Technological and Strategic Implications of MTCR for India

Brig Arun Sahgal, PhD

India on Monday qualified to become member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), when the deadline for objection to Indian application expired without any member raising objections, in what is being termed as “silent procedure”. Under the silent procedure lack of objection automatically qualifies an applicant to be a member. India has been in pursuit to join major non-proliferation regimes for two reasons, legitimize its position as a responsible stake holder outside the NPT and more importantly get access to cutting edge technologies to enhance its strategic programmes.

MTCR is one of the four non-proliferation regimes, enacted by group of nations controlling sensitive technologies as part of global non-proliferation effort. The other three are: the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group and the Nuclear Supplier Group. The Wassenaar Arrangement deals with export control of conventional arms and related dual use technologies. Australia Group focuses on controls on technologies related to chemical and biological weapons. Lastly and most importantly the Nuclear Supplier Group a grouping of 41 countries that seeks to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials including fuels.
What is MTCR?

MTCR is essentially an export control regime comprising 34 nations with four permanent adherents; Israel, Moldavia, Slovakia and Macedonia, aimed at preventing proliferation of range of equipment pertaining to missile development, production and operations. Prohibited materials are divided into two Categories. Category I systems include missiles, drones and cruise missiles, with payload capacities exceeding 500 Kg and ranges beyond 300 Kms. Category II includes systems not covered in Category I, such as rocket systems (including ballistic missiles systems, space launch vehicles and sounding rockets) and unmanned air vehicles (including cruise missile systems, target drones, and reconnaissance drones etc.). These are subject to same limitations of payload weight and distance as Category I. This category in addition includes a wide range of equipment, material, and technologies, most of which have uses other than for missiles capable of delivering WMD .

India’s relatively smooth entry to a large extent was facilitated by Italy forsaking its veto post resolution of Italian marine controversy and more importantly China which is currently at the forefront of preventing Indian entry into NSG not being a member. Interestingly China although self appointed adherent, applied for MTCR membership in 2004, which was denied owing to its dubious export control records and commitments . China was found to be in violation of MTCR provisions in exporting missile technologies to both Pakistan and North Korea. Both countries missile programs have developed largely on account of Chinese support and munificence. Pakistani cruise and IRBM programs which include ‘Babur’ and Raad’, cruise missiles and Ghauri and Shaeen IRBM’s owe their success largely to design and technologies provided by China.

Implications of MTCR Membership for India

Post 1998 nuclear tests sanctions were slapped on India and critical technologies denied. To illustrate the point three specific cases are discussed.

First is the case of proposed sale of “Arrow II” theatre missile defence interceptor from Israel as part of our attempt to develop indigenous “Ballistic Missile Defence”. The transfer of both the missiles and technology was subject to US approval owing to its contributions in the development of the interceptor technology of the “Arrow II” system. The then US Administration taking its commitment to MTCR guidelines and the possible consequences of such transfers on missile defence cooperation with other states forced Israel to decline the sale even though Israel was willing .

Second is the sale of cryogenic engines and technology from Russia. By late 1980’s US space and strategic community began to conclude that India could be pursuing strategic ICBM program that could pose long term threat to the United States. This programme based on Agni IV/V series or what the American called the “Surya” missiles was thought to be using two stages of PSLV with strapped on third stage derived either from French ‘Victor’ rocket or cryogenic engines from Russia. Russia agreed to supply India both engines and ‘upper stage’ technology (Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle or GSLV). The US concerned that this will provide India with a powerful ICBM capability with ranges far exceeding 5000 Km with the ability to strike continental US slapped sanctions on both India and Russia in 1990. These were lifted only in 1993 after Russia agreed not to supply cryogenic technology to India and restrict sale to few cryogenic engines . It is another matter that this allowed India to master cryogenic technology on its own and today it is in a position to launch heavy satellites in space that in future could include manned space missions.

Technology Perspective

Before specifying technological gains for India it is important to highlight obligations under the regime. First is the issue concerning export controls? India will have to not only abide by export control norms specified in the regime but more importantly bring changes to its own export control laws to meet MTCR obligations. It could be a double edged issue which on one hand could restrict Indian exports to non MTCR countries on the other it will make technological access easy owing to complimentary obligations and export control commitments.

Once India is admitted into the Group, all such cases of transfers of technology will not face sanctions and technically India will be in a position to import and export missile and drone technologies. This does not however mean blanket availability; countries controlling technologies will make both political and strategic judgments in terms of impact of the technologies and the end user concerns, in the final analysis it will be a dominant political decision facilitated by larger geo strategic calculations.

It is in the above context, mutuality of strategic interests and growing Indo – US defence relations as a major defence partner could assist India in getting cutting edge technologies which would not have been possible earlier. To highlight the issue sight two specific cases.

India has been developing long endurance drones namely “Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE)” and “High Altitude Long Endurance Drones (HALE)” called Rustom I and II with on station endurance capabilities from weeks to a month. India has been facing some critical technological issues in their development. With India now being member of the MTCR group and even more importantly major defence partner it will be possible to get these technologies from the US or to collaborate with other MTCR partners in seeking those technologies.
Next is the cruise missile technology. No doubt India is justifiably proud of its supersonic jointly India – Russian developed “Brahmos” cruise missile, however it’s range had to be perforce curtailed to under 300 Km to meet the norms of the MTCR as India was not a member. Today it is the only operational cruise missile apart from limited import of Klub missiles for the navy which too adhere to MTCR norms. Pakistan on the other hand shorn of any such restrictions developed 400 Km range Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) Babur and 700 Km range Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) Raad with active Chinese support and technology both being non members. Similarly China has developed multiple air, sea and land attack cruise missiles with ranges of over 1500 Km and today form an integral pat of its AA/AD strategy.
In India’s case indigenous development of “Nirbhay” cruise missile of proposed 1000 Km plus range has been delayed owing to several technological limitations. Theoretically it will now be possible to bridge these technological gaps with technology transfers from US and others.

Another issue is the proposed sale of “Brahmos” to Vietnam and other countries. With both India and Russia being member states it will draw little attention. To that extent help in meeting Indian arms export targets an important aspect of the current governments defence policy. No doubt however that such sale will be subject of larger geo strategic calculations in particular regional geo strategic calculations. This is something that India alone will take a call, based on its regional interests. China factor as it is sought to be played in the above specific sale has little relevance as China itself has not hesitated in providing similar and more lethal weapons to Pakistan and other Indian neighbours.

There has also been much hype in the media about the MTCR clearing sale of Predators to India. Two issues are important, one as mentioned above if indigenous drones ‘Rustom’s’ technological problems can be resolved under DTTI or other bilateral initiatives then there maybe requirement at best to buy limited number of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles either of Predator variety or Heron TP from Israel as an interim arrangement. Indian interest should not be so much in a particular system but technology. There is however no doubt that India needs multiple variety and range of drones whose development can best be expedited thru easier technology imports.

Finally it is important to note admission into MTCR is a major development that will give a fillip to India’s indigenous missile and space programs. More importantly it recognizes India being a credible stakeholder. Actual transfer of technologies nevertheless will be subject to number of political and constraints of balance of power equations. To that extent, MTCR only opens doors and needs to be seen as a technology facilitator.

India and Japan : A Symbiotic Mutualism Relationship

By Somindu.S.
Ahmedabad, 12 December 2015

The short yet most path breaking Abe’s visit inspired me to look at some of the parallel developments and how Modi-Abe partnership is transforming the bilateral relationship and who are the key people to watch for.

Modi is fond of PPP model and incidentally Prabhu, Parikaar and Piyush (PPP) are cornerstone of ‘Make in India’ through their respective portfolio. Coupled with Modiplomacy led by Sushma Swaraj, the team is working hard to transform India. Unfortunately our friends in mainstream media do not even find amusing to focus on this. Let us take case of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Japan.

Prabhu’s Japan Visit


When Suresh Prabhu visited Japan in low profile short September visit, he was surprised how Japan received him. While everyone knows Japan was keen for Shinkansen project after losing out one in Indonesia, what Prabhu wanted was more than that. He was very candid in his interactions with his Japanese counterparts. He clearly told them, if I see you as partner then I want you to be my partner in many other things also not just Shinkansen. In his one daylong interaction with various stakeholders he shared his vision on India-Japan rail cooperation. The meetings ranged from industry heads to financial institutes to Government heads and R&D departments and with his counterpart ministers. Everywhere Prabhu presented his ideas as per the positions of counterparts.

Japanese sides were all keen ears. In normal old days, they would be polite not to confront nor agree but would tell him what more India had to do and then things would remain status quo. Indian officers would then blame it on over cautious Japan and minister would return.

Speed of Bullet Train:


But this time, something spectacular was about to happen. Next morning, Railway Minister went to meet PM Abe and to his surprise he saw many of the familiar faces by the sides of Abe. The same people with whom he had long discussion yesterday. Abe made his team read out what Japan would be willing to offer. To Prabhu’s pleasant surprise it enlisted all the points shared by Prabhu in such beautiful way that he never even thought of. Starting from tech transfer on existing Rail infrastructure to R&D cooperation to extremely attractive loan.

To put the things in perspective not only this was unprecedented but also would be path changing. Elated Prabhu told Abe. “Mr. Prime minister there is a race of speed now. I am not sure, what is faster, speed of Bullet Train or Indo-Japan relationship”. Abe could only smile and it conveyed that besides speed Japan is also known for reliability and safety. Prabhu told his counterpart which echoed both Modi and Abe’s vision on India-Japan relationship. In bilateral relations globally, there are no two countries that can claim a bond that India and Japan shares. Prabhu emphasized this point and explained that many a time when you negotiate with other countries, you initially have to spend energy in negating some past negatives before you can move to work on positives. With Japan and India there is zero negatives and hence we can put our energy on constructing the positives.

The Crisis of Past


Having said that, it is a time to look at another aspect of India-Japan relationship.

To people who have been following Indo-Japan relationship know that all was well on surface but if you dig deeper, India was a very far country for Japan.

While there were no negatives, there were no common positives as well. The relationship hit the lowest nadir and suddenly India looked bad for Japanese leadership in 1998 just after Vajpayee government did the Pokhran test. Japan being only country in the world to be have gone through the horrors of nuclear attack are always sensitive. But what surprised the world especially Indian authorities was reaction of Japanese PM Hashimoto (a known Sinofile, or China sympathizer). He condemned India in most stern words and also joined sanctions. This was the toughest time for India-Japan relationship. There was one officer in Indian Embassy in Tokyo the Deputy chief of Mission. He worked arduously behind the scene with officers in Delhi. While Vajpayee Govt was busy in bringing America in tune with changing world geo political reality. The Japan team was busy in dousing the unexpected fire.

The man on Mission The deputy chief of mission then was Mr. S. Jaishankar. The quiet upright man with impeccable understanding of Japan, (his wife’s home country), was working hard to restore the normalcy in India-Japan relations.

While India was getting USA on her side, political wind in Japan was also flowing differently. Hashimoto had to resign and subsequently Mori faction of Liberal Democratic Party won the mandate, let by Mori himself. India by the time realized to have friends across political spectrum to keep bilateral relations not getting hijacked. Jaishankar worked very hard behind the scene to do the same. New breed of young politicians and some old who were scared of China’s might saw sense in India’s resurgence. Current PM Abe then was young politician but like Modi he was also post war born leader and had a very different idea on India. Jaishankar had found a good friend in him. Jaishankar and his team finally succeeded when PM Mori landed in Delhi in year 2000 and told Vajpayee that India and Japan were now strategic partners. Interestingly today in Joint press conference Jaishankar as India’s foreign secretary was in the midst of action where Modi and Abe announced that India-Japan strong relationship is unparalleled in the world now. He must be happy to know how far the relationship has travelled and he now as foreign secretary has to build on a strong foundation.

The Author Diplomat


In 2012, Narendra Modi as CM of Gujarat, on July 26 visited Kansai region and was received by extremely energetic Consulate General of Osaka. The pleasant diplomat was one of the few who had a very good command over language and was popular among both Japanese and Indian community. Vikas Swarup the Oscar fame author and wonderful communicator was in charge as consulate general (CG) of Osaka. Modi landed in Osaka in afternoon from Nagoya. In short time available to him at Kansai, CG Swarup had arranged plentiful. The first program was round-table interaction with Industry captains of Kansai region (whose economy is bigger than Canada). So impressed was Modi with this program that he spoke out of turn in the end to thank profoundly CG and organizing bank that gave him an opportunity to meet investors directly and learn few things from them. The stay in Kansai was very different from Tokyo and very warm for Modi. A town hall meeting with Indian community to next day official visit to Hyogo Prefecture, CG had done his job to the perfection. Now as a chief Spokesperson of India, Vikas Swarup is close to PMO, and he remains India’s finest communicator. His credentials were so high with Japan that even previous PM Manmohan Singh entrusted him to negotiate successfully for historic visit of Emperor couple’s visit to India. No doubt when it comes to Japan, he is another person Modi can lean on.

And the Gujju Connection:


Gujarat and Japan has deeper connection when it comes to student exchange. Gujarat university and Osaka’s Otemon Gakuin University has one of the oldest student exchange program running for last 46 years now. Every year two students from India and Japan spend three months in respective countries. The program has produced many Indofile and Japanofile over a long period. Early 80s, a student named Sujan Chinoy visited Japan under the exchange program and did exceedingly well. Later he joined foreign services and has been India’s one of the best diplomats with versatility in many sports, arts and language. His closest stint to Japan came, when he was Consulate General of India in Shanghai.

December 3, 2015 he took position of Ambassador designate to Japan. (he is yet to go through the credential formalities, due to PM Abe’s visit). Long back, there were two other ambassadors from India Dr. Seth and Dr. Asrani who went to Japan as a student. H. E. Chinoy will actually be the first from India to have deep understanding of both Japanese and Chinese. In fact he is the only Indian diplomat with hands on experience on national security and China of more than two decades. He is man of action and has left lasting impression wherever he has been posted. His last posting was in Mexico. Not only it will be easier for him to communicate with Japanese in their own language, he will be able to do the same smooth and candid talking with Indian PM in his own mother tongue. The next 2-3 years are very crucial as Japan breaks out of old mold and makes unprecedented exception for India. India will have to equally flexible. Be it defense cooperation or civil nuclear technology, something totally unthinkable even five years back is taking shape. I would say Ambassador Chinoy’s posting has indeed come at a right time. Considering his counterpart in India H. E. Hiramatsu is policy veteran and security expert, India and Japan would be looking to break many status quo within their own policies and push governments from both ends to do more.

I would like to conclude by quoting PM Abe’s words. “A strong India is good for Japan and Strong Japan is good for India”. There is nothing that describes better a symbiotic relationship of mutualism than this statement. The two nations complement each other in perfect ways. Both Japan and India have common problem in China. Both the nations have one neighbor respectively who is source of nuclear weapon. On economy front, Japan’s ageing population needs India’s young talent and huge pile of Japan’s underutilized Capital needs a better deployment option such as for India’s Infrastructure needs.

For many years, Aid from Japan was single point in Indian diplomacy. In recent years, Investment joined Aid. Now as we Usher in Modi-Abe Era, the relationship has truly become multifold. From make in India to Malabar exercise, From Defense cooperation to DFC, from UN reforms to Uniting against Chinese hegemony in Ocean routes. A lot is on the plates. I can only say the Symbiotic relationship of mutualism is only going to go stronger.

Courtesy: Desh Gujarata Website

India and Africa

African and Indian ties are old as the story of mankind. Mankind is generally believed to have originated in Africa, from where it migrated to the other parts of the world, but first to South Asia across the Arabian peninsula and Southern Iran, about 80000 years ago, according to the genetic evidence analyzed by Luigi Cavalli Sforza and Stephen Oppenheimer. Closer to the present, the common experience of Africa and India with European colonialism gave them bonds of language, law, tradition and commerce that strongly bind them, as both regions strive to break out of the cycle of poverty and backwardness.

Africa is the second-largest and second most populous continent on earth with an estimated population in 2015 of 1.166 billion people. Africa is home to 54 sovereign states and countries. The total GDP African continent is now over $2.80 trillion and growing at over 5% annually. This pace of growth will ensure that most African countries will be “middle income” by 2025. The projected GDP of Africa in 2050 is $29 trillion, placing it in the same range as India’s projected 2050 GDP. This is projected to be anywhere between $33-55 trillion then depending on the growth trajectory and economic policies adopted. Clearly those who ignore Africa can now do so only at their own cost. The two fastest growing economies, China and India are already major partners in Africa’s growth; 12.5% of Africa’s exports are to China, and 4% are to India, which accounts for 5% of China’s imports and 8% of India’s. This will only rise, and India’s especially due to its faster growth trajectory and historical and geographical proximity to Africa.

The World Bank estimated in 2011 that 32.7% of Indians were living on less than US$1.25 per day while in Africa it was estimated to be around 47.5%. Together, nearly 900 million people in India and Africa live in extreme poverty – almost 70% of the worldwide total. Strong economic growth over the past decade has made significant inroads into poverty. In the past decade, India and Africa posted average GDP growth rates of 7.4% and 5.7%, respectively. Nearly 10% of Africa’s population escaped absolute poverty while India recorded even faster poverty reduction, with nearly 17% its population exiting extreme poverty.

The Indian growth story since 2000 has taken the country to the third rank in global GDP’s in PPP terms. By 2050 India’s GDP is expected to be the largest, as its favorable demographics will endow it with the world’s biggest middle class. In the next four decades 180 million Indian families will join its middle class, making it the largest expansion ever of the middle class in the world. The global growth story is now jumping continents.

Africa is now being tipped as the global economic growth engine of the coming decades. Its vast natural wealth and favorable demographic profile are expected to turn the continent as a whole into a growth engine that is expected to run faster than any of the world’s current economic powerhouses, including China, Brazil and India.

Within Africa a handful of countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique, Ghana and Zambia have caught the attention of economists and businessmen alike because of their improved infrastructure, natural resources, pool of skilled manpower and relative political and institutional stability. These countries stand out as the source of the greatest economic opportunity.

In the past decade, India and Africa posted average GDP growth rates of 7.4% and 5.7%, respectively. Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to grow at 5.6% and India at 6.3% in the next five years. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that six of the ten highest growing economies between 2012 and 2017 will be African economies. India and the African continent are also home to growing middle classes. Rapid urbanization, rising disposable income and connectivity have triggered off unprecedented economic activity and growth in the two regions, and have made them the new engines of global growth, along with a somewhat fading China. While Chinese growth is expected to slow down even further, Indian and African growths are poised to keep increasing for the next few decades, given their favorable dependency ratios.

Indian and African trade is as old as recorded history itself. There is much evidence that the Indus Valley civilization had trade links with African countries that were fellow littorals of the Arabian Sea. Arab seafarers joined Indian and African markets and production centers and a brisk exchange of goods and people ensued. Nature favored the establishment and expansion of this trade as the seasonal monsoon winds favored relatively swift and safe to and fro passages. Indian merchants were quick to take advantage of this and scoured the eastern seaboard of Africa in search of gems, gold and ivory. East African mangrove poles too were a favorite item due to their length and mechanical properties that made them especially suitable as roof supports in buildings.
Over the centuries, the merchant kingdoms of Sindh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Konkan and Malabar traded with East African merchant states such as Barawa, Kismayu, Kilwa, Sofala and Mombasa. Consequently the Indian silver rupee or sikka became the currency in that sprawling area and kept this status even during the European colonial period. Swahili which developed as a lingua franca throughout Eastern Africa is a mixture of Arabic and native languages with many loan words from Hindustani.
Africa also attracted an Indian diaspora, some of it forced, but which is now very much a part of the nations it has made its own. This population is now in excess of 2.16 million and is well placed in African societies in business, government, teaching and other professions, and now effectively bridges the two regions.
India’s modern day bilateral trade with Africa picked up late but despite this has been burgeoning at an exponential pace. It was a relatively modest $1 billion in 1995, but had risen to $35 billion in 2008, and the three following years it had scaled to $45 billion. This year it is expected to be in the region of $70 billion.
African exports to India have been growing annually at 32.2% while Indian exports to Africa grew annually at 23.6%. Consequently Africa’s trade surplus with India is rising rapidly, albeit driven in large part by a narrow range of suppliers and commodities. The top six African exporters, viz., Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco account for 89% of total African exports by value to India thanks mainly to exports of oil and gas, ores and gold. Crude oil and gas account for over 66% of exports to India, gold and other precious metals accounting for another 16% of exports, and most of the rest to import of fertilizers from Morocco, Egypt and Algeria.
Outside these top 6 African exporters, though a different picture emerges. India runs a trade surplus with 40 out of the 54 African countries. Trade is significantly more diversified at a product level and almost all exports from India have some degree of technological input.
India’s merchandise imports totaled $ 447.5 billion in 2015. Of this oil imports accounted for $116.4 billion and gold was $34.4 billion. Since 2000 when India’s GDP growth entered a different trajectory and took it to become the world’s third largest economy (PPP). India has also emerged as a major consumer of oil and gold. This has contributed to the huge expansion of Indian imports from Africa, particularly with West Africa.
The population of Africa has more than doubled in just the past three decades, giving it a very youthful demographic profile. More than half the population is less than 25 years old. The population of Africa is currently projected to quadruple in just 90 years, with a growth rate that will make Africa more important than ever to global economy and more.
A rapidly growing India not only needs more commodities from Africa but also needs its vast market to pay for them. Africa is thus a great economic opportunity for India, and rightly India has turned its focus towards enhancing its economic ties with Africa. Just as important is the realization that as India seeks a more important role in world affairs, it cannot remain indifferent to Africa’s 54 members in the UN.

Mohan Guruswamy
22 October 2015

Responding to Pakistan’s Challenge

By Brig. Arun Sahgal

Reams are being written about lack of India’s Pakistan policy or more specifically policy to impose costs for waging relentless proxy war through terrorist organizations, subversion in Kashmir and indigenous Indian organizations like SIMI and IM. These terrorist outfits are being subverted by ideologically driven radicalism.

This is coming about in the face of open provocations by the likes of Hamid Gul who are challenging India to respond in kind if it has the gumption. NSA, in his recent remarks in Mumbai has talked about ‘proportionate response’ to Pakistani provocations but the larger question is options in the face of calculated Pakistan strategy of provoking India.

Years of neglect and impervious political decision making has resulted in non development of credible asymmetric capabilities even as Pakistan continues to blame India for activities in Karachi or Baluchistan. There is no point in crying over spilt milk, these asymmetric capabilities will require time and political resolve to develop. This leaves India very much with the option of punitive conventional response. There is a tendency among the strategic community which percolates to policy makers that conventional Indian response that could provoke Pakistan’s nuclear thresholds. This notion needs detailed analysis and Pakistan’s bluff called.

India needs to unequivocally declare that India’s see’s unabated proxy war as breakdown of conventional deterrence and reserves the right to appropriate military response. Mere articulation will not be enough? India’s standoff military or what is euphemistically called “non contact” capabilities must be exploited and demonstrated. This will require close coordination between intelligence agencies and the armed forces. Possible option could be targeting various elements of terror network and their support structures which can be internationally highlighted as state sponsored. No doubt there will be noise and brinkmanship by Pakistan and even some military action, it will be important for Indian state to not only ride these out but inflict retaliatory punitive costs. What is being proposed is cross border strikes on targets (not merely camps) which India believes supports the terror network.

Second is developing capability and capacities for “Myanmar Raid” like operation. Action will be required to degrade surveillance and communication systems, backed by credible force insertion capability. Without going into too much details idea is to demonstrate will and resolve. These actions must be initiated in the backdrop of limited mobilization of conventional forces and quick response if so required. There is no doubt that Pakistan will respond by some sort of military action however surprise and speed of action backed by credible retaliatory capability will provide requites payoffs. This will require orchestration of operations both at military and national levels including diplomatic shaping of environment. The notion that Pakistan is operating on interior lines is a myth. With recent redeployments in Northern and Western commands adequate forces are available for quick response backed by credible and deterrent air power, which must be the backbone given are relative air superiority.
There are many other options which can be considered to demonstrate Indian will and resolve. These no doubt have escalatory nuances, but what is the point of raving about conventional superiority if it cannot be leveraged. There is perception in Pakistani military elites whom the author has been meeting in Track II Dialogues over last three years that India has no response to proxy war and conventional escalation can be checkmated by battlefield nuclear weapons. It is this myth India will have to challenge and debase. No doubt it carries a risk but sooner than later Indian state will have to demonstrate this resolve if it does want to be subsumed by rising tide of radicalism and Pakistan’s state sponsored terror. If any lessons are to be drawn we should look at what happened in 1971 war and how Pakistani forces capitulated against Indian manoeuvre and resolve. The doctrine of ‘retribution’ already stands vindicated in the NATO and American air strikes against ISIL in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
Perception of Sino – Pak collusion is overplayed particularly the two front war. Chinese are pragmatic; they realize the scenario of ongoing India – Pakistan confrontation is going to be harmful to its one road – one belt policy on which hinges its economic development and extended sphere of influence. Any precipitate action by Chinese will surely and firmly push India into American camp a development which will be grievous to its Asian and global ambitions. Pakistan it must be realized is a bit player with nuclear weapons, who’s utility in the “Great Asian Game” at best is marginal. From Chinese perspective strong Indian economic and military power which is antagonistic to China will be antithesis to its ambitions. Therefore it will be nuanced player which can be balanced by broader Indo – Pacific partnerships that India is attempting to evolve. Put simply there are limits to which China will go in supporting Pakistan?

So coming back to Pakistan, I am afraid in the developing scenario, India should go through the current round of bilateral negotiations with Pakistan impressing upon them the consequences of its support to cross border terror and the proxy war. It is very unlikely Pakistan will take heed, knowing a little about their thinking and mindset. It is when they try and exploit our perceived weakness India should retaliate suddenly, resolutely and without respite. Message of retribution and costs must be driven home.

Last word; such a policy or option cannot succeed without bipartisan support. This is an imperative. In its resolve to take military action perpetrated by Pakistan; nation must stand firm and united. Unless we develop such credible response capability and political resolve India will continue to bleed not only in J&K or Punjab but across its length and breadth. Indian dream will be truly and fully become unrealizable.

Brig Arun Sahgal, PhD (Retd)
Executive Director
Forum for Strategic Initiative
E Mail – brigarun.sahagl@gma

China-India Growth Inversion & GDP gap

By Dr. Arvind Virmani

The long anticipated deceleration in rate of the growth of China’s economy is under way. Even normally conservative World Bank and IMF, are confirming that China’s growth is slowing down and is likely to fall below 7%. Even those analysts who had forecast a deceleration in China’s growth were unsure about when exactly the slowdown would start. The author had estimated in the 2000s that China’s growth would decelerate below 8 per cent, around the middle of the decade starting 2010. The global financial crisis of 2008 sharply raised the probability that the slow down would occur within the following decade, despite risky efforts by China to prop up growth.
In contrast India was forecast to achieve its potential growth rate of about 8 per cent, given its Export-import neutral growth model. The surprise in India’s case was the sharp slowdown from 2011-12, largely attributed to complacency and domestic policy mistakes. Despite these mistakes, however, India’s growth rate from 2002-03 to 2013-14 was among the ten highest in the world (using the old data series). Though, the correction of these mistakes, may no longer be enough to restore growth to earlier levels, India can and must restore growth to the average rates achieved earlier. Again, this has been recognized by both the World Bank and the IMF. These two developments taken together, imply that India trend growth rate is poised to exceed that of China’s in the next few decades.
GDP Levels vs Growth rate
This will start the long, slow process of closing the GDP gap with China, which was 1.4 times India’s real GDP in 2013. There is a common tendency to confuse relative levels of GDP with growth rates, so it is important to understand that China’s real GDP measured at Purchasing power parity in 2011 international dollars is now 2.4 times that of India’s. The two economies were almost equal at the end of 1980s (China’s GDPppp was 1.1 times India’s in 1990). During 1990 to 2013 China’s growth rate averaged 9.9% per annum, 3.4 per cent points faster than India’s 6.5% average. Even if the growth differential was inverted (ie China grew at 3.4% points slower than India ie -3.4%), it would take 30 years to close the GDP gap, double the time it took to open this gap.
Previous Growth Forecasts
The basic theory and empirics of growth, show that fast growing economies like Japan, S Korea, Singapore and Thailand, which grew fast when they were at low or middle income levels of per capita GDP, maintained growth at high levels for one to two decades and then slowed down as their per Capita GDP approached that of the (lower end) of the High Income economies. The surprise in the case of China was that it maintained an average growth of almost 10% for thirty years, despite reaching middle income levels of per capita GDP about a decade ago. Many analysts, whose predictions about China’s growth deceleration had been proved wrong in the 1990s, became much more cautious thereafter. Those of us who were willing to take a reputational risk, have been proved right, as China’s economy slowed below 8% in 2012 and is now projected to slow below 7% by the multilateral institutions.
The global financial crisis ensured that growth of World trade would slow sharply below the very high growth seen in the previous decade, aided by a correction of the bubble like growth seen just prior to the crisis. This meant that China’s (net) export-investment model was no longer sustainable and would produce slower growth in the 2010s. To delay this slowdown China pumped large amounts of credit into the economy, with the official Debt-Gdp ratio rising from 55.2% of GDP in 2008 to 88.1% in 2013, an average increase of 6.6% points of GDP per annum. Analysts have estimated that the debt in the shadow banking system may have increased by an equivalent amount, with total debt rising to dangerously risky levels. Based on historical experience of such debt bubbles, some analysts predict that this bubble is likely to burst and reduce China’s growth rate to 3 to 4% range. Analysts who have greater confidence in the ability of the Chinese Communist party to manage economic crisis, nevertheless predict a deceleration of the trend rate of growth to a range of 6% to 7%. A gradual growth slow down to 5 to 6 per cent rate over the next 10 years is quite possible.
Comparative Growth
Based on World Bank, World Development Indicators data till 2013 (till which year India’s GDP base 2004-5 was fully available), we can examine and compare the growth rates of China & India. A plot of these rates shows that the growth rate difference has been narrowing since 1990, due to a gradual deceleration of China and a stronger acceleration of India. Underlying this narrowing growth difference are variables that are drivers of, or correlated with, GDP growth and productivity. These include FDI and exports, which are indicators of competitiveness and Imports which reflect openness.
The difference between China and India’s FDI-GDP ratio has been on a declining trend, from about 3.5% of GDP in 1990 to a little over 2% of GDP in 2013. Underlying this is slow but steady progress in attracting technology and risk capital to India, with a milder decline in China’s attractiveness. China’s Export GDP ratio which was 8 per cent points higher than India’s in 1990, rose 10% points to an average of 18% during 2005 to 2007. It then narrowed rapidly to about 1% in 2013, indicating that India’s exports have held up to the global decline in world trade since 2008, much more effectively than China’s. The difference between China and India’s Import-GDP, which fluctuated around an average of 7.1% points between 1990 and 2007 declined dramatically to -5.2% by 2011-13, indicating that the Indian economy is now significantly more open than China’s.
Base Change Implications
Analysis and forecasting of Indian growth has been confounded by the appearance of a new GDP series (2011 base) which has made some fundamental changes in methodology and data sources used. As this new series provides less than three years of growth data it is impossible to estimate the underlying trend growth rate using this series. After the mid-year 2014 budget I had written that “The measures taken in the budget will be sufficient to increase growth by about 1 per cent point over the last year’s 4.7% to 5.7%. Actualization of some of the measures indicated in the budget will however be necessary to raise growth to the 6.5 to 7% range in 2015-16.” Given that the average growth rate as per the new data is about 1% point above that, using the new data, a projected growth rate of 7.5% to 8% is quite conservative. This seems to be the reasoning underling the World Bank’s and IMF’s projections for India’s growth in 2015 and 2016.
The CSO has however projected a growth rate of 7.4% for 2014-15 and a growth acceleration to 8% in 2015-16 would not be wildly optimistic. As many observers have pointed out however, high frequency data, such as the Index of Industrial production for manufacturing, quarterly results for companies and tax revenues from excise and corporate income tax, do not appear consistent with these high growth levels. The author has argued in the policy paper, “Indian Growth Puzzle,” that the global financial crisis (GFC) and the consequent global demand recession and excess capacity, have affected not only the export led Chinese economy, but also the globally competitive and connected corporate sector of India. Thus, post GFC, the GCC corporations will lag overall recovery, instead of leading it, as they did in 2002-3 to 2007-8. Thus all indicators connected with these companies, such as IIP, corporate profits, corporate & excise tax revenue would also lag the GDP recovery. The Indian Government needs to be aware of this issue and be prepared to manage expenditures subject to a slower recovery in tax revenues.
Based on the theory and empirical evidence provided by high growth economies, some analysts had predicted since the 2000s, a slowing of the Chinese economy during the decade of the 2010s to rate of growth below that of the Indian. By making the export-investment led strategy of development unviable, the global financial crises made this highly likely if not inevitable. It was also assumed in the forecasts that the Indian government would continue to carry out the minimum reforms necessary to maintain India’s growth rate at an average of the previous decade. Because of complacency and policy mistakes by the Indian Government between 2010 and 2012, the Indian economy, faltered seriously. The corrections introduced in the last two years, have restored some of the momentum. However, sustained growth of 8 to 8.5% over the next few decades requires implementation of the reform agenda and continuing sensitivity to shocks that can derail growth, given that the World environment is far from conducive to sustained high growth. If this is done we should expect to see India growing faster than China and beginning to close the wide gap that has opened between the per capita GDP of the two countries.
A version of this article appeared as the Lead article in the Hindu dated 29th April 2015 under the banner, “Tracking Two Growth Stories.” http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/india-and-china-tracking-two-growth-stories/article7151377.ece

5 things Modi should understand about China

By Srikanth Kondapalli. Posted on 5th May 2015

‘While visits and personal meetings are useful, changes of strategic significance have occurred recently with Beijing trying to take the lead, which Modi must take note of.’Srikanth Kondapalli warns of the pitfalls that await the prime minister as he prepares to visit China.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is no stranger to China, having visited that country four times previously as Gujarat chief minister. Hence, his visit to China this fortnight is expected to be smooth. He has also met with the current political dispensation in China at various fora.He met President Xi Jinping at Fortaleza in Brazil at the BRICS meeting on July 14 last year; during Xi’s visit to India in September; at the G-20 meeting in Australia, and with Premier Li Keqiang at Naypyidaw, Myanmar, at the East Asian Summit last November.Meetings with State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi must have also provided the prime minister with a peek into the Chinese thinking process.

While these visits and personal meetings are useful in the ‘learning curve’ on China, a number of changes of strategic significance have occurred recently, with Beijing trying to take the lead.First, Modi needs to understand that tactical measures will not suffice to address China’s current strategic rise. China has grown to such an extent that it is today trying to actively influence global and regional environments and reshape the system to its advantage. It is reviving the Middle Kingdom phenomenon.

Of late, China is surprising the international community with its grand initiatives, even as it provides the least inclination to the international community about its real intentions.

Xi’s May 2014 CICA Summit meeting speech on Asia for Asians or the continental and maritime Silk Roads initiatives in 2013, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2014 and the Bandung Conference speech in April 2015 are the latest.

Moreover, in a strident note, Xi, in a speech on foreign policy in November 2014, vowed to protect China’s ‘legitimate rights and interests,’ ‘protect China’s overseas interests and continue to improve our capacity to provide such protection’ and oppose ‘the arbitrary use or threat of force’ — indicating China’s expanded missions in global domains, including in areas of Indian influence.

Second, Modi needs to understand that the ground reality in Asia is changing fast. China’s outwardly Monroe Doctrine has held sway over the East and South China Seas, where its anti-access and area denial strategies have imposed high costs on the United States even as the regional powers are too busy fending for themselves.

Towards the western regions, China’s initiatives today have integrated these regions to feed into China’s rise. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan today are too dependent on China to follow autonomous policies. Smaller countries like Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, Malaysia, Mongolia and others are engrossed with domestic issues and worried about Chinese wrath.

In other words, China is looking for regional satraps in this global and regional transition period. India then has to be clear-headed on the tectonic shifts unfolding in Asia currently and at a minimum see that it is not marginalised.

While asymmetries in power between Beijing and New Delhi are increasing, India should understand that even though similar asymmetries in power existed between the US and China, the latter elicited concessions from Washington.

Third, Modi needs to understand that China follows the policy of ‘talking sweetly, yielding none’ on contentious bilateral issues. This is generally adopted to buy time or influence and soften the other side through business deals.

For instance, the ‘breakthrough’ visits by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1954 and Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 hardly yielded positive results for India on contentious issues like Kashmir, the territorial dispute, Pakistan and on others.

Indeed, when then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee raised the issue of the Sakshgam Valley (which Pakistan transferred to China in 1963) at the commanders conference in 2000, China has since almost shut down any concrete discussion on the territorial dispute with India.

Fourth, Modi needs to understand that with China’s rise there has also been a rise in its Cold War mentality. Many officials, scholars and media personnel in China, in the light of the two decades of high growth rates, as well as due to China’s traditional policy of balancing India with Pakistan, sport a Cold War mentality towards India. Unfortunately, one finds very few sane voices in China on India.

Fifth, Modi needs to understand that China follows a liangshou (two hands — soft and hard) approach of blowing hot and cold, sometimes simultaneously. In the run-up to Prime Minister Modi’s visit, several statements from China indicated the revival of ‘India as an important neighbour’, ‘emerging country’ in addition to the traditional slogans on being ‘large neighbours’, ‘civilisational States’ and the like.

Beyond this veneer, India needs to act based on any attempts by China to changes borders, the Indian Ocean or in other areas.

Srikanth Kondapalli is Professor in Chinese Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Courtesy: Rediff.com

Asia’s Coming Nuclear Nightmare

David Brewster
March 31, 2015

While the world focuses on the dangers that a nuclear-armed Iran could present in the Middle East, a potentially more dangerous and unstable nuclear proliferation is occurring in the Indian Ocean.

In the coming years India, Pakistan, and perhaps China will likely deploy a significant number of nuclear weapons at sea in the Indian Ocean. This could further destabilize already unstable nuclear relationships, creating a real risk of a sea-based exchange of nuclear weapons.

Observers have long seen India-Pakistan nuclear rivalry as the most unstable in the world, and South Asia as the most likely location of nuclear conflict. This is not just academic speculation. Foreign diplomats have been evacuated from Islamabad on several occasions from fears of an impending nuclear exchange with India.

(Recommended: The Most Dangerous Nuclear Threat No One Is Talking About)

India has a “no first use” (NFU) nuclear-weapons policy of sorts, although it is increasingly subject to caveats and exceptions. But Islamabad refuses to adopt an NFU policy and indeed has announced a long list of actions that it claims would justify a nuclear response against India. Pakistan is also busy miniaturizing its nuclear weapons for tactical use, thus reducing the threshold for Pakistani nuclear action.

Importantly, Pakistan sees its nuclear arsenal not only as a deterrent but also as an enabler, providing an umbrella under which it can sponsor sub-conventional attacks against India. In the face of terrorist attacks such as those in Mumbai in 2008, Delhi has found its options constrained by concerns about a possible Pakistani nuclear response. But few are confident that India’s restraint can be maintained in the face of another serious cross-border attack that is proved to have been sponsored by Pakistan.

Both India and Pakistan are now in the process of moving their nuclear weapons capabilities into the maritime realm.

India is the furthest down this track, having launched its first indigenous nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant in 2009 (expected to be commissioned this year); it is also in the process of building two more so-called SSBNs. Further, India is developing nuclear-tipped Dhanush short range ballistic missiles for deployment on offshore patrol vessels. India has leased a nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine and has plans to construct up to six more SSNs (unlike SSBNs, SSNs are not armed with nuclear ballistic missiles). Pakistan is following India’s lead, having recently established a Naval Strategic Force Command Headquarters with the declared intention of developing a sea-based deterrent. This may involve nuclear-armed conventional submarines supplied by China, rather than SSBNs.

Some nuclear weapons states have created a nuclear “triad” in order to have an assured second strike capability. While such an assured capability can help stabilize a nuclear relationship, according to a recent Carnegie report, taking the India-Pakistan nuclear dynamic into the maritime realm may in fact create greater instability.

One issue is an ambiguous mix of conventional and nuclear capabilities at sea, including the deployment of nuclear missiles on Pakistani conventional submarines and on Indian missile boats. Uncertainty over whether a platform is carrying nuclear weapons creates a risk of an inadvertent but highly escalatory attack on an opponent’s nuclear capability. Another concern is that maritime nuclear capabilities could lower Pakistan’s already low nuclear threshold. Islamabad may be tempted to conduct a demonstration nuclear attack at sea, believing it will not be escalated on land. A further problem is Pakistan’s reported propensity to delegate nuclear authority to field commanders, which could create considerable risks if submarine communications are interrupted.

Courtesy: The National Interest

A new era for nuclear power?

For decades, the U.S. nuclear power industry has stood at a virtual standstill, a victim of economics and fears over safety. But as President Barack Obama prepares to issue new carbon-emission regulations targeting the power industry, nuclear companies are hoping a new era is upon them.

With high-profile advocates like former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christie Whitman on board, the industry is embarking on a very public campaign arguing nuclear must be part of any national energy plan. To accomplish that, it wants to examine amending power and licensing regulations to encourage nuclear and speed up construction.

From the $6 billion to $8 billion cost of a new reactor in this country to the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, nuclear faces an uphill climb domestically. Perhaps no hurdle is greater than wholesale power prices, which have fallen nationally as U.S. hydraulic fracturing operations have flooded the country with cheap natural gas.

The U.S. has five new reactors under construction in South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. But with power prices low, any plans for further construction have been put on hold. Also, the future of the country’s 61 nuclear plants, many of which were built in the 1970s, is falling into doubt as facilities come up for relicensing and will probably require costly upgrades.

The president’s call for a 30 percent cut in emissions by the U.S. power industry is expected to force the closure of vast numbers of coal-fired plants and cause a surge in wind and solar farm construction.

“Something like 65 percent of the existing coal fleet will not be operating. That’s (a lot) of electricity that needs to be replaced. Natural gas is going to supply the vast majority of that, but nuclear is going to have a place too,” said Dan Lipman, vice president of the trade group the Nuclear Energy Institute.

But the industry will face opposition. Nuclear remains a divisive issue among environmentalists. Some support it as a proven means to cut carbon emissions out of the nation’s power supply.

But there are many see its potential contamination risks as just too great to make it sensible.

“On nuclear, the environmental community is not a monolith. There are some groups that grew up around anti-nuclear protests,” said Jim Martson, Texas director of the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund.

Among an older generation of Americans, the partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania in 1979 remains a vivid memory.

Dale Klein, a professor at the University of Texas and former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said new technology designed to keep reactors cool even when a plant loses power — as happened at Fukushima — has greatly reduced the risk of a meltdown.

“One of the things people often forget about is any source of electrical generation has issues. The one that would kill the most people is hydroelectric. If a dam failed, you could take out 200,000 people very quickly,” he said. “You have to look at a risk-benefit comparison.”

Courtesy: Tyler Morning Telegraph

Chindia can drive 21st century Asia

By Swaran Singh, Posted on 27th April 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s successful visit to Pakistan this week, especially his promise to invest over $46 billion, compared to $20 billion he promised for India last year, has briefly revived the perennial “Pakistan factor” of China-India relations and it is likely to color the thinking of Indian interlocutors as they prepare for the coming China-India summit in Beijing in May.

What makes China’s continued indulgence of its “all-weather” strategic partner Pakistan seem such a formidable trend is the fact that, in the last five years, China’s trade with Pakistan grew from $9 billion to $16 billion.

Meanwhile, the continued insurmountable Sino-Indian trade deficit, which has now risen to nearly $40 billion, has made India overcautious on all counts, be it China’s financing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, providing Pakistan with eight submarines, or various assessments on how US exit from Afghanistan will bring China and Pakistan even closer and eclipse India’s unprecedented presence and investments in that country.

Though the Indian side will continue with its sworn policy of not discussing “Pakistan” with China, this high-profile visit of Xi to Pakistan will haunt its imagination and flexibility vis-a-vis Beijing. Knowing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s track record of deviating and emphatic language, this may even trigger some indirect reference to it and he may even offer some advice on how to address it.

Hopefully, given the Chinese track record, the leadership would understand India’s sensitivities. This is also because China fully understands Modi’s increasing eminence on the global scene and also the critical role that China and India must play in ensuring their unhindered rise as major players in the emerging geopolitics of Asia.

Besides, there are areas where China and India can evolve a shared understanding in addressing some of the challenges that flow from Pakistan’s continued internal instability and economic crisis.

Chinese leaders have repeatedly sought cooperation from Pakistan in addressing challenges from the East Turkestan Independence Movement. India likewise also needs cooperation of Pakistan in addressing continued violence in Kashmir. Given that all three see themselves as victims of terrorism, there must be a possibility of evolving some innovative trilateral strategies in addressing this menace. As of now, though, their perspectives continue to have enormous differences that need to be narrowed.

Both China and India fully understand that their rapid development is not possible without peaceful and stable neighborhood and how their rise remains integral to the progress made by their respective co-prosperity spheres. The fact that their co-prosperity spheres overlap a great deal provides them with shared responsibilities in developing not just bilateral cooperation but also planning joint strategies for various regional problems.

Shared infrastructure development may be one sure way of addressing these challenges. India shares this broader understanding and the two have developed a close partnership in forums like RIC (Russia-India-China), BRICS and elsewhere. India has become a founding member of China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The two have also evolved a shared understanding on developing the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. But the two also continue to carry the baggage of history, and their continuing irritants like repeated border incursions create extra difficulties on issues like the “One Belt and One Road” scheme, which can go hand in hand with India’s Mausam and Spice Route projects.

Given that both Xi and Modi see themselves as ordained to lead their national revival for at least a decade, patience and perseverance can surely make the twain meet on many more issue areas, reinforcing the Chindia paradigm as the driving force of the 21st century Asia.

The author is a professor of diplomacy & disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Courtesy: Global Times

What if there is no Asian arms race?

Anton Tsvetov, Posted on 27.04.2015

A top Chinese official said this week that the country’s military budget will grow 10 percent in 2015. The news added fuel to the ongoing discussion about the rumored Asian arms race, which could potentially spark a regional war. But when is an arms race not actually an arms race?

The media mainstream has long gotten used to the idea that East Asia is gradually slipping into a regional military conflict, with China pumping up its military capabilities and the smaller neighbors reacting with the same kind of trickery. The logic here is based on what political scientists call “the security dilemma.” The term describes a vicious cycle: by trying to enhance its own security, a country thus creates a threat to its adversaries, pushing them to do the same thing. This kind of escalation raises the stakes for the parties, urging one of them to break the cycle, for example, by attempting to destroy the other’s defense facilities beforehand.

Seems like this is the case for East Asia, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be reasonable for China to crush Vietnam or the Philippines before one of them gets a navy capable of defending its claims in the disputed waters of the South China Sea? After all, there is empirical confirmation of growing military expenditure among states of the region, which is especially frightening in the case of China with its swift technological advancement. Today, Beijing can boast the second-largest military budget in the world, even if we ignore speculation about the official figures being much smaller than the actual numbers.

However, not all experts are convinced that bullets are soon to fly. Merely spending more on weapons and armies does not mean going to war. The theory goes that we should start worrying only when governments start to trade basic government spending like infrastructure development or social security for tanks and warships. In other words, growing military spending is dangerous only if it is significantly disproportionate to economic growth. But if we take a look at the defense budget to GDP ratio for Asian states, the lines would actually be pretty flat.

The obvious reason for this is because for the last decade, the region was growing at a very fast tempo, with economies becoming more capable of sustaining adequate military spending. Moreover, a great deal of these budgets was spent on upgrading obsolete weaponry, and let’s be honest – with a serious corruption problem at hand, there wasn’t always enough bang for the buck.

Why a strong ASEAN is in Russia’s interests?
Some may call this blind optimism. After all, more weapons mean more destruction. But at the same time with rapid industrial growth, there is also more and more to lose for the hypothetical parties at war. Therefore, it would be reasonable for the seemingly ever-arming Asian states to avoid conflict with each other as they become better equipped to destroy each other.
The bottom line is that increasing military capabilities may paradoxically serve as a stabilizing factor for East Asia, creating equal pressure on the international security system. However, this balance is to be maintained by a rules-based environment, as well as with some sort of institutional oversight. Now here’s where Asia still has a problem. It is the lack of a fine-tuning mechanism that is the biggest hole in the regional security fabric.
It’s one thing when everyone has a gun, it’s much worse when there’s no sheriff in town.

Anton Tsvetov is Media and Government Relations Manager at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC). He tweets on Asian affairs and Russian foreign policy at @antsvetov. The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not reflect those of RIAC.

Courtesy: Russia Beyond Headlines