In a quest for military advantage along its border with China, India is intensifying its military cooperation with the United States and Russia and stepping up its military penetration of small border states adjoining China and India.
In the past decade India has bought arms worth US$50 billion from the United States, Russia, Britain, Israel and France, making it the biggest arms importer in the developing world. India has also held joint military exercises with the United States, and is developing close military ties with Moscow. In talks at the Kremlin last December, President Medvedev and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed a blueprint for military cooperation to 2020, as well as a number of arms deals.
India has resumed military cooperation with Nepal, suspended in 2005. Under new agreements, India will train and share intelligence with Nepali forces. The Press Trust of India reported December 7, 2009 that India is to build an air base in Nepal and resume arms sales. The struggle between pro-India and pro-China forces in Nepal is at a critical stage and China needs to pay more attention to its interests there.
Following the 1962 Sino-Indian border war, India took control of and began to train the Bhutan Army. Over 4,000 Indian military advisors have been sent there. India helped establish and equip the Bhutan Air Force, which is deployed along the border with China, and has encouraged Russia to provide military helicopters and logistical support.
Myanmar, with 700 million barrels of oil reserves, 444.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, and a 2,185–kilometer long border with China, is also in the frame. Indian military officials began close contacts with the Myanmar government in 1997 and, since then, visits by successive Army Chiefs of Staff have become routine. India has been supplying military equipment to Burma since 1998.
In the Maldives, India has built radar installations and a base for early warning aircraft and helicopters.
But despite its arms purchases from the great powers and military penetration of neighboring countries, it remains extremely unlikely that India will unleash all-out conflict with China. Its pressing missions are to contain Pakistan and fight terrorism. Sino-Indian dialogue and negotiation mechanisms are still operating. For the foreseeable future, therefore, while a "cold war" between the two countries is increasingly likely, a "hot war" is out of the question.
The author is a columnist with China.org.cn For more information please visit:
(This article was translated by Fan Junmei.)