Seminar on
"Changing Contexts of India-China Relations: Insights and Lessons from Crisis Pathways and Imperatives in Stability and Convergence "

On: 11th September 2017: 10.00 am 04.30 pm At: ICSSR-NERC, NEHU Campus, Shillong

    Concept Note

    China’s assertive rise as the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific with its global hegemonic intentions have been unmistakable since 2008 with its ‘coming into the global great power status’. The Beijing Olympics of 2008 marked its announced entry into the Great Power circuit envisaging its timeline of its rise and challenge the international order through the well-tested approaches of ‘power-shift’ and apparent ‘power transition’ process, augmenting its economic power, cultural icons and the repositioning its civilizational ethos as the marker for its rise—Chinese characteristics.

    The timeline of this purported China’s Great Power ambitions has however been marked by unusual abrasive motivations-intentions. The sources of this aggressive intent has been derived from China’s perception of its “historical colonial humiliation”, “unjust foreign imposed treaties”“revision of borders and boundaries based on Chinese sources of cartography”. The publication of the “Six inevitable Wars to be fought by China in the next 50 years” by the Hong Kong based Wen Wei Po on 8 July 2013 outlines a timeline of aggression, conquest and reclamation of what China perceives its territory. The timeline of wars is spaced for every decade that calls for China’s economic and military augmentation and the resort to conquest:

    First War, Unification of Taiwan (2020 to 2025).
    Second War, Re-conquest of Spratly Islands (2025 to 2030).
    Third War, Reconquest of Southern Tibet (Arunachal) (2035 to 2040).
    Fourth War, Reconquest of Senkaku and Ryuku Islands (2040 to 2045).
    Fifth War, Unification of Outer Mongolia (2045 to 2050).
    Sixth War, Taking back lands lost to Russia (2055 to 2060).

    While the above-mentioned wars could be hypothetical and wish-list of China, the intents of a planned aggressiveness portrays China’s “Long March” to its avowed goals. The Third War posits the Chinese intent-motivations in the Southern Asian region. Through its maze of connectivity of roads, railroads, China assiduously builds dual-intent (civilian-military capable) access for economic trade, infrastructure build-up, and corridors of special interest that buttress its interests in the region in a complex land-sea connectivity of the Belt-Road Initiative (BRI). In aiming such a grand strategic objective, China has been systematically deploying its civilian and army engineer corps that has built the access that enables the encirclement of India.

    The Doklam Plateau: The Bhutan-India-China Trijunction Critical Node
    The Doklam impasse is the strategic landscape of 89 sq.km of flat territory that China aims to encroach, build and extend its road access through Bhutanese territory. Sandwiched between the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China and India, Bhutan shares 470 kilometres of its border with China and 605 kilometres with India. While the Northern area with China is generally round the year glaciated with similar conditions in the eastern boundary with India, the north-western boundary which is East Sikkim with Tibet has immense strategic importance to all the three countries. China presently has a total of 764 sq. km of disputed territory with Bhutan. Of this, 269 sq. km lies in the strategically important north-western sector and 495 sq. km in the glaciated central areas of Paksamlung. The north-western sector in China’s control implies in obvious security implications for India on its northern border. Similarly the area in western Bhutan is important to India and China. Thus the Chinese military presence in the Chumbi Valley that is about 30 kilometres from India poses a dagger threat to India’s Siliguri Corridor.

    The anticipated mode of conflict is expected to be a Third-generation infantry close fire combat, but given the PLA’s limitations in logistics and resupply, it is anticipated that it would resort to 4th and 5th generation warfare with Cyber warfare operations and the kinetic punch of Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) warfare. China could be expected to go in for a minimal augmentation and then resort to sustained large-scale cyber and PGM warfare operations using cruise missiles during the coming winter without exposing its troops to Indian advantages of ground based infantry combat. With the neutralizing of India’s Command and Control systems and thus neutering India’s ability to sustain operations, China would declare this as a preliminary step in evicting India from Doklam and would sustain similar attacks on more defensive positions in Sikkim and other sectors.

    China’s Compellance in the Extended Region
    This sets in a prospective escalatory spiral that portrays China’s “extended Compellance” in the region.The implications of the impasse could also result in China opening new fronts in Ladakh as well use its reorganized Western Theatre Command forces headquartered in Kashgar to link with Gwadar and Djibouti where the proposed deployment of 100,000 PLA marines is in momentum backed by air power of H-6 bombers with stand-off anti-ship and air launched land attack cruise missiles in Pakistani territory that could target Indian Western naval command as a riposte to the perceived threat of Indian Navy targeting Chinese shipping and naval operations in the Indian Ocean. In fact, this fast paced deployment since May 2017 swings in India’s Act East Policy to swing in its Eastern Naval Command warships to bolster its Western flank.

    Thus a prospect of a “two-front” air-sea-land joint forces coordination of the PLA would team with Pakistani armed forces given the strategic implications of the CPEC.  This also entails the Cyber-Space-Missile forces of China in the non-nuclear realm along with its own advantages in Directed Energy weapons and High Powered Microwave weaponry that would all bear on India—without escalating to the nuclear threshold—presenting a very formidable high-powered precision conventional standoff strike capability leaving India in further complications.

    a)What would be China’s motivations-intentions-capabilities-opportunities—operations (MICOO) matrices in the Doklam impasse and its further escalatory potential?

    b) How would India encounter the larger “strategic acupuncture” of China through its diplomatic-economic-strategic/military responses?

    c) What are the implications of Strategic stability for India and China and given the larger economic and trade interdependence? Could critical crisis like the Doklam impasse decapitate the larger stability of the Asian Civilizational powers bilateral relations?
    d) How would China view a construed US-Japan-Western led interventional support to India and what would be the implications of the same in the view of the Chinese stand in the Korean Peninsula?

    e) What could be diplomatic and strategic stability and risk reduction initiatives and how could they gain traction given the huge net investment that India and China have in BRICS, AIIB, G-20 and international governance frameworks?

    Even as the tenuous standoff eased with diplomatic and strategic signaling between China and India—the “pause” has no concrete framework of mutual measures of a Joint Statement or a phased disengagement that would have military and nuclear risk reduction measures backed by substantial diplomatic footwork that is vital in any de-escalation.

    The imperatives of the BRICS conference, the shifts and twits in the Asia-Pacific theatre are all impetuses that has resulted in this “pause”. Chinese continued insistence of its sovereignty in the region; the lack of a consensus statement is aggravated by divergent statements by the two Ministries of External Affairs and Foreign Affairs; the stakes for India to remain firm and the relentless Chinese pressure in the region complicate the situation.

    Declarations of Pyrrhic victory is mere empty verbose-- that apart--the imperative lies in working out credible Military Risk and Escalation Risk Reduction Measures and the exploration of mutually convergent areas of cooperation that alone would add the credibility of a stable risk reduction process between India and China

    Proposed Sub-themes

    1. Is the Asian Century near its end?—The India-China Standoff
    2. India-China Civilizational Relations-- Strategic Cultures, Strategic Praxis, and Strategic Stability;
    3. Is the Belt Road Initiative A Strategic Acupuncture of China on India?
    4. China’s Patterns of Compellance and Brinkmanship, Dissuasion and Deterrence vis-à-vis India;
    5. The Doklam Standoff: Diplomatic, Risk Reduction and Stabilization Matrices;
    6. Extra-regional intervention and its causal impact on the India-China strategic matrices
    7. Economic, Commercial, Trade and Infrastructure issues in Convergence and Cooperation vis-à-vis Compellance and Dissuasion.