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JULY 2015 ISSUE

Force Magazine
Guest Column - Force Magazine
Of Strategies and Stratagems
China’s military strategy was made public at the recent Asia Security Summit
 
Cmde Lalit Kapur (retd)
By Cmde Lalit Kapur (retd)

The Shangri La Hotel in Singapore is, since 2002, the venue for the annual Asia Security Summit, a pan-Asian defence minister level dialogue aimed at confidence building and fostering practical security cooperation amongst the Asia Pacific countries. Just three days before this year’s event, held from 29-31 May 2015, China went public with its White Paper (WP) enunciating national military strategy, thereby giving the ministers attending much to think about.

A national military strategy is essentially a blueprint, a plan of action for shaping and constructing military capability. For the domestic audience, it serves the same purpose that the architect’s drawings do for an individual or company constructing a building. The educated citizen would find it inconceivable to build even a home without such a blueprint; after all, it determines how the foundation will be laid and the entire edifice constructed, how stable and solid it will be. The more complex the structure, greater the need for such a blueprint.

The international audience, in addition, wonders whether what has been published is a strategy or a stratagem and expends enormous effort in analysing all its nuances with a view to developing their own strategy. Perhaps no better measure can be found for India’s level of development and pseudo-democratic form of governance than the fact that unlike the overwhelming majority of nations in the world, our ruling elite have still not been able to put together such a blueprint for the defence of the nation, on which they will splurge nearly Rs 2,47,000 crores this year. There is still no meaningful public or parliamentary debate to determine if these funds could be better utilised.

But this article is not about India, it is about China’s just revealed military strategy, an elaboration on what was first revealed in April 2013. Following Xi Jinping’s rise to power, the third plenary session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China directed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to implement a number of key reforms. Amongst the clearest indicators of the direction of these reforms and the future ‘trajectory’ of the PLA is China’s Military Strategy White Paper (WP) released on 26 May 2015.

Needless to say, the Chinese Military Strategy holds great interest for India. Over 50 years after the nations fought a short, sharp war in 1962, the border between them remains unsettled. As the world’s second largest economy and a nation that makes no secret of its super power ambitions, China has enormous and vital interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), interests that will shape China’s future growth. These will inevitably impact on a strategic space India has long considered its own, opening up a second and far more strategically important ‘front’ to add to the Himalayan border. It is, therefore, vital for India to study the WP in detail and draw appropriate conclusions to shape its future strategy.

The fifth plenary session of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2015 aimed to build cooperation between the countries in the Asia Pacific region. Singapore defence minister Ng Eng Hen giving his speech
The fifth plenary session of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2015 aimed to build cooperation between the countries in the Asia Pacific region. Singapore defence minister Ng Eng Hen giving his speech


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