Pakistan acquiescing as a willing accomplice.

    Despite India's historically established territorial claims to the region, China terms the area "disputed" – a description it has now begun to extend to the whole of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This sort of verbal trickery to hide a strategic objective has been seen before. Indeed, some years back, a planned visit to Indian Ladakh by the PLA's commander of the Lanzhou Military Region was cancelled on the grounds that Pakistan had protested – implying that Pakistan had a legitimate claim to the area.

    It would be a mistake to presume that the vast expansion of trade between India and China, currently worth more than $60bn (£38bn) annually (with China now India's largest trading partner), must lead to improved bilateral relations. Even while trade expands, China is attempting to confine India within greatly foreshortened land and sea borders through its so-called "string of pearls policy".

    This effort to encircle India by sea with strategically positioned naval stations from Hainan in the east to Gwadar in the west, and on land by promoting bogus Pakistani claims that undermine India's territorial integrity, takes the "great game" to a new and more dangerous level. Indeed, the pincer of Afghanistan and Gilgit/Baltistan poses the gravest challenge to India's statecraft since independence.

    More than that, the struggle now underway at the top of the world may well determine whether this will be an "Asian century" or a "Chinese century".
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    China Unveils "The Kashmir Card"

    By: Mohan Malik

    Even as the Chinese navy signals its intent to enforce sea denial in the "first island chain" in the East (comprised of the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea of the Pacific Ocean), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is reportedly on the move along China's southwest frontier in Pakistani-held Kashmir. In late August, media accounts reported the presence of thousands of Chinese troops in the strategic northern areas (renamed Gilgit-Baltistan in 2009 by Pakistan) of Pakistani-held Kashmir bordering Xinjiang province. A Western report suggested that Islamabad had ceded control of the area to Beijing, prompting denials from both capitals (New York Times, August 26). Chinese Foreign Office spokesperson Jiang Yu denied the story, saying the troops are there to help Pakistan with flood relief work" (China Daily, September 2). Nonetheless, credible sources confirm the presence of the PLA’s logistics and engineering corps to provide flood relief and to build large infrastructure projects worth $20 billion (railways, dams, pipelines and extension of the Karakoram Highway) to assure unfettered Chinese access to the oil-rich Gulf through the Pakistani port of Gwadar. As China’s external energy dependency has deepened in the past decade, so has its sense of insecurity and urgency.

    "The Kashmir Card"

    While China and India have long sparred over the Dalai Lama and Tibet’s status, border incursions and China’s growing footprint in southern Asia, a perceptible shift in the Chinese stance on Kashmir has now emerged as a new source of interstate friction. Throughout the 1990s, a desire for stability on its southwestern flank and fears of an Indian-Pakistani nuclear arms race caused Beijing to take a more evenhanded approach to Kashmir, while still favoring Islamabad.

    Yet, in a major policy departure since 2006, Beijing has been voicing open support to Pakistan and the Kashmiri separatists through its opposition to the UN Security Council ban on the jihadi organizations targeting India, economic assistance for infrastructure projects in northern Kashmir, and the issuance of separate visas by Chinese embassies to Indian citizens of Kashmiri origins [1].

    Amidst the current unrest in the valley, Beijing has also invited Kashmiri separatist leaders for talks and offered itself as a mediator, ostensibly in a tit-for-tat for India’s refuge to the Dalai Lama [2]. Yet, China is actually the third party to the dispute in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). While India holds about 45 percent and Pakistan controls 35 percent, China occupies about 20 percent of J&K territory (including Aksai Chin and the Sakshgam Valley ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963). The denial of a visa in July 2010 to Indian Army’s Northern Command General B. S. Jaswal who was to lead the 4th bilateral defense dialogue in Beijing because he commanded "a disputed area, Jammu and Kashmir," is said to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Consequently, a new chill has descended on Sino-Indian relations. India retaliated by suspending defense exchanges with China and lodging a formal protest. New Delhi sees these moves as part of a new Chinese strategy with respect to Kashmir that seeks to nix its global ambitions and entangle India to prevent it from playing a role beyond the region. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Indian media, "Beijing could be tempted to use India’s ‘soft underbelly’, Kashmir, and Pakistan ‘to keep India in low-level equilibrium'" (Times of India, Sep 7).

    Resurrecting old issues and manufacturing new disputes to throw the other side off balance and enhance negotiating leverage is an old negotiating tactic in Chinese statecraft. The downturn in Sino-Indian ties since the mid-2000s may be partly attributed to the weakening of China’s "Pakistan card" against India, necessitating the exercise of direct pressure against the latter. Beijing fears that an unrestrained Indian power would eventually threaten China’s security along its southwestern frontiers. One Chinese analyst maintains, "Beijing would not abandon its ‘Kashmir card’. The Kashmir issue will remain active as long as China worries about its southern borders" (Asia Times online, December 4, 2009). China and Pakistan have been allies since the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict. This enduring alliance was formalized with the conclusion of the China-Pakistan "Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation and Good Neighborly Relations" in April 2005.

    Likewise, the sharper focus on Tawang is part of a shriller claim over Arunachal Pradesh in the east, which Beijing now calls "South Tibet" (a new Chinese term for Arunachal Pradesh since 2005), ostensibly to extend its claim over the territories [3]. It is worth noting that prior to 2005, there was no reference to "Southern Tibet" in China’s official media or any talk of the "unfinished business of the 1962 War." Nor did the Chinese government or official media ever claim that the PLA’s "peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1950 was partial and incomplete" or that "a part of Tibet was yet to be liberated." Taking a cue from the Pakistanis, who have long described Kashmir as the "unfinished business of the 1947 partition," Chinese strategists now call Arunachal Pradesh, or more specifically, Tawang, the "unfinished business of the 1962 War" (Global Times, November 9, 2009). China also sought to internationalize its bilateral territorial dispute with India by opposing an Asian Development Bank loan in 2009, part of which was earmarked for a watershed project in Arunachal Pradesh [4].

    Chinese strategic writings indicate that as China becomes more economically and militarily powerful, Beijing is devising new stratagems to keep its southern rival in check. Some Chinese economists calculate that within a decade or so India could come close to "spoiling Beijing’s party of the century" by outpacing China in economic growth (Bloomberg News, Aug 15). From Beijing’s perspective, India’s rise as an economic and military power would prolong American hegemony in Asia, and thereby hinder the establishment of a post-American Sino-centric hierarchical regional order in the Asia-Pacific.

    The last decade has, therefore, seen the Chinese military bolstering its strength all along the disputed borders from Kashmir to Burma (aka Myanmar). Beijing also prefers a powerful and well-armed Pakistani military, as that helps it mount pressure, by proxy, on India. China continues to shower its "all-weather" friend with military and civilian assistance from ballistic missiles to JF-17 fighter aircraft, from nuclear power plants to infrastructure. Having "fathered" Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, China is now set to "grandfather" Pakistan’s civilian nuclear energy program as well (The Telegraph, June 21; The Diplomat, June 17; Nuclear Energy Brief, April 27). Chinese and Pakistani strategists gloat over how Beijing is building naval bases around India that will enhance Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean [5]. However, the best-laid plans might come unstuck if Pakistan fails to pacify Balochistan Province, where Gwadar is located. The growing Balochi independence movement, which has repeatedly targeted Chinese engineers since 2004, makes the Chinese nervous about implementing their proposals for investment in the construction of a petrochemical complex, a pipeline and a railway line.

    Mutual suspicions, geopolitical tensions, and a zero-sum mentality add to a very competitive dynamic in the China-Pakistan-India triangular relationship. Beijing and Islamabad are concerned over the growing talk in Washington’s policy circles of India as emerging as a counterweight to China on the one hand and the fragile, radical Islamic states of Southwest Asia on the other, viewing a potential U.S.-Indian alignment with horror. The U.S. military bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and India’s growing footprint in Afghanistan cause alarm in Beijing and Islamabad. Some Chinese strategists worry about the destabilizing consequences of a prolonged U.S. military presence in "Af-Pak" on the future of Sino-Pakistan ties, as well as on Pakistan’s domestic stability. While the remarkable upturn in Indian-American security ties has exacerbated the security dilemma, the post-9/11 U.S. military presence in Pakistan has sharpened the divide within the Pakistani military into pro-West and pro-Beijing factions [6].

    A geopolitical crisis of Himalayan proportions may well be in the making from Afghanistan to Burma. The Chinese state-run media have begun to attack India for supposedly hegemonic designs, with some hinting at the merits of a confrontation [7]. Beijing perceives India as the weakest link in an evolving anti-China coalition of maritime powers (the U.S.-Japan-Vietnam-Australia-India) inimical to China’s growth. The real irony is that China and India could stumble into another war in the future for exactly the same reasons that led them to a border war half-a-century ago in 1962.

    New railroad infrastructure projects in Pakistani-held Kashmir and Tibet are aimed at bolstering China’s military strength and intervention options against India in the event of another war between the sub-continental rivals or between China and India. Most war-gaming exercises on the next India-Pakistan war end either in a nuclear exchange or in a Chinese military intervention to prevent the collapse of Beijing’s "all-weather ally" in Asia. Although the probability of an all-out conflict seems low, the China-Pakistan duo and India will employ strategic maneuvers to checkmate each other from gaining advantage or expanding spheres of influence (The Telegraph, Sep 14). According to one Chinese analyst, Dai Bing: "While a hot war is out of the question, a cold war between the two countries is increasingly likely" (, February 8).

    Beijing’s nemesis: Islam and Buddhism

    Having said that, Beijing’s new Kashmir activism goes beyond the strategic imperative to contain India. China’s relationship with Pakistan is also aimed at countering the separatist threats in its western Muslim-majority Xinjiang province. Much like Tibetan Buddhism, Beijing views radical Islam as a strategic threat to China’s national integrity, particularly in Xinjiang (formerly East Turkestan), where the East Turkestan Islamic Movement is fighting for an independent homeland for several decades. Frequent disturbances and protests in Xinjiang and Tibet make the issue more acute insofar as they show how vulnerable the Chinese hold is over its western region.

    The spillover effects of rabid Talibanization of Pakistani society worry the Chinese (The Australian, July 25). The past few years have seen Chinese civilians working in Pakistan kidnapped and killed by Islamic militants, partly in retaliation against Beijing’s "strike hard" campaigns against Uyghur Muslims and partly in protest against Beijing’s resource extraction and infrastructure development projects in Pakistan’s Wild West. Beijing has repeatedly impressed on Islamabad the importance of tightening control over its porous border with China (Pak Tribune, July 18). Should Islamabad fail to stem the radicalization and training of Uyghur separatists on its territory, it risks undermining the strategic relationship with China. Significantly, the Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Kashmir is where the predominantly Sunni Pakistan Army is faced with a revolt from the local Shiite Muslims.

    For its part, Pakistan has always been extraordinarily sensitive to Chinese interests. Islamabad essentially "carries the water" for China in the Islamic world. Pakistan played a key role in selling China’s point of view on the July 2009 riots in Xinjiang, which resulted in 183 deaths. Pakistan has ensured that the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) does not pass any resolution condemning China’s "strike hard" campaigns (including curbs on the observance of Ramadan) against its Uyghur Muslim minority. In return, China has repeatedly used its UN Security Council seat to ensure that no harm comes to Pakistan for sheltering anti-Indian terrorist groups (Pak Tribune, July 8; The American Interest, May-June 2010). Further, Islamabad offers unequivocal support for Beijing’s position on every single issue in international forums, from Tibet and Taiwan to trade and the U.N. Security Council reforms.

    Tightening embrace

    A high degree of mistrust and conflicting relations between India and its smaller South Asian neighbors provide Beijing with enormous strategic leverage vis-à-vis its southern rival. China’s strategic leverage thus prevents India from achieving a peaceful periphery via cross-border economic, resource and transportation linkages vital for optimal economic growth. Interestingly, Chinese strategic writings reveal that Pakistan and Burma have now acquired the same place in China’s grand strategy in the 21st century that was earlier occupied by Xinjiang (meaning "New Territory") and Xizang (meaning "Western treasure house," that is, Tibet) in the 20th century [8]. Stated simply, following the integration of outlying provinces of Xinjiang and Xizang (Tibet) into China, Pakistan is now being perceived as China’s new "Xinjiang" (new territory) and Burma as China’s new "Xizang" (treasure house) in economic, military and strategic terms. Beijing’s privileged access to markets, resources and bases of South Asian countries has the additional benefit of making a point on the limits of Indian power.


    Both enmity and amity between India and Pakistan have significant implications for China’s grand strategy. A hostile stance toward India reassures the Pakistani establishment of China’s unstinted support in Islamabad’s domestic and external struggles. It also throws a spanner in the works of any U.S.-facilitated India-Pakistan accommodation over the Kashmir imbroglio. In the triangular power balance game, the Sino-Pakistan military alliance (in particular, the nuclear and missile nexus) is aimed at ensuring that the South Asian military balance-of-power remains pro-China. Nurturing Pakistani military’s fears of Indian dominance helps Beijing keep Islamabad within its orbit.

    However, Pakistan today is facing a "perfect storm" of crises, with its U.S.-backed fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban faltering and the country lurching toward bankruptcy. The linchpin of Beijing’s South Asia strategy is potentially a "wild card" because Pakistan’s possible futures cover a wide spectrum: from the emergence of a moderate, democratic state to a radical Islamic republic to "Lebanonization." If it does not implode or degenerate into another Iran or Afghanistan (a radical Islamic and/or a failed state), and gets its house in order, Pakistan could emerge as a pivotal player in the U.S.-Chinese-Indian triangular relationship. Despite Beijing’s disenchantment with the current state of its "time-tested ally," China remains committed to supporting Pakistan. If anything, Pakistan’s transformation from being an ally to a battleground in the U.S.-led War on Terror has forced Islamabad into an ever-tighter embrace of China.
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    The New Cold War?

    n an earlier post Is China keeping India Busy SAI had articulated a poignant observation in Sino India equation emerging in the region. The prognosis was that China was weary of a wider IndoUS encirclement and had hence chosen to be more assertive in the region and West Pacific. To Quote regional dynamics from the post:

    A recent issue of The Economist quotes Brajesh Mishra, former Indian national security advisor: Its (China’s) main agenda is to keep India preoccupied with events in South Asia so it is constrained from playing a more important role in Asian and global affairs’. But with or without China, India does embroil herself with her South Asian neighbours. Recent history indicates disputes with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

    A greater game is unfolding through a China Pakistan ploy to destabilise India as per K Subrahmanyam. “Both countries are interested in fragmenting India. Both have tried to encourage extremist and secessionist groups within the country in J&K, the North-east and the Maoist areas. It is therefore natural for China and Pakistan to attempt to ensure that US President Barack Obama‘s forthcoming visit to India does not take the Indo-US relationship further forward”. China wants to duplicate the Indo-US nuclear deal by offering two more reactors to Pakistan in defiance of the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines.
    In another post in the same time line, Engaging America, we had brought in the US interests and actions in the Asia Pacific region. Yes the Chinese are no where near being a Blue Ocean Naval power but they soon will be and there is a cause for concern in the US strategic circles. A recap:

    American interests in the ASEAN are of significant importance to the west in countering the now assertive Chinese signature in the region.

    When viewed in context with the SIPRI Papers No15 and 26 on China and South Asian dynamics, both our posts ring in the official proclamation of a cold war in the Asia Pacific. USA wants to thin down Chinese influence for which it needs India’s support. The theory of String of Pearls may well be a part of this public diplomacy initiative to let India and China keep each other engaged. Ravaged by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, USA wants a collaborative regime to counter Chinese influence in Asia Pacific through its “friends”. India fits the bill.
    China’s newfound assertiveness may well be a part of the growing influence of the PLA and PLAN in foreign policy affairs of China, as per the SIPRI paper. The report has argued that despite proclaiming the policy of “Peaceful Rise”, the Chinese military is getting more vocal in its quest to engage the region and the globe in protecting its core interests. The shooting down of the communication satellite, ships in Somalian waters, furore over US military aid to Taiwan the live fire exercise in the South China Sea to warn America and the recently resolved standoff with Japan are all pointing towards growing influence of the CMC in Chinese foreign policy. Add to this the tactical needling of India and the picture is complete.
    While China can not match the Americans militarily, it will in another two decades, if its modernisation under conditions of Informationalisation continues as planned. Moreover Chinese bellicosity in world affairs, though against SuntZu’s teachings are indicative of PLA seeking greater role in governance. With China’s CNP on an upswing, this had to be the unnatural fallout.
    Vinod Sood has another interpretation. Asper him, the Chinese discourse till late was, “Tao guang yang hui” variously translated but essentially means “hide brightness, nourish obscurity”. The exhortation was to keep a low profile when in an adverse situation and wait for a suitable opportunity to reverse fortunes. The other advice was “yield on small issues with the long term in mind.” All this has begun to change as China’s influence began to rise and the US was perceived to be in decline. There is an exuberance and global self-confidence accompanied by a global outreach that was not visible earlier.
    To this end USA has shown keen interest to bolster its relations with the ASEAN countries with an eye on a counter to China. The recent article, A Come Back in the Pacific in NY Times brings out that while ASEAN makes few headlines and wins no votes but the Obama administration is tallying up significant gains in its relationships in East Asia. There are couched inference that this century is supposed to be the Pacific century. So far the United States has focused its military might on the Middle East but the approaching summit meetings with Asia’s powers will show that Washington is reawakening to this region’s importance.
    The Chinese disputes in the region buttress US interests as per a report in the NY Times. This analysis brings to fore the emerging global dimensions being brought to fore by the regional dynamics. It argues that as China Asserts Chinese sovereignty over borderlands in contention — everywhere from Tibet to Taiwan to the South China Sea — which has long been the top priority for Chinese nationalists In fact it is an obsession that overrides all other concerns. But this complicates China’s attempts to present the country’s rise as a boon for the whole region and creates wedges between China and its neighbors.
    This works to America’s interests in weaning China’s neighbours away from Chinese influence and in turn increase its influence. India, apart from ASEAN, forms an important element in this equation.
    As per conclusions of SIPRI Paper 26, as China’s global reach has expanded, so has the range of issues debated as potential core interests. The wording of China’s foreign policy objectives, summed up as a pursuit of a ‘harmonious world’, are often so lacking in specificity that it is possible to justify any sort of action.This assumes added ambivalence to the foreign policy when all stake holders defining the foreign policy, especially the PLA are keen to keep America at bay, regionally. This explains a series of belligerent actions in the neighbourhood which run counter to the ancient Chinese mantra of a peaceful rise.
    Shyam Saran opines that the ASEAN search for an appropriate regional security architecture in which the regional association retains its pivotal role, has led to the establishment of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus Eight (ADMM+8) forum, the first meeting of which will be convened in Hanoi in October this year. This forum will have ASEAN plus the six members of the East Asia Summit — China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand — and now the US and Russia as key stakeholders. Interestingly enough, there is a parallel move to expand the East Asia Summit to include the US and Russia as well. At a subsequent Asia-Pacific Round Table in Kuala Lumpur, there was much talk about the need to have an “open, inclusive and multi-layered” economic and security architecture in the region. India too has an important role to play here.
    Notwithstanding this, the new cold war has truly begun and it is for nations and regions to form quite and not so quite alliances with or against China. If 21st Century is to be the century of Asia then the only way to keep Asia dividied is to keep it’s two super powers on either side of the fence.
    India needs to follow the path of Pragmatic realism and charter a deliberate and long thought out path towards it’s rightful destiny – that path does not envision conflicts with neighbours and allies – at least not for now
  5. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

    May 10, 2010
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    Bihar, BanGalore , India

    Very Informative and neutral observation .
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Of India, America and a shared worldview

    In a new world, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must think anew the India-US strategic partnership
    K Subrahmanyam / September 26, 2010, 0:59 IST

    Usually, when foreign leaders visit India or Indian leaders visit foreign countries, there are joint statements issued at the end of the summit which contain mostly platitudinous formulations about their shared values and worldviews. It has become a customary ritual to reserve some time for one-on-one exchanges between the leaders, followed by a formal meeting of the two delegations. Very rarely have Indian leaders after Jawaharlal Nehru discussed in detail with their foreign interlocutors their worldview and their views of the world.

    This is understandable, as India was a poor developing nation whose words did not carry much weight. Today the situation is different. India has a trillion dollar economy that is growing by the day. It is expected to become the third largest economy in the world in the next two decades. By all forecasts India is also likely to have the world’s largest population, exceeding China’s, and a youth bulge even as China begins to age.

    Forecasters assume India’s growth rate will overtake China’s in the years to come. No doubt it will take a long time for India to close the gap between itself and China. That is not likely for several decades to come, perhaps not in the 21st century. The US will continue to be the pre-eminent world power but with China narrowing the gap between itself and the US.
    The value system of the international order from the third decade of this century will be largely determined by the interaction among these three nations. Of the three big world powers, India and the US are pluralistic, secular democracies while China is an overwhelmingly Han-dominated authoritarian system aiming at harmonising the nation at the expense of individual human rights.

    Yet another ideology attempting to enhance its dominance is sectarian Islamic extremism, which also asserts that the present and future of human society has already been determined once and for all by religion-based laws prescribed more than a millennium ago and the values of democracy and human rights as they have evolved in the modern world are unacceptable.

    Pakistan claims to be based on a ‘two-nation theory’ that is based on the idea that Muslims cannot coexist peacefully and prosperously in a pluralistic and secular society. Pakistan is the epicentre of a number of extremist groups practising terrorism and seeking to extend their monotheistic ideology. There is a considerable body of evidence to prove that the Pakistani Army has been patronising such groups, claiming to be the guardians of Pakistan’s non-plural, non-secular ideology.

    China has proliferated nuclear weapons and missiles to Pakistan, enabling it to pursue terrorism as state policy behind the protective shield of nuclear deterrence. China appears to be using Pakistan as its springboard to extend its influence into West Asia in its drive to emerge as Asia’s hegemonic power by reducing the US influence in that region, that of Russia in Central Asia and of India in South Asia.

    The European Union, Russia, Japan, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Australia, besides India and the US, are pluralistic, secular states. As Chinese power grows and religious extremism in the Islamic world increasingly asserts itself, the ideology of authoritarianism, based on harmony derived from either religion or ethnicity, will pose a challenge to the values of pluralism and secularism.

    Both India and the US are facing these challenges and have a mutuality of security and ideological interests in resisting these challenges. This will have to be the basis of a forward-looking India-US strategic partnership.

    India and the US have never before built such a partnership based on shared values. India has largely been isolationist under the rubric of non-alignment, while the US has only dealt with allies who seek its security support or guarantee.

    While the values of pluralism, secularism and democracy on the one side, and authoritarianism based on one-party dictatorship or religious diktat on the other will contend for influence in the 21st century, their ideological struggle is not likely to be a military one. Though military power and pressures will be important factors in the ongoing contest of civilisations and cultures, the more crucial factors will be technology, economic power and the organisational and managerial skills required to govern plural, secular and diverse nations.

    Since China has four times the population of the US, the latter will need a partner of comparable population size to maintain its lead over China in technology and financial and entrepreneurial skills. This is where the US-India partnership becomes indispensable to both sides.

    Both countries are committed to nurturing and sustaining the values of pluralism and secularism and building a 21st century world order based on these values. This ideology-based partnership should not be confused with the Cold War of the past. There can be no containment policy in today’s globalised and multi-polar world. The sides practising the two ideologies will compete even while interacting with each other.

    From various speeches of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh it can be deduced that he shares the worldview that has been defined here. As India’s first Sikh prime minister he should value Indian pluralism and secularism. One could safely hazard a guess that President Barack Obama, born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother, who spent his childhood in a secular Islamic country like Indonesia, and professing the faith of his mother, is also an icon of pluralism and secularism.

    The idea of an India-US strategic partnership as it has developed in the past decade has been defined mainly in transactional terms. That is, what does one get and give? The US tends to look at it as a form of alliance. Indians tend to look at it as another form of the Indo-Soviet relationship, where the two countries shared a mutual security relationship but no shared values and ideology.

    At the forthcoming November summit meeting between Singh and Obama, the two leaders should make explicit the nature of this strategic partnership and the need to fit in all transactions including those of defence, high technology, joint R&D, combined efforts for job creation benefiting both countries and immigration, within this new framework of a national partnership.

    This will no doubt be a new way of looking at the relationship, but the ideological competition of the 21st century is also new. A new world calls for a new way of thinking about it.
  7. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    The Next Nuclear Arms Race

    China and India are raising the stakes by modernizing and deploying more forces along their shared border.


    India and Pakistan are the two countries most likely to engage in nuclear war, or so goes the common wisdom. Yet if recent events are any indication, the world's most vigorous nuclear competition may well erupt between Asia's two giants: India and China.

    Both countries already house significant and growing arsenals. China is estimated to have approximately 450 warheads; India, roughly 100. Though intensifying as of late, Sino-Indian nuclear competition has a long history: India's pursuit of a weapons program in the 1960s was triggered in part by China's initial nuclear tests, and the two have eyed one another's arsenals with mounting concern ever since. The competition intensified in 2007, when China began to upgrade missile facilities near Tibet, placing targets in northern India within range of its forces.

    Yet the stakes have been raised yet again in recent months. Indian defense minister A.K. Antony announced last month that the military will soon incorporate into its arsenal a new intermediate-range missile, the Agni-III, which is capable of reaching all of China's major cities. Delhi is also reportedly considering redeploying survivable, medium-range Agni-IIs to its northeastern border. And just last month, India shifted a squadron of Su-30MKI fighters to a base just 150 kilometers from the disputed Sino-Indian border. An Indian Air Force official told Defense News these nuclear-armed planes could operate deep within China with midflight refueling.

    For its part, China continues to enhance the quality, quantity and delivery systems of its nuclear forces. The Pentagon reported last month that the People's Liberation Army has replaced older, vulnerable ballistic missiles deployed in Western China with modern, survivable ones; this transition has taken place over the last four years. China's Hainan Island naval base houses new, nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines and affords those boats easy access to the Indian Ocean. China's military is also developing a new, longer range submarine-launched ballistic missile which will allow its subs to strike targets throughout India from the secure confines of the South China Sea.

    No single event has stoked this rise in tensions. China, already concerned about India's growing strength and its desire to play a greater role in Asia, is even less enthused about the burgeoning strategic partnership between Delhi and Washington. While Beijing has learned to live with American forces on its eastern periphery, the possibility of an intimate U.S.-India military relationship has generated fears of encirclement. The ongoing Sino-Indian border dispute, as well as India's position astride China's key maritime shipping lanes, has made the prospect of a Washington-Delhi axis appear particularly troubling.

    India likewise feels encircled by China's so-called "string of pearls"—a series of Chinese-built, ostensibly commercial port facilities in the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. Beijing's military ties to Pakistan, interference in the Kashmir dispute and references to Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state, as "Southern Tibet" have done little to reassure New Delhi of Chinese intentions. The rapid growth of China's conventional military might in recent years—between 2000 and 2009, China's military spending more than tripled—and the lack of clarity as to its intentions, has spurred India to pursue its own military modernization.

    These shifts in India's and China's nuclear force postures thus represent only the latest and most serious efforts to constrain and convey dissatisfaction with the other's perceived regional ambitions. But they are more troubling than conventional redeployments.

    First, these developments suggest that neither country has confidence in the other's "no first use" policy. India has good reason for concern: The number of missions attributed to China's deterrent—responding to nuclear attacks, deterring conventional attacks against nuclear assets, providing Beijing freedom from nuclear coercion and otherwise "reinforcing China's great power status"—were enough to make the authors of the Pentagon's annual report on China's military power last year question the country's commitment to its "no first use" policy. India, for its part, relies on its nuclear forces to offset gaps and imbalances between its conventional military capabilities and those of China.

    Second, there is a point at which efforts to enhance deterrence can foster an arms race. Any attempt on the part of China to increase its own defenses necessarily weakens, or is perceived to weaken, the security of India, thus spurring further defense build-ups; the opposite is true as well. Shifts in nuclear force posture can be particularly disruptive, and have been known to precipitate crises. Upon the discovery of Soviet efforts to deploy missiles to Cuba in 1962, for example, the U.S. responded militarily with a naval "quarantine" of the island, bringing Washington and Moscow as close as they have ever come to a nuclear war.

    Finally, the redeployments of India's and China's nuclear forces suggest that there is deep-seated and growing discord between the two Asian giants. This is troubling news for a region whose future peace and prosperity depends heavily on continued comity between Delhi and Beijing. It is only a matter of time before the China-India military competition begins to affect neighboring states. China's nuclear force modernization, for instance, stands to threaten not only India, but also Korea, Japan and other U.S. partners in Asia. A dramatic defense buildup in India, meanwhile, will no doubt leave Pakistan feeling less secure.

    Tensions are unlikely to ease any time soon. The two countries appear much closer to the brink of an all-out arms race than they do to any resolution of their differences. While each profits from the other's economic growth, it is that very growth—which finances military modernization and which is so dependent on potentially vulnerable overseas trade—that creates the conditions for heightened insecurity.

    Mr. Sullivan is research fellow and program manager at the American Enterprise Institute's Center for Defense Studies. Mr. Mazza is a senior research associate at AEI
  8. prototype

    prototype Regular Member

    Aug 27, 2010
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    It's an open secret China is more than concerned about the economic growth of India which is somewhere near to close to spoil Chinese party of the century, Chinese recent actions and provocation's then should not come as a surprise,Anyhow India is also playing good when it comes to this geo strategic cold war

    India is increasing its relation with Vietnam and for the first times after some decades seems to b in a mood to support the oppressive and autocratic govt of Myanmar

    Baluchistan is definitely a boiling point for China and this is the spot were India should definitely trade in,an uncontrolled baluch means all the billion $ Chinese invest across the Karakoran range to the troop deployment in Gilgit resulting in vain.

    I am not much concerned about the string of pearls,i dont actually believe China is going to use it for military purpose against india,that will b definitly the Chinese suicide of the century,IN is unrivaled in IOR and had the overwhelming support of IAF which has its range over the entire IOR,a conflict here will only see a handful of Chinese ships and the so called pearls obliterated here

    China is mostly going to use it for diverting its energy line from the Indian controlled IOR,Indian navy had already gained its berthing Rights in Oman and already have a handful of listening ports all across IOR which can b upgraded into possible full time naval bases if required only to b addition to chinese headache

    The recent military development in Arunachal and with the Rohtang tunnel project Chinese massive infrastructure and its strategic command over India in this areas is nullified

    with the introduction the Quadrilateral Initiative,it served as a deadly punch to the Chinese ambitions in the Asia pacific region,although it had fallen silent for some time,but i hardly believe it is dead,in a matter of no time that will b again resurrected

    If China is playing its card well,i dont think India had fallen behind,we r also well very much in the game,though with our stated policy of resilience

    the zero sum game had only begun,and also the age of great Asian cold war
  9. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    The Chinese Consul General in Calcutta was pleased to see many Chinese products being sold on the pavement by the pavement hawkers.

    He, however, lamented that these goods were giving a poor impression of China, since they were the cheap and shoddy goods.

    But then, he forgets, that this also adds to the Chinese GDP.
  10. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

    May 29, 2009
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    I have thanked chinese products many times in Sydney during my hardships when i was not able to afford product (like telephone cables etc) made in Australia but Chinese which were as useful and durable like Australian made. Chinese products successfully target a class of consumers or have given a choice to those who buy every thing with attention to detail, calculating the value for money and its probable time span. There are many products which can complement so called costlier or superior one. Few example: Fans, all kind of cables and electrical, paint, kitchen appliances,internet routers,dvd players, TV, kids cycles etc.
  11. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Beijing spreads it wings, casts a shadow over Asia

    Japan may have created the impression of having buckled under China’s pressure by releasing the Chinese fishing trawler captain.

    But the Japanese action moves the spotlight back to China, whose rapidly accumulating power has emboldened it to aggressively assert territorial and maritime claims against its neighbours, from Japan to India.

    China’s new stridency in its disputes with its neighbours has helped highlight Asia’s central challenge to come to terms with existing boundaries by getting rid of the baggage of history that weighs down a number of interstate relationships. Even as Asia is becoming more interdependent economically, it is getting more divided politically.

    While the bloody wars in the first half of the 20th century have made war unthinkable today in Europe, the wars in Asia in the second half of the 20th century did not resolve matters and have only accentuated bitter rivalries.

    A number of interstate wars were fought in Asia since 1950, the year both the Korean War and the annexation of Tibet started. Those wars, far from settling or ending disputes, have only kept disputes lingering.

    China, significantly, has been involved in the largest number of military conflicts. A recent Pentagon report has cited examples of how China carried out military pre-emption in 1950, 1962, 1969 and 1979 in the name of strategic defence. The seizure of Paracel Islands from Vietnam in 1974 by Chinese forces was another example of offense as defense.
    All these cases of pre-emption occurred when China was weak, poor and internally torn. So today, China’s growing power naturally raises legitimate concerns.

    A stronger, more prosperous China is already beginning to pursue a more muscular foreign policy vis-à-vis its neighbours, as underlined by several developments this year alone — from its inclusion of the South China Sea in its “core” national interests — an action that makes its claims to the disputed Spratly Islands non-negotiable, to its presentation of the Yellow Sea as some sort of an exclusive Chinese military-operations zone where it wants the US and South Korea not to hold joint naval exercises.

    China also has become more insistent in pressing its territorial claims to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, with Chinese warships making more frequent forays into Japanese waters. Add to the picture China’s three separate large-scale naval exercises since April.

    In Tibet, the official PLA Daily has reported several new significant military developments in recent months, including the first-ever major parachute exercise to demonstrate a capability to rapidly insert troops on the world’s highest plateau and an exercise involving “third generation” fighter-jets carrying live ammunition. In addition, the railroad to Tibet, the world’s highest elevated railway, has now started being used to supply “combat readiness materials for the Air Force” there. These military developments have to be seen in the context of China’s resurrection since 2006 of its long-dormant claim to India’s northeastern Arunachal Pradesh state and its recent attempts to question Indian sovereignty over the state of Jammu and Kashmir, one-fifth of which it occupies.

    Against that background, China’s increasingly assertive territorial and maritime claims threaten Asian peace and stability. In fact, the largest real estate China covets is not in the South or East China Seas but in India: Arunachal Pradesh is almost three times larger than Taiwan.

    Respect for boundaries is a prerequisite to peace and stability on any continent. Europe has built its peace on that principle, with a number of European states learning to live with boundaries they do not like.

    Efforts at the redrawing of territorial and maritime frontiers are an invitation to endemic conflicts in Asia. Through its refusal to accept the territorial status quo, Beijing only highlights the futility of political negotiations.

    After all, a major redrawing of frontiers has never happened at the negotiating table. Such redrawing can only be achieved on the battlefield, as Beijing has done in the past.

    Today, whether it is Arunachal Pradesh or Taiwan or the Senkaku Islands, or even the Spratlys, China is dangling the threat to use force to assert its claims. In doing so, China has helped reinforce the spectre of a China threat. By picking territorial fights with its neighbours, China also is threatening Asia’s continued economic renaissance.

    More significantly, China is showing that it is not a credible candidate to lead Asia. Leadership flows not from raw power but from other states’ consent or tacit acceptance.

    It is important for other Asian states and the rest of the international community to convey a clear message to Beijing: After six long decades, China’s redrawing of frontiers must now come to an end.
  12. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 11, 2010
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    Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

    Intensifying Arms Race Between India and China


    China’s resurgence in recent years has jolted the leading powers of the world out of their stupor – and India’s case is no different. Today, forward-looking Indian mandarins are no longer obsessed with Pakistan. New Delhi has started developing strategic plans for dealing with China in 2020 or 2030. Many Indian think tanks are already working on this mission objective and those which are not are gearing up to it.

    India is pursuing a China policy that America has practiced for long – emphasising cooperation with China while minimizing competition. It may be the politically correct strategy but it does precious little to counter China’s rapidly increasing military might. Of late, China has become more and more assertive in its diplomatic and military conduct in line with increasingly ambitious global objectives. India, Japan, the US and Russia are indeed mindful of the probable repercussions an increasingly powerful China would have on the international balance of power, particularly when Japan and the US seem unable to maintain their lead.

    The Chinese infrastructure drive is an integral part of its “string of pearls” strategy vis-a-vis India. Three ports that China is building in India’s immediate neighbourhood – Gwadar in Pakistan, Sittwe in Myanmar and Hambantota in Sri Lanka – are important pearls in the Chinese string. China has a vibrant presence across South Asia. Besides Pakistan, with which China has a true strategic partnership, Beijing has emerged as a major player in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives. It has firmly entrenched itself in Myanmar (Burma), Mauritius and the Seychelles.

    What transpired last month was an eye opener for China-watchers in the Indian government. On 5 August 2010, The People’s Daily reported that two days previously “important combat readiness materials” (read missiles) of the Chinese Air Force were transported safely to Tibet via the Qinghai-Tibet Railway – the first time since such materials were transported to Tibet by railway. It is a clear demonstration by China of not just its technological competence but also its capability to mobilise in Tibet in the event of a Sino-Indian conflict. China already has four fully operational airports in Tibet (the last one started operations in July 2010) while the fifth is scheduled to be inaugurated in October 2010.

    Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy’s recent seafaring activities and manoeuvres have revealed Beijing’s intention to increase its control of the maritime sea lanes of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The latter is an obvious cause of concern for India. China’s new-found aggressive posturing and maritime territorial claims in South China Sea – which Beijing has begun to describe as an area of its “core interest”, a term that the Chinese have been using for Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang – is of no less concern.

    China is building up its naval might in a big way. It is not just India that is confused and concerned about the real intent of Beijing. Japan, the US, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan are equally apprehensive. China’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) was recently given a green light by the country’s highest military planning body, the Central Military Commission (CMC), to build two new nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. One aircraft carrier – Varyag of the Kuznetsov class – is already under construction. All three aircraft carriers will be available to China by 2017 and will patrol the South China Sea, Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. This will give the the Chinese Navy a blue-water capability to rival the US Navy.
    India is far behind China’s gargantuan defence capabilities. At the same time, New Delhi is not twiddling its thumbs and sitting idly. India has been conscious of rapidly growing Chinese military capabilities for well over a decade. In fact, the then Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes, while speaking in the aftermath of the May 1998 Indian nuclear tests, had gone on record as saying that China was the number one threat for India.

    In 1999, the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee approved a 30-year submarine construction plan under which 30 submarines were to be constructed. Construction work on at least four nuclear submarines is in full swing, while the indigenously made Arihant nuclear powered submarine has already been launched. India plans to have at least 30 submarines by 2030, but this target may prove to be too stiff. India’s submarine fleet is currently facing depletion and their number is expected to go down to 16 by 2012 with the decommissioning of two Foxtrot submarines in the near future.

    In March 2009, the Manmohan Singh government cleared Project 15B under which next generation warships are under various stages of construction. Besides, at least three Kolkata class destroyers are under construction under Project 15A. Two aircraft carriers – INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov of Russia) and INS Vikrant – are under construction.

    To strike a harmonious balance, the Indian Navy is in the process of beefing up its fleet of stealth frigates and has initiated several new projects in this regard. Shivalik will be India’s first stealth frigate of its class. The Sahyadri and Satpura class of frigates are under advanced stage of construction. All this is as per the government’s plans to maintain a force level of more than 140 warships.

    China knows very well that it is not dealing with the India of 1962, when the two countries fought a one-sided war. Then India had deliberately not used its air force against the Chinese to minimize loss of territory and restrict Chinese military gains to the far-flung border areas. Though China retains a decisive lead, New Delhi is determined to stay on Beijing’s heals.
  13. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    On China, India needs to think strategically

    The emerging security situation in the Asia-Pacific is likely to revolve around China and the US with India [ Images ] viewed as a critical balancer in the region.
    New Delhi [ Images ] will have to demonstrate that it is capable of thinking strategically, feels Harsh V Pant.

    A two-week standoff between Japan [ Images ] and China over a boat collision shows the Communist State is adopting a more aggressive stance against rivals and US allies in Asia. And there may be more tension to come.

    The collision happened near a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku that Japan has controlled for decades.

    Beijing [ Images ] essentially bullied its way through the crisis and by so doing has made it virtually impossible that its rise in Asia will go unchallenged.

    The US and its allies have already started reassessing their regional strategies and it is likely that an anti-China balancing will soon be apparent.

    China would not have expected that its arrival as the world's second-largest economy would also be accompanied by a new robustness in the US policy towards China and the Asian region.

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ] used her recent visit to Asia to signal unequivocally that the US is unwilling to accept China's push for regional hegemony.

    When Beijing claimed that it now considers its ownership of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea as a 'core interest', Clinton retorted by proposing that the US help establish an international mechanism to mediate the overlapping claims of sovereignty between China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia that now exist in the South China Sea.

    Fears have been rising in Asia that China is seeking to use its growing maritime might to dominate not only the hydrocarbon-rich waters of the South China Sea, but also its crucial shipping lanes, the lifeline of regional economies.

    And there were also concerns in the region about America's commitment to regional security -- concerns that have been allayed by the US decision to undertake joint naval and air exercises with South Korea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula.

    The US also underlined its commitment to freedom of the seas in Asia by undertaking war games in the Yellow Sea, despite Chinese threats.

    At the same time, Washington has started making overtures to new partners in the region. The US navy visited Vietnam for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War. Building on their March agreement to expand cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the US and Vietnam are discussing a nuclear energy deal with Vietnam deciding to augment its nuclear energy capacity significantly over the next two decades.

    Despite opposition from human rights groups, the US also announced rehabilitation of American defence links to the Indonesian military's elite Kopassus units that had been suspended for decades.

    This new assertiveness vis-a-vis Beijing has been widely welcomed in the region. The remaining members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations strongly endorsed Clinton's call for multilateral commitment to a code of conduct for the South China Sea rather than China's preferred bilateral approach.

    For China, the issue was all about its sovereign rights and claims to the sea, whereas for the rest of the region it was about freedom of navigation, rights of passage and customary international law.

    It is under the American provision of public goods for the last several decades that China has emerged as the economic powerhouse it is today.

    Now it wants a new system in place, but a system that only works for Beijing. It therefore should not deal with the provision of public goods and common resources.

    China's haphazard diplomatic approach and unnecessary bluster on the South China Sea has exposed all the myth surrounding Chinese soft power in the region.

    Meanwhile, a day after China's economy was recognised as the world's second biggest, the US department of defence in its annual report to the US Congress on China's military underlined the advancements the People's Liberation Army is making across the board, in line with its burgeoning economic power.

    Beijing's military outlays are the world's second highest and have tripled since 2000 to an estimated $100 billion (about Rs 470 billion) last year, though well behind Washington's $617 billion (about Rs 2.9 trillion).

    The results of China's military modernisation programme have been quite extraordinary: the largest force of principal combatants, submarines and amphibious warfare ships in Asia, one of the largest forces of surface-to-air missiles in the world, the most active land-based ballistic and cruise missile system in the world.

    The focus of China's military modernisation programme is on weapons that could deny the ability of American warships to operate in international waters of the coast.

    But with the military balance in the Taiwan Straits tilting in its favour, China has set its sights much further as it looks to secure its expanding economic interests across the globe.

    China's rise this century is a return to the status it held for most of the past 2,000 years -- East Asia's economic and military giant as well as the centre of high-technology and culture.

    It should not be surprising then that Beijing has started dictating the boundaries of acceptable behaviour to its neighbours and laid bare the costs of great power politics.

    Against this backdrop of China's rise and relative US decline, it is imperative that India contributes to the Asian security dynamic to bring greater stability to the region especially as Sino-Indian relations become turbulent with each passing day.

    The emerging security environment in the Asia-Pacific is likely to revolve around China and the US and each of these powers will have a military with significant offensive capability and unknown intentions.

    The US is investing in new geopolitical partnerships and India is already viewed as a critical balancer in the region.

    While the Obama [ Images ] administration will have to court India with a new seriousness of purpose, New Delhi will also have to demonstrate that it is capable of thinking strategically.

    Ninety years ago, Halford Mackinder, the father of geopolitics, wrote that democracies, unless they are forced into war, simply couldn't think strategically.

    India will have to prove Mackinder wrong if it wants to emerge as a major global player in its own right.
  14. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    How China Plays the Great Game

    The prize for China is ejecting the US from Asia, says Madhav Nalapat. Its best chance to claim it? NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan.

    One of the reasons the United States and its NATO allies are losing ground to China in the global geopolitical race is the belief in the permanence of tradition and precedent in world affairs—this in an age when paradigm shifts are taking place at an accelerating pace, and when even core realities can change beyond recognition within a decade.

    There’s no better example of this trend than the People’s Republic of China itself, which has morphed several times since its founding in 1949. Indeed, to understand present-day China better, and to adjust policy accordingly, some Western analysts might need to set aside the fundamental preconceptions they’ve picked up from studying China’s evolution. Because the fact is, many of them are no longer valid.

    Broadly speaking, each decade since 1949 has seen changes in the form and spread of economic progress and societal evolution in China. The first saw the consolidation of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) power. The next, 1959-69, saw the establishment of Mao Zedong’s personal dictatorship over the party. The third, 1969-79, reflected the leadership's efforts at fashioning a strategy for ensuring the global success of China, even if this meant allying itself with the United States. The period from 1979 to 1989 saw the reversal of the economic stagnation of the previous three centuries.

    But if the 1990s were a period of experimentation with Western culture and possible strategic alliances, the next decade saw the growth of a Han nationalism that had as its core objective the restoration of China's long-cherished status as the world’s leading nation. This was reflected in a deepening self-reliance in technology as well as a geopolitical push to wrest primacy from the United States—first in Asia and Africa, before moving on to South America and finally Europe.

    Because China has emerged as a serious challenger to US pre-eminence, it’s not surprising that one of the arenas of confrontation is Afghanistan. If this rivalry hasn’t received the attention that it’s due, it’s more than likely because China has typically attempted to fulfil its objectives there in as ‘silent’ a way as it can (this is in stark contrast with the United States, which usually advertises its engagement and confrontation, in part to bolster perceptions of US global primacy).

    Many of those who suffer the misfortune of still remembering the words of Rudyard Kipling believe that the present Afghan situation resembles his ‘Great Game,’ which was played out between the British and Russian empires for mastery of Central Asia. But while current events in Afghanistan are indeed following an already-trodden path, it’s one that’s less 19th century and more 20th —specifically the 1980s. In this age of accelerating change, history seldom gets repeated beyond a 20-year cycle (a cycle which itself is likely to shorten further).
    What’s taking place in Afghanistan is in many respects a repeat of what took place when the United States and Saudi Arabia used the Pakistan Army to wage an unconventional war against the Soviets. Today, that very military (the only one in the world to have Jihad as its official motto) is being sought out by China to script the humiliation of what some see as an exhausted superpower—the United States.

    But perhaps the most interesting thing about the new Great Game is that it may not be taking place with the participation of several of the organs of state power in China. In fact, it looks very much like it’s being scripted almost entirely by a single entity—the PLA—which has today become a near autonomous player within the Chinese structure of governance.

    This is a considerable shift. Both Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping kept the PLA on a tight leash, the former making it an accomplice of his depredations on those elements in the CCP that he regarded as foes, and the latter succeeding in pushing it out of sight. However, once Jiang Zemin took control of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1990s, he began to indulge the PLA, a process that has yet to be reversed by his successor.

    In part, this could be down to the fact that Jiang established a possible precedent whereby a CCP general secretary could extend his period in formal authority and policy relevance by continuing as chairman of the Central Military Commission beyond his retirement as CCP general secretary (Jiang doing so for 20 months after handing over the party baton to Hu Jintao in 2002).

    Given his Asia-oriented geopolitical vision and his desire to ensure that the CCP respond to grassroots sentiment rather than rely on coercion, Hu is likely to seek to continue as CMC chief even after stepping down as party head in 2012. Because of this, he too has adopted as conciliatory a line towards the PLA as Jiang did, in the process allowing it to fashion policy in several crucial theatres, including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In each of these, the policies adopted by the CCP core reflect the perceptions and narrow needs of the PLA rather than that of the broader state.

    Over the past 15 years, the control of ‘the party over the gun’ has eroded, one consequence being that displays of muscle have taken place that have run counter to Deng’s philosophy of ‘speaking softly’ even while carrying a big stick. One clear example was the display of military temper across the Taiwan Strait in the 1990s. More recently there’s been the present standoff with India over the status of Kashmir and tensions with South-east Asian countries about the extent of their claim on territorial waters in the South China Sea.
    In foreign policy, the PLA has become an autonomous player within the CCP pantheon, rather than being limited by the policy set by the State Council. Because of this, some disconnect has developed between General Secretary Hu's vision of a close alliance between China and India and the actual direction of policy.

    The PLA, after all, has its own priorities, seeing the Pakistan Army as its closest ally in Asia after the militaries of North Korea and Burma. The consequence has been a policy toward India that has been tilted in a way similar to that adopted by Nixon and Kissinger in the early 1970s.

    Meanwhile, while the US defence secretary fantasizes publicly about the loyalty and reliability of the Pakistan Army, despite the reality being that since the launch of the Afghan war in 2001 and the 2003 occupation of Iraq, more and more members of Pakistan’s officer corps have turned hostile to the United States (a sentiment apparently not hidden at regimental dinner tables).

    The reason why such a shift in opinion is significant can be found in the fact that successors of Zia ul-Haq as Pakistan’s chief of the army staff need the support of the key corps commanders to retain authority within the overall force. In a way, this dependence on his peers is similar to that of the once all-powerful general secretary of the CCP, who needed to have the backing of the Politburo to ensure he didn’t go the way of Hua Guofeng, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang—all three of whom were rendered ineffective by opposition from within the Politburo's Standing Committee.

    Today, Pakistan’s corps commanders view Beijing as a far more natural partner than Washington, and consequently respond to signals from there rather than from the Pentagon. But even if Chief of the Army Staff Gen. P A Kayani wanted to advance the NATO agenda in Afghanistan (itself improbable) he’d be unable to do so, given his need to have senior commanders on his side in the perpetual effort to ensure the primacy of the military over the civilian establishment in Pakistan.

    Yet, although the Indian strategic community regards the world's most populous democracy as being the target of the PLA's expansion of its capabilities within the Indian Ocean Rim, the reality is that India plays only a subsidiary role in the PLA’s considerations. The PLA actually sees the US armed forces as its main rival, and responds to India only to the extent that it perceives Delhi to be a fellow traveller of the United States.

    It’s hardly a secret that the PLA would like the US military to exit from Asia, and what better way of hurrying this along than by ensuring that NATO is defeated in Afghanistan, the way the USSR military was? The best way of achieving this objective is through the Pakistan Army, which has perfected the science of professing compliance with US commands while apparently doing very little to carry them out. Indeed, it has shown considerable skill in doing the reverse, sabotaging US interests through ‘retired’ and ‘on leave’ personnel, so that deniability can be maintained. Both the Pakistan Army and the PLA evidently believe that a US victory in Afghanistan would entrench US forces in that country, while a defeat would send them packing, leaving the country as low-hanging fruit for the intrepid duo to dominate.

    Small wonder, then, that the many ‘operations’ against the Taliban that are being conducted by the Pakistan Army seem to be having zero success in checking the progress of that ragtag band, this despite the fact that—unlike in 1994-95—the Taliban is feared and loathed by the overwhelming majority of Pashtuns.

    This is why the PLA is even willing to make a foe of India—riling Delhi over Kashmir, including by rejecting visas to Indian army commanders who they had themselves invited to visit, and stationing thousands of uniformed personnel in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir, ostensibly to build roads.

    So what would the prize be should China prevail in this 21th century version of the Great Game? It would be nothing less than the replacement of the United States by China as the pre-eminent military power in Asia. It would look much, in fact, like the defeat of the Soviets in 1988, which ultimately led to the eclipse of Moscow by Washington across the globe.
  15. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

    Aug 20, 2010
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    Gangtok, Sikkim, India
    PLA's rush to match itself with US military might and political capability has revealed a crack in Chinese establishment's power: it revealed its cards a little too early, giving room to rest of Asia to do something about countering Chinese domination of Asia in future. The result of a silent counter-assault will be seen in the coming future more prominently than now.
  16. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    How China is Weaker than it Looks

    October 12, 2010

    By Kerry Brown
    China could yet become a superpower. But a surging economy can’t mask social strains that only political reform can address.

    There’s an old Chinese fable that was the inspiration behind Andrew Nathan and Robert Ross’s 1990s book, The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress.

    Centuries ago, a king whose city was about to be attacked decided the only thing he could do to save it was to order the gates be flung open. He then told the attacking force that the city was empty and that they were welcome to enter. Suspicious that the king’s words were a trick to tempt them into an ambush, the enemy forces decided to move on and the king’s empty city was saved.

    These days, many looking at China from the outside see its towering economic statistics and assume that this growing wealth isn’t just about money—that it’s about power as well. After all, a country with growth rates in excess of 10 percent per annum that’s now the world’s second-largest economy, the largest holder of foreign reserves, the largest exporter and largest consumer of energy—surely it’s also a geopolitical powerhouse?

    But take a look inside the gates, beyond the headline economic figures, and two points emerge that cast doubt on this notion of overwhelming strength.

    One is the amount of money that’s being spent on internal security. According to its official budget, China spent about $80 billion on defence in 2009 (although the United States and others would argue that even this massive figure underestimates the true scale). But more remarkably, it spent almost as much—$75 billion—on internal security.

    Keeping the lid on Xinjiang and Tibet has clearly required massive amounts of central government cash, as has policing China’s restless provinces and dealing with public unrest. Indeed, those who venture outside the grand cities of Shanghai and Beijing see a country with surprising levels of fractiousness and casual violence. On a recent visit to the central city of Xian, for example, I was intrigued to see an enormous sign over a side street bearing the words (in English and Chinese) `Centre for Receiving Petitions.’ It seems there are enough disgruntled citizens in the city and the surrounding areas to warrant a whole street to deal with them.

    The second indicator of trouble ahead is the way elite leaders themselves are speaking. Yes, it’s true that Politburo members and their local equivalents fill their public pronouncements with rosy statistics. Like their Maoist and Dengist forebears, they live in a world still infected with Utopianism—things will always get better, the harvests will get bigger, the heaven on earth promised under Marxism (albeit now called Socialism with Chinese characteristics) will be realised one day (even if that day has to be pushed further and further into the future).Yet even with these relentlessly on-message leaders, a gloom still sometimes manages to push its way through. In fact, no less a figure than Premier Wen Jiabao appears to be taking a lead in urging caution, reportedly declaring in the southern city of Shenzhen in August that without political reform, the Communist Party’s days in power could be numbered.

    These comments follow an admission in a government report earlier this year that corruption, disputes and inequality were forming a deadly cocktail that could jeopardise the country’s prosperity. Lower level officials are even more candid, talking of their puzzlement over why the world is making such a fuss about China’s rise when all they can see around them are the awkward choices that will need to be made to ensure more balanced growth.

    Indeed, while the rest of the world watches anxiously as China demonstrates an increasingly assertive streak in its dealings with its neighbours and the United States, the key slogan of the current government isn’t about a ‘peaceful’ rise or how China hopes to create a better global environment. Instead, the focus is very much inward, on `harmonious development.’ China looks strong from the outside, but internally there’s a potentially devastating minefield of environmental problems, inequality, ethnic tensions and social imbalances.

    Travelling around China, it’s impossible to escape the sense that the environment, for one, is at a breaking point. Enormous cities sprawl over arid northern plains where the rain hardly ever falls. Beijing seems increasingly like an artificial and parasitical aberration, feeding on the constant stream of coal trucks entering the city along the north-eastern highway while sucking surrounding Hebei Province dry of water. Shanghai, too, with its 20 million-plus population, is placing a huge burden on the surrounding areas. And, while the plan to balance the country’s population by having a string of mega cities running along the eastern coast looks good on paper, these places are increasingly subject to violent weather conditions.

    So how is China responding to the environmental challenge? Up until last year’s Copenhagen climate change summit, officials stuck doggedly to their position that environmental problems originated in the developed world, and therefore the developed world had the main responsibility for tackling them. Officials played hardball, avoiding targets and managing to alienate almost everyone else by insisting that the United States, EU and others take the lead in cleaning things up.

    But the tragic floods in Gansu and the searing heat and prolonged drought in the north and north-east of the country this summer underscored a point made recently by Hu Angang, a government advisor and economist at Qinghua University: the main victims of global climate change will be inhabitants of developing countries, and of these, Chinese citizens will likely bear the brunt of these effects. This reality will at some point force change, and the Five Year Programme due to come into effect next year will no doubt outline further energy efficiency targets and other measures.But while there seems to be inexorable pressure for a shift on the environment, the prospects for political change are less clear.

    Since as far back as the 1970s, the Communist Party’s leadership has recognised that there needs to be a fundamental readjustment in the structures of power and administration of the country. Indeed, since 1978 they’ve been promising to spell out more clearly the divisions between Party and Government.

    In the meantime, they’ve striven to introduce some kind of rule of law, moving gradually closer to an independent judiciary, while on civil society they have, if nothing else, created an enormous grey area where non-government organisations can at least operate (even if they lack legal status and safeguards). So, while innovation might be risky, it’s not completely taboo—there are even some wild ideas being floated about having special political zones along the lines of the Special Economic Zones, where new ideas could be tested to see if they deliver.

    The trouble for the Chinese leadership is that it might not have as long as it thought it would to put implement such changes. Why? Because China is a victim of its own success.

    The country’s economy has rocketed ahead of the forecasts, making even the apparently rosy projections delivered in the late 1990s seem reserved. It’s ironic that leaders once accused of being too optimistic were, in hindsight, being far too coy. China in 2010 is perhaps a decade ahead of where it was thought to be heading back in 1999.

    But this success means that Communist Party leaders once certain that they’d have two or three decades more of economic reforms to go before getting down to political changes have found themselves confronted with the need to do something far more quickly than expected.

    Chinais on target to become a middle income country by as early as 2020. But while this transition may be welcome, it’s also a stage in any country’s development when various elites—whether business or political—will likely start to experience far sharper disagreements with each other. Lawyers and civil society groups, as the colour revolutions in the former Soviet bloc states show, start to gain much greater social traction, while entities that look and act like an authentic political opposition start to appear.

    So far, the Communist Party has fallen back on tried and tested methods to keep a lid on things. Repression, albeit on a much more focussed scale than in the past, has been used against problematic groups, including signatories to Charter 08, which is championed by jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Other activists have been cowed into silence or detained. The case of lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who disappeared, briefly resurfaced, and was then silenced again, highlights Chinese censorship at its very worst.It’s not all bad. On some issues, the Communist Party has in fact made some modest changes, allowing more information about government out into the open while carefully experimenting with some forms of elections, particularly at the grassroots level. But on the big issues—the legal status of civil society groups, judicial independence, proper elections for township level officials and above and fiscal restructuring between the centre (which is still immensely powerful) and the provinces—it’s clear there’s no elite consensus.

    The problem they have is a belief that reform in any one area will mean that the other issues will also need to be addressed at the same time. This all-or-nothing approach heightens the risk of mistakes and, for a Politburo and elite that’s naturally cautious (and which lacks the political capital of some of its predecessors), such boldness is a tough thing to call for. Indeed, there’s a growing appearance of a leadership that’s simply tolerating the status quo, hoping the country can muddle along until the propitious moment when any necessary changes can be made in a single swoop.

    Of course, this is theoretically possible. But the problem is that stronger courts, greater civil society action and greater public participation are all necessary prerequisites for the future economic reforms that all know are also necessary.

    And it’s unclear how much longer these demands can be resisted. China is already suffering high levels of internal discontent—one estimate has put the annual number of mass protests at 90,000, while a spate of killings at schools earlier this year indicates a worrying level of social alienation and anger. Meanwhile, the 12 million individual petitions filed since 2005 suggest the courts are simply being buried by civil cases.

    If China can manage its transition well, then it will almost certainly become, along with the United States, one of the dominant global powers of this century. But it’s a big if, and if its leaders mishandle this tricky transition—and an angry and frustrated population—the repercussions will be felt far beyond its borders.

    China has every right to celebrate its successes and achievements. But the backslapping should be tempered by the reality that the complex problems arrayed in front of its leaders need tackling—quickly.

    Kerry Brown is a senior fellow with the Asia Programme at Chatham House in London.
  17. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    CHINA: The Military and Leadership Power

    By Bhaskar Roy

    The Communist Party of China (CPC) announced that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started implementing a revised regulation for political reform September 13, 2010. The move, the report said, was to “strengthen the armed forces’ combat abilities”, and the revised regulation enshrined Hu Jintao’s remarks on national defence and military construction, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Chinese armed forces.

    The new regulation, the party mouthpiece the People’s Daily (Sept. 14) said also improves instructions for the PLA’s political officers to strengthen leadership of the CPC over the military. It stressed that the PLA should train its abilities to win “Media warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare”.

    The People’s Daily went on to add that it was incumbent on political officers at all levels to improve their work to help officers and soldiers better fulfill training, exercise and especially Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW). It reiterated that political officers ranked parallel to the military commanders in a PLA unit.

    Although the report did not give any other detail, this announcement was enough to see its importance in current and upcoming context. Politically, it points to the 18th National Congress of the CPC to be held in 2012 when sweeping personnel changes will be seen both in the party and the army.

    The symbiotic relationship or interdependence between the party and the PLA witnessed some readjustment following the demise of the last strongman of China, Deng Xiaoping, in 1997. Ideologically, the party is supreme and the PLA’s duty remains to keep the party in power. Having said that it has become evident that the PLA has become a power broker at the top level of the party’s political and personnel issues.

    Both Party General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Hu Jintao, and his predecessor Jiang Zemin had to virtually buy the support and loyalty of the PLA. Given this, they had to give into the various demands of the PLA not only in terms of modernization by also in terms of state and foreign policy. This is marked by the increasing voice of the PLA in such matters.

    Of course, modernization of the PLA goes hand in hand with the huge economic development and international influence. But how deeply do the PLA commanders understand the fine intricacies of a fast changing world? Here comes the importance of Political Commissars in PLA. Political Commissars are not civilians. They belong to the fighting force and can revert as a military commanders. But as political officers they are in constant touch with the Party Secretariat and other such institutions, and carry the Party’s policies and instructions to the fighting forces.

    Why is this new emphasis on Political Commissars? Does the Party’s top echelon find the military becoming too assertive and militant on “issues with neighbours on territorial questions, and also with the United States? The PLA statements and overreactions over last two years suggests something like this.

    At the same time, the revised political instructions not only give the PLA new directions along with power, but there is larger political meaning in it. Hu Jintao must leave his legacy enshrined in the party’s constitution in 2012, as his predecessors did, but he does not have the vision of Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping. He may pretty much leave a legacy like Jiang Zemin and his “important instructions on army building”.

    Hu Jintao had tried “rise of China” as his political legacy, but had to dilute it to “peaceful rise of China” due to the wrong perception in the neighbourhood. He also created the theory of “Scientific development”, which may not be emphatic enough or be claimed as a collective decision like Jiang Zemin’s “Three Represents”. He appears to trying his contribution to the military’s strategic philosophy.

    Given the opaqueness of China’s politics how Hu Jintao will play his cards in 2012 is not clear. While Jiang Zemin was selected as the overall leader by Deng Xiaoping and the Party elders in the aftermath of the 1989 Tienanmen (TAM) square incident, Hu Jintao was Deng’s selected fourth generation leader. But even then, Jiang held on to the CMC Chairmanship for almost two years after giving up the other posts in 2002-3.

    This underscores the importance of the Chairman of the CMC. It is, therefore, likely that Hu will try to hold on to the CMC as long as possible, since this post does not have an age limit or fixed tenure, yet. Hu could not get his protégé Li Keqiang as the next Party General Secretary. The post is going to Xi Jinping, who is said to closer to the Jiang Zemin clique and also belongs to “Princelings” faction that is, children of former leaders. Xi’s father was Vice Premier.

    China’s National Defence White Paper 2008 which was substantially influenced by Hu Jintao’s strategic view saw the existence of “many factors of uncertainty in Asia-Pacific Security” because of economic, transitions politics, and territorial issues, maritime rights and regional “hot spots”.

    His strategic guidance then was “Perform historical missions”, and modernize the army in every possible way. Hu supported leap frog development of the military, support economic construction and ability to carry out MOOTW. Each of these guidance are visible today or are unfolding rapidly.

    Some of these advances are noted in deploying the Chinese navy in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, making new port calls by the navy as in Myanmar in September 2010, and the assertive sea territorial claims from East China Sea to South China Sea (first island chain). It is now threatening to establish its primacy in the second islands chain stretching to Guam.

    Winning media warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare is not a new doctrine. Known as the “three warfares” (San Zhong Zhanfa) it aims (a) to undermine the enemy’s ability to conduct warfare through psychological operation, (b) using the media to influence domestic and international public opinion to support China’s military actions and defeat the adversary, and (c) use international and domestic laws with China’s interpretation to gain international support or, at least, manage possible political repercussions of China’s military actions.

    The renewed emphasis on the “Three warfare” at this juncture appears to carry profound meaning. Tensions over North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean frigate in March, heightened demand for sovereignty over the South China Sea and its islands claimed in whole or parts by other countries, and pushing up tension in the East China Sea with Japan over the collision of Chinese fishing vessel with a Japanese patrol boat in waters controlled by Japan.

    The question being asked is did the Chinese vessel deliberately collide with the Japanese boat under orders? These incidents give an opportunity for the PLA to test all the aspects “Three warfares”. The outcome will definitely affect adversely by the stability of the Asia Pacific region.

    Politically, these developments give a huge boost to PLA at least domestically. While China’s ambition is well known, are these provocations linked to Hu Jintao’s domestic politics? Hu Jintao may go down in history as the architect of China’s power projection.
  18. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    The Next Battleground


    We have come to accept that the 500-year domination of Asia by the West is coming to an end and that the balance of power in the 21st century will rest on the fortunes of China, India and the United States. In "Monsoon," Robert D. Kaplan goes further, suggesting that it is in the Indian Ocean where history will be made and where the global struggle for democracy, energy, religion and security will be waged.Mr. Kaplan, whose books include "Balkan Ghosts" and "Warrior Politics," has a gift for geopolitical imagination. Maps do matter, he feels, and the right map can stimulate thinking about the future of the world. To understand the 20th century, it was important to understand the map of Europe. When it comes to the 21st century, however, Americans are at a disadvantage because of an inherent bias in their mapping convention: Since the 16th century, when Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator developed a method of showing the globe as a flattened surface, Mercator projections have tended to place the Western Hemisphere in the middle of the map, splitting the Indian Ocean at its far edges. Yet the Indian Ocean encompasses a quarter of the world's surface and is home to half of the world's shipping-container traffic.

    From the Horn of Africa, the Indian Ocean stretches past the tense arc of Islam—with its tinderboxes of Somalia, Yemen, Iran and Pakistan—past the Indian subcontinent all the way to the Indonesian archipelago. The Indian Ocean will be the vital geography, says Mr. Kaplan, where the rivalry between China and India will play out, and where America's future as a great power depends on its ability to command a place on this new center stage of history.

    Hovering over the book is a familiar question: Will the 21st century be defined by wars of identity, in particular the clash of fundamentalist Islam with others, or will it be a story of a largely peaceful, economic rise of India, China and other nations in Asia and Africa? Mr. Kaplan believes in the more optimistic scenario. The message of "Monsoon" is that the economic impulse is likely to prevail and in the long run even the more extreme Islamic nations will turn middle class. Al-Jazeera, the Middle Eastern television network, is symbolic of this bourgeois Islam.

    The best thing that the U.S. can do, Mr. Kaplan says, is to continue to protect the vital trade routes of the Indian Ocean for the benefit of all, in alliance with the navies of the new powers of the Indian Ocean world. But America will have to shift its obsession with al Qaeda in order to be perceived as "legitimate" by the new, insecure middle classes of Asia, and learn to project its soft power.

    To this end, according to Mr. Kaplan, the U.S. can learn something from India, whose soft power is admired around the world. The country is perceived by many as a pluralistic, democratic, nonviolent land of the ideals of Buddha, Gandhi and Tagore, ruled by the righteous principles of dharma during the best periods of its history—of the emperor Akbar in the 16th century, for example, and Ashoka in the third century B.C. This perception may explain why India's rise does not stir uneasiness in the same way that China's does. America too is a land of ideals, of course, but the world tends to forget that and needs to be reminded.

    "Monsoon" rests on the premise that the Indian Ocean is "more than just a geographic feature, it is also an idea." I am not persuaded. Just as I am not persuaded that Asia is an "idea" in the sense that the West is. I have trouble imagining what people mean when they say that the 21st century will be an era of Asian dominance. It makes sense to talk about the rise of India and China, but Asia is too diverse with too many cultures, nations and religions—and it is too disunited. Yes, there have been rich, historical connections between Asian countries based on trade, diplomacy and Buddhism, but that is insufficient to support Asia as an "idea." This is a landmass, after all, that stretches from the Near East to the Far, across seven time zones and half the world's latitudes.

    For the 21st century to be a peaceful era, Mr. Kaplan suggests, China, India and America should look to history for inspiration. The Indian Ocean was a trading cosmopolis before the Portuguese arrived in the late 15th century, an oceangoing marketplace where Indian, Chinese, Arab and Persian traders were brought close by the monsoon winds to create a grand network of communal ties. Such comity will be hard to duplicate as India and China grow more powerful and their interest in dominating the Indian Ocean increases accordingly. It should be noted that the navies of China and India will soon rank second and third in the world, trailing only the U.S.

    India fears encirclement by China, and India's other neighbors are increasingly uneasy about Beijing's swelling power and assertiveness. Amid these worries, many Asian countries still look to America as the only credible guarantor of security in the Indian Ocean.

    Mr. Kaplan offers plenty of striking insights in "Monsoon," and his analysis generally makes sense—but I nonetheless have trouble believing that the future of the 21st century will hinge on naval power. Military ships these days seemed designed more for intimidation and transport than for all-out naval warfare—they're sitting ducks for sophisticated rocketry.

    When it comes to the contest between India and China, I do not believe it will be decided either by arms or economic strength. Both countries will soon become prosperous and middle class. The race will be won by India if it fixes its governance before China fixes its politics; or by China if it finds a way to give its people liberty before India reforms its institutions of the state--bureaucracy, police, and judiciary.

    —Mr. Das is the author of "The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma." (Oxford University Press.)
  19. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

    Mar 10, 2009
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    EST, USA
    Very true. The Chinese aggressive posturing, land-grabbing and border disputes with almost all it's neighbours has simply galvanised the neighbours to seek some kind of military co-operation and loose alliance, which can only get stronger in time.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2010
  20. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Countering China's strategic encirclement

    Brig Kartar Singh (Retd)

    DRAGON’S FIRE: Chinese self-propelled rocket launchers during a field exercise

    The Defence Minister and Army Chief have voiced concern over China’s increasing assertiveness on the political, diplomatic and military fronts. Though there is no cause yet to sound an alarm, the Indian establishment should be prepared to checkmate the Dragon’s moves

    LOOK at some of the past and recent developments and then perceive the scenario of a Sino-Indian thaw. The occupation of Aksai Chin by China since 1962, construction of the Karakoram Highway connecting Pakistan, supporting insurgency in India's North East since 1965 and claiming areas like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have been some of the direct interferences of China in Indian affairs.

    A few recent developments, however, are more disturbing then the earlier ones. These include :

    A proposed rail link, via Myanmar, to Chittagong port in Bangladesh
    Construction of Sona deep sea port at Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh
    Construction of Hambantola port in Sri Lanka
    A full facility at Gawadar port, west of Karachi, in Pakistan
    Occupation of northern areas of Gilgit by regular Chinese troops
    Interference in internal politics of Nepal
    Intruding in various places along the borders in the guise of herd-grazers
    Construction of nuclear power plants in Pakistan

    Sino-Indian relations started on a warm note after independence. Both countries were in search of their place in the new World Order and trying to find bread for their people. All this changed in the aftermath of the 1962 Sino-Indian war, which has left China and India in state of flux that continues till today. China started her economic development in late 80's and became a popular investment destination for Americans and Europeans.

    Today she is poised to become an economic superpower and is in close competition with the US and Japan, leaving India far behind. China knows it well that after Japan and United Korea, no other country can compete with her. With India waking up very late to the new realities of economic developments, China now perceives India as a potential competitor in Asia and Afro-Asian regions. China has become the largest user of oil in the world overtaking USA. Her growing economy has also become the third largest economy of the world and she is fully a developed nuclear state with the largest Army in the world.

    It is reported that China consumed 2,200 million tons of oil in 2009. Her consumption of energy in future is well perceived and in order to maintain future import requirements, she definitely requires a supply chain management system from the Gulf countries. Gawadar-Xinjang highway, gas pipeline from Myanmar and intermediate refueling facility at the port of Hambantola in Sri Lanka may be her genuine requirements.

    These facilities may legitimatise as geo-economic necessities for the future. But her regular troops occupying Gilgit region in POK, direct support to the Maoist party in Nepal and openly declaring Kashmir as a disputed area prove her hidden intensions of deploying herself in the geo-strategic encirclement of India.

    Recent developments in the Indo-US relationship paradigm may have also irked Beijing. US civilian nuclear deal with India, enhanced mutual trust between the two democracies, Obama's forthcoming visit to India, purchase of defence hardware by India from the US and Obama's clear indications of upgrading mutual relations with India could be seen as unwelcome developments by China.

    China follows well-practiced strategies with her neighbours, like "teaching them a lesson", as she did with Vietnam in 1978. She also follows a strategy of "tactical arrogance", which she repeats with India, Nepal and Bhutan over and again during the livestock-grazing season. She also believes in the strategy of "bullying"' neighbours by actions more than words. Recently she denied a visa to one of our Army Commanders posted in Kashmir.

    These postures and actions prove yet another point that China has grown so powerful that it does not bother about anyone, including Uncle Sam. She believes in having its cake and eating it too.

    One of the biggest and saddest event that has gone in favour of China is downfall of the erstwhile USSR. The present Russian federation cannot engage China due to its internal problems and weak economy. So, what does it boil down to? What should India do to engage her bullying neighbour meaningfully?

    One of the options available to India, as our economist Prime Minister stated, is that our engagement with ASEAN countries is a key element of India's vision of an Asian economic community. If we can meaningfully engage ASEAN countries in economies ties, then these countries will definitely look up to New Delhi in a supportive and friendly gesture. These countries will definitely upgrade India in their priorities over China. India should also keep close watch on SAARC countries and help them in their genuine economic development. This would remove their fear of India's big brother attitude and bring about an economic change in the region. We, therefore, must agree upon an economic development programme for SAARC countries to enhance their confidence in India and not leave them to any vulnerable threat from outside.

    China knows it well that India today is not what she was in 1962. With a credible nuclear deterrence, a fairly well trained and well deployed army, India cannot be bullied or treated with arrogance. India could do well by organising some sort of offensive capabilities along the north-eastern borders. Indian defensive capabilities are fairly well developed and she is capable of countering any limited misadventure by China. A large-scale Chinese offensive, of course, would dictate different options for India.

    In all fairness, China is definitely not an irresponsible state and recognises India's regional and international aspirations. If New Delhi and Beijing can settle their long-standing border disputes and engage in economic development between themselves as well as ASEAN and SAARC countries, then the 21st century definitely belongs to these Asian giants. After all, Panchsheel, the basic document guiding India's foreign policy, was first signed by these two countries.
  21. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    The Chinese Threat To India

    Raghav Bahl, 10.20.10, 11:00 PM EDT
    Talk of war may be overblown, but the countries have a shared border--and a history of friction.

    Itis said that Chinese leaders have a fascination for Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, a twelve-part prime time documentary series that was broadcast on Chinese television in 2006. It "endorses the idea that China should study the experiences of nations and empires it once condemned as aggressors."

    According to Fareed Zakaria, '"The basic message of the series is that a nation's path to greatness lies in its economic prowess and that militarism, empire and aggression lead to a dead-end." If China has grand plans of geo-political expansion, then it has clearly deferred them for another day--"conceal brilliance, cultivate obscurity," said Deng Xiaoping.
    India's foreign policy has not been monolithic. It has danced to the ebb and flow of domestic political and economic events. The early decades were completely dominated by the intellectually romantic worldview of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister who was also his own foreign minister. Nehru was an idealist, a pacifist, who chose to believe (his critics would say "delude himself") that India gained by remaining nonaligned and against the Cold War. Diplomats like Shashi Tharoor say Nehru ignored an American overture to take over Taiwan's seat at the United Nations' Security Council; instead he offered it to China! He was rudely awakened by the war with China in 1962.

    The jury is somewhat out on who attacked whom. The popular view is that China attacked India. But some analysts also think that India instigated the war. Former National Security Adviser J.N. Dixit believed that Nehru made a grievous error of judgment in ordering an all-out general offensive when it should have been selective, gradual and area-specific. Nehru, in his view, should also have struck a quid pro quo. "We could have told the Chinese that, in return for our accepting their resumption of authority over Tibet, they should confirm the delineation of the Sino–Indian boundary as inherited by them and us from the British period."

    That lack of prescience is hurting. There have been no skirmishes along the India-China border for two decades, but the dispute continues to be, to use Deng Xiaoping's phrase, "a plate of stale rice buzzing over with flies." China recently denied visa to an Indian army general who had served in Kashmir, in effect questioning India's claim over it. China has posted People's Liberation Army troops in Pakistan-held Kashmir ostensibly to help with flood control.

    Earlier, it had blocked an Asian Development Bank loan for a project in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (which China calls South Tibet). It protested when India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh campaigned there for state elections. Yet trade between the two countries is booming. They cooperate at the World Trade Organization and in the climate change negotiations. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has told his Indian counterpart, "When we shake hands, the whole world will be watching."

    But deep suspicions remains. Observations say perceptions at both ends are "mired in stereotypes," and awareness about each other is "abysmal." Many Indians suffer from a siege mentality, believing that China is out to encircle it by building alliances with Pakistan and Nepal. India is also hopelessly outflanked in the arms race. Quite naturally, India's suspicion of the Chinese has survived over generations.

    Manmohan Singh is not a career politician. He is a shy and withdrawing kind of person. His apparent shortcomings are perhaps also his strength. He does not carry a blinkered vision of history. He does not suffer from the Indian politician's curse of short-term, reactive decision-making. He has the intellectual apparatus to understand how the world is changing. Singh struck an unusual friendship with President George W. Bush. One was widely criticized as "India's weakest PM"; the other seemed to love the epithet of "America's warmongering president."

    Bush visited India in March 2006, the first visit to India by a Republican president. It was the second visit by an American president within six years. Bounding down the aircraft's stepladder, Bush's body language was effusive with Manmohan, who broke protocol to receive him at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport late at night. Turning to National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, Bush was overheard saying: "I want this deal done." President Bush was referring to an exceptional civilian nuclear deal that allows India to import uranium for its power plants from the Nuclear Suppliers' Group without subjecting its military reactors to international inspection. Uranium supplies were banned three decades ago, after India test-detonated nuclear bombs "for peaceful purposes."

    Is there an "India card" that America can play against China? Is there an "America card" that India can play against China? And is China getting increasingly wary about these chimerical cards that India and America can play around with? After all, an opinion scan of over eighty American and Indian military officials in Jane's Foreign Report suggested that "China represents the most significant threat to both countries' security in the future as an economic and military competitor." A US officer went to the extent of saying that "we want a friend in 2020 that will be capable of assisting the US militarily to deal with a Chinese threat."

    Is this kind of war talk an overreaction? Is this bit about "cards" just discredited poker talk from a bygone era in world politics? Isn't it much more about hard-nosed economic bargaining, about self-interest driven diplomacy in which each country wants to maximize its own gains rather than become obsessed about inflicting maximum damage on the other? Doesn't America need China today as much as it may need India tomorrow? Doesn't India stand to lose much economic clout if it allows America to dominate its China policy? Will China forget that it has become a superpower precisely because it has chosen the path of "peaceful development"?

    Even more philosophically, have human beings become infallible enough to shun greed and power? Has a history of ambition and plunder by the powerful got so blunted by rising prosperity that it will never repeat itself? The answers, my friends, will be blowing through and creating the winds of the twenty-first century.

    Raghav Bahl is the founder-editor of India's largest media house, Network18. Amongst the partnerships he has created are channels, websites and magazines--CNN-IBN, CNBC-TV18, Viacom-Studio18 and Forbes India, for example--growing the company from its inception in 1993 to a market cap of $1 billion.

    Excerpted from SUPERPOWER? THE AMAZING RACE BETWEEN CHINA'S HARE AND INDIA'S TORTOISE by Raghav Bahl by arrangement with Portfolio Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright (c) Raghav Bahl, 2010.

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