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Xi Jinping’s military reforms: China likely to flex muscles in Indian Ocean

Discussion in 'China & Asia Pacific' started by Manmohan Yadav, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    China’s ongoing military organisational reforms, including major command and control changes that percolate down, is likely to see its power projection in the Indian Ocean and beyond but lead to less skirmishes at the border with India, believe defence analysts.

    Xi Jinping’s speech at China’s 19th party congress last month had said that the armed forces were being developed to acquire capabilities to safeguard its global interests, with equal emphasis on enhancement in its maritime footprint. The objectives are part of Xi’s ‘China Dream’, a concept which aspires to create a powerful China and also includes creating a powerful military. China uses military tactics that fall below the threshold level of any country in the Indo-Pacific region.

    “Xi Jinping’s work report also mentions ‘development interests’, which is China’s global interests such as its base in Djibouti, more number of bases and the need for the PLA to safeguard such interests. So the role of the PLA will expand from territorial interests to global interests,” said an analyst.

    A Pentagon report, however, states that China’s assertive behaviour to push its territorial rights and its growing military capabilities is likely to lead to countries in the Indo-Pacific region to tie up with the US. China has been increasing its global investments in west Asia, Africa, South America and parts of Europe. These efforts also form part of its Belt and Road initiative, which aims at pushing its global role.

    The organisational structure of the Chinese military is in a state of flux. “It has not been fully settled down and in the next five years one cannot see why China will be aggressive on the ground,” said an expert. In addition, the military reforms have also changed the command and control structure, which will be settled down only beyond 2020. This means that face-offs are unlikely to increase, as per the expert, but there will definitely be power projection by China in the South China Sea, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

    “No matter how much modernisation China does, when it comes to it and India there are mountains in between them, where any advanced capability reduces. So one has to focus on boots on the ground and it is not the case that India is not focusing on its own modernisation. But if China engages in a conflict its capabilities will drastically go back several years. So all this capability development is more of a power projection,” said another expert.

    One example of China’s power projection is its navy’s “far seas” deployments into the Western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean.
     

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