Collisions between major actors in the Far East are inevitable. The only question is what forms they will take and how intense they will become before an equilibrium is reached.
Consider the great industrial and developmental gap between Red China and India. Chin has increased steel production, now produces indigenous military hardware (of increasing quality), and has somewhat improved its public health even though it is still of third world quality by most measures. India has an burgeoning electronics industry, a highly educated upper class, but an ever present nemesis in the form of Pakistan, a nuclear armed adversary. For many decades Indian strategic military thinking was of necessity focused on Pakistan. Economic measures also place China ahead of India in retail sales consumption, lower inflation, lower unemployment (depending on how that is measured).
Central questions may be thus framed: how will India act/react as Red China continues its ascent? Will the Indian Navy cede Indian Ocean influence to China even though India has operational aircraft carriers, operational nuclear armed ICBMs and cruise-missile-bearing submarines? Will India's armed forces be agile and well organized enough to present a credible defense posture should the dragon's gaze wander into the sub-continent?
India has traditional (military supply) ties to the east bloc (primarily Russia) but the US has been selling military hardware to the Indian armed forces in increasing volume. If the US intends to create an Indian counterweight to Chinese expansion, will this effort be sufficient?
Assertions of US power in the Eastern Pacific/Indian Ocean may be over due considering the apparent contraction in American capability and will to project force. The US leaders ought to be careful in 2013 not to bite off more than they can chew if China's naval development continues unabated. In half a decade the US could see its ability to provide credible cover for Japan and Korea evaporate, leaving those two players to rethink what alliances make the most sense.
Questions, questions, and instead of answers all we have is more questions. We opine that a few things are certain. The world is shrinking ever more rapidly, and an unchecked red China will surely have expansionist ambitions in the Eastern Pacific and Southeast Asia. Resources can be had by many means, and we believe that a Pax-Sino would very much resemble the Pax Romana in its most severe imperial clothing. India's geopolitical presence in Western Asia is a formidable counterweight to Chinese expansion, but India has already been outflanked in Africa. Natural resources and trade access will be points of extreme friction as Chinese and India economic development increases.
Will the inevitable sparks ignite east-west flames? Only time will tell.
Accordingly, Russia’s Far Eastern outposts and the rise of China create a potential for collisions. Due to their size, the ramifications are significant. Time might prove this to have been the understatement of the decade. Whatever the future of the one-and-a-half million square kilometers that Czarist Russia took from decaying Imperial China, even if she wants to hug the sidelines, the US, as a power of the heavy weight class, cannot remain uninvolved. As the case of the islands between Viet Nam, the Philippines, Japan and National China tells, America’s involvement in the Pacific theater is growing. In discussing “significance”, the economy is a decisive element. While Europe declines with the “help” of its Euro, the value of its assets nose-dives. Among the advanced economies there, only non-members such as Switzerland and Norway are holding their own. Compare Europe with East Asia, and you hit on a sustainable decisive discrepancy.
The gap between India and China is widening in terms of values of most social indicators of living standards, such as life expectancy, infant mortality rate, mean years of schooling, the coverage of immunization. 97 percent of Chinese children are immunized with DPT vaccine, in contrast with India’s meagre figure of 66 percent.
India’s prime minister announced that he was ashamed of the fact that India still has many malnourished children despite being fastest economies of the world.
In the field of research and development, India has not made a dent yet. The fact that in 2011, 12.3% of residential patents registered in the world is from China , a massive increase in its registration , suggest that they are truly emerging as a world leader in innovation. Recently the world has been taken aback with China’s announcement of sending astronauts to the moon and sending a well designed space station after USA is abandoning its own.
As the world moves into the second decade of the 21st century, a new power rivalry is taking shape between India and China, Asia's two behemoths in terms of territory, population and richness of civilization. India's recent successful launch of a long-range missile able to hit Beijing and Shanghai with nuclear weapons is the latest sign of this development.
This is a rivalry born completely of high-tech geopolitics, creating a core dichotomy between two powers whose own geographical expansion patterns throughout history have rarely overlapped or interacted with each other. Despite the limited war fought between the two countries on their Himalayan border 50 years ago, this competition has relatively little long-standing historical or ethnic animosity behind it.
While on the surface Indian-Chinese relations appear to be improving (trade has increased eightfold in the last six years to almost $40 billion), both sides harbor deep suspicions of the other's strategic intentions. Signs of their deep-seated disagreements have begun to surface over the last two years and it is likely that such friction will continue, given their unsettled borders, China's interest in consolidating its hold on Tibet, and India's expanding influence in Asia. China has moved slowly on border talks and conducted several incursions into the Indian states of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh since January 2008.
Some Indian analysts believe that China is pursuing a two-pronged strategy of lulling India into complacency with greater economic interaction while taking steps to encircle India and undermine its security.