India Wary of China’s Rise

The Telegraph has published several articles analyzing India’s response to China’s military and economic rise: From China and India have been on opposite sides since the Cold War:

The United States has increasingly found it has more in common with democratic India, previously a friend of the Soviet Union, than with its Cold War ally against Moscow, Communist China.

This crucial shift has left the two Asian giants on opposite geopolitical sides and brought their many differences into sharper focus.

These differences include China’s alliance with Burma and Pakistan and a long-standing border dispute with India. Also from the Telegraph: India ‘must not show weakness to China’:

China and India, which together comprise almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, harbour a longstanding rivalry which could shake the world in future decades.

Their 2,100 mile border, spanning the Himalayas, is the longest disputed frontier on Earth. China defeated India in a border war in 1962 and now occupies 16,500 square miles of territory claimed by its neighbour in the Himalayas. Officially, China also lays claim to an entire Indian state, Arunachal Pradesh.

Aside from territorial wrangles, however, the root cause of India’s suspicion of China lies in the belief that Beijing is striving for mastery of Asia as a precursor to rivalling the US as a global power. This thinking, which pervades India’s armed forces, helps explain the sustained increase in the country’s defence budget and New Delhi’s increasingly close links with the US.

[…] On India’s eastern flank, China has allied with Burma’s military regime and begun constructing another deep water port on the Bay of Bengal. These developments are being closely watched inside India, where the prospect of a Chinese naval presence on both the western and eastern seaboards is viewed with deep foreboding.

Thanks to their common antipathy towards India, China has a longstanding alliance with Pakistan. The two countries are now building a new port at Gwadar on Pakistan’s coast.

See also from the Telegraph: Analysis: India moves closer to US to balance China’s rise

China, for its part, has made friendly diplomatic overtures toward India.  From Xinhua:

[Chinese Foreign Minister] Yang said China and India are the two biggest developing countries in the world. He quoted Chinese President Hu Jintao as saying that China-India friendship not only serves the interest of both countries but also benefits Asia and the world at large.

He said there is no conflict of fundamental interests between China and India. “What we have are broad common interests. We are partners, not rivals. There is a lot that we can do together to further our friendship and cooperation. We should view and approach our relations from a strategic and long-term perspective and keep moving forward our partnership in the new century to the benefit of our two countries and peoples.”

China’s rise may be contributing to an arms buildup in Asia nevertheless.  From The Telegraph: China’s military ambition fuels Asian arms race:

Beijing deploys the world’s biggest army, its defence spending is rising faster than any other power and, to cap it all, its forces will this month carry out their first spacewalk.

With India, Japan and Russia also investing heavily in defence, a new Asian arms race is under way. According to official figures, Beijing’s military budget this year is 418 billion yuan – £35 billion – a rise of 17.8 per cent on 2007. This already exceeds Britain’s defence budget of £34 billion and places China’s military spending second only to the US.

[…] Beijing is presently building two submarines capable of launching nuclear missiles and another boat designed for attack missions. Once these reach completion, China’s navy will have five ballistic missile submarines – compared with Britain’s four – and seven other nuclear submarines. Projecting power across thousands of miles of ocean is the only purpose for a fleet of this kind.

This helps explain why India is building a nuclear submarine of its own and leasing another from Russia. India’s navy presently enjoys a slender advantage over China in that it possesses one aircraft carrier and is acquiring another two. In practice, however, China’s superior submarine fleet probably negates this gain.

For more about China’s military spending, see Analysis: European military budgets still far surpass China and India from The Telegraph.

See also from the BBC past developments concerning the Sino-Indian border dispute.

September 15, 2008 3:44 PM
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Categories: China & the World