India’s Response to China’s Rise
Image Credit: Office of the Indian Prime Minister

India’s Response to China’s Rise


China’s rise as a major international actor is one of the defining features of the 21st century’s strategic landscape. On top of ongoing, comprehensive military modernization programs, sustained economic, scientific and technological developments have substantially elevated China’s international profile. The question being debated now among members of the academic and political community is whether a strong, prosperous and successful China is a threat to India and its interests.

Undoubtedly, China has been assuming new roles and responsibilities, both globally and within Southern Asia. Indeed, it was even stated in China’s 2010 Defense White Paper that its future has never been more intertwined with that of the international community than it is now.

The primary objective behind China’s military modernization is to gain a diplomatic edge in resolving certain disputes in its favor. In particular, China has increased the focus on Taiwan contingencies despite improved cross-strait relations. Certainly, the Taiwan factor has provided sufficient impetus for China to achieve strategic arsenals in addition to its nuclear deterrent capability. For the past three decades, China has been modernizing its strategic weaponry by acquiring anti-ship ballistic weapons, developing long-range missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles, and enhancing the capabilities of its nuclear warheads. It has also been developing new and complex military platforms that would be of great value to joint operations warfare.

China’s goal of using space for militarily strategic purposes has also raised concerns in India. The anti-satellite test conducted by China in 2007 demonstrated its intention to establish a strategic edge in space. Consequently, India has been pressured to formulate a proactive space policy able to handle potential challenges emanating from spacefaring nations, particularly China. However, the technological requirements in the field of space power projection are immense, and India’s response must reflect its strategic interests, especially the safety of its satellites.

Thus far, India’s reaction to China’s military modernization program has been relatively passive, and its development of strategic defense technologies has been overshadowed by China’s investment in R&D. On the other hand, India’s defense requirements have traditionally been quite different from those in China, and are predominantly dictated by the articulation of threat perceptions.

India’s defense concerns are primarily confined to its own neighborhood, and its aspirations for ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons are largely a response to China. In the existing geopolitical environment, India’s main goal is simply the containment of China’s growing sphere of influence.

China’s aircraft carrier potential complicates regional security even more in Southern Asia. There’s already a trend of regional military escalation brought on through such acquisitions by China. Aircraft carriers in particular are essential for projecting power far beyond a nation’s shores. China’s acquisition of aircraft carriers might therefore be seen not only as a step towards challenging U.S. pre-eminence on the high seas, but also a signal of its standing to the rest of the countries across the Asia-Pacific.

India is located in a complex geopolitical environment and how it copes with growing security challenges – and how it manages to protect its national security interests – will always be a key question for members of its strategic community.

The problem is that India’s future trajectory may be guided by the action-reaction syndrome that has taken hold in Southern Asia. The development of a coherent and systematic policy in India is therefore increasingly necessary, especially as it policymakers thrash out a response to a rising China.

Arvind Kumar is a Professor of Geopolitics and International Relations at Manipal University in India.      

January 4, 2012 at 16:17

I’m beginning to think you are a real person or not? You seem to be saying the same thing over & over again everytime – for every question – that China is always right & others are all always wrong! The only difference is that you tend to use different words to explain the same thing. You are acting like a computer programme with limited responses. There wa no substance in your response – just bullshit sprinkled with hatred.

Iv’e seen you mentioning on previous occations that India, a country comparatively poorer than China shouldn’t be spending so much on military hardware trying to matchup with China? Now my question is, who gave your country the moral right to do the same thing with the US? The US is a developed nation with a much better healthcare, education & social security than China. Besides, its a mature democracy – time-tested over a period of more than two centuries. Can China aspire to do everything what the Americans did in such short time?

You don’t need to sail a gunboat to the US. Even if you do, the Americans can very well defend themselves. US & Taiwan are bound together by the Taiwan Relations Act from the days of President Jimmy Carter. The US has a super-power has overseas ‘interests’ & therefore diplomatically, economically & militarily backs those nations.

The super-power wannabe China also is doing the same thing. It chose to side with dictators around the world by corrupting them so that it can have access to their resources. Be it in Myanmar or Libya or Iran or some African nation. If the US ruins the world through its War on Terror & oil wars, China is doing its on secret war exploiting all these “outlawed” dicatatorships. So what makes you think you guys are any better if you end up doing the same thing???

January 4, 2012 at 15:49

Paper tigers are in action ? ya,
US is expanding its force to other areas to protect its investments, every nations are crying for forgin investment. after investing these nations will change rules,regulations and even they change political rule to play games.if you do not want US presence the don’t ask for US money.

January 4, 2012 at 15:27

Dear John Chan,

You are a Chinese so engrossed with the USA that your name reflects it well. Anyway, “John” for your info, it is not only the Indians, the Americans, Europeans but also Aliens from outer space are “jealous’ of China’s growth.

January 4, 2012 at 15:17

That is exactly what China is doing as your said “would find a way to win without fighting a war”. When Chinese generals were visiting US, they’ve admitted publicly China’s military, in general, is 20 to 30 behind USs. Your former India’s Navy chief, Adm. Sureesh Mehta, chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee also, in October 2009, that India is no match to China. So, every country should understand more about their own capacity, and no using all those “hype” to raise any unnecessary tension.
Indians still feel untrue that they lost the war with China in 1962, which by the way was very brief, least than 3 months. China could have occupied more land space, but they retrieved. Nowadays, a lot of Indian public think their country is stronger, so they want to pick a fight to show their country’s strength. My advise will be Indian should use their energy and recourses to improve their livelihood of their citizens.

John Chan
January 4, 2012 at 14:39

USA is thousands miles away from China on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, nobody has sailed a gunboat near the USA coast, USA is safe and secure, why does USA have to mass an lethal armada outside of China’s coast, a nation is peaceful and harmless?

Why does USA have to force China into an arm race? If USA drops its hostility and predatory imperialist posture, China could spend more resources in peaceful space exploration instead of building harmful weapons. Please tell the world why the USA is so destructive?

India is an imperialistic bellicose nation, it insists might is right, and expanding British imperial extension is India’s job; India has been displaying hegemonic aggression non-stop in Asia.

John Chan
January 4, 2012 at 14:08

You are either illiterate or a predatory imperialist intending to frame China in the bad light for some insidious intent. China has repeatedly stated that it wants to rise peacefully, its foreign policy is non-interference that treats all nations large and small as equal, and its military is defensive to protect the integrity of its sovereignty, as well as preventing predatory imperialist to interfere its internal affairs.

China has been declaring such peaceful intent years. On the other hand why has the predatory imperialist USA never made its foreign policy objectives openly and transparently, nor clearly declared its peaceful intents? The friction with its best and largest lender and trading partner is very harmful to the world peace and prosperity.

Why does USA never keep it words? It says to maintain peace, promote democracy and protect human rights, yet in reality its actions are a total betrayal of what it claimed; the predatory imperialist USA and its lackeys have been bombing and killing hapless nations into total destruction non-stop science WWII.

January 4, 2012 at 11:10

Mr. Kyle as my fellow Chinese commentators/paid workers/ ‘army’ have educated many normal people, you fail to realize there is a USA-India-Japan-South Korea-Vietnam-Phillipines-Australia-NATO-SEA-etc-etc nexus where people of these nations would secretly assume different names provided by the Pentagon and White House(dispite the numerous differences b/w these countries) and do their bidding and only the scholars from China have discovered this.

January 4, 2012 at 11:01

I also wish the local Indian newspaers should stop giving importance to these Lokpal, FDI, Food Security or Aadhar schemes as this just displays Indian insecurities to the high scholars of China and instead follow Chinese newspapers policy of covering only crimes and anti-India articles for every 3 days and also all these articles should have names simikar to “Xxxx beware”, “Xxxx die”, “Xxxx has guns,missiles xxxx submit” as these kind of articles would not indicate Indian insecurities.

January 4, 2012 at 10:47

Reading some comments of the chinese commentators leads me to a conclusion China just wishes to pit Asian countries against each other, and the BRICS is a failing order because of the presence of a certain country which is leading them to prioritize IBSA, and I wonder if obtaining a 5th gen fighter is an aggressive move against China/Pakistan then what about Turkey, Indonesia, Netherlands, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, China so do you mean to say all these countries have also made aggresive moves against their immediate neighbours/enemies??
For someone commenting on India-Pakistan militaries it is better to look back when Indian pilots in second hand Gnat fighters fought against Sabres. And now when Indian economy is in a better position then ever before it is only natural to equip these legendary IAF pilots with the latest equipment affordable. India has never taken aggressive stance against any country as she always follows a “never strike first policy”, and i blame old parlimentarians like Manmohan for such soft stance, India should also like China start encirclement policies, build militray bases abroad not just hospitals or oil exploration, fund cyber warrriors/commentators. If this is termed aggressive stance then i hope even Indian negotatiors should postpone border talks citing some individual exercised his/her rights, Indians should also start mistreating foregin diplomats of that country, and also I wish Indian warships start harassing other warships in International Waters and also start killing innocent civilans(on their own country), and innocent fishermen, as this kind of response can always be termed passive.

January 4, 2012 at 10:29


applesauce wrote: “….the indian air-force with its hundreds of MKI and others are quantitatively and qualitatively superior to anything pakistan has thus it can only be reasoned that it is used against china….”

MY RESPONSE: Merely possessing weapons does not make a country “aggressive” Besides, India barely has 115 Sukhoi 30 MKI fighters, with two of them already being lost to accidents. So your claims of it basing “hundreds of them” is baseless. Also, not all of them are based against the PLA AF. India’s priority continues to be with Pakistan and the procurement of the fighters & others are largely to counter the potent Pakistani F-16′s. From Indian air defense perspective, even the existing strength is “grossly” inadequate to counter both the Chinese & the Pakistanis.

applesauce wrote: “….india has been operating a carrier for decades while china still hasn’t put its first, second-handed carrier to full service yet in addition its has been building it first indigenous carrier AND getting another delivered from russia….”

MY RESPONSE: It shows how you don’t seem to understand the concepts of naval warfare. First of all, the first “aircraft carrier” the Indians operated is not an aircraft carrier itself! Its an Air Defense Ship. The new indegenous carrier they’re building is technically a a fleet air defense ship. Unlike the American super carriers, these have limited potental & are designed to provide air assets for surveillance & fleet defense. The US taskforces are centered around their aricraft carrier, with most of the assets commited for its defense. Wereas the Indian & the Soviet model was different. The carriers here were just a “support” element providing additional firepower. The Kiev-class carrier they’re procuring from the Russians is also nothing but a converteble carrier-cum-cruiser.

The PLAN did not have an aircraft carrier so long beacuse its admirals were wise & knew how to allocate scant resources. The Taiwan issue was on the top of their list. Therfore, having an aircraft carrier, which in itself is a “Bullet magnet” & their flagship would invite necessary actions from the USN. Therfore the Chinese built a large fleet of diesel-electric submarines in addition to nuclear powered submarine. These, in addiotn to cruise missiles & dedicated strike aircraft would complete the chinese “web of Denial” against possible USN intervention.

“A smart nation may win over its adversaries in a war. But a wise nations would find a way to win without fighting a war.”

January 4, 2012 at 09:59

@Klee: The answer to your query lies in a simple logic – That India’s arch-rival, Pakistan is no longer a serious threat to india. All of india’s other neighbours either adopt a neutral stand or are simply too weak to do anything. Besides, india has been able to slowly adress its border disutes with its neighbouring countries over the years & therefore it finally comes down to just China. The only other country with which India has fought a war. China has had skirmishes/low- intensity conflicts with many nations including the erstwhile Soviet Union, Vietnam etc.,

So planely put, its natural for India to view China & Pakistan (and in that order) with suspicion. But for China, the US is its principle source of discomfort followed by the above mentioned nations. And therfore the Chinese Think-tanks & media seem to devote attention in that order too. Its logical. Natural

For you to attribute the Indians’ viewing of China with suspicion as jealousy is simply irrational. The Chinese seem never tiring in their attempts to compare themselves with the Americans. Who are obviously well advanced. Can we brand that as jealousy too??? The wise thing to do now is for the Chinese government to come out more open in its stating of its foreign policy objectives. By clearly declaring its peaceful intents, the friction with its smaller neighbours canbe turned into propering warmth

January 4, 2012 at 09:19

“…The question being debated now among members of the academic and political community is whether a strong, prosperous and successful China is a threat to India and its interests…”

Depends of how you define the diference betwen “rival regional power” and “plain cold war enemy”.

China Hunts X-37 Secrets

“…This comes a year after the discovery of a China based espionage group, called the Shadow Network, which had hacked into PCs used by military and civilian personnel working for the Indian armed forces, and made off with huge quantities of data.

Examination of the viruses and related bits of computer code indicate that most of this stuff was created by Chinese speaking programmers, and all movement of command and stolen data led back to servers in China…”

January 4, 2012 at 07:54

@Cyril, who says “China and Beijing… seek only peace and harmony to develop and uplift the livelihood of its people.”
Looks like you’ve been drinking the Beijing Kool-Aid, kid. Whenever the opiate effect wears, look around China’s neighbourhood, where it has been bullying and battering its proximate neigbours and claiming that all of the South China Sea it its.
Before you start fulminating against me: I’m not saying the US is a paragon of virtue. But for you to paint it in monochrome – that the US is evil incarnate, and China “only seeks peace and harmony” is incredibly naive. To invoke the terminology of the Soviet era, that makes you China’s “useful idiot”.
The day China becomes a hegemon is the day you’ll be longing for the happy days of US “hegemony”.

yang zi
January 4, 2012 at 04:44

India is a force to be reckoned with, but not that a big force. It is a land of gurus (talkers).

It is really revealing how India is jealously watching China’s every move in Indian Ocean, which is no moves at all.

Some overseas Indians, like some overseas Vietnamese, are racist bigoted losers, grinding teeth in dark corners wishing bad things on China.

The real I in BRICS countries is Indonisia, it has much better GDP per capita than India, much better geopolitical location than India. Indonisia should be the leader of ASEAN, a rising parterner with China on the world stage. China should support Indonisia’s rise and build a prospers south east Asia with Indonisia.

Go Indonisia!

January 4, 2012 at 03:53

The funny thing is that India has a clear military advantage over Pakistan, yet it continues to pour resources into various expensive military toys acquired internationally, far exceeding its need against any contingency with Pakistan. It’s argument is that India is not focused on Pakistan, and therefore Pakistan should not overreact to India’s military spending and procurements. Fair enough, yet when it comes to China, India acts in jealous, insecure and paranoid, sometimes even provocative ways – precisely what it accuses of Pakistan and more.

China is not building wasting its resource on some fanciful “Ring of Pearls” around India; everything China does in defense or non-defense is not targeting India. India is not a threat to China and is not worth China’s energy and resources that India accuses China is investing in on it. Maybe, this is the real reason that frustrates India?

January 4, 2012 at 00:57

applesauce. I agree with you about the author’s “passive” statement. But, I have an answer for you, sir. Because the author of this article is an ethnic Indian, so bias comments are expected. Like I said before, most Indians are jealousy of China’s success.

January 3, 2012 at 22:20

i disagree with several things from this article,

india’s china response has been anything but passive, clearly the indian air-force with its hundreds of MKI and others are quantitatively and qualitatively superior to anything pakistan has thus it can only be reasoned that it is used against china and it was signed for before china ever had it first squadron of j-10s(thus it would be mki’s against j-7s at the time). india has been operating a carrier for decades while china still hasn’t put its first, second-handed carrier to full service yet in addition its has been building it first indigenous carrier AND getting another delivered from russia, recently its has been signing for 126 high end 4th gen fighter and co-developing a 5th gen plane with russia. clearly india has never been passive and infact has taken the lead in introduction of weapon in some cases. the build up would had been far faster but in many cases the incompetence and conflicts between its various interest groups has delayed the indian weapon procurement projects, for instance heavy artillery and the arjun tank. and more recently the chinese gdp has grown greater and greater thus widening the gap between the 2 countries thus china can afford now to do things that india cannot(ie: his R and D argument).

this is a case of one of those things where your numbers are big but when you only compare to someone bigger it seems less, IE: the indian economic miracle would be stunning the world had china not been posting higher numbers for 3 decades.

Kyle C.
January 3, 2012 at 20:21

@Cyril – Did you even read the article? Its written by an Indian professor at a university in India, not anyone in Washington.

January 3, 2012 at 20:11

Why do all those Indian analysts and media compare India and China in very aspect? Chinese media and people do not pay that much attention to India. What they are interested is how US is trying to contain China and US’s threat to the world and particularly to west Pacific near Chinese border. In fact, the attitude from Indian analysts is come down to “jealousy of China’s success”. Even ten years ago, a lot of western analysts predicted China would collapse and Indian analysts predicted by 2015, India economy will surpass China’s. None of these happen.
Indians should use their to provide better goverance of their own country, not be used by US as a pawn, try to lower the country’s inflation, corruption, and all ethnic conflicts and improve its economy instead of keep spending money that they don’t have in space and weapons to so-called challenge China.
China is not India enemy. India’s enemies their internal problems.
Well, it is no doubt that China also has its own internal problems. Just let China to improve their conntry and let India to better themselves. Don’t try to create any imaginable threat, trash other country because your “jealousy” nerves ticked and fall into western traps.

Cyril Pereira
January 3, 2012 at 17:56

Is the Diplomat a mouthpiece of Washington? Why doesn’t it publish articles recommending Beijing drawing up a strategic and military plan against a rising India and risen America? Why display and encourage such display of bias and prejudices against China and Beijing which seek only peace and harmony to develop and uplift the livelihood of its people? Has the Diplomat no sense of moral and ethical responsibility? Maybe I forget myself. The Diplomat is but just one of Washington’s tools to incite and create riots and unrest in China like what its counterparts in Russia and Egypt has done. They care not who or how many die as long as they succeed in doing what they seek to achieve and free to continue to do what they do. No wonder, Lee Kuan Yew kicked out Western reporters trying to cover and sensationalize ethnic riots in 1964.

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