Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Can India's Army Sink the Chinese Fleet?

A rising India-American friendship holds the promise of diverting Chinese resources from sea power to land power.

Can an Indian build-up of their land forces (and more importantly, from my view, air power) on China's border force China to redirect resources away from their naval power that faces America? That's what this article argues:

While India has traditionally been a continental power focused on threats along its land borders, the same is true of China. For example, it is surrounded by fourteen different countries, including major powers and nuclear-armed nations. It previously fought a series of border wars and conflicts, not only with India but also against the Soviet Union and Vietnam. Its outlying territories are populated by minority groups that pose a continuous threat of internal unrest. And its access to the sea is limited by island barriers and maritime chokepoints. In fact, the main reason that China has been able to scale back the size of its ground forces and invest in naval and aerospace capabilities over the past two decades is that it hasn’t been distracted by serious land-based threats for the first time in a long time. Nevertheless, China remains extremely sensitive about the security of its borders.

Washington has a strong incentive to slow this trend if possible. As Beijing’s need to spend money on ground units and internal security forces declines, and as the bureaucratic clout of these organizations diminishes, then China’s naval, air, and missile forces are likely to get a growing slice of the resource pie. Yet these are precisely the forces that pose the biggest danger to the United States, its allies, and its interests abroad. Unfortunately, there is little that the U.S. can do, at least by itself. This is where India enters the equation. History tells us that in competitions between “whales” (maritime great powers like the United States) and “elephants” (rising continental powers like China), the former often need continental allies to counterbalance the latter. Today, India is the only plausible candidate that might be able to distract China from its growing focus on naval and aerospace modernization and reinforce Beijing’s traditional focus on territorial defense.

The author is preaching to the choir on this issue of pointing China away from the sea.

Go west, young Han, as I've said.