Round Table Discussion on "An Indo-Centric Assessment of Chinese Military Capabilities and Options in the Near Future"
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With China ostensibly scaling to new heights in military combat power every year and continuing with its assertive stance, especially around contested territories, increasingly grabbing international headlines, a Round Table Discussion was organised by the VIF on July 13th 2015, aimed at carrying out an Indo-centric realistic assessment of China’s military capabilities as also its options to use force against perceived adversaries, especially India.

The two-pronged discussion, held against the backdrop of overall global situation, China’s own internal upheavals and contradictions, and its possible politico military aims and the stakes, among others, examined both the strength and weaknesses of Chinese military capabilities in critical areas--institutional (command structures, organisations, professional ethos etc.), combat capabilities (leadership, training standards, combat experiences etc.), jointness in operations (doctrines and levels of integration), and the state of modernization (equipment upgrades and absorption, level of IW readiness, scientific temper of the forces etc.), as well as Chinese impulses and options for force application over the next decade, especially against India.

With General NC Vij, former Army Chief and current Director, VIF, in the Chair, Maj Gen (retd) VK Shrivastava moderated the discussions, while a large contingent of prominent security experts, including former diplomats, former military commanders and former chiefs of intelligence services, among others, participated in the brainstorming, their practical experience bringing additional value to the discussions.

As part of the opening remarks, General Vij gave an insightful military perspective of China’s latest White Paper on Military Strategy which also set the tone and tenor of the ensuing interaction.

The White Paper, while talking about the redistribution of global power also stresses the need for the PLA to prepare for trans-theatre defence and operations, a clear indication of China’s power trajectory in the future. While no one in the panel disputed that China is looking to replace the US as the numero uno power, there were perceptible differences of opinion as regards the threat to India.

With both China and India vying for the same strategic space, market and resources, a clash between the two seemed quite possible, but not imminent. Also, it was highlighted that China’s behaviour would commensurate with a responsible actor on the world stage, especially as it is looking to graduate to a world power. India, however, needs to remain wary of both China’s capabilities and its intentions. The interaction also highlighted the fact that the 21st century has known different applications of force and China would be smart enough to use them against India. The general understanding across the table however was that India needs to fast-track capacity building vis-à-vis China utilizing the window that is available to her. Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee, Lt Gen JP Singh, Lt Gen Ravi Sawhney, Amb TCA Rangachari, and Shri CD Sahay were among others who made important interventions during the discussions.

Event Date 
July 13, 2015
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