Bottlenecks in India – China Engagement
China’s increasing preponderance in Asia
In the recent past, China has emerged as the biggest threat and security challenge to several Asian countries including India. China has made several hawkish and aggressive moves in the recent past which has caused panic and created insecurities among the East Asian countries. China is trying to convert the East Asia into its exclusive zone of influence. China has made south china seas as its core strategic area along with Taiwan, Tibet and Xinxiang. China is also trying to penetrate into Indian Ocean which has panic India. Indian defense analysts pointed out that China is encircling India by augmenting its presence in all India’s neighboring countries and turning India’s neighbors into its satellite. These developments reinforced why India should stop worrying about Pakistan and concentrate on China.
Projecting India as a Counterweight to China
There is a strong realization on the part of both US and India that their new national and geo-strategic interests are increasingly overlapped in Asia especially in containing china. The strengthening of Indo-US engagement in last one and half decade is a well choreographed strategy to tame the dragon. As a part of this strategy, the US is supporting and encouraging India’s rise as a regional power and projecting it as a potential counterweight to china. The improvements in Indo-US relations in the post cold war era has proved bottleneck in the engagement process of India and china. The US attempts to project India as a counterweight to china is a serious cause of concern for china.
The nuclear nexus between China and Pakistan is as serious cause of concern for India. China has been providing
missiles, nuclear technology, spear parts to china of for years which has constituted one of the prominent reasons for the nuclear proliferation in south Asia. By doing so, china has violated provisions of NPT .
Widening economic and military gap between India and china
The economic and military gap between India and china is widening day by day and that has necessitated India to reconsider its foreign and security policy choices. China’s economy is growing by ten to twelve percent annually and china’s per capita GDP is around $4000.Whereas India’s economic growth rate is 8% and its per capita GDP is $1000.If both India and china maintains same growth rate in coming two decades, China’s economy will be eight
time bigger than India. Economists are predicting that by 2040 china’s GDP will grow up to $123 trillion and it will constitute 40% of total output of the world.
Chinese Policy of Encirclement
China is trying to encircle India. Chinese presence in India’s neighboring countries has increased exponentially and
dramatically. Security analysts are arguing that china is turning India’s neighbors into its satellites. The Chinese attempts to aid and abet Pakistan’s nuclear prrogramme, increasing Chinese influence on Myanmar through intelligence cooperation, Chinese deployment of missiles directed at India at Tibet exemplifies Chinese plans to encircle india. According to J.Mohan Malik,Strategic Analyst from India, “There is fundamental clash of interests between China and India which is rooted in history, strategic culture and geopolitics and manifested in China’s determination to prevent India from emerging as a great power and play a role it once played as a great power
and a great civilization from Central Asia to Southeast Asia.” China has turned into India’s external security preoccupation in last one decade. The overwhelming Chinese preponderance around India has constituted a reference point for India’s military buildup. India’s defense modernization has become china focused. India is
confronting widening gap with china both in economic and security fields and trying to compensate this imbalance though military buildup principally its nuclear forces.
Choices before India
The most important strategic question before the strategic planners of India is how to deal with hawkish china. The china factor largely dominates the strategic thinking of India. This has been clearly exemplified when a group of experts in India drafted a security strategy for India in 21st century recently. The strategy which is popularly known as “Non-alignment 2.0: A foreign and strategic policy for India in 21st century” released in February 2012. The strategy identified china as a formidable challenge and emphasized on indispensability of comprehensive mechanism to preserve India’s strategic autonomy vis-à-vis china. The strategy focused on two goals with respect to china. Firstly, to acquire defense capabilities enough to protect India from its adversaries especially China. Secondly to forge partnership with other powers notably US both at economic and strategic level. Renowned foreign and security policy analyst Prof.Kanti Bajpai maintains that considering rising economic and military gap between India and
china, India has to reconsider its choices. He stated that India has four choices to compensate widening economic and military gap
1. To embark on massive military buildup especially qualitative and quantitative expansion of its nuclear weapons
2. To enter into alliance especially with the US, Russia and Japan
3. To settle major disputes with china
4. Not to offend china
India can counter the expansionist and hegemonic policies of china by developing a balance of power both in economic and military field with china.Prof. Bajpai argues that instead of embarking on any one of above-mentioned choices, a judicious combination of all will be the best strategy for India. In recent past India has deepened it’s economic and defense engagement with US. It is also strengthening economic and military ties with Russia. India is trying to rise above the local issues and asserting its stand on several global issues. India is responding positively to the US attempts to project India as a natural counterweight to china and trying to become US global partner on several issues.
Several analysts feels that although there is no direct military threat from china, india should remember that china is the most unpredictable adversary and hence should not compromise on its security posture Taming china with missile power In April 2012 the successful test firing of the 5000-km-range ballistic missile Agni V has changed the strategic profile of India in the world. The Agni test fire is largely perceived in terms of India’s nuclear deterrence against China. India test fire Agni V missile to secure and safeguard its legitimate nation interests in an environment of insecurity and threat caused by China’s growing preponderance in the region. The test constituted a vital component of India’s nuclear deterrence programme and made it truly invulnerable and credible.Agni V with a range of more than 5,000km is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the Chinese capital Beijing. The test has gave India an element of parity with china .With the success of Agni test, China has apparently lost its privileges position in this arena and forced to accept India’s increasing strength. It provided credibility to the India’s nuclear deterrence programme on the one hand and succeed in communicating strong message of India’s growing nuclear capability to its adversaries especially china.