Pakistan and China’s increasing threat to India
Pakistan and China have been strengthening not only economic but also geopolitical ties in recent months, which has led many to believe targets India, as the main regional threat to China’s dominance, as well as Pakistan’s historical geopolitical rival.
In June, soldiers from India and China engaged in a violent skirmish along the two countries’ unmarked border in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh. At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed, along with an unspecified number of their Chinese counterparts, in what was the first such confrontation since 1975 that resulted in fatalities.
New Delhi and Beijing have now embarked on a fitful process of de-escalation. But even as the two parties seek to restore some semblance of normalcy along their shared border, a critical question lingers: Why was India’s security establishment seemingly blindsided by China? Local officials in Ladakh have in fact been sounding the alarm about Chinese forays into Indian territory for years, a fact that points to a complete breakdown in New Delhi’s intelligence gathering and risk assessment.
Furthermore, stating that the Centre must strengthen the military, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh said, “Mark my words, any war with China will be a collusive one, with Pakistan as well.” Discussing Chinese incursions in Ladakh, he added, “We are in a much, much better position…The Chinese are going to be very foolish if they think they can come on us.” The CM said Chinese incursions were not a new thing, but that India was much better prepared now.
Meanwhile, it is clear that Pakistan and China are not only forming economic ties, but also a geopolitical alliance. Prime Minister Imran Khan was blunt in one of his recent public statements about where the two relationships are heading. “Pakistan’s future is tied to China. We should be clear on this that our country’s [economic] development has now been intertwined with China,” Khan said in a wide-ranging interview aired by a local news channel last week. “We are fortunate that we have a friend that stood by us through thick and thin. None of our other friends have stood by us like China politically supported and defended us on all fronts,” Khan told Dunya TV.
India’s allies in strategically weak positions
Chinese Military Expert, Song Zhongpin, while admitting that the Indian military had more combat experience as compared to the PLA, said many Chinese military enthusiasts did not think much of India
“It is true that China has much greater military strength than India, and due to media reports about some mistakes made by the Indian military, such as human errors that lead to frequent air crashes and submarine explosions, as well as the undeveloped and corrupt defense industry in India, many Chinese people, especially military enthusiasts, believe that the Indian army is just a joke.”
It is therefore clear, that although this may be a big exaggeration, India would need the help of its major allies in order to repell China and Pakistan.
While China has been using its growing economic might to establish its dominance in Asia and become the world’s largest superpower, it has also been using its military and geopolitical influence to assert its dominance. The latest move by China appears to be responding to its direct rival in Asian economic and military dominance that is India. China is reported to be boosting its arms links with South Asian nations, with a further supply of an advanced anti-stealth radar to Pakistan as well as frigates to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.cJane’s Defence Weekly, a magazine reporting on military and corporate affairs, said it had identified Chinese-made JY-27A counter-very-low-observable radar from satellite images of Pakistan’s Mianwali Air Base, captured on August 29.
Unfortunately for India, its traditional allies, mainly the US and Israel, while of major help economically, and indirectly, are not in strategically strong positions should a direct military intervention take place, due to their geographically distant positions.
India may realize this, which could explain its latest change in stance, which will be further elaborated on in the next section.
Will India go for peace?
It appears India may be looking for a future of cooperation with China, rather than conflict, as : Indian soldiers will take part in combat drills with troops from China and Pakistan, amidst the ongoing military confrontation with the former and border hostilities with the latter, in a multi-nation exercise being organised by Russia next month.
The Indian contingent would include 160 personnel from the army, along with 40 troops of the Indian Air Force and two Navy officers for the observers there. The exercise is being held in the Astrakhan province of Southern Russia where member countries of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and Central Asian countries would be participating, although India had earlier also participated in this exercise with both China and Pakistan as part of it.
Despite this, India’s insistence on Kashmir is a signal that it remains strongly interested in maintaining its position, and will not bend to China’s pressure. In terms of Kashmir, the Chinese side reiterated that “the Kashmir issue is a dispute left over from history between India and Pakistan, and China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.”
In response to China’s stance, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Saturday said India rejected a reference to Jammu and Kashmir in the joint press release and said it was tantamount to interference in India’s internal affairs, Hindustan Times reported. Such a response from New Delhi was not unexpected. India insists on its position on Kashmir no matter what the relevant stances of China, Pakistan and the international community are. In fact, India’s removal of Kashmir’s special autonomous status is beyond India’s internal affairs. This is because Kashmir is a disputed region between India and Pakistan which is widely recognized by the international community. Furthermore, after revocation of its special autonomous status, the custom and life styles of local residents, especially Muslims, will be greatly impacted. India’s position in terms of the statement on Kashmir in the joint press release will not affect China’s stance on this disputed region.
Although the recent joint military drills are a sign that relations between India and China are not as bad as they seem, India will hold its position as a counter-influence to China and hope that the US and Israel provide an anchor to its plans.