India and China eye each other warily

When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits New Delhi on 15–17 December he will find the political mood quite different from when he was last there nearly five years ago. While it is often claimed that Asia is large enough to accommodate the simultaneous emergence of both China and India as rising powers, India is visibly concerned over Beijing's growing attention to South Asia, and especially over China's more assertive approach to a longstanding border dispute. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in September that 'China would like to have a foothold in South Asia and we have to reflect on this reality… It's important to be prepared.' Rising neighbours India and China, which account for nearly 40% of the world's population and boast the fastest-growing major economies, have long competed with each other for influence in Asia. China refused to accept the McMahon Line drawn in 1914 during British rule of India as the boundary separating India's far northeastern territory from Tibet. A brief flirtation between the two countries in the 1950s quickly soured over the border dispute, resulting in a three-week war in the high Himalayas in 1962 in which India suffered a humiliating defeat. This left a legacy of mutual mistrust and suspicion, even though diplomatic relations were re-established in 1976. Following Rajiv Gandhi's visit to Beijing in 1988, the first by an Indian prime minister in 34 years, the countries decided to bolster economic and trade relations, and keep political tensions and border disputes in the background. The Indian military reluctantly downgraded its perception of China from being a 'threat' to a 'challenge'. As economic reform has taken hold in both countries bilateral trade has risen dramatically, from $1 billion in 1994 to an expected $60bn this year – China was India's largest trading partner in 2008. The two governments work together on multilateral issues, for example during the Copenhagen climatechange summit in December 2009 and at meetings of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) emerging economies. Under American pressure, China allowed a critical exemption for nuclear exports to India to be granted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group in September 2008, paving the way for the landmark India–US civil-nuclear deal the following month. China also backed India's successful candidacy for a nonpermanent seat in the United Nations Security Council from January 2011. Mutual wariness Yet New Delhi's perspective towards Beijing is hardening. Although India continues to view the rise of China as essentially peaceful, it has begun to perceive it as a key security 'challenge and priority'. India is concerned over what it sees as China's recent assertiveness towards the border dispute and a change in Beijing's policy towards India's dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir. It is also suspicious of China's bolstered military presence in Tibet and its involvement in infrastructural projects, such as ports in South Asian countries. India is apprehensive that these developments amount to an attempt to contain and encircle it strategically, while enabling China to gain permanent access to the Indian Ocean for the first time. In the past, China's perceived failure to pay attention to India had provoked deep resentment among the Indian strategic elite. But more recently, China has begun to look warily at India. It is suspicious of the activities of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader who is normally resident in India, in relation to protests against Chinese rule in Tibet. At the same time, China is concerned over India's developing strategic partnership with the US. Beijing sees the landmark India–US civil-nuclear deal as an American attempt to promote a counterweight to China, especially in the Indian Ocean. Border dispute The specific argument between the two countries concerns the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the two countries. For India, the boundary separating Arunachal Pradesh state and China's Tibet Autonomous Region is demarcated by the LAC. However, China claims that most of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory as an extension of southern Tibet. There have been regular border incursions across the LAC by both sides, with occasional clashes, although no shots have been fired since the late 1960s. Fourteen rounds of negotiations between two high-level special representatives have moved slowly, with the last meeting taking place in November 2010 after a hiatus of more than a year. On 6 July 2006, the two countries re-opened border trade through the 4,300m-high Himalayan pass of Nathu La after 44 years. India was enraged by Beijing's criticism of Prime Minister Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh in October 2009, which it perceived as a personal attack on Singh. The Chinese government was in turn infuriated

Receive Strategic Comments by Email IISS Membership Strategic Comments Homepage Editor: Alexander Nicoll Assistant Editor: Jessica Delaney __________________ Recent Strategic Comments German armed forces face big changes NATO: more consensus, but challenges remain Brazil's Rousseff has a tough act to follow Dashed hopes for Turkish-Armenian rapprochement California vote postpones rethink on global drugs trade __________________ More on China and India from Strategic Comments:

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when, perhaps not coincidentally, the Dalai Lama visited Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh the following month.

developments reported in the review suggest that China remains a India is concerned over the build-up of Chinese military capabilities and stepped-up construction of regional military force infrastructure such as roads and railway lines near the LAC, providing China's armed forces with greater with a focus on its communication and access to the region. The world's highest railway line from Xining, Qinghai Province, to near-abroad – Lhasa, Tibet, was opened in 2006 and is now being extended to Xigaze and Nyingchi in southwestern and especially on Taiwan – southeastern Tibet respectively. In July 2010, the highest civilian airport in the world was opened at Gunsa and is not yet an extraregional power. in Tibet's Ngari Prefecture, and an airport in Xigaze is scheduled to open soon. Read more India is also concerned over unexplained Chinese constructions on the Yarlung Tsangpo River, which later becomes the Brahmaputra. In late 2009 it emerged that China had begun to build a dam at Zangmu, but it has reassured India that it will have no impact on the downstream flow of the river through Arunachal Pradesh. Meanwhile, China unsuccessfully attempted to block a $2.9bn Asian Development Bank loan to India last year, because it included $60 million funding for a watershed project in Arunachal Pradesh. China and South Asia China and Pakistan have a longstanding and close relationship, but Beijing has maintained a policy of neutrality on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. However, there are indications of a shift. To New Delhi's annoyance, China has for the past few months been refusing to grant normal visas to Indian nationals of Kashmiri origin travelling to China, insisting that their visas be stapled, not stamped, on their passports. The implication is that Beijing is treating Indian-held Kashmir as disputed territory. India suspended high-level defence exchanges with China in August, following China's denial of a visa to a three-star Indian general responsible for troops in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Also in August, it was reported that over 7,000 People's Liberation Army soldiers had been deployed in Gilgit-Baltistan, the mountainous territory in the far north of Pakistan, to assist ongoing work on road and rail access between China and Pakistan. Although the Chinese and Pakistani governments denied these reports, India countered by publicly stating that Gilgit-Baltistan was part of India, occupied by Pakistan since 1948. At the same time, India is concerned over Chinese involvement in construction of deep-water ports in South Asia that could potentially have military uses. Projects include providing funding for the construction of Gwadar port in Pakistan's Baluchistan province, the development of ports, as well as oil and gas pipelines in Myanmar, and the financing of Sri Lanka's Hambantota port and development zone. China has also shown an interest in investing in Bangladesh's largest port of Chittagong. India's response In an attempt to counter China's assertiveness and growing influence in South Asia, India has responded with a mix of rhetorical, diplomatic, infrastructural and defence-led initiatives while still pursuing efforts at bilateral confidence-building. On the diplomatic front, India is seeking to build key strategic relations with countries in Southeast and East Asia, especially Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore. In November, the first military-tomilitary talks between India and Japan took place, building on a security-cooperation agreement signed in 2009. Indian defence exchanges and cooperation with Singapore and Vietnam take place regularly. The first visit of an Indian defence minister to South Korea took place two months ago, and agreements on joint military training and development of defence equipment were signed. At the same time, India disregarded Beijing’s démarches not to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in Oslo.

India's Maoist challenge Described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as 'India's gravest security threat’, in early September we looked at the reasons why the long-running Maoist insurgency had escalated over the course of 2010. Read more

Chinese navy's new strategy in action

In April 2010 the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force monitored ten Chinese warships passing 140km south of Okinawa through the Miyako Strait. The deployment was of unprecedented size and scope for the India is also responding to China's infrastructural development in Tibet by stepping up the building of roads Chinese navy - we in Arunachal Pradesh. In August 2009, Defence Minister A.K. Antony announced that nearly $200m had examine this new been allocated in 2009–10 to build roads near the LAC, twice what had been spent the previous year. The stage in China's naval development. Indian Supreme Court recently gave clearance for the construction of two strategic roads near the triRead more junction of Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim, due for completion in 2012. India's military chiefs have begun to voice concerns over China's rising military proficiency. In August __________________ 2009, then-Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta stated that India had neither the military capability nor the intention 'to match China force for force' and advocated the use of maritime-domain awareness and network-centric operations 'along with a reliable stand-off deterrent' as a means of coping with China's military rise. Three months later, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik warned that India's aircraft strength was inadequate and was only a third of China's. In December 2009, then-Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor went further and reportedly stated that the army was revising its doctrine so as to be able to fight a two-front war with both Pakistan and China. His successor, General

Vijay Kumar Singh, was more restrained last month when he talked of Pakistan and China being the 'two major irritants' to India's national security. This reportedly prompted a revision of the Indian military's perception of China from a 'challenge' to a 'long-term threat'. In December 2009, then-National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan also accused Chinese hackers of launching a foiled cyber attack against the prime minister's office. Last April, Defence Minister Antony called for a crisis-management action plan to counter cyber attacks and cyber terrorism. India is in the final stages of raising two new infantry mountain divisions of 36,000 troops each, and is reported to be raising an artillery brigade for Arunachal Pradesh. In addition, it is raising two new battalions of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim scouts, comprising 5,000 locally recruited troops each. Meanwhile, the Indian air force has begun to deploy two squadrons of modern Sukhoi-30MKI combat fighters to Tezpur air base in eastern India, close to the LAC, for the first time. It is also upgrading six airstrips in Arunachal Pradesh to improve troop mobility. Designed as part of its deterrent against China, the first test of India's 5,000km-range Agni-V nuclear-capable ballistic missile is expected next year. The Indian navy plans to strengthen its fleet on the eastern seafront, including the basing of an aircraft carrier in the Bay of Bengal. It reportedly plans to build a base in the east for its prospective nuclear-submarine force. At the same time, India has stepped up naval interactions and engagements with the US and Southeast and East Asia. An increased Chinese naval presence and activities in the Indian Ocean are being countered by bilateral Indian naval exercises with Singapore and Vietnam in the South China Sea, and with the US, along with Japan, off Okinawa. Moreover, the Indian navy's August 2009 Maritime Doctrine made a distinction between primary and secondary areas of maritime interest. Among secondary areas it included for the first time the 'South China Sea, other areas of [the] West Pacific Ocean and friendly littoral countries located herein', along with 'other areas of national interest based on considerations of diaspora and overseas investments'. While the Indian navy now regularly exercises and trains with Western and Southeast Asian navies, the Chinese navy is enhancing its relations with Pakistan's navy. The tendency for each to be excluded from the international engagements of the other has raised concerns over an emerging naval rivalry in the Indian Ocean. Future risks Even as preparations are made for Wen Jiabao's visit to India, both countries are wary of each other while attempting to build mutual confidence. The unprecedented growth in bilateral trade has not yet had the effect of building stability in the political relationship, though a communications 'hotline' between the two nations' leaders is expected to be put into operation shortly. India is aware that it cannot afford to get into an arms race with China, and there is no appetite on either side to risk economic growth and development. Although the likelihood of a conflict between the two countries is extremely low, the possibility of border skirmishes cannot be ruled out. In such an environment, there is plenty of scope for misunderstandings. Volume 16, Comment 47 – December 2010
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The International Institute For Strategic Studies

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