The growing China-India military rivalry over Arunachal PradeshApril 19, 2012
Namrata Goswami, writing for India’s Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, details the history of the Chinese claims of sovereignty of the peripheral Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. China’s claims are grounded in the historical ties of Arunachal Pradesh to Tibet, which China claims to be, not an independent sovereign state, but rather a historic and integral part of greater China which was rightfully reunified with the core in 1949. India followed this action by annexing Arunachal Pradesh in 1951, and there have been border skirmishes and boundary disputes between the two powers ever since. Goswami covers this history in her report.
Goswami then details the very large Chinese military buildup in and around Tibet, and outlines the danger that this presents to India. In addition to the overt military buildup, China’s aggressive infrastructure development in this remote region will give that nation the ability to rapidly mobilize troops to the border in the event of a future conflict, a definite advantage over India, which side of the border does not have a modern transportation system developed.
Goswami concludes with a list of policy options for the Indian government to take in order to prevent and/or prepare for any conflict with China over the region. India’s defense and infrastructure needs here presents an opportunity for the US to further deepen our developing ties with India. Goswami’s policy recommendations include infrastructure projects (especially roads and other transportation efforts) and the development of a military special forces contingent that can rapidly deploy to the region. After our experience in Afghanistan, the US military has more experience with fighting in high altitude regions than any high tech military in the world. A training program to share that experience with and to transfer relevant technologies to Indian forces would be an excellent way for the US to maintain its influence in South Asia even after the eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan.