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China’s Growing Profile in Asia and India

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Recently during the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, political leadership vowed to build the world’s best armed forces, matching its newly acquired economic status. Given the recent pace of Chinese military modernization, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Indian armed forces to catch up. Regardless, Indian politicians are still talking about waging and wining a two front war against China and Pakistan. Are they daydreaming? Yes, the facts on the ground suggest to that direction.

It is true war is not necessarily fought and won based on military strength alone. Other elements of state power such as diplomacy, economy and technology, also play an equal role in winning the modern-day wars

Unfortunately, when we have closer look, India is found lacking in comparison with China.

Let us talk about diplomacy first. India’s Look East policy, designed to strengthen engagement with East Asia, has completely collapsed. Today the whole region is orbiting towards China. Even Singapore and Vietnam, traditionally known as India’s allies, are making efforts to get in China’s good books. India is being pushed out of East Asia, while. ASEAN has come under the grip of China. Forget about East Asia. India is even losing its neighbors. Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are already pivoting towards China. India’s foreign policy has reached dead end and have failed to construct a functional response to China’s rise and expansion into to East and South Asia.

Today China is the largest trading partner in the region with most of countries. It is investing up to$1trillion in infrastructure development, integrating the .whole region with the Chinese economy. There is no way India can match this economic integration pace of China. Today India has only one decision: either join this bandwagon or face complete isolation.

India is doing somewhat better in information technological arena. however, China is advancing as the epicenter of emerging technologies and academic excellence. Today it is the world’s best in AI, supercomputing, robots, and many other such future oriented defense technologies. Again, India stands no chance of catching up with China in near future in these areas.

China has already become the world’s second largest economy. By2030 it will be largest. By 2050 it is expected to boast of around $50 trillion. Again, India stands no chance in catching up any time soon.

With recent modernization and increased capability the Chinese navy is expanding its influence. The Chinese navy is advancing towards the Indian Ocean by signing defense agreements with many IOR countries. By 2025 it is expected to claim the whole Indian Ocean as its own area of influence. As many Indian scholars have suggested NO INDIAN OCEAN NO INDIA. What will happen next you can already guess?

Time is running out for India. If India hopes to survive the coming crisis it must come out with a comprehensive strategy to meet future challenges. First it must craft comprehensive strategic and defense partnerships with likeminded countries in Asia Pacific to keep the regional balance of power. Japan, Korea Vietnam and Singapore are under extreme pressure from China to move away from USA led security alliances. India should provide whatever help it can diplomatically, economically and militarily to these countries to hold on the current USA led security order. Maintenance of status quo is the urgent requirement for India to keep Chinese expansion in check. Any change in regional status quo can seriously threaten the Indian security interests.

Second, to meet the challenge of the fast expanding Chinese navy, India needs to increase its naval budget many fold. Currently the Indian navy is the most ignored force among the Indian armed forces. It must change. India must strengthen its navy because the next war between China and India is probably going to be for the control of the Indian Ocean. India must prepare itself while it still has time.

Third, India must understand that treating China as a perpetual enemy is not the way going forward. It must accept the ground reality and be ready to work closely with China. Developing a close, joint vision of peace and prosperity for Asia with China is the way to go.. There is no way India or the region can ignore China much longer.

Indian politicians and diplomats often indulge in empty rhetoric to give the public a feel good factor, but Indian intelligentsia must not allow itself to be taken by this and must understand the gravity of the situation and keep raising their voice and concerns.

It is time Indian political leadership and diplomats give up the rhetoric and start doing their jobs as best they can do.


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