Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd), Director CLAWS,
in his opening remarks, congratulated the visiting
Chinese delegation for having recently celebrated
60 years since the establishment of the PRC. It
is believed that the balance of power is gradually
shifting to Asia and the 21st century could well
be termed as the ‘Asian century.’
He said that at the strategic level it appears
that China wishes to maintain stability with India,
reflected by growing economic and trade linkages,
cooperation in the WTO and collaboration in the
ongoing climate change debate. However, at the
tactical level, the territorial and boundary dispute
emerges as the most significant and complex challenge
facing the two countries that needs to be resolved
at the earliest. He also expressed the view that
some recent moves on the part of China have been
less than friendly.
Major General Zhao Pi began by congratulating
CLAWS for the commendable work being done by the
Centre as the areas of research covered by CLAWS
As the highest military think tank of China,
which undertakes research, Maj Gen Zhao looked
forward towards more such interactions between
their think tank and CLAWS. It should be underlined
that the opportunity in front of China and India
is far greater than the disputes.
global strategy patterns and global financial
crisis has given rise to new dynamics. Resultantly,
the rise of Beijing and New Delhi constitutes
the key element in the changing global pattern.
Dr Guruswamy stated that both China and India
focus as well as depend considerably on literature
regarding each other coming in from the West.
Seminars like the one conducted by CLAWS are
an excellent opportunity to exchange views directly
by means of interactions between analysts and
experts from each side. In addition to issues
such as the border dispute, India is also concerned
about the proliferation of small arms in its northeastern
states between 2007-09, of which, nearly 50 percent
were of Chinese origin.
India does not believe that these weapons had
official sanction; however the situation still
remains very worrisome.
Besides, there is also the issue of the huge
pile up of trade imbalances. Chinese reserves
invested in US treasury bonds amount to $1.6 trillion.
Since this paper currency cannot be encashed,
it seems to have generated immense debate.
Notwithstanding that in case of India, bilateral
trade has crossed $52 billion; the trade deficit
too has mounted. India should make collaborative
efforts to bring down the trade deficit to manageable
levels and pursue balanced trade. India and China
are poised to be among the three major economic
giants by 2030. The window of vulnerability as
far as India is concerned, lies in the next 14-15
A trilateral world order is emerging and thus
both countries should place their relationship
on an equal footing for the future.
Dr Monika Chansoria outlined the aim of her presentation
by stating that by virtue of being the two most
significant players in Asia, India and China display
a peculiar mix of both competition and cooperation.
The complexities of Sino-Indian geopolitics display
both a convergence of interests as well as strategic
divergences including the territorial and boundary
dispute. A strategic partnership was announced
on April 11, 2005, which emphasised a shift from
competition to cooperation. Indeed, India and
China have demons t rated a coordinated approach
in international affairs by cooperating in: the
Doha round of talks in the World Trade Organisation
(WTO); climate change negotiations; counter-terrorism
cooperation; and mutual energy security.
Both nations could also collaborate towards stabilising
collapsing global markets with their foreign exchange
reserves. India had supported China’s entry into
the UN and expects China also to support India’s
bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
She stressed upon the significance of the economic
synergy between New Delhi and Beijing. According
to China’s General Administration of Customs,
Sino-Indian trade grew by 33% in 2008 to nearly
$52 billion. Bilateral trade is tipped to reach
$60 billion by 2010.
the realm of counter-terrorism cooperation, the
post-Mumbai terror attack period saw the firstever
Sino-Indian military combat exercise on Indian
soil to jointly counter terrorism and insurgency.
A Chinese Army contingent from the 1st Company
of the Infantry Battalion of the Chengdu Military
Area Command and Indian Army troops from the 8
Maratha Light Infantry Battalion took part in
a joint counter-terror exercise in December 2008
Dr Chansoria elaborated upon the existing strategic
divergences that include the border dispute, Sino-Pak
nuclear and missile collaboration, China’s quest
for increasing influence in the Indian Ocean Region;
and China’s pursuance of an “encirclement strategy”
towards India to gain long-term strategic advantage
in the region. China still does not recognise
India’s status as a nuclear weapons state. It
insists that India must abide by UNSC Resolution
1172 and give up its nuclear weapons and consequently
sign the NPT.
In September 2008, China attempted to foil the
Indo-US civilian nuclear deal at the Nuclear Suppliers
Group (NSG) meet. This was in contrast to earlier
assurances provided by the Chinese leadership
that Beijing would not block the emergence of
a consensus at the NSG. As part of an ‘encirclement
strategy’ against India, China is attempting to
make inroads into India’s neighbourhood. This
is visible as China is developing ports and naval
bases in Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri
Lanka. It is likely that the PLA Navy will be
able to operate and sustain itself in the northern
Indian Ocean region by 2015.
She brought out that the territorial and boundary
dispute constitutes the most complex and contentious
issue between the two countries. China physically
occupies large areas of Indian territory since
the mid-1950s. In Ladakh (Aksai Chin), China occupies
38,000 sq kms of Indian territory.
Besides this, Shaksgam Valley (5,180 sq kms)
was illegally ceded by Pakistan to China in March
1963. It should be noted that the Karakoram highway
was built close to this tract. Beijing also continues
to claim the entire Indian state of Arunachal
Pradesh, which is more than 90,000 sq kms of Indian
Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi had reiterated this
claim on the eve of President Hu Jintao’s visit
to India in November 2006. Since 1962, the Line
of Actual Control (LAC) has not yet been physically
demarcated/ delineated on ground and in military
maps despite the Border Peace and Tranquility
Agreement (BPTA) of 1993, CBMs in Military Field
of 1996 and numerous meetings of the Joint Working
Group. China is also engaged in executing a “string
of pearls” strategy in the Indian Ocean through
the acquisition of port facilities in the region
(particularly, Gwadar in Pakistan which is also
being linked by rail/road with China).
Dr Chansoria concluded by stating that China
has resolved its territorial and boundary dispute
with the Central Asian Republics, Russia and Vietnam,
but the border dispute with India appears to be
becoming interminable. She suggested that demarcating
the LAC could prove to be the best CBM between
India and China. Indications are that otherwise
the boundary dispute will eventually become a
key impediment and play the role of a spoiler
in Sino-Indian ties in future. Therefore there
is a need to address the issue with utmost sincerity
Maj General Zhao Pi appreciated Dr Chansoria’s
frank views, and did also underline that China
and India shared many common grounds of interests
in the new emerging world order. In fact, the
level of cooperation is much greater than mutual
discord. China and India should closely work together
towards strengthening bilateral ties and a better
future collectively and should not look back to
the past. Interestingly, Buddhism could be an
example that both nations could identify with.
The Chinese people have a very special feeling
Maj Gen Zhao stated that only few issues are
truly existent and the others don’t really exist.
The Chinese government does not take into consideration
personal views of individual/individuals in order
to resolve bilateral issues. The ‘string of pearls’
strategy that China is ‘accused of pursuing’ is
not true at all. In fact, the team from the PLA
Academy of Military Sciences has never heard of
this term, he said.
Beijing has always taken a positive lead in world
affairs. For example, China sent warships to protect
ships that were under attack from the Somali pirates.
China does not threaten India in the Indian Ocean
Region. There is strong belief that the elite
leadership of both China and India is capable
of guiding the future direction of policy vis-à-vis
bilateral relations both in the economic sphere
and elsewhere. We believe that the two nations
share very good and cordial relations that are
expected to get only stronger in the times to
come, Maj Gen Zhao said.