Aligarh: Prof Harsh V Pant (Director, Strategic Studies Programme, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi) explained how the rise of China promises an extended period of political and security instability in Asia and the Pacific and how the environment in which India pursues its interests will get more complex.
He was delivering the online lecture on ‘China Factor in the Indian National Security Matrix’ organised by the Department of Strategic and Security Studies, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
Prof Pant delineated China’s interests such as its relationship with Pakistan and the desire to maintain levers in the relationship with India.
He pointed out China’s upper hand as a greater economic power could result in a corresponding increase in the power differential between India and China.
“In consequence, getting the measure of China’s rise remains the single-most important task for India’s foreign policy”, asserted Prof Pant.
“Pakistan’s growing alliance with China has been a major factor that has alleviated international pressure on it, altering its strategic calculus. Beijing’s all-out support to Pakistan has also provided room to shrink Islamabad’s reliance on the West,” he said.
Prof Pant added that the China-Pakistan nexus is expected to grow further in the coming years and India needs to be strategically prepared to deal with the implications of the alliance.
He further pointed out that the escalating geopolitical competition between the United States and China is likely to have an increasing impact on the international system in the coming years.
The rivalry will probably produce something quite different and considerably more complex and it is in this context that India has to find its place, said Prof Pant.
He elaborated how since the beginning of the pandemic, China has continued its efforts to strengthen its position in the system of international institutions, in particular within the specialised agencies of the United Nations.
“China’s campaign to secure more clout at the United Nations is now helping shield Beijing from international scrutiny. China has dismissed criticism of its early handling of the Coronavirus. The topic remains sensitive, with only a handful of studies into the origins of Covid-19 made available to the public,” said Prof Pant.
Stressing that China is a bigger threat to India than Pakistan, Prof Pant called out for the need of original research for fresh policy-making decisions in which AMU’s Department of Strategic and Security Studies can play a big role.
Presiding over the lecture, AMU Vice Chancellor, Prof Tariq Mansoor pointed out that the topic of lecture is of the interest of everyone.
“The system in China is opaque; there is not much information of what is going on in that country. There is a need to put international pressure on China through negotiations and diplomatic channels”, said Prof Mansoor.
The Vice Chancellor pointed out: “China is a threat to the established world order. It is at loggerheads with countries in neighbourhood and is repressing Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.”
“Former US President, Donald Trump challenged China’s growing dominance, albeit in a unilateral way. President Joe Biden is now challenging China in a stronger way in a collective manner,” said Prof Mansoor adding that India too needs to work in a pro-active way by roping in other countries for the larger plan to counter China.
He said: “India must also focus on economic growth and unity among in the country to counter China”.
“There is also a need for India to be prepared for a double-front strategy as Pakistan has become a proxy state of China. Considering the situation, it is the best interests to increase the nuclear arsenal, make technological advancements and also take steps towards establishing peace,” emphasised the Vice Chancellor.
In the welcome address, Prof Aftab Alam (Chairman, Department of Strategic and Security Studies) introduced the speaker and spoke about how the Department of Strategic and Security Studies was conceptualised with a deeply thought out aim of becoming a pioneering centre of advanced studies and research in India.
“The focus of this department is to constructively play its part in helping build a more peaceful world through high-quality research and innovative teaching,” added Prof Alam.
Dr Syed Tahseen Raza conducted the programme. Dr Swasti Rao moderated the question and answers session and extended the vote of thanks.