Detente with China

Jasjit Singh has argued for India to beef up its air force to achieve a balance with China. While he is probably right from a purely military strategy point of view, the economic strengths of the two countries must not be overlooked.

China will continue to remain an economic powerhouse for the next couple of decades, India still has a long way to go in comparison. A war with China is undesirable, unnecessary and unlikely. Any significant change in the military balance with China is likely to suck both India and China into an arms race – leading to a reallocation of resources into the defence sector. Worse, bilateral trade is likely to suffer too. Trade between India and China has the potential to serve as an engine of growth for the entire Asian region, and will be jeopardised by any worsening of relations between the two giants.

“Converging interests on trade are pushing India and China to cooperate at global economic forums, such as the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancun, Mexico, during September. At that meeting, Indian and Chinese delegations helped form the backbone of a bloc of developing countries that rejected proposals on agricultural subsidies by the U.S. and its allies. “We have been talking of coordinating our policies at the WTO,” said Arun Jaitley, India’s commerce minister and its lead negotiator at Cancun.
Indeed, economists say that detente could further fuel a region projected to be the world’s most dynamic this century. A recent study released by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts China and India will be the largest and third-largest economies in the world by 2050, with China averaging 4.7% growth annually and India 6%.” – AWSJ

In such a scenario, it is unwise to disturb the balance of power along the India-China border.

The strategic balance of power is ensured given nuclear strike capability on sides. I do not think India should destroy the opportunity to give its 1 billion plus citizens a rise in standards of living. If we do so, we’ll be no different from Pakistan.