Wed, May 04, 2011 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: An assessment of China’s military rise in Asia-Pacific

Despite reassurances from Beijing that its rise is a peaceful one, the development of China’s military has raised concerns worldwide. Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor at the Center for East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, expounded on his views about US arms sales to Taiwan, strategic security in Asia and the intricate relationship between Taiwan, China, the US and India in an interview with ‘Taipei Times’ staff reporter Ko Shu-ling in March

In the decisionmaking process, there are four or five main corporate groups which are quite influential in the Chinese system.

One is obviously the Chinese Communist Party and its small leading groups and the foreign affairs bureau and the military -affairs bureau. The party channelizes its views from different provinces, including Xiamen, Fujian and -Zhejiang, which will have to face the music if there is a war between Taiwan and China because geographically they are the ones which will have to face the problem and destruction.

The foreign ministry, which is more problematic, has to consider rising nationalism in China. The third major corporate unit is the PLA, Chinese military with the central military commission, as it affects every other decision of China in the military sphere.

A fourth organization, which is in recent periods a major influence, is the ministry of commerce, which overlooks the trade and commerce and a lot of other issues related to this. The ministry of commerce has been emphasizing attracting investment, including from Taiwan.

Taiwan’s contribution to China’s foreign direct investment is more than US$300 billion, which is more than one-third of what China has received so far. It means that Taiwan is contributing to China’s rise. This is quite strange. If Taiwan thinks China is a security issue, how come Taiwan is contributing to China’s rise, which would have marginalized Taiwan?

So these are the four corporate units in China which influence the decision-making. Above all, the PLA in the recent period is clubbing up with rising nationalism. The PLA is a highly patriotic organization in China. Rising nationalism plus the PLA are a deadly combination in terms of exerting policy.

TT: India and the US have made significant progress in narrowing their historical differences. This places India increasingly at the other end of the ring of containment of China. What are the advantages and disadvantages for India in playing this role in the geopolitics of Southeast Asia?

Kondapalli: From July 2005, we have had a 10-year defense cooperation agreement, which will last until 2015, and possibly will be extended further. India has been importing a lot of US military technologies. We also have [made] substantial progress in the space program between the two sides.

On this issue [containing China], India has some reservations. The Indian prime minister suggested India is not part of containing China partly because it means that we have to substantially increase our defense budgets, which we cannot afford because our focus is on economic development and on human resource development.

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