Anxious Tiger, Leering Dragon: The Indian and Chinese Border PartI
Over the past six months, there has been much of focus in the international media on the territorial disputes between China and its neighbors in the East and South China seas. However, China has territorial disputes along most of its borders. Although the United States has injected itself into the former, the dispute between China and India is likely the most important, as it has the greatest potential to escalate into an Asian “Cold War”. Strangely enough, trade
India-China Border - From Heritage Foundation
between the two nations has grown by 30 fold since 2000. For these reason, the situation warrants closer inspection.
What’s Going Down
There are actually two areas of contention between the states. The first being the largely unpopulated and heavily mountainous eastern Kashmiri region, which encompasses an area some three and a half times the size of Taiwan. The second, smaller, but no less significant, is the Indian state of Arundachal Pradesh, of which China claims in its entirety. This area is what the Chinese refers to as “South Tibet”. It falls south of the internationally recognized border, known as the McMahon Line , which is not respected by Beijing.
This situation is more capricious than China’s quarrel with other its other neighbors, because both states are nuclear powers with growing arsenals. China is thought to have about 450 warheads; while India, roughly 100. In 2007, China began to upgrade its missile capability around greater Tibet, placing many Indian targets in range of Chinese missiles for the first time. The Pentagon has recently reported that the Chinese naval base on Hainan Island is being upgraded to host new nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines. Further, China is developing a new, longer range submarine-launched ballistic missile. All of this will give China the ability to strike targets in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.
Unsurprisingly, New Delhi is not pleased; India’s PM Manmohan Singh recently stated:
“China would like to have a foothold in South Asia and we have to reflect on this reality”…We have to be aware of this.”
Singh also believes that China will use the issue of Kashmir and Pakistan as leverage against India.
Militarily, India has responded in kind:
“Indian defense minister A.K. Antony announced last month that the military will soon incorporate into its arsenal a new intermediate-range missile, the Agni-III, which is capable of reaching all of China’s major cities. Delhi is also reportedly considering redeploying survivable, medium-range Agni-IIs to its northeastern border.”
India has also deployed a squadron of nuclear capable Su-30MKI fighters within 150 kilometers of the Chinese border. This defensive one-upmanship can easily spin into an all out arms race, given a diplomatic misstep. An arms race in he region could draw in neighboring states such as Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and Pakistan. However, other states are already involved, namely the United States.
It is an open secret that the Obama Administration has been pursuing a rather aggressive policy of Chinese containment with its promotion of divergent overlapping frameworks in the Asian-Pacific Community. These frameworks are meant to expand American “soft power”, and aid America in organizing strategic defense, specifically to keep control of regional sea lanes out of Chinese hands. To do this, Washington is attempting to recruit a “coalition of the willing”, possibly to include Vietnam; Indonesia; Australia; Japan; and India. This is something that appears to have become more urgent in many Southeast Asian capitals, due to China’s recent antics with them over South China Sea territory claims, and especially with Japan over the Senkaku Islands. Because China sees India as an untrustworthy competitor, it most definitely does not wish to see a strong U.S. - Indian military partnership develop in the Indian Ocean.
So, China is not only trying to stop the U.S. - led encirclement of its periphery, and push the U.S. presence further away from the Chinese coast; Beijing appears to also be in the process of encircling India , something New Delhi calls China’s “string of pearls”. This refers to a series of military relationships and duel use ports built in the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea. China creates these “friendly states” by seducing poorer nations with money and arms sells. These states include Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma ( Myanmar), all of which are in India’s “backyard”. China believes that in the event of conflict with the United States and its allies, it can still secure it’s oil supplies, it appears to have learned from the situation Japan found itself in during the early days of WWII.
And speaking of diplomatic missteps, despite tensions already on the rise, China recently refused a visa for senior Indian army commanders responsible for the disputed areas of Jammu and Kashmir. China is building a road and rail line in this area to connect China to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar as an alternative to its Indian Ocean route, in an effort to protect its oil supply line. The area that China is building is more a “pass-through” not connecting to any of the sparse settlements in the region.
This area, Aksai Chin, which the Indians consider part of their state of Jammu and Kashmir, is strategically important to the Chinese because China National Highway 219 connects Xinjiang to Tibet through this area. Historically, both of these provinces have been volatile, the latter with co-ethnic anti-Chinese elements in neighboring India.
As far as building, China wants to make sure no one builds anything in Arunachal Pradesh (South Tibet).
Indian defense minister, A.K. Anthony has commented on the situation:
“Last year  the dispute shifted up a gear. China tried to block a $2.9 billion loan to India from the Asian Development Bank, partly destined for Arunachal Pradesh, and complained vehemently about Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s election campaigning there.”
Anxious Tiger, Leering Dragon: The Indian and Chinese Border Part I » China
The thread title says it all.