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China is India's ultimate threat - Mid-day

P M Kamath ()
1 September 1997

Title: China is India's ultimate threat
Author: P M Kamath
Publication: Mid-day
Date: September 1, 1997

The Chairman of the International Relations Committee of the US Congress,
Benjamin Gilman recently said in New Delhi that China's growing power poses
a threat to India. Parliamentary standing committee on defence also in its
report in 1995 had considered China as a potential security threat to
India. The report stated that China "is likely to remain the primary
security challenge to India m the medium and long term...... despite
warming relations."

What is the basis for this threat perception? Apart from natural power
asymmetry arising from China's vast territory, greater resources and
national homogeneity of population, China enjoys certain advantages through
shrewa policies pursued since 1962 towards India and India's own policy
blunders. Some of these factors can only be mentioned here briefly.

First, an unsettled border between the two countries which gives an edge to
China over India. Though there is a Peace and Tranquility Agreement between
the two signed in 1993, the dispute can be activated to her advantage by
China any time. Though ten rounds of talks have been concluded by the Joint
Working Group (JWG), the lack of progress is evidenced at the latest round
of the JWG meeting which reiterated earlier an understanding reached during
Jiang Zemin's visit to New Delhi. It shows that China sees a natural
advantage to herself in keeping the issue alive.

Second, unlike India which unilaterally conceded China's claim over Tibet
as an autonomous region of China, India did not insist then that China
recognise India's borders with her. As a result today, India's territorial
integrity can be questioned by China as it does not recognise Arunachal
Pradesh or Sikkim as a state in the Indian Union. The only concession it
made in 1994 over Kashmir was that it should be resolved bilaterally by two

Third, China is a full-fledged nuclear power on India's northern borders
with nuclear weapons aimed at all major Indian cities. Friends of China may
argue that it has provided the guarantee of no first use of the nuclear
weapons. But it will not prevent her from using the nuclear weapons to
blackmail India.

Fourth, China is developing naval facilities on the southern tip of Myanmar
from which she can directly threaten eastern Indian states and Andaman &
Nicobar Islands. When asked about Chinese navy activities in Indian Ocean,
China's defence minister quipped "it is Indian Ocean and not India's Ocean."

Fifth, there is an ever growing collaboration between China and Pakistan,
on the basis of an enemy's enemy is a friend. The Indian Parliamentary
standing committee report referred to earlier stated that "China continues
to be the main source of major weapons including missiles and other
technology to Pakistan." Apart from past collaboration on Pakistan's effort
to develop a clandestine nuclear capability, in the 1990s China is the sole
collaborator in Pakistan's developing missiles. Not only are Pakistan's
recently test-fired Hatf Missiles, Chinese M9 missiles, China has also
provided M11 missiles to Pakistan.

The latest report is that China is setting up a missile assembly plant in

Sixth, China's policy of forward projection of power is a direct threat to
India. China developed this policy after the experience of the Gulf War of
1991, were US successfully fought a technologically superior war against
Iraq. Chinese policy involves engaging the enemy beyond China's borders
with sophisticated technology in fighting small wars.

Seventh, China pursues a no nonsense diplomacy devoid of any sentimentalism
- a characteristic of Indian foreign policy - in seeking its national

This can be illustrated by comparing the policy of the two countries on the
CTBT. India joined hands with the US in co-sponsoring the treaty in 1993,
only to refuse to sign it in June 1996 when it was ready for signing. But
China stated right in the beginning her agreement with the goals of the
proposed treaty and accepted them in principle. However

refused to cease any nuclear tests till the treaty is ready for signing and
carried out nuclear tests to miniaturise the weapons till almost the last
minute. Before signing the treaty, it bargained hard with the US to gain
access to computer simulated testing device from the US.

Eighth, China is an emerging global power. In this direction it has
already made South China Sea into a China lake. It has already established
its control over Paracel islands claimed by Vietnam. Now China claims
Spratley Islands which are almost one thousand kms away from China's
borders. If and when others come to accept China's claims, China' s
maritime borders will increase from 370,000 sq km to 3 million sq km.

Ninth, China's only ambition is to be recognised as a super power. There is
a distinct possibility of prolonged cold war relations between the US and
China. As in the case of the US-Soviet cold war, India will be forced to
take a stand and whatever stand India takes will create problems for Indian

India's foreign policy has left much to be desired since the early 1990s.
India has taken the easy course of playing second fiddle to China. In a way
it came to India very naturally under Narasimha Rao, having played that
role with US.

India is more concerned about China's sensitivities rather than India's
national interests. India did not raise the question of their supply of M11
missiles to Pakistan. However, Chinese leaders raised their concerns at
Dalai Lama's activities in India. If India wants to live in peace with
China, we need to strengthen our security by investing more in it and
taking effective policy measures.

(P M Kamath wants some change in Indian attitude towards China)

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