In­dian Ocean big enough for China and In­dia

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views - Full City, The author is a se­nior colonel and di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense.

In re­cent years, Sino-In­dian mil­i­tary re­la­tions have ad­vanced in tan­dem with the ad­vance of state-to-state re­la­tions. And high-level vis­its, de­fense and se­cu­rity con­sul­ta­tions, bor­der co­op­er­a­tion, joint drills and per­son­nel train­ing have taken place. Ever since 2007, the min­istries of de­fense of the two coun­tries have held eight rounds of de­fense and se­cu­rity talks. The two coun­tries’ mil­i­taries have con­ducted six joint drills on counter-ter­ror­ism named “Hand-in-Hand”.

What I would like to high­light in par­tic­u­lar is that dur­ing the Na­tional Day and mil­i­tary fes­ti­vals, the bor­der troops in­vite each other for joint cel­e­bra­tions.

The great­est chal­lenge to China and In­dia is the bor­der is­sue. The is­sue seems par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing since China has re­solved bor­der dis­putes with 12 of its 14 neigh­bor­ing coun­tries through peace­ful ne­go­ti­a­tions. It is grat­i­fy­ing that China and In­dia have es­tab­lished a prin­ci­ple of re­solv­ing the bor­der is­sue through three steps. Both be­lieve that the bor­der dis­pute has to be man­aged prop­erly, and peace and sta­bil­ity main­tained be­fore a fair and rea­son­able res­o­lu­tion ac­cept­able to both sides can be found. Ef­forts must be made to pre­vent small in­ci­dents from be­com­ing large, as they can af­fect the over­all bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship.

As a re­sult of joint ef­forts, the Sino-In­dian bor­der has by and large main­tained long-term sta­bil­ity. Not a sin­gle bul­let has been fired across the bor­der for more than three decades. This is rarely seen in the whole world. It demon­strates that the con­fi­dence-build­ing mea­sures adopted over the years have been ef­fec­tive. The peace­ful set­tle­ment of the stand­off in Donglang has once again proven the po­lit­i­cal wis­dom of both coun­tries.

Since 1993, quite a few agree­ments and pro­to­cols on main­tain­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in the bor­der ar­eas have been signed by the two gov­ern­ments and the two mil­i­taries. And co­or­di­na­tion mech­a­nisms on the bor­der is­sue have been es­tab­lished at dif­fer­ent lev­els.

The con­fi­dence-build­ing mea­sures in the mil­i­tary field along the Line of Ac­tual Con­trol in the bor­der ar­eas are con­crete and prag­matic. For ex­am­ple, both sides agreed that in the ar­eas where there is dis­agree­ment of un­der­stand­ing, the pa­trol troops of one side will not fol­low the other side in pa­trolling. The two coun­tries have set up meet­ing points where the bor­der troop of­fi­cers can meet reg­u­larly and talk over the phone to main­tain con­tact on bor­der con­trol. Del­e­ga­tions of bor­der troops, neigh­bor­ing re­gional com­mands and younger of­fi­cers have ex­change of vis­its to deepen mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and en­hance mu­tual trust.

Now I also wish to talk a bit about the “com­pe­ti­tion” be­tween China and In­dia. Mil­i­tar­ily, there is no such thing as com­pe­ti­tion, be it in the Pa­cific Ocean or in the In­dian Ocean. China ap­pre­ci­ates that 55 per­cent of In­dia’s in­ter­na­tional trade goes through the South China Sea, but In­dia’s trade, like any other mar­itime trade that goes through the South China Sea, doesn’t have any ob­sta­cles.

Like­wise, China has its own le­git­i­mate in­ter­ests in the In­dian Ocean which in­clude pri­mar­ily the safety and se­cu­rity of the strate­gic sea lanes, and the safety and se­cu­rity of Chi­nese prop­erty, Chi­nese in­vest­ment and the Chi­nese na­tion­als. The “Mar­itime Silk Road” pro­posed by China also goes through the In­dian Ocean. In fact, China and In­dia have joined other coun­tries in fight­ing against piracy in the In­dian Ocean since the end of 2008. In 2011, the In­dian Navy helped in re­liev­ing the Chi­nese ship, which was at­tacked by pi­rates. And the Chi­nese Navy has es­corted In­dian ships.

If the Pa­cific Ocean can ac­com­mo­date China and the United States, so can the In­dian Ocean ac­com­mo­date China and In­dia.

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