Australia's Strategic Blind Spot Analysis.

A.V.

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Introduction
Fifteen years ago, Henry Kissinger nominated the United States, the European Union,
Russia, China and Japan as the five poles of power that would define the new multipolar
century.1 India made it only as a 'probable.'
Today's reality is that the European Union, Russia and Japan are facing an uncertain
economic future, and there is increasing agreement that the twenty-first century will be
an Asian one based overwhelmingly on the rise of China. Although America is entering
a period of relative decline, it will still remain the dominant power in Asia and the world
for several decades. On the other hand, the regional presence of a rising China will be
immense. The 2009 Defence White Paper released by the Department of Defence predicts
that China will be the strongest Asian military power by a 'considerable margin.'2
These kinds of projections have led the Rudd government to adopt a 'Chinacentric'
view of our future regional strategic environment and security policy, alongside
uncritical acceptance that building all-inclusive multilateral security institutions will be
the most effective way to manage China's rise and promote continued peace in the region
into the future. For example, the main impetus behind Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's
Asia Pacific Community (APC) idea is to build new security architecture in the
region that can help manage China's rise and diffuse future tensions. But even if one
accepts that the continued and rapid rise of China will be the most significant driver
of change in the region and the most likely cause of instability in Asia, there are
legitimate criticisms that Rudd's 'Asia policy' is focused too heavily on China and not
enough on deepening relationships with allies such as Japan—still the second-largest
economy in the world—and budding partners such as India. The future credentials
of India are consistently ignored or given relatively little attention by officials and
strategists in Canberra. Indeed, in the quest to build China-focused security architecture,
the strategic role of India and the importance of its geopolitical weight in structurally
constraining and 'managing' China are poorly appreciated. Beyond token statements
acknowledging its rise, India remains our great strategic blind spot.
Ignoring India is a serious mistake and a significant oversight considering that the
United States and our other allies and partners in Asia—also looking to anticipate
future regional problems—are working hard to cultivate a constructive and long-lasting
diplomatic and strategic relationship with India. Washington and other Asian capitals
are focused on bulking up bilateral relationships with emerging centres of power such
as New Delhi rather than the premature building of comprehensive, all-inclusive
multilateral security institutions in the region. As the Australian Defence White Paper
acknowledges, 'strategic stability in the region is best underpinned by the continued
presence of the United States through its network of security alliances and partnerships,
including with Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and Australia.'3 Enormous efforts
and diplomatic resources are being put into building a better bilateral relationship with
New Delhi in Washington, Tokyo, Jakarta and Singapore, in particular, with impressive
results. If Australia is to remain a strategically clever, active and relevant middle power,
it is time for Canberra to do the same.
India—the other rising great power in Asia
China's ongoing economic success story is a spectacular one, but it overlooks the fact
that the Indian economy—more reliant on domestic consumption and less on state-led
capital spending—has been booming for almost two decades and has tripled in size since
1988. India's GDP as a share of the global economy (by PPP measurement) grew from
3.4% in 1978 to 4.6% in 2008. Growth per annum has averaged around 7.5% since the
early 1990s, reaching 9% per annum for the past three years. Goldman Sachs estimates
that the Indian economy will quadruple in size from 2007 to 2020, will surpass the size
of the US economy in 2043, and will overtake Japan as the second-largest economy in
the world behind China.4

Despite the global downturn, the Indian economy will still grow between 7 and 8%
in 2009. Importantly, unlike East Asian economies, 30–40% of GDP growth is due to
rising productivity rather than ever-increasing capital and labour inputs.5 For example,
since the 1990s, the proportion of growth explained by total factor productivity is around
40%, compared to around 20% in the early 1980s with impressive improvements in the
services and industry sectors.6
True, there are numerous problems that India needs to be overcome—including
endemic corruption, institutionalised discrimination, an obstructive bureaucracy, the
need for land reform—before setting on an irreversible path of successful and spectacular
development. But in terms of exerting a significant strategic presence, it is significant
that India has the largest middle class in the world—approaching 300 million people.
China's middle class is still only 50 million–200 million (depending on the definition).
This means that India has a critical mass of elites generating crucial economic resources
required by New Delhi to become a great power even if a large proportion of the
country remains poor. Unlike China's ageing problem,7 India will have a favourable
working age demographic until at least the middle of the century: around 50% of India's
population is under 25 years old.8 In contrast, around 2015, more people will be leaving
the workforce in China than entering it.9 The Indian working-age population is due to
surpass China's in 2025 (approximately 900 million people) and its overall population
will surpass China's by 2030–40.
India is not just a rising economic power. It has the second-largest military in the world
and the fifth-largest navy in the world. Its rapidly growing navy is highly professional
and includes the British-built aircraft carrier INS Viraat. New Delhi is also designing
and building its own aircraft carriers, plans to construct its own nuclear-powered carriers
in the near future, and boasts an indigenously built and designed nuclear powered
submarine.10 Military spending has been consistently growing at around 10% every year
and is currently US$26.6 billion, compared to China's US$70.3 billion and America's
$518.3 billion.11
Many Australian officials privately consider their Indian counterparts as being
painstakingly difficult and too unpredictable to deal with constructively. Yet, officials
throughout Southeast Asia suggest to me that while this was their experience with
New Delhi a decade ago, it is much less so the case today. Australia has a relatively small
diplomatic presence in New Delhi—albeit ably led by Peter Varghese, former Director-
General of the Office of National Assessments—and only thinly staffed consulates in
Mumbai and Chennai.
Australia under Prime Minister John Howard caught on to the strategic value of
India only during his final term in office. The current Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith,
has promised to take Australia-India relations 'to a new level ... to the frontline of
our international partnerships.'12 But Prime Minister Rudd, the driving force behind
Australia's strategic and foreign policy, has devoted little personal and official energy
toward any concrete initiatives and secured few outcomes. As Hamish McDonald, the
Asia-Pacific editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, observes, Australia's peak intelligence
body, the Office of National Assessments, is struggling to build its analytical expertise on
India. Australian diplomats are learning about India after they arrive in their postings.13
Contrast the Rudd government's relative neglect of India with the barely reported fact
that on 24 November 2009, US President Barrack Obama will welcome Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh for the first state visit of his presidency. Despite earlier fears
that the Obama administration would eschew the advances in the US-India bilateral
relationship made under the presidency of George W. Bush, the current administration
has been making low-key but consistent advances towards India. The choice of Prime
Minister Singh as Obama's first state guest is significant because as White House
spokesperson Robert Gibbs explained, the visit will 'highlight the strong and growing
strategic partnership between the United States and India.'14
 

A.V.

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The term 'strategic partnership' is not deployed lightly in official Washington circles;
tellingly, Washington has not yet applied similar terms to the US-China relationship.
It is now well-entrenched in the American strategic community on both sides of
politics that a growing US-India strategic partnership can serve as a much sought-after
'structural constraint' to Beijing's ability to potentially disrupt the existing security
order, even as China rises. It is widely accepted in both Washington and New Delhi,
and also throughout Asia, that the US-India partnership greatly enhances the prospect
of continued stability in the region. True, this is dependent on India continuing to rise
and being successfully brought into the existing diplomatic and strategic structures in
Asia. But there is growing evidence that both are occurring, meaning that India is well
positioned to become the 'swing state' that could determine Asia's future balance.
The rise of strategic India
The central position of India, its magnificent resources, its teeming multitude of
men, its great trading harbours, its reserve of military strength, supplying an army
always in a high state of efficiency and capable of being hurled at a moment's
notice upon any point either through Asia or Africa—all these are assets of
precious value. On the West, India must exercise a predominant influence over
the destinies of Persia and Afghanistan; on the north, it can veto any rival in
Tibet; on the north-east "¦ it can exert great pressure upon China, and it is one
of the guardians of the autonomous existence of Siam.15
—Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India 1898–1905
The recent historical neglect of India as a key strategic player in Asia is an aberration
given the sheer size of the country in a location that would thrill any geo-strategist—the
fault of both insular Indian domestic and foreign policy since its independence in 1947
and a lack of imagination on the part of America and its Asian allies.
For decades, India was its own worst enemy. The country's poorly performing
socialist system, its cultural insularity, and reflexive anti-Americanism limiting
New Delhi's influence were shortcomings that stifled India's economic growth and
strategic value. Leading foreign policy analyst C. Raja Mohan memorably compared
India's older strategic culture and style to a 'porcupine'—vegetarian, slow-footed,
defensive, and prickly.16 Prime Minister Nehru's aversion to the West and the early
rhetoric of 'non-alignment' (which conveniently ignored the fact that India signed
an alliance with the Soviet Union) dominated Indian strategic culture for decades.
The result was strategic irrelevance despite the existence of such a large state.
To be sure, many of the problems between India and the United States, and India's
subsequent isolation, were also the result of Cold War politics. During the John F.
Kennedy administration (1961–63), democratic India was seen as an important
counterbalance to authoritarian China. However, the Chinese invasion of India in
1962 meant that India moved closer to the Soviet Union following the Sino-Soviet
split in the 1960s. Subsequently, during the two Indo-Pakistan wars in 1965 and 1971,
Washington offered diplomatic and military assistance to Islamabad while New Delhi
eventually signed a 20-year pact of 'peace, friendship and cooperation' with the Soviet
Union in 1971 (primarily to deter possible Chinese adventurism). Further obstacles to
a better US-India relationship were erected after President Richard Nixon initiated the
rapprochement with China in 1972 in order to isolate the Soviets. Even though there
was a slight easing of tensions between India and the United States when President
Jimmy Carter assumed power, India's refusal to support American's anti-Soviet campaign
after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 significantly reversed any small
progress in the US-India bilateral relationship. Critically, America deepened its strategic
relationship with Pakistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The increased
military cooperation between America and Pakistan raised fears that this might allow
Pakistan to narrow the military gap with India, and pushed India even closer to the
Soviet Union.
India's emergence from this hiatus happened in a process that unfolded over several
decades, but 1991 was the year that India decisively woke from its complacent slumber—
both economically and strategically. Importantly, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, who
was elected in 1991, chose the pro-reformist and free-market advocate Manmohan
Singh as his Finance Minister to deal with the serious fiscal and economic crises facing
the country.
India was confronted by a serious fiscal and balance of payments problem that had
been worsening over a number of years. These deep-seated problems were exacerbated
by the decision to purchase a large amount of petroleum on the spot market following
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1991 as well as dramatic falls in
remittances from Indian workers in the Middle East as a result of the first Gulf War.
The decision drained the country's foreign exchange reserves, and the economic situation
worsened after India lost its export markets in East Europe following the disintegration
of the Soviet Union. In barely two years, 1990–91, an estimated 110 million people
were thrown into poverty.17
As Finance Minister, Singh was the architect of the economic reforms that reversed
this crisis and led to a two-decade economic boom. Unlike previous balance of payments
led crises in 1956–57, 1965–66, and 1980–81where Indian leaders reflexively reverted
to communist principles and tightened rather than loosen controls and regulations,18
Singh responded by altering the direction of the nation's economic policies. This included
gradually abandoning import-substitution industrialisation, and slowly unravelling the
regime of licenses, quotas, permits, and other regulations that stifled economic growth.
To be fair to previous governments, the impetus for gradual, ad hoc liberalisation was
already evident in the 1980s under the leadership of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.19
But the 1991 crisis gave this trend an irreversible shot in the arm.
Moreover, the implosion of the Soviet Union woke the Indian strategic community
from its complacency. India faced the final decade of the twentieth century needing a
new strategic vision that would complement the primary goals of both maintaining
its independence and accelerating economic development. Under Prime Minister
Narasimha Rao, increased engagement with regional powers was seen as a strategy that
would enhance Indian economic development, status and, ultimately, the country's
security. Remaining 'independent' no longer implied remaining 'unaligned'; the latter
had become devoid of any real meaning. The benefits of being a strategic 'porcupine'
were minimal. Instead, New Delhi realised that an economically strong and engaged
India, rather than a weak and isolated one, was to be the future foundation for an
effective counter-dominance strategy. But more than this, India also came to the sensible
realisation that a country of its size, with one of the great civilisations in the world,
had a natural role to play as a great regional and eventually global power.
(a) Looking East
India's Look East policy was launched in 1992. In his first budget speech in Parliament
in July 1991, Finance Minister Singh had offered a famous quote from French novelist
Victor Hugo—'No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come'—and declared
the emergence of India as an economic power as one such idea. But looking east was
not just an economic decision but an explicitly strategic one. Strategic engagement with
Southeast and East Asian countries began simultaneously with economic engagement,
not after it. Prime Minister Rao gave significant momentum to this shift by visiting
China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and SingaporeBy the time Prime Minister Singh came to power in 2004, India had long accepted
the rhetoric of the twenty-first century being an 'Asian century' and its growing
importance in a changing Asia. India grew in confidence and expressed a desire to play
a significant role in shaping this new environment.20 For a country that once viewed
East and Southeast Asia as a region dominated by America and its lackeys, this was an
enormous change.
As Prime Minister Singh acknowledged, the Look East policy 'was also a shift
in India's vision of the world and India's place in the evolving global economy.'21
India needed to find new friends after the implosion of the Soviet Union. Moreover, by
the mid-1990s, it was undeniable that China had become a major power in the region.
The ongoing dispute with Pakistan wasn't going away, but India's status as just a great
South Asian (rather than Asian) power could no longer guarantee the country's future
security. In the 1990s, Chinese diplomatic strategy in the South China Sea was impulsive,
aggressive and impatient. Since then, Beijing's diplomacy has been much more subtle.
As the paper observes, China's rise—from a weak 'rogue dragon' to legitimate great
power—further convinced the Indians that they had no choice but to accept a larger
role in East and Southeast Asia.
(b) India and the US—confronting the elephant in the room
Although President George W. Bush in his second term came to the belated realisation
that India and America shared important political values and strategic interests, the
recent strategic interest in India had its roots after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Following
the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to remove the Taliban from power, there
was renewed strategic interest in New Delhi since Indian influence in Afghanistan had
been strong until the rise of the Islamabad backed Taliban's rise to power in Kabul.
India had supported successive governments in Kabul until the rise of the Taliban in the
1990s and subsequently supported the Northern Alliance that helped American forces
depose the Taliban.22 Since 2001, India has donated US$1.2 billion to Afghanistan's
reconstruction, making it the largest regional donor.23
Nevertheless, any further deepening of diplomatic and strategic relations between
Washington and New Delhi still had to overcome a traditional stumbling block: the
reluctance of India's political and bureaucratic elites to engage with the United States,
especially after America's condemnation of India's nuclear test in 1998 and the persistent
refusal to accept India as a 'legitimate' and 'responsible' nuclear power. From New Delhi's
point of view, the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was an unfair agreement that served
to entrench the interests of the then nuclear powers of the United States, Soviet Union
(now Russia), China, France, and Britain. Persistent American backing for what former
Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh called the 'nuclear apartheid regime'24
was viewed as an affront to India. As Indian leaders and strategists consistently argued,
 

A.V.

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
6,503
Likes
1,132
The term 'strategic partnership' is not deployed lightly in official Washington circles;
tellingly, Washington has not yet applied similar terms to the US-China relationship.
It is now well-entrenched in the American strategic community on both sides of
politics that a growing US-India strategic partnership can serve as a much sought-after
'structural constraint' to Beijing's ability to potentially disrupt the existing security
order, even as China rises. It is widely accepted in both Washington and New Delhi,
and also throughout Asia, that the US-India partnership greatly enhances the prospect
of continued stability in the region. True, this is dependent on India continuing to rise
and being successfully brought into the existing diplomatic and strategic structures in
Asia. But there is growing evidence that both are occurring, meaning that India is well
positioned to become the 'swing state' that could determine Asia's future balance.
The rise of strategic India
The central position of India, its magnificent resources, its teeming multitude of
men, its great trading harbours, its reserve of military strength, supplying an army
always in a high state of efficiency and capable of being hurled at a moment's
notice upon any point either through Asia or Africa—all these are assets of
precious value. On the West, India must exercise a predominant influence over
the destinies of Persia and Afghanistan; on the north, it can veto any rival in
Tibet; on the north-east "¦ it can exert great pressure upon China, and it is one
of the guardians of the autonomous existence of Siam.15
—Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India 1898–1905
The recent historical neglect of India as a key strategic player in Asia is an aberration
given the sheer size of the country in a location that would thrill any geo-strategist—the
fault of both insular Indian domestic and foreign policy since its independence in 1947
and a lack of imagination on the part of America and its Asian allies.
For decades, India was its own worst enemy. The country's poorly performing
socialist system, its cultural insularity, and reflexive anti-Americanism limiting
New Delhi's influence were shortcomings that stifled India's economic growth and
strategic value. Leading foreign policy analyst C. Raja Mohan memorably compared
India's older strategic culture and style to a 'porcupine'—vegetarian, slow-footed,
defensive, and prickly.16 Prime Minister Nehru's aversion to the West and the early
rhetoric of 'non-alignment' (which conveniently ignored the fact that India signed
an alliance with the Soviet Union) dominated Indian strategic culture for decades.
The result was strategic irrelevance despite the existence of such a large state.
To be sure, many of the problems between India and the United States, and India's
subsequent isolation, were also the result of Cold War politics. During the John F.
Kennedy administration (1961–63), democratic India was seen as an important
counterbalance to authoritarian China. However, the Chinese invasion of India in
1962 meant that India moved closer to the Soviet Union following the Sino-Soviet
split in the 1960s. Subsequently, during the two Indo-Pakistan wars in 1965 and 1971,
Washington offered diplomatic and military assistance to Islamabad while New Delhi
eventually signed a 20-year pact of 'peace, friendship and cooperation' with the Soviet
Union in 1971 (primarily to deter possible Chinese adventurism). Further obstacles to
a better US-India relationship were erected after President Richard Nixon initiated the
rapprochement with China in 1972 in order to isolate the Soviets. Even though there
was a slight easing of tensions between India and the United States when President
Jimmy Carter assumed power, India's refusal to support American's anti-Soviet campaign
after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 significantly reversed any small
progress in the US-India bilateral relationship. Critically, America deepened its strategic
relationship with Pakistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The increased
military cooperation between America and Pakistan raised fears that this might allow
Pakistan to narrow the military gap with India, and pushed India even closer to the
Soviet Union.
India's emergence from this hiatus happened in a process that unfolded over several
decades, but 1991 was the year that India decisively woke from its complacent slumber—
both economically and strategically. Importantly, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, who
was elected in 1991, chose the pro-reformist and free-market advocate Manmohan
Singh as his Finance Minister to deal with the serious fiscal and economic crises facing
the country.
India was confronted by a serious fiscal and balance of payments problem that had
been worsening over a number of years. These deep-seated problems were exacerbated
by the decision to purchase a large amount of petroleum on the spot market following
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1991 as well as dramatic falls in
remittances from Indian workers in the Middle East as a result of the first Gulf War.
The decision drained the country's foreign exchange reserves, and the economic situation
worsened after India lost its export markets in East Europe following the disintegration
of the Soviet Union. In barely two years, 1990–91, an estimated 110 million people
were thrown into poverty.17
As Finance Minister, Singh was the architect of the economic reforms that reversed
this crisis and led to a two-decade economic boom. Unlike previous balance of payments
led crises in 1956–57, 1965–66, and 1980–81where Indian leaders reflexively reverted
to communist principles and tightened rather than loosen controls and regulations,18
Singh responded by altering the direction of the nation's economic policies. This included
gradually abandoning import-substitution industrialisation, and slowly unravelling the
regime of licenses, quotas, permits, and other regulations that stifled economic growth.
To be fair to previous governments, the impetus for gradual, ad hoc liberalisation was
already evident in the 1980s under the leadership of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.19
But the 1991 crisis gave this trend an irreversible shot in the arm.
Moreover, the implosion of the Soviet Union woke the Indian strategic community
from its complacency. India faced the final decade of the twentieth century needing a
new strategic vision that would complement the primary goals of both maintaining
its independence and accelerating economic development. Under Prime Minister
Narasimha Rao, increased engagement with regional powers was seen as a strategy that
would enhance Indian economic development, status and, ultimately, the country's
security. Remaining 'independent' no longer implied remaining 'unaligned'; the latter
had become devoid of any real meaning. The benefits of being a strategic 'porcupine'
were minimal. Instead, New Delhi realised that an economically strong and engaged
India, rather than a weak and isolated one, was to be the future foundation for an
effective counter-dominance strategy. But more than this, India also came to the sensible
realisation that a country of its size, with one of the great civilisations in the world,
had a natural role to play as a great regional and eventually global power.
(a) Looking East
India's Look East policy was launched in 1992. In his first budget speech in Parliament
in July 1991, Finance Minister Singh had offered a famous quote from French novelist
Victor Hugo—'No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come'—and declared
the emergence of India as an economic power as one such idea. But looking east was
not just an economic decision but an explicitly strategic one. Strategic engagement with
Southeast and East Asian countries began simultaneously with economic engagement,
not after it. Prime Minister Rao gave significant momentum to this shift by visiting
China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and SingaporeBy the time Prime Minister Singh came to power in 2004, India had long accepted
the rhetoric of the twenty-first century being an 'Asian century' and its growing
importance in a changing Asia. India grew in confidence and expressed a desire to play
a significant role in shaping this new environment.20 For a country that once viewed
East and Southeast Asia as a region dominated by America and its lackeys, this was an
enormous change.
As Prime Minister Singh acknowledged, the Look East policy 'was also a shift
in India's vision of the world and India's place in the evolving global economy.'21
India needed to find new friends after the implosion of the Soviet Union. Moreover, by
the mid-1990s, it was undeniable that China had become a major power in the region.
The ongoing dispute with Pakistan wasn't going away, but India's status as just a great
South Asian (rather than Asian) power could no longer guarantee the country's future
security. In the 1990s, Chinese diplomatic strategy in the South China Sea was impulsive,
aggressive and impatient. Since then, Beijing's diplomacy has been much more subtle.
As the paper observes, China's rise—from a weak 'rogue dragon' to legitimate great
power—further convinced the Indians that they had no choice but to accept a larger
role in East and Southeast Asia.
(b) India and the US—confronting the elephant in the room
Although President George W. Bush in his second term came to the belated realisation
that India and America shared important political values and strategic interests, the
recent strategic interest in India had its roots after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Following
the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to remove the Taliban from power, there
was renewed strategic interest in New Delhi since Indian influence in Afghanistan had
been strong until the rise of the Islamabad backed Taliban's rise to power in Kabul.
India had supported successive governments in Kabul until the rise of the Taliban in the
1990s and subsequently supported the Northern Alliance that helped American forces
depose the Taliban.22 Since 2001, India has donated US$1.2 billion to Afghanistan's
reconstruction, making it the largest regional donor.23
Nevertheless, any further deepening of diplomatic and strategic relations between
Washington and New Delhi still had to overcome a traditional stumbling block: the
reluctance of India's political and bureaucratic elites to engage with the United States,
especially after America's condemnation of India's nuclear test in 1998 and the persistent
refusal to accept India as a 'legitimate' and 'responsible' nuclear power. From New Delhi's
point of view, the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was an unfair agreement that served
to entrench the interests of the then nuclear powers of the United States, Soviet Union
(now Russia), China, France, and Britain. Persistent American backing for what former
Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh called the 'nuclear apartheid regime'24
was viewed as an affront to India. As Indian leaders and strategists consistently argued,
 

A.V.

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
6,503
Likes
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India had proven itself to be a responsible nuclear power with a perfect non-proliferation
history. The continued ostracism of India as a nuclear power, according to New Delhi,
meant a refusal to recognise and accept India as a rising and responsible great power.
A major change to repair this rift became apparent when in July 2005, George W.
Bush and Prime Minister Singh signed a framework for an agreement under which India
agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and place all its civil nuclear
facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. In return, the
United States offered India full support for its civilian nuclear program. The result was
the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement
Act, which came into force in 2008. Even though India remains a non-signatory to
the NPT, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)—of which Australia is a
member—granted India a waiver at the behest of the Americans, allowing India to enter
into the legitimate market for nuclear materials. The agreement recognised India as 'a
responsible state with advanced nuclear technology' and gave New Delhi what it wanted
(access to fissile material from international suppliers and civilian nuclear technology)
and legitimised India as a nuclear power after decades of international ostracism.
Interestingly, the decision by the United States to move on the nuclear deal followed
India's decision to apply for full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
(SCO) in June 2005, and again in October of that year25 (after the conclusion of the
US-India framework agreement). Even prior to the June 2008 statement by Indian
External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh that India wanted to become a full member
of the SCO, Beijing and New Delhi spoke ambiguously about working towards a
'strategic partnership.'
These developments took place during the same time the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) described India as the key swing state in Asia and US strategists were
urging the Bush Administration to prevent such an Indo-Sino partnership. Even though
Prime Minister Singh characterised the framework agreement as one that would help
secure Indian energy security in the future, it was squarely viewed by Indian officials
as primarily a strategic move closer toward the United States. Notably, the deal was
criticised by the communists from the Indian Left as being just that—one that entailed
closer strategic relations with Washington—and condemned by the ultra-nationalistic
Indian Right as one that would sacrifice India's 'strategic independence.' Similarly, there
is no doubt that even though the decision to conclude the deal was frequently justified by
American officials as one designed to help meet India's development needs by allowing
it to purchase the nuclear materials it required to generate energy, Washington insiders
widely admit that the primary motivation was a geo-strategic one.
Once the framework agreement was concluded, the foundations for a deeper
strategic partnership between the United States and India were quickly laid. This
was complemented by India and Japan declaring an ambition for a strategic and
economic entente 'between Asia's two largest democratic powers' in December 2006.
Then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke frequently about the United States
'helping India to become a world power'26 both immediately before and repeatedly after
the signing of the framework agreement. This grand offer was matched by concrete
initiatives such as America's offer to help India produce world class combat aircraft.
As C. Raja Mohan observes, 'Our 30-year complaint [about] denial regimes [that] have
targeted India has now been rubbished with the American offers of joint production
of world class combat aircraft. This is not to be mistaken for a hardware sale, but a
realization that the Americans can live with a regional power like India.'27 American
generosity therefore extended to helping India become a major military power.
The nuclear deal was also an important prelude towards a so-called 'de-hyphenated'
approach to relations between America and India. From New Delhi's point of view,
relations with Washington had always been complicated by India-Pakistan tensions.
Given traditional American support for Islamabad, relations between Washington
and New Delhi would always be awkward. A superpower like America could never
be a neutral arbiter in the India-Pakistan issue. Under a 'hyphenated' approach,
the US-India relationship was always vulnerable to Pakistani manipulation. By forging
a US-India relationship independent of the India-Pakistan issue, the prospect of a blank
slate, in theory at least, was offered to any emerging bilateral relationship between the
United States and India.
India was President George W. Bush's big strategic play in the twilight of his presidency.
To entrench the relationship, the strategic deepening between the two countries has
been augmented by US-India naval cooperation institutionalised at the highest military
levels, meaning that tactical and operational aspects of the partnership have become
highly resilient to changing political whims. For example, the Malabar exercises, which
resumed in 2002 following an interruption in the wake of the 1998 India nuclear tests,
were elevated in importance. The September 2007 exercises involved military vessels
and aircraft from the United States, India, Japan, Australia, and Singapore in joint
exercises in the Bay of Bengal. Interestingly, the last time the American Seventh Fleet
was in the Bay of Bengal was in 1971 when it was attempting to intimidate India as
India and Pakistan fought a war that would lead to the establishment of Bangladesh.
The 2008 exercises took place in the Arabian Sea. These involved the US nuclear
powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and anti-submarine warfare joint operations
between the United States and India. This is significant since China is pursuing a
sea-denial strategy against American maritime dominance, and Chinese submarines in
Asian waters outnumber the American submarines by over four to one. US Lieutenant-
Commander John Fleming, who participated in the 2009 exercises off the coast of Japan
notably remarked, 'The US, Japan and India share democratic and seafaring traditions'28
and hinted at inter-operational exercises that go beyond mere tactical operations towards
strategic cooperation. There is also talk about conducting joint aircraft carrier exercises,
which would be a major next step in such cooperation.
Other recent US moves to encourage closer military ties with India have been
considerable. In January 2009, the Obama administration approved the sale of six
Lockheed Martin Hercules military transport planes worth US$1 billion to India.
In March 2009, the State Department approved the sale of eight Boeing P-81 maritime
reconnaissance aircraft worth US$2.1 billion to the Indians—the largest contract
awarded to an American company by India. Then in July 2009, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton signed an End User Monitoring Agreement of military equipment,
signaling an upping of trust and cooperation between the two countries. This paved the
way for the September 2009 sale to the Indians of the 'futuristic' shipboard Hawkeye
E-2D aircraft for Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and battle management. The UAE
is the only other country that has gained State and Defense Department approval to
purchase this technology. US sales of military hardware to India are expected to reach
US$35 billion over the next quarter century,29 strengthening Indian reliance on American
hardware, spare parts, and technology. India has also been looking to cooperate with
the United States in building a ballistic missile defence (BMD) system in Asia. Finally,
US companies are competing with rivals from Russia and France to sell fighter jets
worth US$12 billion to the Indian Air Force. If Lockheed Martin or Boeing were to win
the contract, this would decisively shift New Delhi's planned US$50 billion military
upgrade away from its traditional reliance on Moscow and towards Washington.
In a personal letter written by President Obama to Indian counterpart Manmohan
Singh shortly after Obama's election victory, the President-elect spoke about the 'shared
interests, shared values, shared sense of threats, and ever burgeoning ties between our two
economies and societies.' Obama then said, 'as a starting point "¦ our common strategic
interests call for a redoubling of US-India military, intelligence, and law enforcement
cooperation.'30
The former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill notes that the importance of
India is now 'sufficiently embedded in the strategic consciousness of the United States.'31
Likewise, the strategic usefulness of closer relations with the Americans is widely accepted
amongst India's policy elites, a theme in Indian foreign policy that has been reinforced
by the emphatic victory of Prime Minister Singh's Congress Party-led coalition in the
May 2009 elections.
The China strategic conundrum
The recent American (and regional) interest in India as a strategic partner is enhanced
by the fact that continued American dominance in Asia faces a new set of challenges
that were not entirely apparent when America became the world's only superpower less
than two decades ago. Global and regional terrorism, as well as the ongoing situation
in Pakistan and Afghanistan is one challenge. But by far the most important long-term
challenge is the re-emergence of China as a great power in the region. In particular,
China presents a strategic conundrum for America and its allies.
On the one hand, China is emerging as the clear challenger to American dominance,
values and interests in the region. China's newfound significance and recent revival
of its 'great power mentality' is built on the back of its spectacular economic growth
since the reforms in 1979.32 Although a beneficiary of US-backed security and stability
in the region, China is still a dissatisfied rising power. Driven by a genuine sense of
'150 years of humiliation' at the hands of Western and Japanese powers, the urge to
return to greatness is deeply embedded in the expectations of both its leaders and social
elites. Once the predominant power in Asia for almost 3,000 years, it is only now
re-emerging within a regional order with a set of rules that it had no role in defining.
It is also rising within a post-World War II regional security order that was not designed
to accommodate the return of such a large competitor.
Chinese regional ambitions, and the view of itself as the historical and natural great
power in Asia, put it at odds with the US-backed regional order. The question of Taiwan
remains a flashpoint that could yet lead to war between China and the United States.
Territorial disputes between China and countries such as India, Russia, Japan, and
several Southeast Asian states persist even if they are stable for the moment. China still
claims four-fifths of the South China Sea as its historical waters, and is in the process of
acquiring a naval capacity that will extend far beyond its stated aim of winning a war
in the Taiwan Straits. The fact that China remains authoritarian—and a key backer of
authoritarian regimes in states such as North Korea and Myanmar—creates distrust
in Washington and many Asian capitals. Political values have strategic significance.
China will not receive America's blessing (and that of its allies) as a great power to
which it will happily cede influence until China gives up its vast territorial and maritime
claims. Neither will the United States happily support the 'inclusion' of Taiwan back
into Beijing's fold whilst China remains authoritarian.
On the other hand, despite widespread distrust of Beijing, the great strategic and
diplomatic challenge for the United States and countries in the region, including
Australia, arises from the fact that China is now viewed by the region (and by the
United States) as a 'legitimate' rising state that is indispensable to the regional and
global economy. Unlike the Soviet Union, or China under Mao Zedong, modern
China is much more integrated into the existing regional and global economic system.
This ensures that China is an essential regional and global economic player. In 2008,
China was responsible for around one-quarter of global GDP growth, overtaking
the United States as the most important economy in this regard. Chinese exports
reached US$377 billion in 2008, and it is estimated that China holds more than
US$1.3 trillion in USD denominated financial assets, including more than US$800
billion in US Treasury bills.33 China has become the region's primary export platform,
importing more from the rest of Asia and exporting more to the rest of the world
than any other Asian country.34 From US$100 billion in 2004, trade between China
and ASEAN surpassed US$200 billion in 2008, and there is constant talk—although
little progress—of a Free Trade Agreement between China and ASEAN by 2010.35
The economic rise of China has brought enormous economic benefits to the region and
the rest of the world. Even though almost every country in the region sees the continued
American presence as a welcome deterrent against a possibly disruptive China, it is
unthinkable for American allies in Asia to pursue any explicit economic containment
strategy or to diplomatically isolate Beijing in the absence of serious Chinese provocation.
Doing so would jeopardise future prosperity in an area where economic regionalism is
growing and also enrage a great power, hence bringing to a premature end the hope that
an increasingly 'socialised' China could be peacefully integrated into the existing setup.
To give regional leaders less reason to publically express fears about China's rise,
Beijing has conducted a carefully crafted and well-executed diplomatic strategy designed
to increase acceptance of China as a great power and appease fears that a rising China
would be a threat to the existing order. For example, Beijing has deliberately highlighted
'consensus' decision-making as the way forward and is emphasising primarily 'win-win'
agreements with states in the region. Its engagement with ASEAN is relentless, having
attended more than 40 major ASEAN meetings since 2000 compared to the Americans
who have attended around 10.
 

A.V.

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Feb 16, 2009
Messages
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India had proven itself to be a responsible nuclear power with a perfect non-proliferation
history. The continued ostracism of India as a nuclear power, according to New Delhi,
meant a refusal to recognise and accept India as a rising and responsible great power.
A major change to repair this rift became apparent when in July 2005, George W.
Bush and Prime Minister Singh signed a framework for an agreement under which India
agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and place all its civil nuclear
facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. In return, the
United States offered India full support for its civilian nuclear program. The result was
the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement
Act, which came into force in 2008. Even though India remains a non-signatory to
the NPT, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)—of which Australia is a
member—granted India a waiver at the behest of the Americans, allowing India to enter
into the legitimate market for nuclear materials. The agreement recognised India as 'a
responsible state with advanced nuclear technology' and gave New Delhi what it wanted
(access to fissile material from international suppliers and civilian nuclear technology)
and legitimised India as a nuclear power after decades of international ostracism.
Interestingly, the decision by the United States to move on the nuclear deal followed
India's decision to apply for full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
(SCO) in June 2005, and again in October of that year25 (after the conclusion of the
US-India framework agreement). Even prior to the June 2008 statement by Indian
External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh that India wanted to become a full member
of the SCO, Beijing and New Delhi spoke ambiguously about working towards a
'strategic partnership.'
These developments took place during the same time the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) described India as the key swing state in Asia and US strategists were
urging the Bush Administration to prevent such an Indo-Sino partnership. Even though
Prime Minister Singh characterised the framework agreement as one that would help
secure Indian energy security in the future, it was squarely viewed by Indian officials
as primarily a strategic move closer toward the United States. Notably, the deal was
criticised by the communists from the Indian Left as being just that—one that entailed
closer strategic relations with Washington—and condemned by the ultra-nationalistic
Indian Right as one that would sacrifice India's 'strategic independence.' Similarly, there
is no doubt that even though the decision to conclude the deal was frequently justified by
American officials as one designed to help meet India's development needs by allowing
it to purchase the nuclear materials it required to generate energy, Washington insiders
widely admit that the primary motivation was a geo-strategic one.
Once the framework agreement was concluded, the foundations for a deeper
strategic partnership between the United States and India were quickly laid. This
was complemented by India and Japan declaring an ambition for a strategic and
economic entente 'between Asia's two largest democratic powers' in December 2006.
Then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke frequently about the United States
'helping India to become a world power'26 both immediately before and repeatedly after
the signing of the framework agreement. This grand offer was matched by concrete
initiatives such as America's offer to help India produce world class combat aircraft.
As C. Raja Mohan observes, 'Our 30-year complaint [about] denial regimes [that] have
targeted India has now been rubbished with the American offers of joint production
of world class combat aircraft. This is not to be mistaken for a hardware sale, but a
realization that the Americans can live with a regional power like India.'27 American
generosity therefore extended to helping India become a major military power.
The nuclear deal was also an important prelude towards a so-called 'de-hyphenated'
approach to relations between America and India. From New Delhi's point of view,
relations with Washington had always been complicated by India-Pakistan tensions.
Given traditional American support for Islamabad, relations between Washington
and New Delhi would always be awkward. A superpower like America could never
be a neutral arbiter in the India-Pakistan issue. Under a 'hyphenated' approach,
the US-India relationship was always vulnerable to Pakistani manipulation. By forging
a US-India relationship independent of the India-Pakistan issue, the prospect of a blank
slate, in theory at least, was offered to any emerging bilateral relationship between the
United States and India.
India was President George W. Bush's big strategic play in the twilight of his presidency.
To entrench the relationship, the strategic deepening between the two countries has
been augmented by US-India naval cooperation institutionalised at the highest military
levels, meaning that tactical and operational aspects of the partnership have become
highly resilient to changing political whims. For example, the Malabar exercises, which
resumed in 2002 following an interruption in the wake of the 1998 India nuclear tests,
were elevated in importance. The September 2007 exercises involved military vessels
and aircraft from the United States, India, Japan, Australia, and Singapore in joint
exercises in the Bay of Bengal. Interestingly, the last time the American Seventh Fleet
was in the Bay of Bengal was in 1971 when it was attempting to intimidate India as
India and Pakistan fought a war that would lead to the establishment of Bangladesh.
The 2008 exercises took place in the Arabian Sea. These involved the US nuclear
powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and anti-submarine warfare joint operations
between the United States and India. This is significant since China is pursuing a
sea-denial strategy against American maritime dominance, and Chinese submarines in
Asian waters outnumber the American submarines by over four to one. US Lieutenant-
Commander John Fleming, who participated in the 2009 exercises off the coast of Japan
notably remarked, 'The US, Japan and India share democratic and seafaring traditions'28
and hinted at inter-operational exercises that go beyond mere tactical operations towards
strategic cooperation. There is also talk about conducting joint aircraft carrier exercises,
which would be a major next step in such cooperation.
Other recent US moves to encourage closer military ties with India have been
considerable. In January 2009, the Obama administration approved the sale of six
Lockheed Martin Hercules military transport planes worth US$1 billion to India.
In March 2009, the State Department approved the sale of eight Boeing P-81 maritime
reconnaissance aircraft worth US$2.1 billion to the Indians—the largest contract
awarded to an American company by India. Then in July 2009, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton signed an End User Monitoring Agreement of military equipment,
signaling an upping of trust and cooperation between the two countries. This paved the
way for the September 2009 sale to the Indians of the 'futuristic' shipboard Hawkeye
E-2D aircraft for Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and battle management. The UAE
is the only other country that has gained State and Defense Department approval to
purchase this technology. US sales of military hardware to India are expected to reach
US$35 billion over the next quarter century,29 strengthening Indian reliance on American
hardware, spare parts, and technology. India has also been looking to cooperate with
the United States in building a ballistic missile defence (BMD) system in Asia. Finally,
US companies are competing with rivals from Russia and France to sell fighter jets
worth US$12 billion to the Indian Air Force. If Lockheed Martin or Boeing were to win
the contract, this would decisively shift New Delhi's planned US$50 billion military
upgrade away from its traditional reliance on Moscow and towards Washington.
In a personal letter written by President Obama to Indian counterpart Manmohan
Singh shortly after Obama's election victory, the President-elect spoke about the 'shared
interests, shared values, shared sense of threats, and ever burgeoning ties between our two
economies and societies.' Obama then said, 'as a starting point "¦ our common strategic
interests call for a redoubling of US-India military, intelligence, and law enforcement
cooperation.'30
The former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill notes that the importance of
India is now 'sufficiently embedded in the strategic consciousness of the United States.'31
Likewise, the strategic usefulness of closer relations with the Americans is widely accepted
amongst India's policy elites, a theme in Indian foreign policy that has been reinforced
by the emphatic victory of Prime Minister Singh's Congress Party-led coalition in the
May 2009 elections.
The China strategic conundrum
The recent American (and regional) interest in India as a strategic partner is enhanced
by the fact that continued American dominance in Asia faces a new set of challenges
that were not entirely apparent when America became the world's only superpower less
than two decades ago. Global and regional terrorism, as well as the ongoing situation
in Pakistan and Afghanistan is one challenge. But by far the most important long-term
challenge is the re-emergence of China as a great power in the region. In particular,
China presents a strategic conundrum for America and its allies.
On the one hand, China is emerging as the clear challenger to American dominance,
values and interests in the region. China's newfound significance and recent revival
of its 'great power mentality' is built on the back of its spectacular economic growth
since the reforms in 1979.32 Although a beneficiary of US-backed security and stability
in the region, China is still a dissatisfied rising power. Driven by a genuine sense of
'150 years of humiliation' at the hands of Western and Japanese powers, the urge to
return to greatness is deeply embedded in the expectations of both its leaders and social
elites. Once the predominant power in Asia for almost 3,000 years, it is only now
re-emerging within a regional order with a set of rules that it had no role in defining.
It is also rising within a post-World War II regional security order that was not designed
to accommodate the return of such a large competitor.
Chinese regional ambitions, and the view of itself as the historical and natural great
power in Asia, put it at odds with the US-backed regional order. The question of Taiwan
remains a flashpoint that could yet lead to war between China and the United States.
Territorial disputes between China and countries such as India, Russia, Japan, and
several Southeast Asian states persist even if they are stable for the moment. China still
claims four-fifths of the South China Sea as its historical waters, and is in the process of
acquiring a naval capacity that will extend far beyond its stated aim of winning a war
in the Taiwan Straits. The fact that China remains authoritarian—and a key backer of
authoritarian regimes in states such as North Korea and Myanmar—creates distrust
in Washington and many Asian capitals. Political values have strategic significance.
China will not receive America's blessing (and that of its allies) as a great power to
which it will happily cede influence until China gives up its vast territorial and maritime
claims. Neither will the United States happily support the 'inclusion' of Taiwan back
into Beijing's fold whilst China remains authoritarian.
On the other hand, despite widespread distrust of Beijing, the great strategic and
diplomatic challenge for the United States and countries in the region, including
Australia, arises from the fact that China is now viewed by the region (and by the
United States) as a 'legitimate' rising state that is indispensable to the regional and
global economy. Unlike the Soviet Union, or China under Mao Zedong, modern
China is much more integrated into the existing regional and global economic system.
This ensures that China is an essential regional and global economic player. In 2008,
China was responsible for around one-quarter of global GDP growth, overtaking
the United States as the most important economy in this regard. Chinese exports
reached US$377 billion in 2008, and it is estimated that China holds more than
US$1.3 trillion in USD denominated financial assets, including more than US$800
billion in US Treasury bills.33 China has become the region's primary export platform,
importing more from the rest of Asia and exporting more to the rest of the world
than any other Asian country.34 From US$100 billion in 2004, trade between China
and ASEAN surpassed US$200 billion in 2008, and there is constant talk—although
little progress—of a Free Trade Agreement between China and ASEAN by 2010.35
The economic rise of China has brought enormous economic benefits to the region and
the rest of the world. Even though almost every country in the region sees the continued
American presence as a welcome deterrent against a possibly disruptive China, it is
unthinkable for American allies in Asia to pursue any explicit economic containment
strategy or to diplomatically isolate Beijing in the absence of serious Chinese provocation.
Doing so would jeopardise future prosperity in an area where economic regionalism is
growing and also enrage a great power, hence bringing to a premature end the hope that
an increasingly 'socialised' China could be peacefully integrated into the existing setup.
To give regional leaders less reason to publically express fears about China's rise,
Beijing has conducted a carefully crafted and well-executed diplomatic strategy designed
to increase acceptance of China as a great power and appease fears that a rising China
would be a threat to the existing order. For example, Beijing has deliberately highlighted
'consensus' decision-making as the way forward and is emphasising primarily 'win-win'
agreements with states in the region. Its engagement with ASEAN is relentless, having
attended more than 40 major ASEAN meetings since 2000 compared to the Americans
who have attended around 10.
 

A.V.

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
6,503
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1,132
Moreover, Chinese attempts to build a case for its legitimacy in Asia, Europe and
America have been helped by the fact that China's return to greatness is a long-awaited
development not only for China's 1.3 billion people but also for the approximately
40 million Chinese diaspora throughout these continents.
Beijing has even shown that it is capable of innovative regional leadership through
the formation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with China, Russia,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as full members. Four states, India,
Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, have observer status. Although arguably creating distrust
in equal measure, China is also buying friends and influencing countries through
'no-strings attached' aid policies in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
China has no interest in improved governance or better institutions in these recipient
countries but expects and receives their support in the manner of client states.
China's economic integration and diplomatic successes presents a profound
conundrum for the United States and its regional allies. Explicit attempts to 'contain'
China and keep it isolated will create a resentful great power. Any regional government
seen to be explicitly containing China will find an unsupportive domestic and regional
audience. Even as suspicions of Beijing's long-term intentions grow, few states in Asia
are prepared to miss on the immediate benefits of economic cooperation with China,
and are reluctant to explicitly alienate such an important rising power.
The permanence of Sino-Indo tensions
The rise of China is frequently seen as an East and Southeast Asian strategic conundrum
while India has long been viewed only as a South Asian power. Yet, in many respects,
India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru shared Lord Curzon's expansive view of
the country's strategic worth: India was 'the pivot round which the defense problems
of the Middle East, the Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia revolve.'36 Likewise, Prime
Minister Singh argued that India's strategic footprint as a 'super regional power covers
the region bounded by the Horn of Africa, West Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and
beyond, to the reaches of the Indian Ocean.'37 A large country of such geo-strategic
significance and ambition was always likely to experience tensions with Asia's other great
traditional power, China. As US-India policy expert Ashley Tellis argues, 'China and
India appeared destined for competition from the moment of their creation as modern
states.'38 C. Raja Mohan makes a similar point:
I tell the Americans: You balanced China from 1949 to 1971, but then allied
with Beijing from 1971 to 1989. India has been balancing China since the day
the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950. We have always balanced China—and that's
what we'll continue to do.39
'China and
India appeared
destined for
competition
from the
moment of
their creation as
modern states.'
12 Foreign Policy Analysis
Twentieth century history and the first decade of this century confirm this hypothesis.
Even though Prime Minister Nehru initially held an optimistic view of India-China
relations as the driving force behind a resurgent Asia, relations had soured by the late
1950s with China accusing India of nursing ambitions for a 'greater Indian empire.'40
China's invasion of Tibet in 1950 had previously erased the traditional buffer between
China and British-ruled India. This was always a concern for Indian strategists even
though Nehru initially turned a blind eye for the sake of harmonious China-India
relations. The China-India war in 1962 led to a defeat for India and China seizing the
Aksai Chin region, which linked Tibet and Xinjiang provinces.
China still claims some 90,000 square kilometres of Indian territory, including large
parts of the eastern-most Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (which has Myanmar to its
east). To put this in geographical context, the disputed area is more than twice the size
of Switzerland. Tensions remain real, illustrated by China recently blocking the Asian
Development Bank's US$2.9 billion loan destined for India because US$60 million of
it was earmarked for a water program in Arunachal Pradesh.41 More recently, Beijing
expressed 'strong dissatisfaction' over Prime Minister Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh
to help campaign in a local election. New Delhi responded by reaffirming that Arunachal
Pradesh is 'an integral and inalienable part of India.'42 The Indian military reported
270 Chinese border incursions into Indian territories in 2008, double the figure from
2007 and more than three times from 2006.43 As Newsweek reported, the Chinese
state-run People's Daily in an editorial in June 2009 criticised recent moves by India
to strengthen its border defences and ominously declared that 'China will not make
any compromises in its border disputes with India.' The editorial then asked whether
New Delhi had 'weighed the consequences of a potential conflict with China.'44
China and India are also constantly locked in a battle for influence in the buffer state
of Nepal and the Bay of Bengal access state of Bangladesh. For example, China backs
the Maoists in Nepal and sells arms to Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal in an attempt
to foment 'contained instability' and gradually dilute Indian influence in these states.
Importantly, China offers just enough strategic and military (including nuclear weapons
and ballistic missile45) assistance to Pakistan to keep India distracted in South Asia but
not enough to become a focal point in the existing India-Pakistan problem. Finally,
New Delhi is apprehensive about China's militarisation, and in particular nuclearisation,
of the Tibetan plateau. As an indication of very real tensions, China has not extended its
'no first use' of nuclear weapons doctrine to include India.
The land disputes are not the only sources of tension. A key component of Beijing's
strategy was to help keep India preoccupied with its land-based neighbours, allowing
Beijing a freer hand in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. But the dependence of
both China and India on shipping commerce, especially energy imports (that pass through
the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and the Malacca Straits) will
most likely make sea-based rather than land-based competition more important.
Even back in 1993, a former director of the General Logistics Department of the
People's Liberation Army, Zhao Nanqi, reversed long-standing policy by arguing that
they could 'no longer accept the Indian Ocean as an ocean only of the Indians.'46
The Chinese Navy is now the second-largest navy in the world, with more than 250,000
personnel and over 300 ships.47 It has been building three new submarines a year since
1995 and now has around 85—the second largest such fleet in the world after the
United States.48 It is building at least five ballistic missile submarines, each carrying
12 intercontinental missiles and each missile having three nuclear warheads. To counter
India's natural advantage of access to the Indian Ocean (as well as American Fifth Fleet
based in Bahrain), China has set up naval ports, listening stations, logistics facilities, and
refueling depots in waters belonging to Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan49 in addition
to one in Cambodia. This includes facilities in the Coco Islands, which lie only 18 km
north of the Indian naval base in the Andaman Islands. China is constructing a waterway
that extends from Yunnan province to the Bay of Bengal through the Irrawaddy River
in Myanmar.50 These are segments of what American and Indian analysts call China's
emerging 'string of pearls' strategy:51 efforts to increase access to ports and airfields,
develop special diplomatic relationships, and modernise military forces that extend from
the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to
the Arabian Gulf. Although there are still only very few actually discernable 'pearls' on
the string, only Indian influence has prevented China from successfully signing on other
'string of pearls' candidates such as Bangladesh, Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles.
There is strong evidence that competition between the two powers now involves
both land and sea. For example, Indian strategist and former intelligence chief
Vikram Sood believes that China's strategy is all about keeping India bogged down by
fomenting instability in its relations with Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar,
whilst encircling India with its 'string of pearls' strategy—a move designed to 'put
India in pincers.'52 Beijing's strategy was to confine India to being a South Asian power
with only limited ambitions in the Indian Ocean, and prevent it from becoming an
Asian or a global power. But the growing interests and ambitions of India means China
will be disappointed in this regard. The reported February 2009 stand-off between
Chinese destroyers and an Indian submarine in the Gulf of Aden—in international
waters far away from Chinese and Indian territorial borders—is significant.
As C. Raja Mohan notes, the fact that the stand-off took place in neutral territory
suggests colliding interests that extend way beyond the territorial waters of either nation.53
India is threatening to constrain Chinese influence in the South China Sea, and China
is moving into India's sphere of influence in the Indian Ocean.
Although China's yearning for a dominant role in a future post-America Asia leaves
little room for Indian leadership, New Delhi sees itself as a major centre of power in
Asia (and not just South Asia). It is significant that the most recent Indian naval strategy
manual is titled Freedom to Use the Seas and speaks about India being 'among the foremost
centres of power—economic, technological, and cultural—in the coming decades.'
In New Delhi's eyes, this calls for 'a concomitant accretion of national power, of which
the military power will be a critical dimension.'54 Although both countries are still
primarily focused on domestic development and tensions can therefore be managed,
there is little doubt that a rising India and China remain 'strategic adversaries.'
Democratic India as a counter-balance against China
India's commitment to democracy is sincere, having been long established and reaffirmed
over decades. In a speech in 2005, Prime Minister Singh said that the 'idea of India'
is the 'idea of an inclusive, open, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual society.'
Singh believes that this is 'the dominant trend of political evolution of all societies in the
21st century ... Liberal democracy is the natural order of political organisation in today's
world. All alternate systems [are an] aberration.'55
To be sure, democracy by itself has never been enough to overcome the different
strategic cultures and diverging interests of India vis-à-vis America and its allies. There is
no preordained harmony between the world's most powerful democracy and the world's
largest democracy. For example, in examining the UN voting patterns of India compared
to the United States in issues such as human rights, the Middle East, and arms control,
the voting coincidence between the two powers varied from zero percent to 45% from
1997–2003.56 But converging regional interests mean that democratic India becomes
a strategic asset of huge significance. Indian and American leaders now refer to each
other as 'natural allies.'57 In particular, both sides believe that cooperation will eventually
create a power balance in Asia that will help keep potential Chinese ambitions in check
and constrain the ability of Beijing to challenge the existing liberal, open order in the
future.
 

A.V.

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Messages
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Moreover, Chinese attempts to build a case for its legitimacy in Asia, Europe and
America have been helped by the fact that China's return to greatness is a long-awaited
development not only for China's 1.3 billion people but also for the approximately
40 million Chinese diaspora throughout these continents.
Beijing has even shown that it is capable of innovative regional leadership through
the formation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with China, Russia,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as full members. Four states, India,
Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, have observer status. Although arguably creating distrust
in equal measure, China is also buying friends and influencing countries through
'no-strings attached' aid policies in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
China has no interest in improved governance or better institutions in these recipient
countries but expects and receives their support in the manner of client states.
China's economic integration and diplomatic successes presents a profound
conundrum for the United States and its regional allies. Explicit attempts to 'contain'
China and keep it isolated will create a resentful great power. Any regional government
seen to be explicitly containing China will find an unsupportive domestic and regional
audience. Even as suspicions of Beijing's long-term intentions grow, few states in Asia
are prepared to miss on the immediate benefits of economic cooperation with China,
and are reluctant to explicitly alienate such an important rising power.
The permanence of Sino-Indo tensions
The rise of China is frequently seen as an East and Southeast Asian strategic conundrum
while India has long been viewed only as a South Asian power. Yet, in many respects,
India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru shared Lord Curzon's expansive view of
the country's strategic worth: India was 'the pivot round which the defense problems
of the Middle East, the Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia revolve.'36 Likewise, Prime
Minister Singh argued that India's strategic footprint as a 'super regional power covers
the region bounded by the Horn of Africa, West Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and
beyond, to the reaches of the Indian Ocean.'37 A large country of such geo-strategic
significance and ambition was always likely to experience tensions with Asia's other great
traditional power, China. As US-India policy expert Ashley Tellis argues, 'China and
India appeared destined for competition from the moment of their creation as modern
states.'38 C. Raja Mohan makes a similar point:
I tell the Americans: You balanced China from 1949 to 1971, but then allied
with Beijing from 1971 to 1989. India has been balancing China since the day
the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950. We have always balanced China—and that's
what we'll continue to do.39
'China and
India appeared
destined for
competition
from the
moment of
their creation as
modern states.'
12 Foreign Policy Analysis
Twentieth century history and the first decade of this century confirm this hypothesis.
Even though Prime Minister Nehru initially held an optimistic view of India-China
relations as the driving force behind a resurgent Asia, relations had soured by the late
1950s with China accusing India of nursing ambitions for a 'greater Indian empire.'40
China's invasion of Tibet in 1950 had previously erased the traditional buffer between
China and British-ruled India. This was always a concern for Indian strategists even
though Nehru initially turned a blind eye for the sake of harmonious China-India
relations. The China-India war in 1962 led to a defeat for India and China seizing the
Aksai Chin region, which linked Tibet and Xinjiang provinces.
China still claims some 90,000 square kilometres of Indian territory, including large
parts of the eastern-most Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (which has Myanmar to its
east). To put this in geographical context, the disputed area is more than twice the size
of Switzerland. Tensions remain real, illustrated by China recently blocking the Asian
Development Bank's US$2.9 billion loan destined for India because US$60 million of
it was earmarked for a water program in Arunachal Pradesh.41 More recently, Beijing
expressed 'strong dissatisfaction' over Prime Minister Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh
to help campaign in a local election. New Delhi responded by reaffirming that Arunachal
Pradesh is 'an integral and inalienable part of India.'42 The Indian military reported
270 Chinese border incursions into Indian territories in 2008, double the figure from
2007 and more than three times from 2006.43 As Newsweek reported, the Chinese
state-run People's Daily in an editorial in June 2009 criticised recent moves by India
to strengthen its border defences and ominously declared that 'China will not make
any compromises in its border disputes with India.' The editorial then asked whether
New Delhi had 'weighed the consequences of a potential conflict with China.'44
China and India are also constantly locked in a battle for influence in the buffer state
of Nepal and the Bay of Bengal access state of Bangladesh. For example, China backs
the Maoists in Nepal and sells arms to Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal in an attempt
to foment 'contained instability' and gradually dilute Indian influence in these states.
Importantly, China offers just enough strategic and military (including nuclear weapons
and ballistic missile45) assistance to Pakistan to keep India distracted in South Asia but
not enough to become a focal point in the existing India-Pakistan problem. Finally,
New Delhi is apprehensive about China's militarisation, and in particular nuclearisation,
of the Tibetan plateau. As an indication of very real tensions, China has not extended its
'no first use' of nuclear weapons doctrine to include India.
The land disputes are not the only sources of tension. A key component of Beijing's
strategy was to help keep India preoccupied with its land-based neighbours, allowing
Beijing a freer hand in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. But the dependence of
both China and India on shipping commerce, especially energy imports (that pass through
the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and the Malacca Straits) will
most likely make sea-based rather than land-based competition more important.
Even back in 1993, a former director of the General Logistics Department of the
People's Liberation Army, Zhao Nanqi, reversed long-standing policy by arguing that
they could 'no longer accept the Indian Ocean as an ocean only of the Indians.'46
The Chinese Navy is now the second-largest navy in the world, with more than 250,000
personnel and over 300 ships.47 It has been building three new submarines a year since
1995 and now has around 85—the second largest such fleet in the world after the
United States.48 It is building at least five ballistic missile submarines, each carrying
12 intercontinental missiles and each missile having three nuclear warheads. To counter
India's natural advantage of access to the Indian Ocean (as well as American Fifth Fleet
based in Bahrain), China has set up naval ports, listening stations, logistics facilities, and
refueling depots in waters belonging to Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan49 in addition
to one in Cambodia. This includes facilities in the Coco Islands, which lie only 18 km
north of the Indian naval base in the Andaman Islands. China is constructing a waterway
that extends from Yunnan province to the Bay of Bengal through the Irrawaddy River
in Myanmar.50 These are segments of what American and Indian analysts call China's
emerging 'string of pearls' strategy:51 efforts to increase access to ports and airfields,
develop special diplomatic relationships, and modernise military forces that extend from
the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to
the Arabian Gulf. Although there are still only very few actually discernable 'pearls' on
the string, only Indian influence has prevented China from successfully signing on other
'string of pearls' candidates such as Bangladesh, Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles.
There is strong evidence that competition between the two powers now involves
both land and sea. For example, Indian strategist and former intelligence chief
Vikram Sood believes that China's strategy is all about keeping India bogged down by
fomenting instability in its relations with Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar,
whilst encircling India with its 'string of pearls' strategy—a move designed to 'put
India in pincers.'52 Beijing's strategy was to confine India to being a South Asian power
with only limited ambitions in the Indian Ocean, and prevent it from becoming an
Asian or a global power. But the growing interests and ambitions of India means China
will be disappointed in this regard. The reported February 2009 stand-off between
Chinese destroyers and an Indian submarine in the Gulf of Aden—in international
waters far away from Chinese and Indian territorial borders—is significant.
As C. Raja Mohan notes, the fact that the stand-off took place in neutral territory
suggests colliding interests that extend way beyond the territorial waters of either nation.53
India is threatening to constrain Chinese influence in the South China Sea, and China
is moving into India's sphere of influence in the Indian Ocean.
Although China's yearning for a dominant role in a future post-America Asia leaves
little room for Indian leadership, New Delhi sees itself as a major centre of power in
Asia (and not just South Asia). It is significant that the most recent Indian naval strategy
manual is titled Freedom to Use the Seas and speaks about India being 'among the foremost
centres of power—economic, technological, and cultural—in the coming decades.'
In New Delhi's eyes, this calls for 'a concomitant accretion of national power, of which
the military power will be a critical dimension.'54 Although both countries are still
primarily focused on domestic development and tensions can therefore be managed,
there is little doubt that a rising India and China remain 'strategic adversaries.'
Democratic India as a counter-balance against China
India's commitment to democracy is sincere, having been long established and reaffirmed
over decades. In a speech in 2005, Prime Minister Singh said that the 'idea of India'
is the 'idea of an inclusive, open, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual society.'
Singh believes that this is 'the dominant trend of political evolution of all societies in the
21st century ... Liberal democracy is the natural order of political organisation in today's
world. All alternate systems [are an] aberration.'55
To be sure, democracy by itself has never been enough to overcome the different
strategic cultures and diverging interests of India vis-à-vis America and its allies. There is
no preordained harmony between the world's most powerful democracy and the world's
largest democracy. For example, in examining the UN voting patterns of India compared
to the United States in issues such as human rights, the Middle East, and arms control,
the voting coincidence between the two powers varied from zero percent to 45% from
1997–2003.56 But converging regional interests mean that democratic India becomes
a strategic asset of huge significance. Indian and American leaders now refer to each
other as 'natural allies.'57 In particular, both sides believe that cooperation will eventually
create a power balance in Asia that will help keep potential Chinese ambitions in check
and constrain the ability of Beijing to challenge the existing liberal, open order in the
future.
 

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As the paper pointed out earlier, India has traditionally been preoccupied with landbased
instability in its borders with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. But the great
powers in Asia are littoral states, and maritime power is critically important. As India's
Converging
regional interests
means that
democratic
India becomes a
strategic asset of
huge significance.
14 Foreign Policy Analysis
power and interests grow, it is wisely focusing on its sea-based priorities and objectives,
which will be more important in the future. This has opened up opportunities for the
United States, its allies and partners, and India to reinforce and entrench their still
fledging strategic partnership with extensive tactical cooperation at all levels.
India is adamant that it must remain the hegemon in the waters hugging its territorial
borders. This is a concession the Americans and most of Asia are more than happy to
make and will most likely offer India their blessing in this regard. In practical terms,
India would seek an effective veto over actions of outside partners in these areas.
In the broader Indian Ocean (as well as the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal),
the US Pacific Command is eager to expand further naval cooperation with India in
protecting the sea-lanes of the Indian Ocean. The United States and India will likely
increase the scope and frequency of the already extensive naval and air force exercises
and planning in these Indian Ocean sea lanes58 as well as deepen the broad-based
dialogues and briefings with India. These briefings cover a wide range of matters relevant
to South, Central and Southeast Asia, spanning Chinese military developments, policy
in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as US policy with rogue states such as Iran and
North Korea. In terms of naval cooperation, Ashley Tellis suggests that 'a cooperative
division of labour with respect to ocean surveillance, search and rescue, anti-piracy
operations, and humanitarian assistance would be a good place to start.'59 Indeed, this
has occurred. India, with regional blessing, is becoming a hegemon in its own backyard
and one of the great powers in Asia.
Built on the back of quiet and tireless diplomacy and thriving bilateral relationships,
Indian naval cooperation with Southeast Asia is also impressive. According to Udai Bhanu
Singh, Research Officer with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA),
the conclusion of a bilateral defence cooperation agreement with Singapore in 2003
opened the door for India to ramp up its security diplomacy in Southeast and East
Asia.60 India has since signed defence cooperation agreements with Indonesia, Malaysia,
Vietnam, and Cambodia. In fact, India-Indonesia naval cooperation goes back 14 years to
the Ind-Indo Corpat arrangement, and New Delhi arranges more tactical naval exercises
with Jakarta than any other country, including the United States. In 2005, the Indian
aircraft carrier INS Viraat made inaugural visits to the ports of Singapore, Jakarta, and
Klang in Malaysia. Already, India has naval bases in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
at the western mouth of the Malacca Strait, giving New Delhi a huge advantage over
Beijing when it comes tactical positioning in this crucial shipping laneway.
Chinese attempts to extend its naval reach and power through relationships with
states such as Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka directly work to dilute Indian naval
influence in the south Arabian Sea, south Indian Ocean, and southern parts of Bay of
Bengal. America is already explicitly committed to helping India become a world power,
and more specifically, a world naval power. This is aligned with Indian intentions to
become one of the great naval powers able to materially influence matters in the waters
to its west, east and south.
Importantly, Southeast Asia feels remarkably unthreatened by the rise of the Indian
Navy. As former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew points out, Asia (with the
exception of China) is not fundamentally concerned with India's economic and military
rise.61 In supporting an enhanced Indian naval presence in the Indian Ocean, it is
unlikely that the Indian Navy would seek to overplay its role since it would not have the
capability to demand a greater role in the Persian Gulf, Malacca Straits, or the South
China Sea and impinge on America's preferred areas of influence. In fact, it is likely
that New Delhi will happily support continued American naval pre-eminence in these
areas. The tactical confluence of interests means that Washington, New Delhi and South
East Asian capitals consider each other's naval presence—and the network of bilateral
partnerships with New Delhi—as stabilising forces for the region. Offering India an
enhanced role is already indicating to New Delhi that Washington and Asian allies and
partners are prepared to welcome India as an emerging and trusted great powerThe US-India partnership, as well as Indian engagement with East and Southeast
Asia, is still in its early stages, but the foundations to build further are solid. If these
relationships can continue to prosper from the bottom-up and if India's strategic
partnerships can be further integrated into the existing US-led order in Asia—for which
the early indicators are promising—India's future strategic, military and economic
weight means that the twin prospects that China's rise can be peacefully managed and
the existing liberal order can survive rise dramatically. China is an ambitious and even
revisionist power (when it comes to its land and maritime borders), but it remains a
sensible rather than reckless one. This is why a continued American presence and the
informal network of bilateral security relationships remain the single-most important
factor in preserving the peace now and in the future. Placing structural constraints on
Chinese actions as it rises will remain the primary and effective strategy in meeting the
challenge of the Chinese conundrum. India is poised to add its formidable and growing
weight in reinforcing this approach.
That this can continue to occur depends on the successful coordination of many
parts moving in sync. For example, India's growing role as a strategic player depends
on the continued success of its economic reform program and rapid development.
The US-India relationship and Indian partnerships with other states depend on
continued, tireless bottom-up functional cooperation, as well as top-down intent from
all sides. There is still much work to do in order to build the region's acceptance of any
growing US-India partnership such that the partnership (as well as India's other bilateral
relationships) augments rather than competes with the existing US-led regional order
as well as other regional institutions. For example, many Southeast Asian states will not
easily accept agreements that are seen as competitive and dilute ASEAN's relevance.
A case in point is the 2007 Quadrilateral Initiative between the United States, India,
Japan and Australia. The Initiative was viewed as an agreement that could reduce the
relevance of ASEAN and of ASEAN-led forums such as the ARF. It was also seen as too
explicitly an anti-Chinese containment agreement that might cause smaller states to
'choose' between China and Initiative members.
Moreover, New Delhi needs to further enmesh itself in the manifold and sometimes
tedious multilateral forums and processes that characterise diplomacy in Asia.
Even though multilateral institutions such as ASEAN and the various ASEAN-led forums
are weak in terms of compliance and enforcement procedures, they serve the purpose of
reinforcing norms of counter-dominance and counter-interference in each other's affairs.
This is an important complement to the US-led 'hub-and-spokes' structure that has
underpinned security and stability since World War II. China, for example, has learnt
that it is much more effective to work with ASEAN to build influence and legitimacy
than attempt to bully its way into ascendency.
Finally, the 'strategic encirclement' of China with India as one of the major centres of
power needs to remain subtle and restrained. New Delhi must be allowed to continue to
forge its own way and remain a 'structural constraint' on Chinese ambitions and actions,
not an explicit one that is part of an anti-Chinese alliance. Importantly, China needs to
remain confident that its interests and path towards continued prosperity lie in acceding
to the existing US-led structure and competing within it rather than transforming or
superseding it.
 

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Conclusion: the importance of courting India


India is an Asian giant growing in confidence, ambition, power, wealth, and influence.
Its diplomats are also increasingly active in the region. For example, India has announced
plans to create 514 new positions in its Ministry of External Affairs over the next
10 years.62 Importantly, its rise is not feared by other Asian states and its values and
interests are closely aligned with our own.
Placing structural
constraints on
Chinese actions
as it rises will
remain the
primary and
effective strategy
in meeting the
challenge of
the Chinese
conundrum.
India is poised
to add its
formidable and
growing weight
in reinforcing
this approach.
16 Foreign Policy Analysis
Yet, current Australian government strategic thinking focuses excessively on
East Asia and China in particular. For example, as Chris Rahman observed, the rise
of India's navy a decade ago even caught Canberra by surprise.63 Admittedly, defence
cooperation with India has since deepened. For example, Canberra and New Delhi have
signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation in 2006 designed to
deepen practical defence ties in maritime security and counter-terrorism. An Information
Sharing Agreement was signed in 2007, which 'will facilitate the sharing of classified
information betw een the two countries' defence organizations.'64 Most recently, Foreign
Minister Stephen Smith visited New Delhi and formally requested that Australia be
allowed to participate in the annual US-India Malabar exercises.65 These are positive
developments.
However, the patient approach of quietly and steadily building meaningful bottomup
military functional cooperation with the Indians in defence, as well as the need to
conscientiously deepen the bilateral relationship, is at odds with Prime Minister Rudd's
attempts to hurriedly lead the construction of comprehensive, multilateral top-down
security architecture for the whole region before Australia, the United States, or Asia is
ready. Doing so prematurely will simply exacerbate the insecurity of Asian states vis-àvis
a rising China since any such new structure would have to explicitly allow China an
equal strategic status as a player in the region. Regional states will want this to occur only
when they are sure that China is fully committed to the pre-existing rules and norms of
behaviour in the region, which will be some time away. Meanwhile, America and Asian
allies and partners much prefer to bulk up the informal network of security alliances and
partners (including with India) to hedge and maximise leverage against a rising China
before any serious discussion of new comprehensive and inclusive security architecture
can take place. Far from the region entering into a dangerous period of 'strategic
drift' as Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd contends,66 there is evidence that the
United States, India, and key Asian partners are increasingly reading from the same
strategic blueprint: A strong bilateral relationship with a rising India will be a critical
factor in forging and strengthening the balance against a rising China in the future
and in structurally constraining Beijing's actions.67 A fully engaged India will improve
the region's leverage over a potentially disruptive China in the future. Subsequently,
America and Asian states are busy doing the hard graft of building a lasting economic
and strategic relationship with a rising India and bringing New Delhi into existing
regional structures.
There is less evidence Canberra is reading from the same page.
First, pushing for institutions that are all-inclusive and designed to discuss the full
spectrum of security matters is certainly premature. Besides threatening to dilute the
current strategy use to both assist with and manage China's rise, it goes against regional
diplomatic culture in discussing tensions in open forums involving third parties.
The most constructive work is done behind doors without the pressure of a high-profile
security forum. Besides, the great fear of smaller Asian states is to have to 'choose' between
the United States and China. They have never had to do so explicitly because they do
not take part in any substantive, high-level action-based security forums involving both
China and the United States. A pan-Asian security forum might very well change that.
Second, and more related to the arguments in this paper, simply arguing that
India be included in future security institutions is a token gesture that pays only lipservice
to India's growing importance. That India is poorly appreciated by the Rudd
government—despite the commonality in values and strategic interests as well as the
enormous economic opportunities presented by India's rise—is confirmed by the lack
of energy and resources devoted to building the bilateral relationship with New Delhi.
As C. Raja Mohan observes, the weakest link in strategic and diplomatic cooperation
between India, the United States, and other Asian states is the weak relationship between
New Delhi and Canberra.68 Discussions about what top-down, overarching security
architecture we should build (rather than the diplomatic and security relationships we
A fully
engaged India
will improve
the region's
leverage over
a potentially
disruptive
China in the
future.
Foreign Policy Analysis 17
first need to renew and reaffirm) are putting the strategic cart before the horse and are
a mistake and distraction. Bear in mind that a poorly developed relationship between
Canberra and New Delhi is not a regional deal-breaker when it comes to New Delhi's
growing strategic weight—India will simply become too big and important. But a poor
or undeveloped relationship will do more future harm to Australia than it will to India.
The India factor in Asia's future will rise in importance despite our neglect, but it will
reduce Australia's future regional strategic relevance.
More generally, Canberra should reduce its focus on top-down architecture building
for the moment and instead direct our limited resources and attention toward improving
bilateral relationships, such as with Asia's other giant—India. This also makes sense since
Canberra's influence will be enhanced in any future regional institution if Australia's
bilateral relationship with key players such as India is first strengthened.
The paper is not denying that some efforts have been made. The annual talks
between the Australian Chief of Defence and Indian counterparts is a good initiative,
but Australia's poor overall diplomatic engagement with and strategic appreciation of
India is nevertheless worrying. For example, while Australia holds an annual Defence
Strategic Dialogue with China involving the Secretary of Defence in addition to the
Chief of Defence Force, there is no equivalent annual Secretary-level bi-lateral dialogue
with India.69 Even though the Rudd government in 2008 pulled out of the 'Strategic
Dialogue plus India' involving the ill-fated Quadrilateral Initiative partners, there is
no reason why Canberra should not work towards instituting an annual Secretarylevel
bi-lateral security dialogue with New Delhi to discuss bottom-up cooperation,
but prudently leaving aside top-down strategic matters until New Delhi is ready.
Meanwhile, Australia has its own nuclear-related stumbling block with India that
is holding back the prospect of better relations. It is time to revisit the arguments for
and against selling uranium to India—a non-signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty
(NPT)—that are becoming less relevant. The Rudd government's refusal to honour
the previous Howard government's deal to sell uranium to India—despite Rudd
subsequently supporting the 2008 'India waiver' as a member of the 45-nation Nuclear
Suppliers Group (NSG) which allowed the sale of uranium to India in 200870—remains
an inconsistent, anachronistic and dogmatic stance, and an unnecessary slight against
India.71 Despite the Rudd government's continual reassurance that Australia's refusal
to sell uranium to non-signatories of the NPT is not aimed at India,72 the fact remains
that the only other nuclear powers that are non-signatories to the NPT are North Korea
and Pakistan.73 New Delhi therefore sees Canberra's position as tantamount to treating
'responsible India' as an 'irresponsible rogue state' or as a 'nuclear proliferator,' although
India (unlike Pakistan) has never been one. This stumbling block in our relations with
New Delhi should be removed.
Furthermore, the 'Asia-Pacific' has always been understood as a strategic rather
than geographical construction. Given its growing economic interests as a result of
the Look East policy, Canberra should devote proper resources to seriously push the
argument that India be incorporated and encouraged to play an active role into the full
array of existing regional institutions, especially a reorganised Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) organisation. Indeed, even though bilateral relationships remain
the main game, China is cleverly using existing institutions to extend its influence.74
Given India's rising role as a 'structural constraint' and counter against Chinese power
and influence, Canberra should relentlessly seek to push for New Delhi's inclusion in as
many existing regional multilateral forums as possible.
The enormous importance of India should no longer be our strategic blind spot.
If Australia and the Rudd government can help smooth the path of a rising India into
Asia, then we will undoubtedly enhance our future relevance and play our part in
reinforcing existing foundations for a stable peace and prosperity in the region that may
yet survive for decades.
 

A.V.

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
6,503
Likes
1,132
Conclusion: the importance of courting India


India is an Asian giant growing in confidence, ambition, power, wealth, and influence.
Its diplomats are also increasingly active in the region. For example, India has announced
plans to create 514 new positions in its Ministry of External Affairs over the next
10 years.62 Importantly, its rise is not feared by other Asian states and its values and
interests are closely aligned with our own.
Placing structural
constraints on
Chinese actions
as it rises will
remain the
primary and
effective strategy
in meeting the
challenge of
the Chinese
conundrum.
India is poised
to add its
formidable and
growing weight
in reinforcing
this approach.
16 Foreign Policy Analysis
Yet, current Australian government strategic thinking focuses excessively on
East Asia and China in particular. For example, as Chris Rahman observed, the rise
of India's navy a decade ago even caught Canberra by surprise.63 Admittedly, defence
cooperation with India has since deepened. For example, Canberra and New Delhi have
signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation in 2006 designed to
deepen practical defence ties in maritime security and counter-terrorism. An Information
Sharing Agreement was signed in 2007, which 'will facilitate the sharing of classified
information betw een the two countries' defence organizations.'64 Most recently, Foreign
Minister Stephen Smith visited New Delhi and formally requested that Australia be
allowed to participate in the annual US-India Malabar exercises.65 These are positive
developments.
However, the patient approach of quietly and steadily building meaningful bottomup
military functional cooperation with the Indians in defence, as well as the need to
conscientiously deepen the bilateral relationship, is at odds with Prime Minister Rudd's
attempts to hurriedly lead the construction of comprehensive, multilateral top-down
security architecture for the whole region before Australia, the United States, or Asia is
ready. Doing so prematurely will simply exacerbate the insecurity of Asian states vis-àvis
a rising China since any such new structure would have to explicitly allow China an
equal strategic status as a player in the region. Regional states will want this to occur only
when they are sure that China is fully committed to the pre-existing rules and norms of
behaviour in the region, which will be some time away. Meanwhile, America and Asian
allies and partners much prefer to bulk up the informal network of security alliances and
partners (including with India) to hedge and maximise leverage against a rising China
before any serious discussion of new comprehensive and inclusive security architecture
can take place. Far from the region entering into a dangerous period of 'strategic
drift' as Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd contends,66 there is evidence that the
United States, India, and key Asian partners are increasingly reading from the same
strategic blueprint: A strong bilateral relationship with a rising India will be a critical
factor in forging and strengthening the balance against a rising China in the future
and in structurally constraining Beijing's actions.67 A fully engaged India will improve
the region's leverage over a potentially disruptive China in the future. Subsequently,
America and Asian states are busy doing the hard graft of building a lasting economic
and strategic relationship with a rising India and bringing New Delhi into existing
regional structures.
There is less evidence Canberra is reading from the same page.
First, pushing for institutions that are all-inclusive and designed to discuss the full
spectrum of security matters is certainly premature. Besides threatening to dilute the
current strategy use to both assist with and manage China's rise, it goes against regional
diplomatic culture in discussing tensions in open forums involving third parties.
The most constructive work is done behind doors without the pressure of a high-profile
security forum. Besides, the great fear of smaller Asian states is to have to 'choose' between
the United States and China. They have never had to do so explicitly because they do
not take part in any substantive, high-level action-based security forums involving both
China and the United States. A pan-Asian security forum might very well change that.
Second, and more related to the arguments in this paper, simply arguing that
India be included in future security institutions is a token gesture that pays only lipservice
to India's growing importance. That India is poorly appreciated by the Rudd
government—despite the commonality in values and strategic interests as well as the
enormous economic opportunities presented by India's rise—is confirmed by the lack
of energy and resources devoted to building the bilateral relationship with New Delhi.
As C. Raja Mohan observes, the weakest link in strategic and diplomatic cooperation
between India, the United States, and other Asian states is the weak relationship between
New Delhi and Canberra.68 Discussions about what top-down, overarching security
architecture we should build (rather than the diplomatic and security relationships we
A fully
engaged India
will improve
the region's
leverage over
a potentially
disruptive
China in the
future.
Foreign Policy Analysis 17
first need to renew and reaffirm) are putting the strategic cart before the horse and are
a mistake and distraction. Bear in mind that a poorly developed relationship between
Canberra and New Delhi is not a regional deal-breaker when it comes to New Delhi's
growing strategic weight—India will simply become too big and important. But a poor
or undeveloped relationship will do more future harm to Australia than it will to India.
The India factor in Asia's future will rise in importance despite our neglect, but it will
reduce Australia's future regional strategic relevance.
More generally, Canberra should reduce its focus on top-down architecture building
for the moment and instead direct our limited resources and attention toward improving
bilateral relationships, such as with Asia's other giant—India. This also makes sense since
Canberra's influence will be enhanced in any future regional institution if Australia's
bilateral relationship with key players such as India is first strengthened.
The paper is not denying that some efforts have been made. The annual talks
between the Australian Chief of Defence and Indian counterparts is a good initiative,
but Australia's poor overall diplomatic engagement with and strategic appreciation of
India is nevertheless worrying. For example, while Australia holds an annual Defence
Strategic Dialogue with China involving the Secretary of Defence in addition to the
Chief of Defence Force, there is no equivalent annual Secretary-level bi-lateral dialogue
with India.69 Even though the Rudd government in 2008 pulled out of the 'Strategic
Dialogue plus India' involving the ill-fated Quadrilateral Initiative partners, there is
no reason why Canberra should not work towards instituting an annual Secretarylevel
bi-lateral security dialogue with New Delhi to discuss bottom-up cooperation,
but prudently leaving aside top-down strategic matters until New Delhi is ready.
Meanwhile, Australia has its own nuclear-related stumbling block with India that
is holding back the prospect of better relations. It is time to revisit the arguments for
and against selling uranium to India—a non-signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty
(NPT)—that are becoming less relevant. The Rudd government's refusal to honour
the previous Howard government's deal to sell uranium to India—despite Rudd
subsequently supporting the 2008 'India waiver' as a member of the 45-nation Nuclear
Suppliers Group (NSG) which allowed the sale of uranium to India in 200870—remains
an inconsistent, anachronistic and dogmatic stance, and an unnecessary slight against
India.71 Despite the Rudd government's continual reassurance that Australia's refusal
to sell uranium to non-signatories of the NPT is not aimed at India,72 the fact remains
that the only other nuclear powers that are non-signatories to the NPT are North Korea
and Pakistan.73 New Delhi therefore sees Canberra's position as tantamount to treating
'responsible India' as an 'irresponsible rogue state' or as a 'nuclear proliferator,' although
India (unlike Pakistan) has never been one. This stumbling block in our relations with
New Delhi should be removed.
Furthermore, the 'Asia-Pacific' has always been understood as a strategic rather
than geographical construction. Given its growing economic interests as a result of
the Look East policy, Canberra should devote proper resources to seriously push the
argument that India be incorporated and encouraged to play an active role into the full
array of existing regional institutions, especially a reorganised Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) organisation. Indeed, even though bilateral relationships remain
the main game, China is cleverly using existing institutions to extend its influence.74
Given India's rising role as a 'structural constraint' and counter against Chinese power
and influence, Canberra should relentlessly seek to push for New Delhi's inclusion in as
many existing regional multilateral forums as possible.
The enormous importance of India should no longer be our strategic blind spot.
If Australia and the Rudd government can help smooth the path of a rising India into
Asia, then we will undoubtedly enhance our future relevance and play our part in
reinforcing existing foundations for a stable peace and prosperity in the region that may
yet survive for decades.
 

A.V.

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Endnotes
1 Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994).
2 Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030 (Canberra: Department of
Defence, 2009), 34.
3 As above, 43.
4 BRICs and Beyond (New York: Goldman Sachs Economics Department, November 2007).
5 As above.
6 Rubina Verma, 'India's Service Sector Growth—A "New" Revolution,' DEGIT Conference
Papers (June 2006); Rivi Kiran and Manpreet Kaur, 'Global Competitiveness and Total
Factor Productivity in Indian Manufacturing,' International Journal of Indian Culture and
Business Management 1:4 (2008); and Shankar Archarya, 'India's Growth: Past and Future,'
Paper for Presentation at the Eighth Global Development Conference of the Global
Development Network (14–16 January 2007).
7 See Lan Xinzhen, 'The Aging Problem of China,' Beijing Review (14 March 2007).
8 Arjun Adlakha, 'Population Trends: India,' US Department of Commerce International Brief
(April 2009).
9 See John Lee, Will China Fail? 2nd edition (Sydney: The Centre for Independent Studies,
2009).
10 See 'India can make N-powered aircraft carrier: Kakodkar,' The Times of India (5 August
2009).
11 'India's 2008–2009 Military Budget,' Defence Industry Daily (9 March 2008).
12 Quoted in Hamish McDonald, 'India: Beyond the Sea Wall,' Asia Link Essays (June 2009), 4.
13 As above, 6.
14 Arun Kumar, 'Manmohan Singh to make first state visit of Obama presidency,' Thaindian
News (3 October 2009).
15 Lord Curzon, The Place of India in the Empire (New Delhi: Philosophical Institute of India,
1909).
16 C. Raja Mohan, Crossing the Rubicon: The Shaping of India's Foreign Policy (New Delhi:
Viking, 2003), 260–263.
17 Robyn Meredith, 'From Spinning Wheel to Fiber Optics,' Forbes (20 July 2007).
18 See Arun Shourie, 'Navigating Reforms: Lessons from India,' Economic Affairs 29:3
(September 2009).
19 See Sumit Ganguly and Manjeet S. Pardesi, 'Explaining Sixty Years of India's Foreign
Policy,' India Review 8:1 (2009).
20 For example, see Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 'Keynote Address at Special Leaders
Dialogue of ASEAN Business Advisory Council,' Shared Integration: Promoting a Greater
Asia (Singapore: The Asian Dialogue Society, 2006).
21 Suvrokamal Dutta, 'ASEAN and East Asia could be India's new gold mine,'
www.merinews.com (8 December 2007).
22 See New Priorities in South Asia: US Policy Towards India, Pakistan and Afghanistan (New
York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2003).
23 See Jayshree Bajoria, 'India-Afghanistan Relations,' Council on Foreign Relations
Backgrounder (22 July 2009).
24 See Ashley Tellis, 'De facto, not de jure—India is world's sixth nuclear power,' The Wall
Street Journal (28 September 2008).
25 'India pitches for full membership of SCO,' SiliconIndia (27 October 2005).
26 For example, see 'US to help India become major world power,' SiliconIndia (1 April 2005).
27 Quoted in Thomas Donnelly, 'Going Out for India,' AEI Articles & Commentary
(31 March 2005).
28 'India, US, Japan foster relationships during MALABAR,' Soldier of Fortune (5 May 2009).
29 See Sanu Kainikara, Australian Security in the Asian Century (Canberra: Air Power
Development Centre, 2008), 66–67.
30 See Sanjaya Baru, 'India-United States Relations under the Obama Administration,' ISAS
Insights 38 (10 November 2008).
31 Robert D. Blackwill, 'A Friend Indeed,' The National Interest (May/June 2007).
32 See John Lee, 'China's Insecurity and Search for Power,' CIS Issue Analysis No. 101
(Sydney, The Centre for Independent Studies, November 2008).
33 Min Zeng, 'China Adds to Treasury Piles, With Bias to Short End,' The Wall Street Journal
(17 July 2009).

http://www.cis.org.au/foreign_policy_analysis/FPA2/FPA2.pdf
by John lee copyright protected by owner non profit reproduction.
 

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