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  • Author: Toby Dalton, Tong Zhao
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: While both countries may think the situation is under control, dismissive attitudes and misperceptions could end up fueling a dangerous competition. On June 15, 2020, a lethal military conflict over disputed territory in the Himalayas shook the edifice of China-India relations. The clash in the Galwan Valley along their shared border is the gravest military confrontation the two nuclear powers have faced in fifty years. This event and ongoing tensions focus attention on the long-standing but tempered competition between China and India. One of the most interesting puzzles of that relationship is why nuclear weapons, which both possess, have not played a more important role. With the potential for a major reset in China-India ties after the Ladakh crisis, are Beijing and New Delhi finally approaching a long-anticipated crossroads in their nuclear relations? The findings reveal that while Indian security analysts give serious attention to China’s nuclear policy and capabilities, Chinese analysts maintain a dismissive attitude about the relevance of nuclear weapons in China-India relations. The attitude stems from a widely held view that India’s indigenous military technologies are significantly behind China’s and that China will continue widening the gulf between the two countries’ conventional and nuclear capabilities. However, Chinese analysts do not appear to fully appreciate the long-term destabilizing implications of this growing gap. India may feel pressure to build out its nuclear arsenal, and this could further threaten the fragile stability between India and Pakistan. Chinese experts tend to underestimate the role Beijing may have in shaping New Delhi’s threat perception and nuclear strategy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Military Affairs, Borders
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Gaurav Sharma, Marc Finaud
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Due to the importance India attaches to potential threats to its maritime security, its diplomacy has increasingly focused on the Indian Ocean region (IOR) and it has increased cooperation with Indian Ocean states. In the last five years, India has also established security partnerships with major IOR strategic stakeholders such as France and the United States. India has increasingly invested in providing military training, weapons support and disaster relief assistance to “like-minded” states in the IOR. Due to the potential risks of escalation to nuclear-weapons use should conflict occur with other countries in the region such as China and Pakistan, it would be in India’s interests to promote more confidence and
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Affairs, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, India, Indian Ocean
  • Author: Meia Nouwens
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Little is known about how China’s growing defence budget is allocated, particularly following recent structural reforms. In the absence of publicly available information and new research on Chinese defence economics, outside observers consider the official data to be incomplete. Publications addressing Chinese defence spending often claim that ‘it is widely believed’ official Chinese statistics exclude key categories of military-related spending. For instance, in 2003, one analyst wrote that ‘it is widely accepted that the official budget released by the Chinese every year accounts for only a fraction of actual defense spending. In particular, whole categories of military expenditure are believed to be missing from official figures.’ The methodologies employed by research institutions, such as the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), to estimate China’s total military spending date back to the late 1990s. Furthermore, existing estimates do not take into account China’s recent military reorganisation under President Xi Jingping’s direction, which began in 2015, and a wide range of defence reforms. For example, in 2018, the Chinese authorities integrated the China Coast Guard (CCG), the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and the maritime militias into the Central Military Commission’s (CMC’s) command structure. It is currently unclear how this restructuring has affected China’s defence spending. In addition, China’s defence spending could have been affected by the increasing fulfilment of weapons procurements by domestic firms. Therefore, a reassessment of China’s defence spending and the methodologies employed is required.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Budget
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Euan Graham, Chengxin Pan, Ian Hall, Rikki Kersten, Benjamin Zala, Sarah Percy
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Australian National University Department of International Relations
  • Abstract: In this Centre of Gravity paper, six of Australia’s leading scholars and policy experts debate Australian participation in the ‘Australia-India-Japan-United States consultations on the Indo-Pacific’ - known universally as the ‘Quad’. A decade since its first iteration, the revival of the Quad presents significant questions for Australia and the regional order. Is the Quad a constructive partnership of the region’s major powers to safeguard regional stability, uphold the rules-based order and promote security cooperation? Is it a concert of democracies seeking to contain China? Or is it an emerging strategic alignment that risks precipitating the very confrontation with China it seeks to avoid? Or is it something else entirely? Euan Graham opens the debate by arguing that the Quad represents a rare second chance for Australia to cooperate with regional powers who have a shared interest is the maintenance of stability in Asia through the preservation of a balance of power. In addition to constraining China’s strategic choices beyond its maritime periphery, Dr. Graham argues that the Quad’s revival aims to send a concerted strategic signal to China along the four compass points of the Indo-Pacific region, but sufficiently restrained to avoid significant blowback from Beijing. Chengxin Pan responds that instead of forcing China to change tack, the Quad, by exacerbating China’s strategic vulnerability, will achieve precisely the opposite: prompting it to further strengthen its military capabilities. Dr. Pan argues that the nature of China’s challenge to the existing regional order is actually geoeconomic in design, as evidenced by the Belt and Road Initiative. To meet this challenge, however, the Quad’s military response is far from the right answer or an effective alternative. Ian Hall next argues that the Quad is neither a proto-alliance nor an instrument for containing China. Given that these states have so far failed to advance a coherent and coordinated line on Chinese initiatives to transform the region, Dr. Hall notes that the Quad offers something more prosaic and evolutionary: a forum for discussion and information exchange intended to lead to better policy coordination between like-minded states with a stake in the rules-based order. Rikki Kersten notes that the Japanese government wants Quad 2.0 to be seen as a Japanese initiative because it aspires to lead an ethical endeavour that reaches beyond the Asia-Pacific region. This represents a stepchange in post-war Japanese foreign and security policy thinking. Japan under Abe is seeking to harness rising insecurity to underpin its own regional leadership credentials and enhance the geographical scope of its security policy ambition. Benjamin Zala responds that the potential risks associated with sending containment-like signals to Beijing in the short-term and the potential for misperceptions over ambiguous commitments during a future crisis in the longer-term clearly outweigh the benefits of the current vague aspiration to cooperation with no clear purpose. Dr. Zala also warns against blurring the lines between formal military alliances and strategic partnerships like the Quad which increase the odds of miscalculation during times of power transition. Finally, Sarah Percy rounds out the debate by arguing that discussions of the Quad’s high politics have thus far obscured the more practical and interesting questions about how it might function and contribute to maritime security. Dr. Percy notes that that the day-to-day operations of most navies are focused on the more proximate security challenges posed by maritime crime. The Quad would yield tangible and possibly lasting benefits from such cooperation.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Military Affairs, Maritime
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, India, Asia, Australia
  • Author: You Ji
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: China’s five-year plan of PLA reform marked a new page in the history of PLA transformation. This article will analyse two major aspects of this round of unprecedented PLA reforms: (i) the politics of the military reform; and (ii) the PLA’s efforts to reshape its force establishments, organisational structure, and command chains. The first concerns Xi’s political leadership and the second draws a roadmap to remould the PLA by 2020. By now the reform has yielded substantial achievements: (i) the overhaul of the apex of power; (ii) the reshaping of the mid-level command chains of the war zone and service; and (iii) the restructuring of the overall force establishments. It has also created some transitional uncertainties as well.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Reform, Political structure, transnationalism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: David Curtis Wright
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: This paper discusses China’s Arctic policy white paper, covers China’s appreciation of the region’s strategic value, and samples scholarly articles across the wide spectrum of opinion and policy recommendation regarding China’s participation in Arctic affairs. It describes the articles, offers translated segments from them, and refers readers who want to read more about the articles and more extensive translated passages from them to the Appendix, where they are included in fuller form. This paper’s main contention and conclusion is that the military and strategic dimensions of China’s interests in the Arctic are part and parcel of mainstream Chinese discourse on the Arctic today. One important motivation behind China’s burgeoning interest and engagement in Arctic affairs is the eventual utilisation of the region as strategic space from which to threaten the security of North America. China’s activities in the Arctic bear close, careful, and continuous scrutiny. It is imperative that Canada not succumb to the siren song of complacency and inaction regarding China’s ambitions in the Arctic region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Military Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, Arctic