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The Coming China-India Conflict: Is War Inevitable? Q&A Session

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posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 01:53 PM
An interesting Q&A session with Jonathan Holslag, a Brussels-based scholar of Chinese foreign policy and author of the recent book China and India: Prospects for Peace and Time Magazine.

The subtitle of your book suggests that conflict is already under way. Is greater confrontation and perhaps even war inevitable in the coming years?

It's not inevitable, but peace cannot be taken for granted. The scope for these two countries to develop peacefully and fulfill their national interests without entering into competition is getting smaller due to internal social pressures and rising nationalism. I am not arguing that they don't want to develop peacefully, but that the options for doing so are not that great. They'll be competing at all levels, not only for economic opportunities, but for regional influence. This will lead to an uncomfortable and risky situation.
(See pictures of Chinese workers.)

The last war fought between India and China was almost 50 years ago. How much of a strain is its legacy?

Ever since the 1962 war, both sides have been extremely cautious and suspicious of each other. There has been no resolution to the border issue [over remote, heavily militarized territories in the Himalayas] in spite of numerous rounds of negotiations and tensions that have flared recently. It's a kind of historic scar that impedes progress.

And this traditional sticking point is now compounded by a newer contest?

Yes, we see now that both sides' economic aspirations are leading to more competition, especially in Asia, and this is slowly spilling over in a negative way into the realm of high politics of security and diplomacy.

India still has to start the industrialization of its society — a process that China began well before. Inevitably, there will be a fierce contest for raw materials, mainly in Asia. We see this already happening in Burma, in parts of Central Asia, Africa and elsewhere. This is only going to become fiercer. It's also a myth that somehow the two economies, with their different strengths, will be able to complement each other in the long term. India has to turn to manufacturing and China is not going to give up suddenly its own industries. They're too important for the country's stability.

In India, there is already a widespread wariness in the media and in the public domain of China's designs for the region. Is there a similar nationalist feeling in China, which in many ways is far more developed and capable than India?

Yes, you can clearly see that Beijing officials are increasingly worried about India's ambitions. If you look at the writings of Chinese experts, they refer to Indian military posturing in the Indian Ocean and also to military partnerships India is developing with several countries in Southeast Asia and East Africa. In the public realm, Chinese Netizens' views of India are very negative. You get the sense the Chinese never seemed to expect India to climb up to the ranks of the great powers. Now, as India attempts to make that leap, the Chinese are very worried of its impact on China's primacy in Asia.

Hypothetically, how could some sort of military clash come about?

It wouldn't first be open war. China and India are building up their interests in conflict-prone and unstable states on their borders like Nepal and Burma — important sources of natural resources. If something goes wrong in these countries — if the politics implode — you could see the emergence of proxy wars in Asia. Distrust between India and China will grow and so too security concerns in a number of arenas. It's an important scenario that strategic planners in both Beijing and Delhi are looking at.
(See TIME's India covers.)

What role is there for the U.S. to play in this context?

Since the U.S. has prioritized stabilizing Afghanistan over everything else in Asia, it has lost a lot of credit in both Delhi and Beijing. It is increasingly reliant on China, but has also undertaken security exercises [under the Bush Administration] that tried to work together with democratic countries like Japan, India and Australia at the exclusion of China. This fed into the traditional political claustrophobia many in China have — a sense that, in the end, Asia will be a very hostile environment for their development and geopolitical rise.

At the same time, India won't let itself be drowned in America's orbit. It's important for India to have its strategic independence. It has a very long and historically close relationship with Russia, which in turn is close to China. So it's a little more complicated. I don't think the Americans have thought very strategically about all of this.

How much of the trouble between India and China stems from the accident of geography — that they exist side by side in a very volatile part of the world?

The tragedy of continental states is that they have ever shifting spheres of influence that constantly create friction. Geographic proximity has always been one of the main factors in conflicts between great powers on the Eurasian landmass. Neither country can hide away from the other: a kind of increase of influence of one country in a border state is automatically perceived by the other as a loss in its own leverage. It creates a sense of a zero-sum game, which will be a hugely important and defining element in this relationship going forward.

A very informative article, albeit just opinion for an author. It's something that is seldom spoken about however it is a very real threat in today's modern geopolitical climate.

What are your thoughts ATS?


Edit To Add: Source

[edit on 3/31/2010 by tothetenthpower]

posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 02:59 PM

You have given me some insight into an area of some interest to me We have a large Indian diaspora included in Canada and even have National Hockey League broadcasts in Punjabi.

IMO India will be one of our planet's saviours in future conflict between superpowers. I know there are hawks there but the legacy of Gandhi will endure.

I also don't believe that China's leaders have any intention of going to war with anybody. They have too much to do running a an ever growing country. Are there Chinese or Indian leaders that abhor "useless eaters"?


posted on Apr, 10 2010 @ 01:49 PM
reply to post by hthjason

I agree, I had not seen very much evidence, or read a lot about Chinese-Indian relations, other than the influence they hold in issues concerning Tibet.

It's some really good for thought.


posted on Apr, 10 2010 @ 01:50 PM
Talk about reducing world population as a few billion soldiers fight each other. Conspiracy side: How do two extremely over populated countries reduce their population to a controllable size?

[edit on 10-4-2010 by Xtrozero]

posted on Apr, 10 2010 @ 01:54 PM
reply to post by Xtrozero

I know eh?

Be real easy way to take a third of the world out almost overnight.

Almost makes you wonder, will population control will be done this way, if poisoning us with our food and pharmaceuticals can't do it fast enough for them?


posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:14 AM
Few people remember that armed conflict between the two has happened before, as recently as 1962.

Resources are scarce in both countries, populations are large. One scenario I've contemplated is a rush to fill in the void in the Middle East if/when the US military presence leaves. I could see a Russian/Chinese/Indian/EU scramble unfolding in no time.

Thanks for the thread, OP. Food for thought.

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:31 AM
There will not be a void in the middle east until the oil is gone, and then everybody will be fighting for the last few barrels, and the current international dynamic will be changed dramatically.

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:37 AM
Thing is they installed a direct phone line between New Delhi and Beijing... kinda like the one they already have with Pakistan... so this is a big step towards peace... or at least negotiations before total war.

And it's not just about ``competition``... it's also about natural resources, water for example... they already have a conflict preparing since China is building a dam on a river leading into India, and China promised they wouldn't do that to India because that river was important for India...

They had big tensions there around December if I remember, India sent more troops on the Chinese border.

There's also the SCO issue, Russia-India cooperation and Russia-China relations, India developing a better military than China, China having internal male-female unbalance problems that could give them an incentive to go to war to avoid all those males turning to political activism...

[edit on 12-4-2010 by Vitchilo]

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