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Event Report: Two Suns in the East- India and China

C3S Report No: 006/2017

The following is an event report of a lecture discussion held on 31.3.2017.

A lecture-discussion led by Dr. Sui Xinmin, dean of School of Politics and Law, concurrently the Director of Centre for South Asia Studies of Zhongyuan University of Technology was held on March 31st, 2017 at the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S). The theme was China’s Maritime Strategy: History, Status and beyond. It witnessed enthusiastic participation and response from the crowd. The event was open to all.

Commodore R.S Vasan, Director, C3S welcomed Dr. Sui Xinmin and introduced the speaker and the topic of discussion. Dr. Sui Xinmin served as an associate professor at the China Foreign Affairs University. He is also the author of many works and publications such as Sino-Indian Relations: A framework of Social Cognitive Perspective (2007), India’s Perception and Policy towards China (2009) and China’s Policy towards South Asia in the context of MSRI (2017).

Dr. Xinmin initiated his first session with an overview of the Indo-China relations with an emphasis on China’s defense strategy and on the Chinese policy in the South China Sea.

The session went on by addressing the various topics such as:

  1. What happened in the history of China?

  2. China’s Ambition: A Maritime Power?

  3. Status of China’s Security

  4. Misperceptions of CMS and beyond

The speaker discussed about how the westernization movement made no sense to making of China’s maritime strategy and also how the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) interrupted the process of China’s modernization. In fact, the first commander-in-chief of PLA Navy, Senior General Xiao Jin-guang had to borrow a fishing vessel to inspect Liu Gongdiao Island, a historical site of Chinese-Japanese war in 1894-1895. “It was funny, but not a joke,” the speaker added.The speaker also narrated how after the various wars with the Britain and Japan, it cultivated maritime orientation and improve maritime defense.

The Chinese followed the Active Defense Strategy that helped in developments where they also aimed at preparing themselves for winning local wars using Modern Technology.

The concept of “active defense” is from the long-term practice of civil wars. It boils down to: adherence to the unity of strategic defense and tactical offense and adherence to the principles of self-defense.

The speaker narrated his own version of answer on the Chinese Maritime Power. Marine resources development capabilities must be improved there should be ways to promote a sustained and sound economic development in China. The third commander-in-chief (1982-88), Liu Huaqiu made significant contributions to PLA Navy’s development, becoming independent service, and making of naval strategy since the mid-1980s.

Over 90% amount of import-export goods transport pass through East China Sea, South China Sea, Strait of Malacca and the Indian Ocean which caused Maritime territorial disputes in East China Sea and South China Sea.

He also referred to the three island chains which have been confronting threats from the United States for which Liu Hua-qiu put forward a three-step countermove to break through American containment which was to obtain command of sea inside the first chain by 2010, the second by 2020, and by 2050 ending USA command of sea in the west Pacific and Indian Ocean.

In addition to the above theme the speaker also discussed the status of China’s Security and added that China does not want to take over the American hegemony but wants to secure better arrangements on maritime issues.

Speaking about the Sino-Indian relations he claims that it is a misperception that China pursues a String of Pearls to contain India’s rise. He feels that the relationship between India and China has to be independent. There are bilateral transactions also exchanged at grass roots well as higher levels between the two countries.

“Mindsets of people need to change to mitigate security dilemma” he claims.

He identifies the (T6- Troubles) between India and China. They are:

  1. Territorial Disputes

  2. Trade deficits

  3. Terrorism Affairs

  4. Threats perception with low level of mutual trust

  5. Trilateral Interactions

  6. Tibetan Issue

Later the session went on by identifying how the T6-troubles can be overcome gradually via positive interactions or countermoves called C6. The methods include:

  1. Compromise

  2. Consultation and Coordination

  3. Communication, at all level exchanges

  4. Confidence building measures

  5. Two sides’ reasonable concern should be paid suitable respect

  6. Change of mindset.

The Speaker arrived at conclusions and said “PLA Navy is the means to protect implementation of the strategic vision, but not to replace USA or contain anyone’s rise and development.”

He also pointed out the PLA Navy’s progress in the recent years which aims to meet the demand of growth, protect the maritime territory rights and interests of China.

As per him, China’s maritime strategy is an essential national development strategy to exploit, utilize and protect the seas and oceans, and build China into a maritime power.

“It is economy-oriented and inclusive, but not military-oriented and exclusive strategy,” he added.

The session was made interactive by thought provoking questions posed by the audience.

Lastly the Director of C3S,Cmde. R.S Vasan put forth his views and said that the T6- troubles must be brought down to T-0 and this could occur only when India and China come over the table and discuss how these issues must be brought to an end. He also said that there has to be improvements in the Indo-Chinese relationship.

(Compiled by Ms. Sanaa Parpia, Intern, C3S. Sanaa has completed B.A Journalism at M.O.P Vaishnav College, Chennai.)

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