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Event Report: International Conference on “Current Developments in China: Regional Implications on S

C3s Report No: 0147/2016

A One Day International Seminar on “Current Developments in China: Regional Implications on Security and Stability” was jointly organized by the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S), National Maritime Foundation- Chennai Chapter (NMF) and the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, University of Madras. It was held on November 18, 2016, at the University of Madras.

View abstracts of the papers and bio of the speakers at this link: Abstracts_Bios


Inaugural Session

Cmde. R. S. Vasan IN (Retd), Regional Director, Chennai Chapter-National Maritime Foundation, Director of Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) and Head, Strategy and Strategy and Security Studies, Centre for Asia Studies (CAS) gave the Welcome Address. He introduced C3S members and the chief guests to the audience. He  explained the conceptual context of the theme and also brought out the importance of some recent developments.

Inspector General Rajan Bargotra, TM Commander Coast Guard Region (East) delivered the inaugural address. Though India shares 3488 km of border with China in the north and east states, our people to people contact between two countries is not much. We grew up in the backdrop of the history of 1962 Indo-China war, which was more than half a century ago. China has resolved its border disputes with all its neighbours excepting India. China’s long and vulnerable SLOCs extend from West Asia and East Africa to China’s eastern seaboard. So far, the PLA Navy does not possess the adequate capacity or strategic basing rights to secure its IOR SLOCs. With the Indian Coast Guard’s ambitious acquisition plan fructifying on schedule, it is going to be a 200 ship and 100 aircraft  strong Coast Guard by 2020. The Indian Navy has a comfortable reach to Malacca Straits and much beyond. However, India as a nation does not have any ill will or animosity towards China.   Hence, when in international relations, China’s actions do not appear to support India, it becomes intriguing and demands deeper analysis.


Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, CI (Navy), DSSC, Wellington presented the theme address. According to him, the 2008 financial crisis, the seeming failure of Washington Consensus (Bretton Woods policies) and the seeming vindication of the Beijing Consensus appear to have greatly emboldened the Chinese ruling elite including a veritable behavioural shift that became manifest later.


Dr Utham Kumar Jamadhagni, HoD, Defence and Strategic Studies, University of Madras, delivered the vote of thanks. He hopes that this program will help to continue the efforts for the department in keeping interest alive on contemporary strategic issues. 


Plenary Session I- Rise of China

Moderator- Air Marshal M. Matheswaran

China, India and the Asian century – Dr John Garver, Emeritus Professor, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia. Countries around the region are still trying to assess how to respond to China’s rise. The traditional American strategy which was to nurture China in hopes of it becoming a partner has not happened. Chinese naval strategists are enamoured of the US naval strategist Mahan. Many in China believe that it is a benevolent power: Pax Sinica. Traditional powers are exiting leaving the space for China to occupy.


China’s Strategic Culture: Insights and Implications for India – Dr W. Lawrence S. Prabhakar, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Madras Christian College.  Indians view China from continental & maritime geopolitics.  There is the Middle-Kingdom Complex and the concept of “Shi” to be considered. China relies on a “3M” strategy ( Military Build-up, Multilateralism and Multipolarity). He distinguished the Asymmetry of Strategy & Asymmetry of Power. China does not want U.S.A to exit Asia because it is essential to calm down the nuclear ambitions of Japan & Korea.


China’s military modernization and its Implication to India’s Maritime Security– Dr M. Venkataraman, Assistant Professor, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, University of Madras. Deng Xiaoping had launched 4 modernizations: Agriculture, Industry, S&T and  military. Historically CCP & PLA have had rifts, which were observed here.  The Liu Huaqing formula (three island chains) was studied in-depth.


China’s core interests in Tibet: Can India play the Tibet Card?  – Dr Claude Arpi, Geopolitics Expert, Puducherry. Tibet is one China’s core interest. The question was addressed whether India can play the Tibet card?India must also have a ‘core issue’, that is Tibet. The main source of Tibetan culture is Indian.  Minsar enclave in Tibet near Kailash belonged to J&K and was given away silently by Nehru without informing the Parliament.


Plenary Session II – Regional Developments of China,

Moderator – Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, CI (Navy).

‘Changing contours of Regional Maritime Dynamics: Challenges and Responses’ presented by Cmde. R. S. Vasan IN (Retd). Changing contours of regional maritime dynamics and factors leading to a tectonic shift in the Pacific were described. These include the PCA-verdict and China-Russia joint naval patrol. The  augmentation of military facilities on the seven islands in Spratly  and the impact on regional balance was focused upon. Options available to the USA, China and India were discussed in the light of the recent developments.  It was highlighted that the developing situation was favourable to China due to the likely vacuum created by the policies of the President-elect Trump.  A ‘Wait and Watch’ strategy for China was expected.


China’s Aerospace Transformation: Essence of its Superpower Strategy – Air Marshal M. Matheswaran (Retd), former Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (DCIDS) at HQ IDS. An overview of the 21st-century international system was given. The strategic retreat to precision strike was described, vis-à-vis the evolution of PLA’s doctrine. Chinese strategy and airpower employment concepts were also recounted. The significance of J11, J31, ARJ21, UAV’s and Tiangong space station was highlighted. China’s space power strategies formed the conclusion.


Perspectives on China’s counter-terrorism narrative and regional security- Col. Hariharan (Retd), a retired Military Intelligence Specialist on South Asia. The terminologies of terrorism were discussed. The global war on terrorism , its fallout, China’s concept of terrorism were some of the concepts underlined. The structural changes to fight terrorism and existing international counterterrorism cooperation were seen as significant factors.  China’s “doublespeak” on Pakistan- based terrorism was pointed out. India-China counter-terrorism cooperation & its limitations formed the basis for the conclusion.


Plenary Session III- ‘Science and Technology Developments of China’

Moderator- Cmde. R. S. Vasan.

‘S&T innovation of China: Impact for Global Peace and Conflict’ presented by Prof. Rajaram Nagappa, Professor and Dean, International Strategic and Security Studies, National Institute of Advanced Studies. Chinese military expenditure on Research and Development on Science and Technology is booming in China. China’s ASBM capability and its capacity in S & T were viewed from an expert angle. Chinese innovations are focused from deep sea to deep space. Yaogen satellite series, DF-ZF and the military defence capability of China were studied. The developments of PLA Rocket force were also an interesting component. In conclusion, the speaker summarized about space robotic arm , ASAT capabilities and China’s increasing investments in S&T.


‘Dragon’s Fire in Cyber World’ presented by Mr E. Dilip Raj, Associate Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies. focussed on the contours of  expanding capabilities in the cyberspace  and its impact . Cyber usage is increasing in civilian as well as defence sectors of China. The cyber environment of China was outlined. Chinese cyber terror activities and its targets in USA and India were noted. According to the speaker, Unit 61398 is the most wanted group of “cyber terrors” which is operating under PLA General Staff Department. He described the Chinese hackers groups which are allegedly associated with the Chinese government. The speaker concluded by explaining China’s strict cyber restrictions, and its linkages between cyber armies and private hackers.


‘Space Developments of China: Significance for India’ presented by Mr Vithiyapathy Purushothaman, Research Officer, C3S. There is an inevitable need for emphasis on space in future security  applications. China’s growth in space technology and its agenda is observed from China’s White Papers. China’s space program has certain major objectives.  Its recent achievements in space are spectacular and have both civil and military applications. The repercussions of China’s space diplomacy and space proliferation cannot be ignored. The implications for India along with possible responses  were highlighted.


Plenary Session IV- Open House– India’s response to the current developments in China.

Moderator – Dr. Utham Kumar Jamadhagni.

During the discussion, several questions were raised on India-China-Russia strategic relations and the increasing cyber activities of China. Answering the query on increasing Russia-Pakistan “Nexus”, Ms Chandra Rekha, Research fellow at CAPS answered that while interviewing Russian scholars, she heard that it is kind of Russian message to India. If India is moving towards the US, Russia might move towards Pakistan. Answering the questions on increasing counter-terrorism cooperation in the Asia, Col. Hariharan said that nations should have a common view on terrorism before joining hands to fight against it. Mr Dilipraj answered the question on India’s response to China’s cyber attacks. India being an IT hub, it has a strong cyber defence and it is highly capable of countering these cyber threats.


Summing up and Vote of ThanksDr E. Prabhakaran, Assistant Professor, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, University of Madras.


Compiled by Asma Masood and Vithiyapathy Purushothaman, Research Officers, C3S.

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