Give attention to multilateral partnerships to verify challenges posed by China, say specialists

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 19

Pointing out that China believing that its power based on its impressive economic growth gives it a position of pre-eminence in the Asian region and hence it need not adhere to any kind of a multi lateral arrangement, Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary, said that If this is China’s approach, then there is no alternative but to have a strong coalition to push back against such aggressive behavior.

Stating that India should have less hesitation in taking this forward while speaking at a session on ‘The QUAD: Emerging Indo-Pacific Naval Alliance’ at the Military Literature Festival here today, he said: “The QUAD is an alliance formed by India, United States Australia and Japan”.

“The QUAD is emerging because there is a feeling that a very aggressive and assertive China, which has built up considerable naval power, particularly in the South China Sea, poses an increased challenge,” he said. “Further, with the security relations among the four countries having become much deeper, the building blocks were already in place, while the major European powers like Germany, France and the UK also have an interest in working with other partners for security of the Indo-Pacific region, he added.

Saran said that India’s approach towards maritime security is that the security architecture should be open, transparent and inclusive so that it keeps open the door for China too to join provided that it adheres to various norms and rules that are necessary for sustaining such a maritime security architecture. If we are able to convince China that its interests are better served by being part of this inclusive architecture rather than pursuing unilateral dominance then we would be making some progress,” he added.

Former Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said that that there has been a great deal of aggressive behaviour by China.

“They are signatories to the majority of international agreements but they have been changing the rules and regulations to suit their own interests,” he added. 

Vice-Admiral Pradeep Chauhan, former Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command, said that China considers India as one of its target of military assertion, a challenge which our establishment has so far not been familiar and comfortable dealing with it.

“We need to have a nimble asymmetric strategy and must maneouver our strengths to best of our capabilities in thwarting China,” he added.

Pointing out that China has been weaponising its economic prominence to saddle other countries, he added that India need bold steps across the board to counter rising China and it cannot be choosy while entering alliances. He said that India’s decision to stay out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was incorrect and not in line with keeping the high ambitions to match geo-strategic goals.

Stating that India faces growing threats and it needs more partnerships globally than ever before, Prof. C Raja Mohan, Director Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore added that in the changed global scenario India cannot remain neutral anymore and it will have to move fast on multiple fronts while strengthening QUAD and enhancing other regional mechanisms. 

“The way China threatens India today requires it to dynamically improve national economic capacity along with military capability, in partnerships with intensive international coalitions for which QUAD could be the central fulcrum for the time being,” he added.

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