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China's India-Containment Policy Fully Manifested at NSG Seoul Meeting

Paper No. 6136                                   Dated 25-June-2016

By Dr Subhash Kapila

China’s India-Containment Policy stood fully manifested at the NSG Meeting in Seoul on June23-24 2016 in opposing India’s admittance to the NSG. Strikingly evident was that China ignored vehement Major Powers support for India.

China’s scuttling India’s bid for NSG inclusion was a foregone conclusion but India and PM Modi orchestrated a high-voltage global diplomatic offensive to garner international support for India’s bid and which evidently came forth in that 40 out of 48 members strongly supported India’s bid and even forced a special session on India’s admittance late at night on June 23 2016.

Before discussing the long-term fall-out of China’s India Containment bid at Seoul one would at first instance dismiss criticism within India that India’s NSG campaign and PM Modi’s personal meeting with Chinese President at Tashkent on side-lines of SCO Summit demeaned India and that India could have done without it as India already with a ‘waiver; in 2008 was no longer constrained in nuclear commerce. Such criticism misses the point in analysing the underlying motives of PM Modi’s diplomatic offensive.

The high-voltage Indian diplomatic offensive on its NSG bid served two significant strategic objectives. Firstly, India was able to demonstrate to China the wide global support that existed for India’s admittance into NSG as an Emerged Power and its track-record of impeccable credentials for complying with all nuclear norms since 2008. This would not have been visible if India under the foregone conclusion that China will not budge in its opposition, had not conducted this diplomatic offensive.

Significant and more strategically crucial was that such a high-voltage diplomatic offensive by India including PM Modi himself, brought into full global limelight that China’s so-called “principled opposition” to India’s inclusion into NSG was but a fig-leaf to hide China’s India-Containment Strategy by means other than military. China was not apologetic that Pakistan’s sensitivities would be hurt if China let pass India’s admittance. The Chinese decision was not one of principled opposition but more of political expediency in relation to Pakistan.

Addedly, China’s India- Containment Strategy manifested at Seoul NSG Meeting would not only be a valuable input for PM Modi himself in terms of China-policy formulations but also open the eyes of Inia’s starry –eyed ‘China-Apologists’ right across the intellectual spectrum comprising political, diplomatic and academia, who incessantly groan under the illusion that China is well-meaning towards India and relations need to be normalised.

More notably, it should be abundantly clear at all levels in India that the China-Pakistan Axis is a live and multiple threat to India’s security as thrusted in my recent book on ‘China-India Military Confrontation:21st Century Perspectives’.

China by opposing India’s admittance in NSG has bitten more than it can chew in favour of Pakistan and the China-Pakistan Axis currently in play and India should capitalise on the fact that China in mid-June 2016 is more strategically cornered than three years back. Regular readers of my SAAG Papers would recall my paper No. 5525 dated 9 July 2013 entitled “China Strategically Cornered Globally: India’s Window of Opportunity”.  Opportunities for India in mid02016 in this direction have multiplied much more.

India in mid-2016 needs to drastically re-set and revise its basic premises of India’s China-policy to attune it to the open manifestation of China’s India-Containment Policy. India’s responses should now be robust and firm and strongly anchored to the strategic reality that “China is India’s Eternal Enemy” as ‘eternal’ as the edifice so-named in Beijing.

India’s management of ‘China Eternal Enemy Threat’ needs to be viewed at two different levels, namely, India’s non-military responses and India’s military responses.

India’s non-military responses against China need to incorporate political, diplomatic and economic measures to convey the message to China that it takes two to tango in the Asian strategic space and that Asia is not one-way Chinese Street.

Politically, India should put into cold-storage for some time all high-level political exchanges and two-way visits. India politically enjoys today more political capital in Asian capitals than China does and it shows vividly. India’s high-level political visits o Asian nations on China’s periphery must be intensified.

Politically, India should also exit all China-led or China-dominated organisations like BRICS, SCO and the Russia-China-India Trilateral annual meetings. All there three organisations, as constantly advocated by me for years are ‘strategically redundant’ and only serve Chinese policy objectives.

Diplomatically, India should oppose or filibuster on all Chinese initiatives at global forums or initiatives from which China could derive benefit. As a starter India should not ratify the forthcoming Paris Climate Agreement. The United States would understand. Within the Indian Sub-Continent India should wind up SAARC and establish an alternative mechanism excluding Pakistan. India’s diplomatic focus in its in terms of neighbourhood footprints must be enlarged. No more dialogues with Pakistan at any cost. Diplomatically, Indian foreign policy must hyphenate the China-Pakistan relationship in its perspectives.

Economically, India today is in a position to hit China hard when Chinese economic growth has become stagnant. India should downgrade its trade relations with China with figures of over $100 billion and let China find alternative markets, if it can. India should stop all Chinese FDI in India.

China’s India-Containment Policy would be most strongly be felt in the military field where both China and Pakistan would come into play in coming times and especially if India resorts to measures advocated above. This would manifest itself in terms of increased Chinese military incursions into Indian Territory, border provocations and clashes. Pakistan in tandem would increase border clashes along the LAC, increased proxy war in Kashmir Valley and within the Indian Hartland.

India has in the past for the last two decades has effectively countered all such threats.. All that India needs to do is heightened vigilance and heightened ‘situation awareness’ by Indian intelligence agencies to tailor their intelligence and counter-intelligence templates against both China and Pakistan.

More importantly, India can only counter China’s India Containment Policy effectively, which incorporates the China-Pakistan Dual Military Threat, by fast track Indian ‘war-preparedness’ plans with upto date military inventories. The Indian Air Force must be provided its 136 fighter planes shortage even by ‘off the shelf’ purchases, whatever the cost.

The above analysis is not an attempt at ‘war-mongering’ as Indian intellectual glitterati would be prompted to dismiss at first instance. It is a timely warning and reminder for India that China can never be trusted and that India should not lapse once again in terms of the Nehruvian pre-1962 misreading of Chinese intentions and India’s consequent lack of war-preparedness.

Strategically, India should not join any of the Chinese One Belt One Road plans but also launch a psychological campaign to highlight and sensitise other Asian countries of falling into China’s trap gilded with economic halos. India’s diplomatic thrusts in countering China’s India Containment Policy deserves a separate Paper which shall soon be forthcoming.

Let us not forget that China’s India-Containment Policy in mid-June 2016 has now the added Chinese fears of the strengthening of United States-India and Japan-India strategic partnerships. It is not for India to allay Chinese fears but for China to modulate and moderate its India-Containment Policy and be accommodative of India’s strategic sensitivities.

Lastly, in conclusion, it needs to be reiterated that India’s political leadership and policy establishment should no longer be fixated on ‘what would China think’ on India’s strategic moves, but what steps need to be taken to neutralise China’s India Containment Policy which in 2016 is ‘Live and in Operation’ to limit India’s rise as a powerful nation.