China-India August 2020-

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China and India

21 May
India sends ships to South China Sea as it builds naval strength
(GZERO media) When Indian warships steamed into Manila Harbor on Monday, they sent a message to Beijing. With its land borders cut off by archrival Pakistan, wartorn Myanmar, and an increasingly hostile Beijing, New Delhi is committed to becoming a world-class naval power. The port call in the Philippines followed similar stops in Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia as India attempts to build stronger bonds with Southeast Asian partners, many of whom share anxieties about China’s territorial ambitions.
New Delhi has a long way to go. The Indian fleet is only around a third the size of China’s (the world’s largest by number of vessels), but it has over five dozen ships under construction. By 2050, New Delhi hopes to have 200 ships afloat, ideally built at home — a plan that looks all the more feasible given India’s recent economic growth.
And a navy will be key to maintaining those high, export-driven growth rates by keeping the seas safe for Indian traffic. In just the last nine months, the Indian Navy has come to the aid of four ships that were attacked while transiting the Red Sea. We’re watching how a more capable India throws its weight around on the high seas, and how China responds.

12 April
The Hot Peace Between China and India
Despite flashes of actual conflict along their border, and New Delhi’s increased outreach to the West, relations between China and India have never completely broken down.
(The Diplomat) Flashes of actual conflict have happened, none as protracted as the triple challenge from China over Ladakh, Sikkim, and, indirectly, Arunachal Pradesh, since 2020. Soldiers from both sides have died in combat. China has built a network of bunkers, tunnels and fortified villages. India has mobilized 100,000 soldiers close to the front line and worked on its own logistical infrastructure.
Yet, relations between China and India have never completely broken down. Certainly, India has taken steps to limit the China risk in its infrastructure and society – banning China from ports and rail construction, prohibiting Chinese apps, keeping Chinese telecoms out of Indian procurement, and rebuffing plans for massive BYD and Great Wall Motors automobile investments. This does not apply, however, to the overall trade and investment relationship.

19 January
Exclusive: India could ease China investment curbs if border stays calm
By Una Galani, and Peter Thal Larsen
(Reuters) – India could ease its heightened scrutiny of Chinese investments if the two countries’ border remains peaceful, a senior Indian official said in the first signal that the four-year-old curbs could be lifted.
Border tensions, the biggest irritant to relations between the nuclear-armed Asian giants, have eased, which could lead to improved investment ties, top industrial policy bureaucrat Rajesh Kumar Singh told Reuters on Wednesday at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.


20 October
China’s BRI Turns Ten: Debt or Diplomatic Traps, Why India’s Resistance Matters
India has stayed outside the BRI since the Chinese blueprint with Pakistan, the CPEC, violates sovereignty.
C Uday Bhaskar
Inconsistencies in BRI’s Stakes
(The Quint) Some of the statistics highlighted during the Xi address are significant and point to the potential that the BRI has for the long term. Among the major bullet points is the fact that China has now become the main trading partner of more than 140 countries and territories and this degree of economic and trade dependency on Beijing has its embedded geopolitical element.
It was also claimed by Xi that even as China prioritises the Digital Trade domain by holding an Expo annually, the total trade in goods and services is expected to exceed USD 32 trillion and USD 5 trillion respectively.
It was also added that China would infuse a total of RMB 80 billion ( USD 11 billion) into the Silk Road Fund and that cooperation agreements worth USD 97.2 billion had been concluded at the CEO conference held as part of the forum.
An innovative project is the creation of a BRI program for enhancing small-scale livelihood assistance projects along with vocational education cooperation through Luban workshops. (This should be of interest to India and other developing nations with large populations.) …
Hiding debt from scrutiny and regulatory compliance may have been tacitly allowed by Beijing and this is an allegation that merits review. India has steadfastly stayed outside the BRI since the Chinese blueprint with Pakistan – the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic corridor) violates Indian sovereignty in relation to Kashmir and Delhi has also drawn attention to the debt-trap syndrome.
India Questions Chinese Integrity
In a subtle diplomatic move that overlapped with the BRI forum in Beijing, the Indian position was reiterated by NSA Ajit Doval at a security chief meeting in Kazakhstan on 17 October where he noted that it is important to ensure that connectivity initiatives are “consultative, transparent and participatory.” He also added that such initiatives ought to respect the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries” and adhere to environmental parameters, ensure financial viability, and not become debt burdens. …

4 October
India-China security competition on land, at sea, in space, and beyond
(Brookings) India faces security competition and capabilities gaps with China across several domains: conventional, maritime, space, nuclear, and cyber. In this episode, Tanvi Madan speaks with three experts about these challenges, the linkages between them, India’s response, and the potential role for India’s partners. Her guests are Walter Ladwig of King’s College London; Raji Rajagopalan of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi; and India’s former chief of the naval staff Admiral Karambir Singh, now chairman of the National Maritime Foundation in New Delhi.
Three decades ago, their economies were about the same size. Today, China’s economy is more than five times that of India, and its defense budget is over three times.
And this gap has contributed to India’s desire for partnerships with others as it recognizes that it cannot deal with the security challenge on its own.
Today on this episode, the second episode of the Global India podcast, we’ll be discussing the security challenges that India sees across several domains:

20 September
A big-picture look at the India-China relationship (Podcast and transcript)
(Brookings) On the inaugural episode of Global India, host Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, speaks with two former Indian ambassadors to Beijing on Indian perceptions of China and New Delhi’s strategy toward its largest neighbor. Ambassador Vijay Gokhale and Ambassador Shivshankar Menon share their views on India-China competition, the potential for cooperation or crisis, and what it means for India’s partners.
what do you think is the biggest myth or misunderstanding that you hear about India-China relations? Whether it’s in India, whether it’s abroad, what do you think that biggest myth is?
GOKHALE: Well, I’ll tell you what I think is the greatest myth the Chinese are spreading: that relations between India and China for the past 2,000 years have been 99.9% good and only 0.01% bad, which is an aberration. Because, you know, frankly, the two countries don’t have much of a history together over 2,000 years. I think Tibet separated us. There was no real direct political contact. Trade and spiritual exchanges and cultural exchanges continued. But you can’t really characterize this as a deep-seated relationship which was fine for 99.9% of the time. The Chinese, of course, love spreading this myth.
MENON: In fact, just to add to what he said: we had a relationship with Tibet, we had a boundary with Tibet, which was agreed with Tibet for the most part. We didn’t have a boundary with China until the PRC invaded Tibet in 1950. And that’s one of the myths that whatever Tibet did that somehow that all that devolves on China. I mean, historically, they’re quite ahistorical in the way they apply history to serve today’s purposes.
MADAN: In fact, that connects to my myth—and this often comes [up] here where I’m sitting in the U.S.—which is that India-China frictions are fairly new and only [just] started, that there were concerns about China only in 2020. When it actually does go back, even in independent India to almost the beginning, if not the 1950s, and that it’s only India of all the Quad—Australia, Japan, U.S., India—that has consistently seen China as a challenge since the 1950s.

12 September
Can India Challenge China for Leadership of the ‘Global South’?
A rising India has moved aggressively to champion developing nations, pursuing compromise in polarized times and promising to make America listen.
By Damien Cave, Mujib Mashal and David Pierson
(NYT) For more than a decade, China has courted developing countries frustrated with the West. Beijing’s rise from poverty was a source of inspiration. And as it challenged the postwar order, especially with its global focus on development through trade, loans and infrastructure projects, it sent billions of much-needed dollars to poor nations.
But now, China is facing competition from another Asian giant in the contest to lead what has come to be called the “global south.” A newly confident India is presenting itself as a different kind of leader for developing countries — one that is big, important and better positioned than China in an increasingly polarized world to push the West to alter its ways.
Exhibit A: the unexpected consensus India managed at the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi over the weekend.
With help from other developing nations, India persuaded the United States and Europe to soften a statement on the Russian invasion of Ukraine so the forum could focus on the concerns of poorer countries, including global debt and climate financing.
At a time when a new Cold War of sorts between the United States and China seems to frame every global discussion, India’s pitch has clear appeal.
Neither the United States nor China is especially beloved among developing nations. The United States is criticized for focusing more on military might than economic assistance. The signature piece of China’s outreach — its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative — has fueled a backlash as Beijing has resisted renegotiating crushing debt that has left many countries facing the risk of default.

4 September
India-China ties and the G20 summit
New Delhi event set to witness meetings between top leaders, barring Xi and Putin
C Uday Bhaskar, Director, Society for Policy Studies
(The Tribune India) AS India prepares for the G20 summit in a visibly enthusiastic and grand manner, Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to skip what has been billed as a politico-diplomatic extravaganza for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India is also basking in the success of the moon landing. For a brief period, the global spotlight is on India as a preferred partner for many nations; clearly, China is not in that cluster.
It is likely that the Nehru-Mao tussle for Asian leadership, which animated regional geopolitics in the 1950s, may play out as a Modi-Xi contest in 2024 and beyond.
This possible no-show by President Xi is not unexpected, given the trajectory of discordant events that have punctuated the troubled bilateral relationship between the two Asian giants in recent years — more so after the June 2020 Galwan clash that led to the death of soldiers on both sides.
… the abiding challenge for India that goes beyond the electoral cycle and the fortunes of political parties and individual leaders is the China factor, which has challenged and bruised India’s core national interests since the 1950s. Unresolved territorial disputes continue to plague nations with a colonial past and both India and China have inherited this cross with its tangled thorns.
… The Indian military is undergoing complex structural changes, with belt-tightening due to a scarcity of funds becoming the norm. The shift to theatre commands has been set in motion, even though the roadmap is less than clear and the Agnipath scheme with its short-term induction of new recruits will alter the DNA of the Indian fauj.
In essence, the Indian military is being put through an unprecedented institutional transformation, wherein the apex and base of the pyramid are being rewired. It is a moot point whether the ultimate output, measured by way of the index of comprehensive combat efficacy, will be enhanced or degraded.
India’s ability to exhibit both resolve and capability in dealing with the China challenge will be predicated on its comprehensive military power, with the trans-border element being the more critical component. It is likely that the Nehru-Mao tussle for Asian leadership, which animated regional geopolitics in the 1950s, may play out as a Modi-Xi contest in 2024 and beyond.

1 September
Troubled China-India relationship means the Asian century remains elusive
C. Uday Bhaskar
While the addition of top oil-producing nations will give Brics greater heft, it is debatable whether the bloc will have enough cohesion to be effective
Strained India-China ties not only complicate the grouping’s dealings, but also hold back Asia’s potential to shine
(SCMP) India has, until recent years, refused to be drawn into either the camp opposed to the US and the Western alliance or that opposed to China. However, increasing Chinese belligerence that adversely impacts India’s core interests is pushing New Delhi firmly into the American corner.
In the run-up to the Brics summit in South Africa, the Economist attempted to answer the question, “What if India and China became friends?”, and argued that the possibility of this happening was tantalising.
The much heralded “ Asian century” mooted at the turn of the century and gradually put on the back-burner, given the developments over the past 15 years in particular, could be resurrected and the subsequent impact on global geopolitics and geoeconomics would be radical. However, this possibility is as elusive as it is alluring, given the current troubled Sino-Indian relationship.
There had been speculation that the G20 summit may provide an opportunity for a more substantive meeting between Xi and Modi. For India, there is a high degree of symbolism and prestige attached to Modi hosting G20 leaders in New Delhi. US President Joe Biden has confirmed his in-person participation and Russian President Vladimir Putin has conveyed his regrets, as he did for the Brics meeting. Xi, however, is now likely to skip the summit, according to latest media reports.
It is a reflection of the parlous state of India-China relations that the leaders of the two nations have not been able to meet bilaterally due to their respective positions on contested territoriality.
Whether this will be deemed strategic perspicacity or misplaced petulance remains moot. If China and India can arrive at a modus vivendi and move forward in a less acrimonious manner, many long-term benefits can be accrued regionally and globally.
But, on current evidence, this appears unlikely, and short-term domestic political compulsions are likely to trump all other options. As a result, the Asian century will remain elusive.

21 April
The Sino-Indian Rivalry Is Reshaping Asia
Brahma Chellaney
By standing up to Chinese territorial encroachments, India has openly challenged Xi Jinping’s expansionism in a way that no other world power has done. The current military stalemate in the Himalayas serves as yet another reminder that Xi has picked a border fight with India that he cannot win.
(Project Syndicate) Three years after China stealthily began encroaching on India’s territory in the Himalayas, no end is in sight for the two countries’ border standoff. While the rival military buildups and intermittent clashes have received little attention in the West, the escalating border confrontation has set in motion a long-term rivalry that could reshape Asian geopolitics.
By locking horns with China despite the risk of a full-scale war, India has openly challenged Chinese power in a way no other world power, including the United States, has done in this century. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s strategic overreach has caused India to shift away from its previous appeasement policy and accelerate its military buildup, turning a potential partner into an enduring foe, while appearing determined to forestall a Sinocentric Asia.
With the US-China rivalry deepening, the last thing China needed was to make a permanent enemy of its largest neighbor. Ultimately, bringing India and America closer could prove to be Xi’s lasting legacy – an unintended consequence that threatens to undermine his regime’s aggressive irredentism.

17 February
“India Can Give China A Run For Its Money In The Pacific Islands” (YouTube)
New Delhi: On ‘Talking Point’, Cleo Paskal, Non-Resident Senior Fellow focussing on the Indo-Pacific at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in conversation with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi
Cleo Paskal discusses External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar’s trip to Fiji, the first high level visit since the change of government in December 2022, his meetings with Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and other Cabinet Ministers, inaugurating the Vishwa Hindi Sammelan—the World Hindi Conference—with President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, the “message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India’s interests in the Indo-Pacific are very substantial, whether economic, trade, the diaspora, the politics, the security and the strategy, or technology”, the Fiji-India “unique demand-driven development partnership approach”, the Indo-Pacific, Pacific Island Countries, how “India can give China a run for its money in the Pacific Islands”, why a “reengaged India offers options in a realigned world”, big power rivalry in the region, the U.S., Australia’s strategies in the area, “China’s entropic war”, the fight against Beijing’s coercive influence in the Solomon Islands and other PICs and reports of PM Modi making a visit to Papua New Guinea in the first half of 2023.


23 December
C Uday Bhaskar: China & rhymes of history
Security challenge won’t disappear by domestic make-believe or political discord
The adage that ‘history never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme’ is attributed to Mark Twain. This aphorism acquires relevance in relation to the Indian security predicament apropos of China. December 1962 was a period when New Delhi, with PM Jawaharlal Nehru at the helm of national affairs, was coming out of its deeply entrenched denial and misplaced certitude about the bilateral relationship with Beijing, after the Indian Army was administered a humiliating defeat. Sifting through recent developments related to China, it may be averred that in the tea leaves of December 2022 one may be able to discern certain rhymes that are reminiscent of the chimes of 1962. …
India’s China policy remains hobbled by two structural factors; first, the reluctance of the government to apprise Parliament of the situation and engage in an informed debate. This flaw is further exacerbated by the reluctance of the mainstream media in general to objectively ‘report’ facts and highlight policy inadequacies, in keeping with the institutional integrity that is associated with the fourth pillar of democracy.
The China challenge will not disappear or get diluted by domestic make-believe or vituperative political discord. The need for a degree of all-party political consensus is imperative, and the onus lies on the government to enable such a process through parliamentary deliberations. The Indian track record in this regard is not flattering. One has to recall the manner in which the UPA government led by PM Manmohan Singh was castigated by the BJP over the civilian nuclear agreement with the US to gauge the abiding political divisiveness over critical strategic issues.
S Jaishankar: India beefs up military at tense China border
(BBC) India’s foreign minister has said that the country has scaled up troop deployment along a disputed border with China to an unprecedented level.
S Jaishankar added that India wouldn’t let China “unilaterally change” the status quo at the border.
His comments came days after Indian and Chinese forces clashed in a disputed area along the border in Arunachal Pradesh state.
India said that the encounter began due to “encroachment” by Chinese troops.
China’s foreign ministry has said that according to their knowledge, the situation on the border was “generally stable” and the two sides were maintaining dialogue on the issue.
13-14 December
India-China dispute: The border row explained in 400 words
Relations between India and China have been worsening. The two world powers are facing off against each other along their disputed border in the Himalayan region.
The root cause is an ill-defined, 3,440km (2,100-mile)-long disputed border.
Rivers, lakes and snowcaps along the frontier mean the line can shift, bringing soldiers face to face at many points, sparking a confrontation.
The two nations are also competing to build infrastructure along the border, which is also known as the Line of Actual Control. India’s construction of a new road to a high-altitude air base is seen as one of the main triggers for a deadly 2020 clash with Chinese troops.
India and China troops clash on Arunachal Pradesh mountain border
India says its forces have clashed with Chinese troops in a disputed area along the border, the first such flare-up in more than a year.
The nations had been working to de-escalate tensions since a major clash killed at least 24 troops in 2020.
Reuters reported an Indian army source saying at least six Indian troops were injured.
“Both sides immediately disengaged from the area,” the Indian army said.

17 November
Have China and India shifted stance on Russia war?
(AP) — China and India, after months of refusing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, did not stand in the way of the release this week of a statement by the world’s leading economies that strongly criticizes Moscow.
Could this, at last, signal a bold new policy change by Beijing and New Delhi to align themselves with what the United States and its allies believe is the best way to end a war that has brought death and misery to Ukraine and disrupted millions of lives as food and energy prices soar and economies crack?
There’s certainly an eagerness by a world weary of war to see it as the beginning of a shift by the burgeoning global powers.
Look close enough, however, and there’s enough subtlety, not to mention spots of vagueness, in both the official statement released at the end of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, and in actions from China and India themselves, to raise questions about whether a real change is underway.

24 September
À l’ONU, la Chine et l’Inde appellent à une sortie négociée de la guerre en Ukraine
(Radio Canada) La Chine et l’Inde ont appelé samedi depuis la tribune des Nations unies à une résolution pacifique de la guerre en Ukraine, sans apporter leur soutien à la Russie qui, isolée, a fulminé contre la « russophobie grotesque » de l’Occident.
“Nous appelons toutes les parties concernées à empêcher la crise de déborder et à protéger les droits et les intérêts légitimes des pays en développement”, a déclaré le ministre chinois des Affaires étrangères, Wang Yi, à l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU
“La priorité est de faciliter des négociations de paix”, a-t-il insisté, appelant à des discussions “justes et pragmatiques” pour une “résolution pacifique de la crise”. …
Le ministre indien des Affaires étrangères, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, a de son côté plaidé pour le dialogue et la diplomatie.

21 May
Cleo Paskal: Is Chinese pressure making Solomon Islands stall Indian envoy’s visit?
(Sunday Guardian) Currently, China’s expansion is largely achieved through political warfare. That is a battlefield on which India has proven skills. For example, New Delhi’s intelligent and effective political warfare ground game was on full display when, two weeks after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ambush of India troops at Galwan in June 2020, New Delhi retaliated by banning 59 Chinese apps, including WeChat and TikTok.
That showed a deep understanding of Chinese tactics, including the 2017 National Intelligence Law, that states: “Any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work… The State commends and rewards individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to national intelligence work.”
By blocking the apps, New Delhi was blocking a key tool of Chinese political warfare. No other country has managed it. And that’s just one example.
India has used its understanding of Chinese political warfare to help its neighbours weaken the grasp of the PRC on their economies and elites as well, including Maldives and Nepal. And New Delhi is currently working with Sri Lanka to try to bring it back from the brink. And it is keen to work with Pacific Island Countries.
India has a unique track record of effectively engaging with countries to help them liberate themselves from a PRC political warfare attack. And people know it. If anyone doubts India’s ability to provide the sort of human security that can counter China, just ask the pro-PRC elements of the Solomon Islands government why they are trying to keep India out.

14 May
A rare insight into China’s negotiations with India
Retired Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s book, The Long Game; How the Chinese Negotiate with India, identifies the strengths and vulnerabilities in a manner that’s useful for anybody negotiating with the Chinese. … The author has given a rare insight into how our negotiations and relations with China have evolved over the last seven decades. That India was keen to recognise communist China in the late 1950s and went overboard to please China while China insisted they were not interested in getting recognition unless India met their demands, is something that is not openly written about.

29-30 March
C Uday Bhaskar writes in SCMP Ukraine war: how India-China cooperation can help remove nuclear threat and ease tensions between US and Russia
Even as border disputes and other issues remain unresolved, Asia’s two major powers have a mutual interest in bringing about a ceasefire in Ukraine and ending the threat of nuclear war
India and China are unlikely to arrive at a modus vivendi on the LAC soon, and how they manage their trade and economic ties after the Ukraine war remains uncertain. Globalisation and current trade protocols are in danger of being jettisoned, given the severity of the sanctions levied against Russia.
The economic consequences of the Ukraine war and the collective effort it will take to repair and rewire globalisation as it is now understood will be colossal. Both China and India will be buffeted by this turbulence and have to decide how much of their national resources and prestige they wish to expend over relatively barren geography and pursue competition rather than cooperation.
Cleo Paskal: India-China Power Struggle Could Determine Russia’s Future (video)
(China Unscripted) India and China have long been at odds with one another over territory they both claim on their shared border. Russia and China are close allies, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown that India is leaning toward Russia and away from the West. In this episode of China Unscripted, we talk about how the India-China power struggle could determine Russia’s future, what China might try to do in an invasion of Taiwan, and how Ukraine and Taiwan and similar and different.

25 March
China woos India as both face Western ire over Ukraine
By Gerry Shih, Niha Masih and Eva Dou
(WaPo) As the war in Ukraine enters its second month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi struck a conciliatory note on Friday toward longtime rival India and urged the two Asian giants to speak “with one voice” in his first visit to New Delhi since a tense border standoff began two years ago.
But his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, downplayed the prospects for an immediate rapprochement with China and said the border talks were “works in progress.” Relations could not return to normal so long as the territorial disputes remained unresolved, Jaishankar told reporters on Friday after a three-hour meeting with Wang.
Wang’s visit, initiated by China, came at a sensitive moment for both countries: Beijing has faced Western pressure, and the possibility of sanctions, over its support for an increasingly isolated Russia. India, meanwhile, has also drawn criticism from Western capitals over its continued refusal to condemn Russia or cut off its purchases of Russian arms and oil, despite India’s growing role as a partner to Washington.
During a meeting with Indian national security adviser Ajit Doval on Friday, Wang pitched China and India as two Asian powers that should stand together. Both countries sought national rejuvenation but should not pose a threat to the other, he said, according to a readout provided by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

5 January
China: An abiding challenge for India
As the LAC challenge heightens, India must evolve a resolute and effective holding strategy to prevent further salami-slicing by PLA
By C Uday Bhaskar
India’s abiding security challenges in 2022 and beyond will be the 3C distillate — Covid-19 in its latest Omicron variant, the climate crisis, and China. They will unfold with different degrees of urgency, but temporal concurrence along all three tracks is likely to be a central feature and will test the policy acumen of the national leadership.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are complex issues triggered by the accretion of ecological distortions and have a direct bearing on human security. These two challenges go well beyond the domestic framework and are being addressed in a larger global context — alas, ineffectually, as evidenced in the Covid-19 vaccine nationalism on display, and at Glasgow, in relation to the climate deliberations.
However, it is China that is the more critical concerning national sovereignty and territorial integrity, given the Galwan setback of mid-2020 and the impasse that has followed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).


8 December
How India and China Can Keep the Peace
Better Diplomacy and Stronger Guardrails Can Prevent War
By Shivshankar Menon
(Foreign Affairs) India and China, for their part, could begin stabilizing ties by establishing crisis management mechanisms to deal with unforeseen incidents on the border. New Delhi and Beijing need to improve communication, including by engaging in a high-level bilateral strategic dialogue to identify each other’s core interests, determine which are complementary and which are in conflict, and then decide how to manage their relationship.
Over 100,000 Indian and Chinese troops are preparing to spend another brutal winter confronting each other at high altitudes along the Indian-Chinese border. A year and a half after Chinese soldiers seized territory on the boundary, preventing Indian patrols from going where they had gone for years, both sides have increased military deployments, accelerated the construction of permanent infrastructure throughout the Himalayas, and asserted control over disputed areas. There are credible reports of China building new villages in territory India considers its own. After 13 rounds of military commander talks, there is little sign that the standoff will end.
Beijing’s actions on the border have alienated Indian public opinion, and New Delhi has been driven into self-strengthening and counterbalancing actions against China. The country is tightening military and security links with Washington, and as part of the [Quad], it is working with Australia, Japan, and the United States to take a much more active role in maritime Asia. It is fast-tracking trade negotiations with Australia, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. The prospects of a negotiated solution between India and China have clearly receded, and the countries’ relations will be more antagonistic for some time to come.
Both Beijing and New Delhi have other preoccupations and should not want to be locked in conflict. China today faces disputes along much of its periphery, not just with India. And India wants to transform itself into a modern, prosperous, and secure country, something that fighting with Beijing distracts from and delays. To avoid getting sidetracked, New Delhi will need to develop a grand strategy that addresses an increasingly assertive and nationalist China, not just on the border but across political and economic issues. And for the foreseeable future, both states will have to prepare themselves for a combination of engagement and competition.

27 November
It’s not shipshape
India needs to do a lot more to realise its natural maritime potential
C Uday Bhaskar
(The Tribune) THE commissioning of two naval platforms in Mumbai over the past week — the guided-missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam and the diesel submarine INS Vela is a significant punctuation in India’s warship building effort and is to be welcomed. The 7,400-tonne destroyer, with some state-of-the-art features, is a tribute to the professional acumen of India’s indigenous warship design capabilities and the submarine, built with French collaboration, will enhance a strategic niche competence.
This modest addition to India’s depleted naval inventory must be seen against the backdrop of China. In the period that India was commissioning naval platforms, media reports indicated that China was building a secret military facility in the UAE port of Khalifa and that this was being done furtively without the knowledge of the host country.
The Chinese footprint in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is steadily increasing. Beijing acquired a military base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa in 2017 and is heavily invested in ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In essence, from Galwan to Gwadar, the military challenge from China is an abiding factor for the Indian security planner.

11 October
India, China army talks to defuse border tensions fail
(AP) — Talks between Indian and Chinese army commanders to disengage troops from key friction areas along their border have ended in a stalemate and failed to ease a 17-month standoff that has sometimes led to deadly clashes, the two sides said Monday.
The continuing standoff means the two nations will keep troops in the forward areas of Ladakh for a second consecutive winter in dangerously freezing temperatures.
India’s defense ministry, in a statement, said it gave “constructive suggestions” but the Chinese side was “not agreeable” and “could not provide any forward-looking proposals.” A statement from a Chinese military spokesperson said “the Indian side sticks to unreasonable and unrealistic demands, adding difficulties to the negotiations.”

C Uday Bhaskar: LAC and the India-China stalemate
(Hindustan Times) LAC is fragile, and India has to deal with a more complex geopolitical situation than in October 1962
Almost six decades after the war of October 1962, India and China are yet to arrive at a modus vivendi on an intractable territorial issue, which, at its core, is a manifestation of major power contestation within the Asian grid.
… While the texture of the US-China relationship will have implications for all the major powers, it is of heightened relevance for India and Russia — and their own bilateral relationship. Moscow today has a lower composite weight in the major power matrix, but is a critical swing factor in the US-China dyad, in much the same way that Beijing was during the Cold War when the primary strategic contestation was between Washington and Moscow. The India-Russia relationship has a history and resilience that is valuable to both nations. This may prove to be a constraint in the trajectory of the US-India bilateral.
China’s intimidation of Taiwan is illustrative of the inflexible resolve that Xi Jinping has brought to bear in the pursuit of territoriality. The Galwan experience and the rhythms of October 20, 1962 should serve as a wake-up call for PM Modi about the chicanery that he has to deal with along the LAC. India must be honest with itself.

5 July
C. Uday Bhaskar: What Xi Jinping’s speech marking the Communist Party centenary means for the world
• Xi painted a benign image of China as a ‘peace-loving’ nation, but he also delivered an unambiguous warning to its adversaries
• While India and contemporary Russia were not mentioned in the speech, they will affect Beijing’s options in managing the hegemony of the US and its allies
(SCMP) India and contemporary Russia find no mention in the Xi address. However, the triangular relationship among the three Eurasian powers will shape Beijing’s options in managing what it sees as the hegemony of the US and like-minded nations in the run-up to the 2049 centenary of the People’s Republic.
The recent  Biden-Putin summit  has led to a lowering of the US-Russia discord; the possibility of a US-led coalition that will seek to reduce dependency on and engagement with China can be an impediment for Beijing.
For India,  the altercation  with the People’s Liberation Army in the Ladakh sector of the contested Line of Actual Control in June 2020, where both sides lost lives, is a stark reminder of the fragility of the current uneasy stalemate. Almost  100,000 troops  from both sides are in proximity, and the military build-up is on a steady uptick.
How Moscow  will orient itself  in the tussle between the two Asian giants will be critical for both Beijing and New Delhi. In this context, Russia’s new security policy released on June 3 is instructive for its nuanced approach. While the new policy seeks to develop a comprehensive partnership with China, it also aims to further expand strategic cooperation with India.
Concurrently, the new policy makes an elliptical reference to the prevailing Sino-Indian tension in Ladakh by dwelling on the “risks associated with armed conflicts escalating into local and regional wars involving the world’s nuclear powers”.
Whether China can begin “a new journey towards realising the second centenary goal” in defiance of the larger global orientation and sanctity of norms will be dependent on the policy choices made by Xi. The period from now to 2049 can be more animated for China and its principal interlocutors than envisioned, as regional and global challenges coalesce and collapse in the contemporary geopolitical churn.  Climate change   and Covid-19 are just the tip of the iceberg.

28 June
India moves 50,000 troops to border with China and assumes offensive military posture
The redeployment will allow Indian commanders more options to attack and seize territory in China if necessary in a strategy known as ‘offensive defence’
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
(Bloomberg News) India has redirected at least 50,000 additional troops to its border with China in a historic shift toward an offensive military posture against the world’s second biggest economy.
Although the two countries battled in the Himalayas in 1962, India’s strategic focus has primarily been Pakistan since the British left the subcontinent, with the long-time rivals fighting three wars over the disputed region of Kashmir. Yet since the deadliest India-China fighting in decades last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has sought to ease tensions with Islamabad and concentrate primarily on countering Beijing.
Over the past few months, India has moved troops and fighter jet squadrons to three distinct areas along its border with China, according to four people familiar with the matter. All in all, India now has roughly 200,000 troops focused on the border, two of them said, which is an increase of more than 40% from last year.

from OUTLOOK June 21, 2021
Beard the Lion to Bell the Cat
By C. Uday Bhaskar
[T]he current pattern of global trade and investment may not allow for either side to totally sever ties with the other. Like PM Nehru after the 1962 debacle, PM Modi will have to confront the reality about China and its hegemonic ambitions and resolve to progressively re-build India’s comprehensive national capability and the well-being of its citizens against the ravages wrought by the Covid pandemic.
The lapses that led to Galwan have many lessons for India’s security apex and these should not be buried or white-washed for reasons of short-term political expediency.

In June 2020, India was ‘surprised’ by China’s military actions across the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. Lives were lost on both sides. The strained bilateral relationship took another beating and a tense military stand-off ensued. The tactical situation is unresolved and remains brittle a year later, and this is an opportune moment to review the chequered trajectory of Sino-Indian relations since the heady period of the 1950s.
Media reports earlier this year indicated that the strategic-security community in China had been deliberating upon India as a security challenge to Beijing’s long-term objectives and specific reference was made to a 2013 document ‘The Science of Military Strategy’ published by the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS). This was the third iteration of a text first released in 1987 and revised in 2001. Interestingly (from a one-year-after-Galwan perch), it was reported that an English translation of the 276-page document was released in 2013 and is available in the public domain. This document was resurrected in February by a US think-tank and was in turn reported in India.
Security think-tanks and specialised academies studying the ‘adversary’ is par for the course and the AMS apart, even the Chinese National Defence University issues similar reports. Given the HR investment that China has made in studying India in a holistic manner, it is likely that many institutes and organisations would be similarly engaged.
What is instructive is that the 2013 report makes a recommendation for Beijing to stop India from “nibbling” at Chinese territory and also draws attention to India’s expanding maritime reach. The central question that arises a year after Galwan is whether the Indian higher defence management ecosystem with its many tentacles had taken note of these reports and if so, how were these inputs processed?

3 May
Gravitas: China celebrates India’s suffering
Who celebrates the sight of burning pyres? China. Many in China are seeing India’s suffering as an opportunity to mock it with a sickening sense of humour.

16 February
What Pangong means for Asian geopolitics
If disengagement leads to a border pact, the deal is prudent. If Beijing uses it as a tactical pause, then New Delhi may regret concessions
By C Uday Bhaskar
Will the disengagement and the acceptance of a temporary suspension by India of patrolling rights in one area lead to greater malleability in managing LAC and provide a road map for transiting to an agreed border?
Defence minister Rajnath Singh announced the consensual disengagement of troops by both China and India at the contested Pangong lake in Parliament on February 11. This development, and the gradual pullback of tanks and the dismantling of infrastructure that has taken place by both militaries in a synchronised and verified manner, are cause for modest satisfaction.
…if this is only a brief pause for Beijing and President Xi Jinping as China prepares for a major political event — the July centenary celebrations of the Communist Party of China — and the PLA subsequently reverts to its pattern of territorial assertiveness at LAC, then … Delhi may rue the accommodations it has made in the current disengagement process. Any intractable issue, such as the impasse on Pangong, needs some give and take to find a way ahead. But Indian military commanders must remain acutely aware of the tactical and strategic stakes involved and proceed in a prudent manner with fallback plans for the less desirable exigency of LAC morphing into another Line of Control. This would be an unfortunate outcome and the price extracted would be substantial.

15 February
India the vaccine superpower
“What we see is that the countries that prefer Chinese vaccines are the ones that have supported the Belt-and-Road Initiative, meaning that as a whole, they’re favourable to growing Chinese influence,” said Ong, referring to Beijing’s ambitious global trade infrastructure strategy.
“Quite a number of countries in the regions are quite receptive to Chinese vaccines, as they are to Chinese investment.”
But some Asian countries have preferred to deal with a different giant: India.
India can’t compete with China militarily or economically — but India produces more than half of the world’s vaccine output.
Not only is India producing vast quantities of AstraZeneca’s vaccine under license, it also has its own Covaxin — which, like Sputnik V, was rushed to market under a somewhat dubious process but still seems to work.
And India is giving its vaccine away to neighbouring countries free of charge. It gifted millions of doses in January to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Mauritius and the Seychelles, among others — a gesture of generosity so far unique in the world.
Indian officials have made no secret of the fact that they hope to burnish their nation’s image at China’s expense. Relations between the two countries are at a low point following deadly clashes on the Himalayan border last June.
That might explain why, as January ended, India also sent two million doses to Brazil and plans on shipping more. It’s a gesture calculated to highlight the contrast with CoronaVac — which is not only of doubtful efficacy but is also surprisingly expensive.


20 October
From 1962 to 2020, India’s China error
A make-believe frame of reference has guided India on China, leading consistently to mistakes
C. Uday Bhaskar
(Hindustan Times) October 20, 1962, is embedded in collective Indian memory as a day of national humiliation when Beijing “surprised” Delhi and Chinese troops launched what the then defence minister, VK Krishna Menon, described as “an aggressive war” over disputed territory in the Ladakh region and NEFA areas (now Arunachal Pradesh). At one point in the month-long war, it seemed as if Assam was being abandoned by a bewildered, panic-stricken Delhi and many inadequacies in India’s higher defence management and military preparedness were laid bare.

23 September
China Is Paying a High Price for Provoking India
For Xi Jinping, the COVID-19 pandemic – which has preoccupied the world’s governments for months – seemed like an ideal opportunity to make quick progress on his expansionist agenda. But by provoking India, he may have bitten off more than he can chew.
By Brahma Chellaney
(Project Syndicate) China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, recently declared that aggression and expansionism have never been in the Chinese nation’s “genes.” It is almost astonishing that he managed to say it with a straight face.
For Xi, the COVID-19 pandemic – which has preoccupied the world’s governments for months – seemed like an to make quick progress on his agenda. So, in April and May, he directed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to launch furtive incursions into the icy borderlands of India’s Ladakh region, where it proceeded to establish heavily fortified encampments.It wasn’t nearly as clever a plan as Xi probably thought. Far from entrenching China’s regional preeminence, it has intensified the pushback by Indo-Pacific powers, which have their security cooperation.
This includes China’s most powerful competitor, the United States, thereby escalating a bilateral strategic confrontation that has technological, economic, diplomatic, and military dimensions. The specter of international isolation and supply disruptions now looms over China, spurring Xi to announce plans to hoard mammoth quantities of mineral resources and agricultural products.But Xi’s real miscalculation on the Himalayan border was vis-à-vis India, which has now abandoned its toward China.

22 September
China’s “5-Fingers” Approach to Strangling India | Cleo Paskal
The India China border dispute continues to spiral out of out control as clashes between both sides turn deadly. But it’s part of a much bigger strategy by China, part of what’s called strategic national power, to strangle India, by gaining influence in countries surrounding India, like Nepal and Pakistan, as well as disputed border territories along the Line of Actual Control like Ladakh, the Galwan Valley, and the Arunachal Pradesh. Joining us on this China Unscripted podcast is Cleo Paskal is an Associate Fellow in both the Asia-Pacific program and the Energy, Environment and Resources department at Chatham House, as well as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow for the Indo-Pacific in the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

12 September
Cautious optimism as India, China agree to ease border tensions
Foreign ministers of the nuclear-armed Asian rivals agree for troops disengagement after months-long standoff.
(Al Jazeera) …the shadow of war seems to have ended for now after foreign ministers of nuclear-armed rivals late on Friday announced their troops must disengage and take steps to restore “peace and tranquillity” at the disputed border.
“The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” a joint statement by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said.

2 September
China’s military deceit in the Himalayas could spell disaster for the region
Opinion by Barkha Dutt
(WaPo) Tens of thousands of Chinese and Indian troops are facing off in the uppermost reaches of the Himalayas, on the precipice of a possible war between the two major countries.
China’s incursions into eastern Ladakh across the Line of Actual Control that separates it from India should be seen as part of its global pattern of bad behavior. If left unchallenged, China’s provocative and perfidious military actions along the border with India could destabilize South Asia.
China’s massive buildup of troops and infrastructure in pockets across the border not only violates bilateral agreements, but also forces Indians to confront a new reality. India has spent decades of emotional, political and military capital on Pakistan. But the bigger adversary was always China.
… Dialogue is not working. For Indians, the turning point came this summer after China’s duplicitous decision to violate a negotiated agreement on withdrawing their men from the Galwan valley on the Indian side of the LAC. Instead of removing their tents as agreed, Chinese troops turned barbarically on the Indians, using wooden rods mounted with nails as weapons.

16 August
C. Uday Bhaskar: The ‘Asian Century’ depends on China and India working together
How Beijing engages with Delhi after recent border tensions will have long-term implications for continental harmony
The bilateral relationship between China and India has now entered a post-Galwan phase and both nations are aware that what is at stake is not just contested territoriality – but the texture and tenor of the emerging Asian strategic framework with larger global implications.
This was outlined by the Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who earlier in the month noted: “We are seeing the parallel but differential rise of the two countries. To my mind, what it does is it puts a huge premium on reaching some kind of equilibrium or understanding between the two.” Highlighting the point that this equilibrium would have to be in the interests of both countries, he added: “How to do that is one of the big challenges that we face.”
While the Covid-19 pandemic has led to considerable uncertainty about the global economic recovery, it is expected that over the next decade, the world will see the emergence of three major single-state economies: China, the US and India, with the European Union being the fourth node.

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