ABelligerent China & the Shrinking World: Complementarity & Competition 18. The U.S.-China-India triangular relationshipis a strategic Rubik’s Cube.
All three need each other. China, with proudaspirations that draw on 2200 years of rich civilization, & world’s largestpopulation & second largest armed forces, has displayed disconcertingimpatience in establishing its centricity to the world affairs & prominencein Asia. It is already beginning to actlike a major power with a heavy hand approach in disregarding internationalnorms in South China Sea & increasing assertiveness in handling borderdisputes forcing countries to either accommodate its wishes and settlesdisputes on China’s terms or seek alliances to resist Chinese rise.19. Beijing’s “New Type of Great PowerRelations” concept seeks U.S.
recognition of China’s primacy in Asia thatlimits Washington’s regional presence in Asia, and relegates its traditionalU.S. allies to the side lines1.It sees the U.S. military alliances and forward presence as the biggest hurdlein inducing Asians to accommodate and acquiesce to Chinese power.2While it may propagate multi-polarity in global order, it consistentlypreserves the position of prominence for itself in Asian power pedestal.
20. Aspirations notwithstanding, USA is andlikely to continue to be the single most powerful country in the world. Thoughboth may consider each other as principal competitor, for the foreseeablefuture, the competition is likely to restrict itself more towards economicdominance than military. For China, its economic relationship with the UnitedStates is vitally important as its biggest export market.3US policies tend to oscillate between reconciling to rise of China, to discreetsteps to contain China.
Its Asia- Pacific theatre strategy is regarded as keyto maintain its pre-eminence globally.4In this context, India holds special attraction for US, being the biggest amongthe rising powers in Asia, as well as sharing complex, if not adversarialrelationship with China. 21. This perceptive transition of power in Asiahas only intensified the protracted rivalry between New Delhi and Beijing.Buoyed by its recent growth, both economic & military, China has adopted amore aggressive posture toward India.
Indian foreign policy discourse, however,remains deeply fractured on a viable strategy to manage China’s rise.Normalizing relations with Beijing has been prioritized by New Delhi andconstitutes a pillar of India’s hedging strategy. However, given India’s modestinternal capabilities, the threat posed by China can only be managed through anexternal balancing strategy, for which a closer partnership with US is bothdesirable and indispensable.5 ChineseShadow over Indo- US Relations; New Security Dynamics 22.
At the end of the first decade of the twenty-firstcentury, The Economist issued a report that said, of China, ‘Friends, or else'(2010b). However, the cover of the same issue stated, ‘The dangers of a risingChina’ (2010a). Many others in the Western media, the United States Congressand academia increasingly contend that the verdict on China is out: that it ison its way to becoming a threatening global force, an adversary, if not anenemy.Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute holds that ‘If Beijing poses a threat; it isto US domination of East Asia, not the country itself’ (2009). 23. The 2012 Defense Strategic Review recognizedthat China’s rise would affect the US economy and security, and declared thatthe US “will of necessity rebalance its military toward the Asia-Pacificregion.” While in the past the US had projected power into the Asia-Pacificthrough colonization and occupation-notable examples being Guam and thePhilippines in 1898 and Japan after 1945-its new presence is based on creatingstrong bilateral economic and military alliances with regional countries, andefforts to organize the region into multilateral economic and securityinstitutions to balance China’s economic and military influence. 24.
As the Sino-American security competitionincreases, India slides into the geopolitical sweet spot of a”swing state” earlier occupied by China during the old ColdWar when it joined the United States to balance against the USSR. ForIndia, its ties with the United States facilitate its rise as a major power andaugment its position in Asia. For its part, Washington does not want a singlepower to dominate the Asian continent and its adjoining waters and supports therise of several powers, India chief among them, with the United States actingas an “engaged offshore power balancer.
” For China, the United Statesis the principal strategic adversary; for India, it is China. 25. India’s deterrence capabilities areChina-centric, while those of China’s are U.S.-centric. Beijing fears India’sparticipation in the U.S.
-Japanese containment of China. Conversely, Indiafears a Sino-U.S. alignment that would allow Beijing to curb the growth ofIndian power or lead to U.S. acknowledgment of the South Asia/ Indian Oceanregion as China’s sphere of influence. USPivot to Asia & Indo- US Strat Congruence 26. The USNational Security Strategy 2002 made it clear that India could aid it increating a “strategically stable Asia.
” Vice presidential candidateJoe Biden also called Washington’s ties with India as the “single mostimportant relationship that we have to get right for our own safety’ssake.” India’s role in balancing China was most vividlydescribed later on in the Obama administration. President Barack Obamadescribed the U.S.
-India relationship as the “indispensablepartnership of the 21st century”; while his Secretary of Defense called”India the linchpin of the US re-balances strategy.”President Obama’s talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his2015 India visit revealed that American and Indian viewsof China’s challenge to the global order are now “strikinglysimilar.”27. The central U.S.
security objectives inSoutheast Asia include(a) A stable, predictable, and rules-boundpolitical system, in which international conflicts are settled throughdiplomatic channels rather than the threat or use of military force. (b) Freedom of navigation in all vital maritimetransit points, including the Strait of Malacca. (c) . (d) Prevention of common threats to theinternational community, including terrorism, maritime piracy, and nuclearproliferation. (e) Resolution of territorialdisputes—particularly the competing South China Sea claims of China, Vietnam,the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, and Malaysia—by peaceful methods rather thanintimidation or military action.
28. Forthe purpose of answering the question, “Why does India’s interest in SoutheastAsia matter to the United States?” one need only recognize three basic points.First, the U.S.
“Asian rebalancing” is fundamentally shaped by a desire tosupport partner nations and maintain the balance of power in the Asia-Pacificregion—particularly in light of China’s growing presence and uncertaintiesabout China’s future intentions. Second, India—a traditional rival of China inthe economic, security, and cultural spheres—will be a major factor in U.S.calculations. A better understanding of Indian interests is therefore essentialto the rebalance. As India’s Look East policy is implemented, the “Asia-Pacific” region will increasingly become the “Indo-Pacific” region. Third,India is already a military presence in Southeast Asia, through itsbases on its sovereign territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Thesebases are closer to Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia thanthey are to the Indian mainland, and India is actively expanding theirfacilities for its navy, air force, and army. 29. Historically, the state of the Sino-U.
S.relationship has always heavily influenced India’s foreign policyorientation. TheChinese Push- Identifying Need for Alliances 30.
Addressing a security conference in India inMarch 2016, Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of US Pacific Command, called onIndia to join the US, Japan, and Australia to deal with common securitychallenges in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region via the Quadrilateral SecurityDialogue (or Quad) in ensuring that the Indo-Pacific region is not dominated byChina and the overall balance of power remains favourable to the liberaldemocracies. Many believe that Beijing would have been far less aggressive inits “island building” and the other challenges to the status quo inthe Pacific norms if the Quad had already been in place. 31. American sources discuss quite openly thatthe United States should seek to balance China, especially by courting India(Spillius, 2008). The threat of terrorism and the need to contain Chineseregional muscularity, along with growing economic synergy in the high-techsector, transformed U.S.
ties with India. Today, in one of those slow motionrealignments that enliven history, India’s traditional security concerns-Pakistan (in the form of militant Islam) and China (irredentism andrevisionism)-have finally become Washington’s immediate and long term securityconcerns as well. 32.
Access to locations in Southeast Asia couldalso play a major role in deterrence vis-à-vis China—and in operations,should deterrence fail. The value of these locations will grow, as Chineseconventionally armed ballistic and cruise missile ranges grow and as People’sLiberation Army (PLA) power projection capabilities improve. More operatinglocations in Southeast Asia could allow U.S. forces to disperse at the outsetof a conflict, and, depending on the specific locations, deploy outside therange of most Chinese missiles. Both of these would improve U.S.
operationalresiliency and buttress deterrence by denying China confidence in its abilityto inflict crippling losses early in a conflict. 33. If India chose to devote significanteconomic, military, and diplomatic resources to the region, it could presentwhat China would consider to be a genuine threat to its southern flank.
Thesouthernmost tip of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal isjust 90 nautical miles from Indonesia and the northernmost tip less than tennautical miles from Myanmar.” If Beijing’s foreign policy becomes moreaggressive in the future, India’s Andaman and Nicobar bases could complicateChinese power projection anywhere in the Indian Ocean region. As the UnitedStates seeks to better define its own “Asian rebalancing,” the role of Indiawill have to shape the options—if only because that role will inevitably shape theoptions and actions not only of China, but of all other Asian players. 34.
Both India and China tend to play down theircompetition, particularly in government pronouncements as opposed to mediaheadlines; while Indian officials are concerned about Beijing’s reaction, theirChinese counterparts have little reason to stoke a peer-rivalry with a nationthey do not consider a geopolitical equal. Indian Prime Minister Singh andChinese Premier Wen Jiabao stated during the latter’s visit to India in 2010that India and China were not in competition. The joint communiqué drawn up bythe two countries asserted that “there is enough space in the world for thedevelopment of both India and China,” and that they have “common interests andsimilar concerns on major regional and international issues.”141 35. Nevertheless, since 2010, China has shownincreased assertiveness regarding its South China Sea claims, particularlycompared with its “charm offensive” of the early 2000s. India’s efforts toexercise freedom of navigation in the South China Sea have drawn challengesfrom the Chinese.
In June 2012, the Indian naval squadron, led by INS Shivalikon its way to South Korea from the Philippines, was joined by a Chinese frigatethat “sent a message ‘welcoming’ the contingent to the South China Sea andsailed along for the next 12 hours.” 36. Though Indian strategists appear to placeextremely high stock in the potency of their diplomatic, cultural, and “softpower” policy instruments, these tools may prove less effective than Delhiexpects. As a Western official who has served in both ambassadorial andsecurity roles noted, ‘China’s diplomatic corps “utterly dwarfs” that of India.The staff of the Ministry of External Affairs is about the same size as that ofSingapore, a nation with less than one-half of 1 per cent of India’spopulation; China’s diplomatic corps is eight times the size of India’s. Mostcommentators agree that India may be a military heavyweightin South Asia but its military power relative to China is quite weak.
Until recently, it spent a mere 1.56 per cent of GDP on defense.Thus India’s military might is not considered to be source ofits rising international influence, although its regional power in South Asiaand its possible role as a bridging power in East and South East Asia areincreasingly recognized. 37. Identifying its critical need of external balancingagainst increasing military disparities with China, India now seeks Americaneconomic and technological assistance to give momentum to its rise as a major powerand its new role in maintaining maritime pre-eminence over the Indian Oceanregion. At a minimum, New Delhi wants to use its strategic ties with Washingtonto bolster India’s position in its dealings with China and in mitigating thedangers posed by its old adversary, Pakistan. India could, if it so chose,greatly complicates China’s ambitions to assert economic, military, and “softpower” predominance in East Asia.
38. Most of the $14 billion worth weapons andtechnology (C-130Js, C-I7s, light howitzer artillery, UAVs (unmanned aerialvehicles), P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft, jet engine, and aircraft carriertechnologies) that India has purchased from the United States over the lastdecade directly augments its capabilities vis-à-vis China on the Himalayanborder and in the Indian Ocean. Two of the most potentiallyvaluable areas for increased cooperation between the United States and India inSoutheast Asia are in Myanmar, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These twosites represent the low-hanging fruit, and should be the focus of increasedattention by U.S. policymakers. Strategic Concerns in Perspective39. Defence related agreements are considered as keysteeping stones and test bed for identifying the potential of a full-fledgedmilitary alliance between the two nations.
Indian planners have been skepticalof committing itself even for minor defense agreements citing dangers ofcompromising its strategic autonomy and against its key foreign policy edificeof Non- Alignment often quoting the examples of other allied partners of theUS. Are these arguments applicable in Indian context? Dothe agreements compromise India’s strategic autonomy? 40. Two key defense related agreements between US andIndia have been Defense Trade and Technology Initiative and the recentlyconcluded Logistics Support Agreement or LEMOA. However these agreements aremore towards capability building and not directly aimed at any country ortowards a military alliance. The Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI)aims to transition the defense transactions from a buyer-seller operation to aco-development and co-producer model. The conclusion of Logistics Support Agreementwould enhance operational capability and interoperability allowing aircraft andships to land and make port calls, for example, in the Andaman Islands in thefuture.
41. Oft quoted examples stem from perceptionsthat erstwhile alliance partners of US have ceded sovereignty (Italy, Korea,and the Philippines); are monopolizing important territories needed by localpopulations (Japan and Germany); or are predisposing the host government tosupport extra-regional military activities by the United States, to includesupport for U.S. operations in connection with the global war on terrorism(Italy and Turkey).
It is important tounderstand here that Japan, Korea, Turkey, Italy, and the Philippines are therecipients of legally binding security commitments and related considerationswhich actually do apply in the case of India. There is no parallel betweenIndia’s situation and those of allies such as the Philippines, Japan, or Koreathat have had disagreements with the United States over basing, foreign criminaljurisdiction, or on-going operational issues. 42. Since joining the NAM in 1994 following theend of apartheid, South Africa has signed 26 agreements with the United States,of which seven related to defense. These included a GSOMIA in 1998, followed byan ACSA in 2001 and a BECA in 2013. The United States has signed 72 agreementswith Indonesia since it joined the NAM in 1961, including seven defenseagreements. Among these were a “Memorandum of understanding concerning mapping,charting, and geodesy cooperation” in 1977 and an ACSA in 2010.
Among the 16defense agreements Singapore has signed with the United States since joiningthe NAM in 1970 are a GSOMIA in 1983, a “Memorandum of understanding concerningconfiguration management of tactical command, control and communicationsstandards, with annexes” in 1991, and an ACSA in 2011. Since joining the NAM in1970, Malaysia has signed five defense agreements. All these nations have beenfounder members of the NAM making the theory of non-alignment itself questionablein the present global order. 43. That most countries that gain access to thosedata feeds contribute much less information than that which is supplied by theUnited States.641 MalikMohan. World Affairs; Washington 179.
1 (Spring 2016).2 MalikMohan, Sage Journals Volume: 179 issue: 1, page(s): 46-57. 3 ZhenBingxi, China Institute of International Studies, “China-U.S. Economic andTrade Relations: A Win-Win Partnership” 4 Muni SD & Chadha Vivek, IDSA, AsianStrategic Review 2014,”US Pivot and Asian Security”.
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