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The China-India Rivalry
It’s an issue that appears to be flying under the radar, but today, India’s main concern is war with China and Indian defense planners are actually preparing for wars with China and Pakistan at the same time.
I was perusing an article by Vivek Raghuvanshi in Defense News recently and while the U.S. has focused on engaging Pakistan because of Afghanistan, India is running into Russia’s arms to deal with its threat from China. India still purchases some aircraft and weapons systems from Washington, but New Delhi signed an agreement on nuclear cooperation with Russia and resolved a longstanding dispute over an aircraft carrier, with India agreeing to pay $1.2 billion above 2004’s contract price for the Admiral Gorshkov of $800 million.
“The countries also finalized the joint production of a fifth-generation combat jet for $10 billion, and the Indian Navy has decided to buy additional MiG-29K aircraft from Russia worth about $1.2 billion.
“India and Russia signed a nuclear cooperation agreement in December 2009 that offers India better terms than the Indo-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement which has yet to become operational, Indian officials said.
“The Russians have offered a lifetime supply of fuel for reactors it would build in India and to transfer nuclear energy technology. India and the United States still have not concluded a crucial pact on reprocessing spent fuel, the primary hindrance to implementing a civilian nuclear cooperation deal signed in 2008, the officials said.”
“(It) is already making its presence felt in the Indian Ocean region, where it could come into conflict with Indian maritime interests, an Indian Navy official said. China has established a military base in the Coco islands, leased from neighboring Myanmar; is helping build the Gwadar Pasni port in Pakistan; has established good relations with several African states and has some leverage with Iran, the official added.
“China’s feverish military modernization is the most destabilizing factor for Indian national security, the official said.
“The annual Indian Defense Ministry report of 2009-2010 describes what it views as China’s growing threat to the region: ‘China’s stated objectives, in their White Paper of National Defense in 2008, of developing strategic missile and space-based assets and of rapidly enhancing its blue-water navy to conduct operations in distant waters, as well as the systematic upgrading of infrastructure, reconnaissance and surveillance, quick response and operational capabilities in the border areas, will have an effect on the overall military environment in the neighborhood of India.’
“India has begun improving its infrastructure and road system along its border with China, a senior Indian Army official said. Special troops are being trained to deploy along the Chinese border, and tenders have been floated to buy ultralight 155mm guns along with a variety of helicopters and light combat tanks.”
The border between India and China has never actually been marked on the ground or on mutually acceptable maps. [Called the LAC…Line of Actual Control]. Back in 1962 the two fought a brief war over it and for about 25 years, efforts to come up with a recognized LAC have failed.
In essence, “both nations claim the same 92,000 square kilometers of territory.”
But what does China think? The following is from an editorial awhile back, though still applicable, from Global Times, a Chinese government mouthpiece.
“India has long held contradictory views on China. Another big Asian country, India is frustrated that China’s rise has captured much of the world’s attention. Proud of its ‘advanced political system,’ India feels superior to China. However, it faces a disappointing domestic situation which is unstable compared with China’s.
“India likes to brag about its sustainable development, but worries that it is being left behind by China. China is seen in India as both a potential threat and a competitor to surpass.
“But India can’t actually compete with China in a number of areas, like international influence, overall national power and economic scale. India apparently has not yet realized this. Indian politicians these days seem to think their country would be doing China a huge favor simply by not joining the ‘ring around China’ established by the U.S. and Japan.
“India’s growing power would have a significant impact on the balance of this equation, which has led India to think that fear and gratitude for its restraint will cause China to defer to it on territorial disputes.
“But this is wishful thinking, as China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India. And while China wishes to coexist peacefully with India, this desire isn’t born out of fear.
“India’s current course can only lead to a rivalry between the two countries. India needs to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China. It should also be asking itself why it hasn’t forged the stable and friendly relationship with China that China enjoys with many of India’s neighbors, like Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
“Any aggressive moves will certainly not aid the development of good relations with China. India should examine its attitude and preconceptions; it will need to adjust if it hopes to cooperate with China and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.”