SINO-INDIA-PAK Relations – Axis of Discord


China and Pakistan, two neighbour nations of India, one – a formidable most populated nation and the other- separated young brother, now turned foe. Both these nations are envious about the tremendous growth and development of their betenoire, India. Hence both these nations, joining hands to enhance their economic and military strength, is not a healthy trend and it is a serious cause of concern to us.
In mid-May this year, Beijing unveiled its plans for a $1.3 trillion ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and then the ‘One Belt and One Road ( OBOR) initiative’. It’s flagship project will be the ‘China Pakistan Economic Corridor ( CPEC)’, a $46 Billion investment, that will connect Kashgar in Xinxiang to Gwadar in Pakistan on the Arabian Sea and also prop up the failing Pakistani economy. It’s a most annoying project for India since it’s the formalisation of Chinese presence in Northern parts of the territory of Jammu &Kashmir, as the CPEC will pass through POK, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. Hence India boycotted the grand ceremony to formally inaugurate OBOR which was attended by over 28 heads of states and 60 top officials whose countries form part of these network of roads, rails and sea routes connecting the Eurasian and African land mass to China. The deep strategic ties between Beijing and Islamabad have for decades been a matter of concern to New Delhi. Until now China’s focus has been to position Pakistan as a counterweight to a rising India which could Challenge its hegemonic agenda.

Bone of Contention between India and China.

Though the annual trade between both nations are booming to the tune of $ 70 Billion, being in China’s favour too, Beijing openly blocked India’s move to add Masoor Azhar leader of the Pakistan- based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group and a perpetrator of attacks on India, to the United Nation’s proscribed terrorist list.
The second direct confrontation by China was Beijing’s ‘veto’ of India’s desire to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group( NSG) by insisting that Pakistan too must get it, even though most members of NSG see Pakistan as a threat to their anti-proliferation efforts. It’s clear to them that Pakistan’s entry to the NSG would legitimise its nuclear programme that observers say is’ China’s nuclear programme in Pakistan ‘.
As another major concern to India, over the past decade, China has become the most trusted supplier of Arms and weapons to Pakistan. Formidable weapons such as the Chinese-Pakistani FC-1 planes, ZDK-03 AWACS planes, Zulficar class frigates and two- layered land- based surface-to-air missile systems HQ-7 and HQ-16, could potentially be used by Pakistan against India.
Another debatable strategic scenario being discussed in the corridors of power is, the possibility of China presenting a two- front- war crisis along its land borders. That is, the possibility of a combined China- Pakistan front if India were to militarily retaliate against another major Pakistan- sponsored terror attack. As a matter of fact our forces are inadequately equipped for a two frontal attack from our enemies. Our IAF Chief Air Marshal Dhanoa remarked- “our numbers are not adequate to fully execute an air campaign in a two – front scenario.”
The reasons lie between India’s tediously long Defence procurement process, the previous corruption scandals over Defence purchases and the hasty desire of the Modi government for self-reliance through ‘Make in India”. Also China’s growing-reach in the Indian Ocean region, by establishing naval bases around India ( as part of its ‘string of pearls’ strategy) has caused alarm in recent years.
The OBOR initiative of China also could be a disguise to checkmate Indian Navy effectively in Indian Ocean region. Beijing plans to build ports that double up as military bases ( like Djibouti and Gwadar) for its war ships and submarines, both for force protection and to guard its vulnerable maritime supply routes from the gulf region via the Straits of Malacca to Eastern China.

 How to checkmate China?

The remedial measures open for India are:-
Speed up defence purchases for the IAF Army and Navy as recommended by the forces, and formulate the Strike Corps planned for Sikkim as early as possible. At any cost India should prevent another Himalayan blunder. India also should enhance bilateral defence ties with countries like Vietnam and Japan who have been unhesitant to look China in the eye.
It’s heartening to see that New Delhi has taken stock of the regional power equations correctly. As a counter to the growing economic clout of China in Asia, India has decided to hitch itself with Japan, which too is flush with funds and unwilling to join PBOR network, with both countries looking set to invest in Iran’s port town of Chabahar to counter Gwadar in Pakistan next door, apart from gaining access to Afghanistan. In addition, Japanese funds for upgrading India’s own infrastructure within and initiatives with India’s immediate neighbours like Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal( though Nepalese are increasingly veered towards China), are on offer without the stringent conditions that China imposes.The future holds the key for supremacy which both nations are aspiring for, in the region.

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