How does the Chinese military view India? – The diplomat


The Indian military views China as its greatest threat, as Chief of Defense Staff Bipin Rawat made clear in a meeting in June 2021. The Indian army has moved 50,000 soldiers on its border with China in 2021, with around 20,000 troops in the Ladakh sector. So how does the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) view India? The PLA media, including the PLA Daily newspaper and the “Defense Review” television program, provide some information. He views India’s growing military cooperation with the United States with some concern, but generally does not view India as a major threat.

Since 2018, in its articles and videos on India, the PLA’s online media have mainly focused on India’s partnership with the United States, covering the topic 23 times. He presented India’s defense industry and arms procurement, discussed 21 times. India’s growing ties with the United States have often been juxtaposed with its relationship with Russia, which has been discussed 13 times. In contrast, there have been surprisingly few in-depth analyzes or opinion pieces on the Sino-Indian border dispute, even during the Ladakh skirmish in 2020, with most of the articles on the issue being brief press releases from press on meetings to resolve the issue and using language such as “ease tensions”, “maintain communication” and “avoid misunderstandings”.

Overall, we can conclude that the PLA does not see India as one of its main security challenges and emphasizes peacekeeping at the border. He sees India as still committed to its long-standing philosophy of non-alignment in its relations with the United States. While the PLA sees India behaving more and more aggressively and expansionistically in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, it downplays how far India’s actions in these latter theaters could go.

A 2013 book from the PLA Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing titled “Science of Military Strategy”, translated into English by the US-based China Aerospace Studies Institute in 2021, covered India more in depth than any other recent APL publication. In his view, India’s military strategy after the Cold War was mainly to establish and maintain hegemony and absolute military superiority over other South Asian countries, keeping China and other great powers outside its sphere of influence. Although written in 2013, the book also foresaw growing strategic cooperation between the United States and India and something akin to the “Indo-Pacific” strategy of the United States. He predicted that this would accelerate India’s advance eastward, which would connect with Japan’s advance southward, to form “double arcs” in the Indian and Pacific Oceans that intersect in the sea. from southern China.

More recently, PLA writers and media experts reaffirmed the view that India linked its Act East policy to the Indo-Pacific strategy of the United States, seeing it as an opportunity to consolidate its dominance in Asia. from the South and increase its control over the Indian Ocean. This explains why India has set up a network of bases and stations around the Indian Ocean in countries and territories such as Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, the Maldives and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India, and has conducted exercises with the United States near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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Wang Xiaopeng, an expert from the China Ocean University, said on “Defense Review“That in addition to its Act East policy, Narendra Modi’s India also maintains a” southward “policy, the objective of which is to gradually control the Indian Ocean: up to 500 nautical miles beyond. beyond its coasts should be under “absolute” control of India, 500-1000 miles under “medium” control, and beyond 1000 miles under “light” control. Increased strategic cooperation with the United States not only enables India to achieve these goals; According to Wang, this also means that India is “leading the way” for the United States in the Indo-Pacific.

Chinese military experts also see India’s proximity to the United States and other powers as a way for India to modernize its weapons and defense systems and achieve its objectives on land. On the intelligence cooperation of the two countries, PLA military strategist Du Wenlong said on “defense review“that India could become” American Eye “a dangerous movement with” sinister intentions. “However,” Defense Review “experts are also of the opinion that recent Indian arms purchases from the United States do not really to India a significant advantage and are mainly aimed at “”buy american supportAs well as national media consumption. Additionally, Chinese military analysts say that progress in implementing defense agreements between the United States and India, such as the Four Core Agreements, has been slow, mostly with little discussion. ‘action. Thus, any “alliance” between the United States and India is unlikely to last.

Some Chinese military experts use the term “strategic mutual use” – as opposed to true alliances – to describe India’s recent cooperation with the United States. United States and UK. India is using closer cooperation with these powers to access technical knowledge so that it can improve its own production of defense equipment. A key step in this regard was the signing of the Industrial Security Annex with the United States, which allows American companies to share sensitive technologies with private Indian companies. It is a common Chinese view that it is mainly the United States that encourages cooperation with India, based on its own interests such as selling arms to India (ahead of Russia) and the containment of China. An article argues that the United States will want to “force India’s military development into a path it can control.”

Chinese experts nevertheless to acknowledge that India would not allow itself to be manipulated. New Delhi sees itself as a major power and wants to use its relationship with the United States to accelerate its own growth as a military and economic power while retaining its strategic autonomy. As India becomes more powerful, the partnership could face challenges. Importantly, the prospects for a true “alliance” between the United States and India are held back by a long-standing philosophy of non-alignment in Indian foreign policy.

Indo-Russian relations are also often cited in the PLA media as a factor preventing India from forming a true alliance with the United States Lou Chunhao, professor at the Chinese Institutes for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), Remarks that New Delhi and Moscow have diverged on Sino-American relations as well as on the Indo-Pacific strategy and that consequently their ties are inevitably less close than they were before. Nonetheless, they are unlikely to go their separate ways completely, due to their historical lack of animosity and the fact that they pose no security threat to each other. In addition, there is still great potential for cooperation in military and other fields that the two countries would not want to waste – for example, Russia will want compete with the United States for the Indian arms market. As one expert put it in “Defense Review”, Russia’s recent strategy has been to “both beat and shoot IndiaTo warn him not to get too close to the United States while offering opportunities for economic and military cooperation.

In addition, the PLA media view India’s recent military exercises along its borders and coastline as a reflection of a trend towards “provoke bigger countries and suppress smaller countriesIn his neighborhood. Some weapons purchases and tests (such as the Agni-5 missiles in 2021) are seen to be more focused on politics and domestic consumption, to tout India’s status as a great power. Surprise attack exercises near the Sino-Indian border in 2021 in particular were ridiculed by Wang Xiaopeng and Du Wenlong on “Defense Review”, where they stressed that with the unfavorable conditions at India’s borders, launching such attacks would be a foolish move. Such exercises, they argued, are therefore primarily aimed at distracting national attention from other issues, including India’s struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

For its part, the PLA insists on the need to maintain friendly relations with India. A 2017 article in the journal China Military Science, published by the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, said that although the border dispute between the two countries is complex, they should be guided by the idea of ​​”maintaining the status quo and joint management and control. . “A 2019 article in National Defense, another journal published by the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, discusses the importance of maintaining the security of a maritime supply line that crosses the Straits of Malacca and, by extension, to maintain friendly relations with India and other countries bordering these bodies of water.

As a corollary, the PLA media (and the Chinese media more broadly) did not cover the 2020-21 confrontation in Ladakh as extensively as the Indian media. Articles on the subject on the PLA Daily website are limited to statements made by Chinese military leaders following discussions or statements by their Indian counterparts, with one article berating Indian media for increasing tensions.

Overall, the PLA media describe India’s recent moves as a reflection of a ‘binary’either non-alignment or alliance“trap. While the PLA has seen since 2013 that India is moving away from non-alignment and entering into a near-alliance with the United States, Chinese military thinkers now believe it is unlikely to last for long. Although India’s recent actions on land and sea are seen as provocative and reflect an expansionist trend, the PLA and its media generally downplay India’s threat. on China.


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