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China Rattled by Growing US-India Strategic Convergence on South China Sea Issues

Paper No. 6081                                Dated 01-Mar-2016

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Rattled by growing US-India strategic convergence on South China Sea issue, China in a manifestation of its imperial inclinations towards India has recently resorted to issuing proxy injunctions through its state-run media organ ‘The Global Times’ warning India to desist from any joint initiatives with the United States.

Regardless of any official denials by India and the United States that no decisions for any joint patrols in the South China Sea exist, but inevitably such an eventuality cannot be ruled out with China’s ongoing maritime ambitions to dominate the seas of the Western Pacific as a prelude to China’s forceful presence in the Indian Ocean.

Under an innocuous heading of “South China Sea Patrols Bring No Benefit to India” by Long Xingchun in the Global Times of 25-02-2016, this proxy piece implicitly airing China’s official views, initially spells out as to how India does not benefit from any plans to conduct joint patrols with the United States in the South China Sea. Also great pains are taken to point out as to how it is not in India’s national interest to do so. It further infers that the Modi Government has decided not to go ahead with any such plans because it is peeved with the United States on its supply of additional F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan. Strangely, there is also a reference that the Indian public will not support any such step. Which component of the India public is being referred to?

Notwithstanding the above, the stings for India come in the second half of this article, in what can best be termed as imperial warnings to India and noticeable excerpts are reflected below:

  • “Backing the freedom of navigation in the waterway” is only a pseudo-proposition. Consequently, navies of non-claimant countries in the South China Sea merely signal that they take a side and provoke China by patrolling in the waters.
  • In a long time New Delhi has been viewing the confrontation caused by territorial disputes with China as the biggest security challenge, so it is indispensable to maintain harmonious bilateral military relations…….India needs to develop more friends than making more enemies.
  • Conducting joint naval patrols with the United States will do nothing but showing its hostility against China and destabilise their strategic mutual distrust, which will compel the Chinese Government to adopt changes in its India policy.
  • In economics, politics and security, China is far more capable of making trouble for India than the reverse.

Comments:

China’s last named imperial assertion is a reckless one and not in keeping with the prevailing international strategic environment. India today is reckoned as a “swing state” in the global strategic calculus and by virtue of this formidable asset is capable, if it’s political leaders so decide, to add to China’s strategic insecurities and dilute China’s aspirational leap to emerge as a Superpower.

It is in India’s national security and political interests to increase its maritime security cooperation with the United States, Japan, Vietnam and Australia to checkmate China’s military adventurism and brinkmanship in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

India does not have to be apologetic on Indian Navy Task Forces operating in the South China Sea as much as China operating nuclear submarines on patrol in the Indian Ocean under the guise of anti-piracy naval operations.

Perceived by the South East Asia countries and the United States as India being a nett provider of regional security, predominantly maritime, it is an Indian imperative to patrol the waters of the South China Sea in cooperation with other international navies.

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