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Ref: Article by Asma Masood on “Answering the PLA Pie Division Puzzle

Comments of Col. R. Hariharan,  retired military intelligence specialist on South Asia, former head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (1987-90), and associate of Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group.

March 18 2016:

1. It would be wrong to compare the PLA command structure with the Western models (India follows the old British model) because of its unique role as one of the three pillars of support for CPC to rule the country. So its management is closely linked to the Party perceptions down to the unit level where a political commissar has as much power as an officer commanding. Though originally PLA was modeled on Soviet armed forces command structure its weakness came to the fore when it got embroiled in internal party power struggle during the Cultural Revolution. PLA developed cracks within and the loyalty of sections of PLA to the Party became suspect.
2. Deng Xiaoping took the onerous task of cleaning up PLA of the aberrations of the Cultural Revolution, when it ended. All military training institutions were closed and reformed. This process was linked to professionalisation and modernisation of PLA which were taken up.
3. Professional competence of PLA became a question mark when it suffered a drubbing in border conflicts with Soviet Union and Vietnam. So modernisation became its watch word and vigorously pursued during Hu Jintao’s period.
4. Joint operations operations training became a priority as PLA added to its reach and fire power in air, sea and space in keeping with the requirements of protecting national interest as China grew into a global economic power.
5. One important aspect of PLA modernisation was to reduce its strength to retire the classical semi literate PLA soldier and induct educated graduates to meet the demands of joint operational command based upon informatisation suited for the modern C3I (command, control, communication and intelligence) battlefield environment.
6. Thus PLA is trying to emerge as a stronger force capable of launching regimental battle group sized forces with greater mobility over long distances. It has been training with Russian forces for sometime now on land and North Sea on this aspect where it has been trying to refine its joint operational nuances. These are in keeping with the progress made in Chinese missile development, satellite technology and armament research and manufacture.
7. Historically PLA had lacked naval capability – a legacy of empire days. So creating a modern PLA Navy (PLAN) has been pursued vigorously for nearly two decades and PRC celebrated its coming of age with the building of its first ever aircraft carrier. The continued ability of the US to bottle up PLAN within the China seas has for long been a red rag for PRC. This imposed an urgency for Chinese leadership to focus on developing its naval power; even the creation of artificial islands in S China Sea has to be understood in this context. As a dominant naval power in Indian Ocean, India has to understand PRC’s ‘Blue water dream’ because with the induction of more ocean going platforms PLAN is growing more powerful in its assertion in Indian Ocean. PLAN warships’ presence has increased and is likely to do so both qualitatively and quantitatively in the coming years.
8. PLA is an important instrument for Xi Jinping to deliver the Chinese Dream.  He is following the CPC injunction to keep up modernisation, informatisation and professionalisation of PLA. At the same time he is working on to retain PLA’s loyalty to the Party and its (his) leadership. With this in view, he is cleaning up PLA command of rival power centres and cliques of vested interests by purging powerful officers ostensibly tainted by corruption. He has taken greater control of PLA as part of his consolidation of power in the government and Party. So professionalisation of PLA command while consolidating its control in the Party hands is probably Xi’s motivation behind the restructuring of the PLA command.
9. The new delineation of command areas appear to be in keeping with the threat perceptions of the region which have undergone a change over the last two decades. PLA greater joint operational capability, firepower and air mobility for an informatised C3I battlefield has also influenced it to meet the operational commitments.
10. Lastly, PLA command restructuring is also to support  China increasing strategic footholds in South Asia and Central Asia. PRC’s increasing economic stakes in Africa also would need to be protected by PLA. So the PLA restructuring is likely to be an ongoing exercise as Xi turns his dream of Belt and Road initiative into a reality in the next few years.
(The views expressed are Col. Hariharan’s own.)

Ref: Article by K. Subramanian on “The circuit breaker that failed”

Comments of Mr. M. R. Sivaraman IAS (Retd.), Former Revenue Secretary, Ministry of Finance Govt. India, ED IMF and Advisor to the UNSC CTC.

January 13 2016:

China’s crash was coming. Its GDP debt ration at 180 is one of the highest compared to other similar economies. Capital outflow from China has touched one trillion dollars in 2015. This is reminiscent of the rapid erosion of FE reserves of South Korea during the 1997 crisis ; the latter lost almost all its reserves in a few days.That may not be the case with China but the mountain of reserves are going. The mountain was built on phenomenal exports of China to a hungry West which was feeding itself on credit flows.The West had also relied on huge debt creation. Dozens of credit cards held by individuals made it possible for China to export and export.
Now that is history. Trade growth has plummeted and the worst sufferers are the export oriented economies. China is attempting to restructure its economy by promoting domestic consumption. China’s saving was as high as 50% of GDP of which household sector share was 20%. Corporate savings was also around 20%.
How much can China reverse this saving trend? Can the government increase its spending? Possibly not, as there are huge investments lying idle.
Stock market rumbles reflect these fundamentals. But they may not necessarily affect the real sector as there is no direct relationship of stock market gyrations and economic growth.
It is not clear what the author means by Western type of stock market. One is not aware of any other type of stock market. When there is a stock market one has to reconcile with the fact that there will be speculators and racketeers.
China’s population holding stocks would have been devastated and may have lost a lot of savings. So that may be another problem in promoting consumption expenditure in the short term.
China will move only when the West starts moving up.
(The views expressed are Mr. Sivaraman’s own.)


Ref: Book Excerpt- JFK to the rescue; INDIA TODAY: Bruce Riedel reveals the extent of American support to India during the 1962 War with China and how it forestalled any opportunistic misadventurism by Pakistan… 

Comments of Mr. M. R. Sivaraman IAS (Retd.), Former Revenue Secretary, Ministry of Finance Govt. India, ED IMF and Advisor to the UNSC CTC.

October 29 2015:

This book excerpt throws light on an issue which holds serious lessons for the government of India even at this distance in time.

We cannot rule out the possibility of a China-Pakistan axis to retard the progress of India as China would not like India to steal a march or even go near its economic supremacy and Pakistan would like a debilitated India. They may resort to any means other than a full scale war.

So how do we prepare?

  1. Make radical changes in our military philosophy. By an amendment to the Army Act make every student who has passed 10+2 and physically fit to enroll in the army for a period of three years out of which 6 months will be for training. After the person has served for three years in total he should be entitled to a pension payable on his attaining the age of 55 .He can if he so desire serve for a period of five years or if the army likes him they can keep him as a regular on his /her consent.
  2. Every IAS officer should compulsorily undergo IMA or equivalent training for a period 30 weeks and serve the forces for a period 42 weeks after which he / she should go for their normal training but with the caveat that every alternate year they will go for training for 4 weeks so that they can be called upon when needed. It need not necessarily be combat but other duties in the army, air force or navy as per the choice of the officer. This will relieve core army officers from routine jobs. This will also bridge the mental gap between the civil service and the armed forces.
  3. Defence procurement procedures should be redrawn to ensure speed and quality and the armed forces alone to judge quality unless there are overwhelming reasons.
  4. The entire Indian Army’s combat divisions should be made mobile within a given time frame. A policy should  be laid down for procurement by the cabinet to avoid controversies. If necessary more army commands should be established. In my view there should be three commands to deal with Pakistan and three to deal with China. The concept of network centric warfare should be re- examined in the light of recent technological developments and those relating to cyber crime. I also hope the government knows how to stop officers from getting trapped in social circles where information may be retrieved.
  5. The government should be more transparent in regard to personnel grievances of the armed forces to keep up their morale. While there is a joint civil military course in the LBSAA it is for too short a period. This should be re- examined to expand it to include officers of all levels from the police and the IAS.

The world should know that India cannot be played around with and more so by Pakistan and China.

(The views expressed are of the author.)

Ref: Article by D.S.Rajan on “China Formulates Assertive Military Strategy”

Comments of Mr. M.R. Sivaraman IAS (Retd.), Former Revenue Secretary, Ministry of Finance Govt.India, ED IMF and Advisor to the UNSC CTC.

June 1 2015:

I was one of those who wanted very close relations with China and that we should compromise and settle our border disputes and forge a major economic and cultural partnership having had the privilege of receiving the first Chinese minister to visit India after the 1962 conflict.
But sadly my views are  changing  with China issuing a warning to India.
Yesterday  we heard a Chinese strategic expert speaking in  very ominous tones of a conflict in the SCS on account of the aggressive stance of THE US He even spoke of the conflict deteriorating into a  nuclear one with serious consequences to both the US and the PRC.This is against the no first  strike doctrine of China This was also commented upon by two of our ambassadors.Had the US  not  opened their markets  to China it would still be a country struggling to develope. China also cleverly made it possible for mass migration of manufacturers into China.
Sixty percent of  PRC’s reserves will be in dollars.The US can systematically depreciate its dollar and also impose customs duties to prevent cheap Chinese goods entering the  US. It can slowly influence companies that have set up base  in China and who have assets depreciated to zero to move out. The Economist says that some companies are already doing it.China rode on the back of the US/EU opening up their markets and now wants to confront them.
Nehru’s indi chini bhai bhai resulted in a disaster. We hope Modi is wiser. Yet I do not understand why the Raksha Mantri has ordered the reduction in the number of strike corps for the NE.  If the  fiscal deficit goes up by a small fraction of a percent because we have to fund the the raising of the  three corps approved by the UPA let it go up – forget the economists who are obsessed with fiscal  deficit.India with its huge black economy can sustain a larger fiscal deficit.
India should  also be careful in its dealings with China  now that the  intentions of China are clear.
China wants to use India as a market for its goods and then kick us on our backs when the EU markets pick up. It is  then they will stir a conflict on our borders.China  is also  wanting to lure the poor countries  by dangling the AIIB funding as a carrot.Let India not be taken in by these overtures as they are just intended to bolster the sagging demand for Chinese manufactures.
It is not clear  whether the MEA reacted to the so called warning of China on our explorations in SC seas.Who  are they to warn India when they with impunity are in occupied J&K. It is time we also warn them that they do not  encroach in occupied Kashmir and India will not be  responsible for any Chinese losses in that area.
China by publishing this strategy paper wants to signal the world that they will use military force to occupy lands that they believe belonged to them some centuries  ago.By the same logic the UK could claim India and Myanmar and Denmark could claim the UK as once the UK kings came from Denmark or Germany.
If china wants peace let it give up such mythical claims on lands under control of other countries for hundreds of years. The geography of the world has changed after many wars and countries are more or less culturally and language wise settled excepting in a few parts of the world.
 It is abundantly clear that military force can no longer subjugate a people.The US has realised this with the ISIS gaining ground in the ME. The ISIS is the ghost of Saddam Hussein risen from his grave. In Libya Gaddafi’s ghost too has risen. Surely China does not want that to happen in the areas they want to conquer. They  have enough trouble in Xinjiang and surely they do not want that to escalate.
China is a rich country and let it get richer and not suddenly become poor by its aggressive behaviour towards neighbours because when China uses its military other countries affected will not be plucking roses.
No country is going to  gain by militarism excepting the grave diggers. Even  gun runners will die.
(The views expressed are of the author.)

Ref: Article by Mr.B.S.Raghavan on Taiwan delegation’s visit to Chennai

I am grateful for the updates and agree that India must be bolder in cultivating Taiwan as an economic and trade partner. Mr VC Khanna knows a fair amount about Taiwan and the limits of the relationship, both because of China’s concerns and self-prescribed concerns (which do not seem to inhibit other countries equally solicitious to keep China in good humour). When I was in the India International Centre in 1994, I organised a seminar with a Taiwanese delegation which was promising. But I have not followed up this topic since then.

It would be worth mention that Taiwan and China have recently improved their relations and airline connections. This has a distinct political aspect which we must investigate.

Another aspect which needs attention is that of Taiwanese fishermen coming into the waters of the Bay of Bengal and slipping away with bigger catches than ours because of their better technology and boats. (I do not know much about the subject, but I think it has some security ramifications as well).

I saw your article on “Expanding Indo-Taiwan Ties” dated August 3.

I am attaching a background brief for your information so that you have some updated facts.

India-Taiwan two way trade crossed US$ 3 billion in the first six months of 2008. It is expected that for the whole of 2008 the figure could cross US$ 6 billion. This compares to US$ 4.88 billion for calender year 2007 and US$ 2.71 billion during 2006.

It is more difficult to have accurate figures for investment in India. A very conservative estimate is US$ 450 million with atleast that much more in the pipeline. The potential of course is for much more. CII’s expectation of US$ 3 billion by 2010 is achievable.

Should you require any specific facts and figures for academic purposes of the Chennai Centre for Chinese Studies, please feel free to contact me.

Ref: Interview to New Indian Express by D.S.Rajan, Director, CCCS

Congratulate you on your excellent Answers to intelligent questions posed by the New Indian Express! I am inspired by it to give you a thoughtful response.

I liked your replies to the New Indian Express on China’s economy, military and political prospects. They are full, informative and balanced.
I hope Indians who are awed or overawed by ‘the Chinese miracle’ will take note of your views, which are backed by years of careful China-watching. I have seen some contrarian views to qualify or oppose the assessments of China as No. 1 in the US. But I have to discount both the admirers and the critics from the West.

Ref: CCCS Articles on Indo-US nuclear deal ( by Mr B.Raman and Mr D.S.Rajan)

I just finished reading your very sensible piece on China and have looked at your center’s site. I have learned a great deal from my quick review and am very impressed with your work and that of your center. I doubt there is any center anywhere as savvy about the Indian nuclear deal and China as yours.

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