In this third installment of Indo-Pacific Perspectives, Dr. Peter Harris and his assembled scholars tackle the issue of Sino-Indian border conflicts.
It is quite evident from the history of Pakistan’s relationship with China that Pakistan views Sino-Indian border disputes through a Chinese lens. This is not just because of Pakistani-Chinese friendship, of course, but also because of the rivalry and territorial disputes that have marred India-Pakistan relations since their independence.
Dr. Harris introduces this issue of Indo-Pacific Perspectives, in which six scholars—some based in the region, the rest longtime analysts of Sino-Indian relations—put the recent border Sino-Indian border clashes in context.
The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor has been billed as the “flagship” project of China’s vast Belt and Road Initiative. Beginning in 2014, Pakistan and China have formulated a plan to invest 62 billion USD on improvements to the Gwadar Port complex near the Iranian border, upgrades to Pakistan’s energy and transportation infrastructure, and a series of special economic zones throughout the country. There have been some early modest successes; however, Pakistan has been unable to provide further security for these improvements and the workers building them. This, in addition to the pervasive corruption in the country, means that the project is unlikely result in the dramatic economic growth necessary to prevent Pakistan from incurring the debt complications that other nations have faced after accepting Chinese credit in hopes of bettering their economies. Consequently, the project is unlikely to either result in Pakistan achieving many of its ambitious goals or in forging the kind of strategic relationship between China and Pakistan the United States and the West fear most.
This article demonstrates that India has the advantage in Ladakh over the air and land despite current deficiencies and even after considering the missile threat. However, India must make up its mind what it wants as a nation: Defend its territory, or retake Aksai Chin? If the latter, then without a doubt it must boldly face the Indian public and explain it needs to spend money on raising necessary military assets for the defense of Ladakh and the recapture of Aksai Chin. In this case, India must not worry about the money, or else India shall need to worry about its honor. Not only that: someone should also wield a whip to raise two new corps for Ladakh at a galloping pace—a mountain corps to hold existing positions and territory, in which India is deficient; and another to strike deep into Aksai Chin, and probably also Tibet and Xinjiang. Consequently, a new military command, which normally consists of three corps, is necessary to defend Ladakh and recapture Aksai Chin.
The countries that were originally considered to be part of the String of Pearls quite easily fit into the BRI with their strategic naval outposts. When one takes a closer look at Chinese engagement in the Indian Ocean, it is evident that China’s involvement in the region is not limited to strategic locations or high-risk investments, but it also extends to securing long-term strategic ties with governments and people of these countries. Therefore, one could argue that, particularly under the BRI, Beijing has gone beyond what was initially perceived as a few strategic outposts in the Indian Ocean to secure China’s trade and energy supply routes to a grander vision of being a global power that can project power in countries on the other side of the globe. Therefore, one could argue that China’s interest in the Indo-Pacific goes beyond merely securing trade routes or even ensuring a strategic presence. If the West continues with the narrative of a debt trap and fails to take the growing expansionism in China seriously, the developing nations of the Global South will find “an all-weather friend” and “a preferred development partner” in China.
This article attempts to explain what makes India behave the way it does in its approach to the Indo-Pacific, a behavior that one Indian analyst prefers to call “evasive balancing.” The answer to such a behavior, this article contends, is found in the balance of power or, more specifically, in India’s considerable power asymmetry relative to the United States and China in addition to the decreasing power gap between the United States and China. India’s economic and military growth puts it below the United States and China in the hierarchy of differing capabilities, and China has been reducing its power gap with the United States.
This article reiterates the relevance of Clausewitz to India’s nuclear deterrence, which is supported by New Delhi’s “trinity of war” aggregates of constitutional democracy, economic strength, technological advancement, diplomatic engagement, military buildup, and nationalistic cultural ambitions. These aggregates impart substance and credibility to India’s nuclear doctrine and force posture, making India’s position more confident and reliable in comparison to Pakistan’s deterrent. This dynamic could undermine strategic stability in South Asia by incentivizing India to contemplate counterforce options against Pakistan.
Volume 04 Issue 3 - Summer 2021
This article contends it is time for Pakistan to take a realistic stock of the ground realities of post-imbroglio Kashmir.
The research found in this special issue was part of a project funded by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.
The views and opinions expressed or implied in JIPA are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the Department of Defense, Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government or their international equivalents.