Beijing’s erroneous claims about how New Delhi sees its neighbors are fascinatingly illuminated by a ten-year-old Chinese military paper that has just come to light. Zhanlue Xue, generally translated as “The Science of Military Strategy,” is a 372-page book that was released in 2013 by the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing.
The translation was done by the China Aerospace Studies Institute [CASI], which is situated at US Air University in Montgomery, Alabama. The document was created by the professors of the PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences with “very high-level review.”
The paper, among other things, outlines China’s strategy for India.
India’s military approach: What China misunderstands
The PLA paper makes reference to the ancient beliefs of Indian strategist Chanakya and states that New Delhi is significantly impacted by his traditional belief “that treated neighbors as enemies.”
This Chinese claim on Indian military tactics is utterly incorrect, according to experts.
Suyash Desai, a Taiwan-based researcher on China’s military and foreign policy, told WION that “this statement is a reflection of [China’s] limited understanding of Indian foreign policy or a deliberate attempt to create confusion.”
According to Anushka Saxena, Research Analyst with the Indo-Pacific Studies Programme at Bengaluru-based Takshashila Institution, India has historically used military and economic coercion in its near neighborhood to protect its national security objectives.
For instance, India was worried when Nepal bought Chinese military equipment in 1988 and didn’t extend the Indo-Nepalese exclusive trade and transit deal as a result. In retaliation, India put a trade embargo on Nepal that lasted until April 1990, when democracy was restored in Kathmandu’s political elite.
Similar to this, Saxena said, one of the main goals of the Rajiv Gandhi administration’s decision to send Indian Peace Keeping Forces to Sri Lanka in the early 1990s was to “allay India’s concerns regarding LTTE terrorist activity that affected our national interests”.
Has India ever dealt with its neighbors using forceful military and economic measures? Yes. Is there any evidence of Indocentrism in this? Yes. But does it imply that India took these actions because it views its neighbors as enemies? Saxena told WION, “No.
PLA document: India wants Tibet to remain a “buffer state.”
According to the PLA paper, India has “fully carried on with the United Kingdom’s imperial expansionist strategic thought” since gaining its independence. The memo continues that this included India wanting to annex Tibet as a “buffer state” to its area of influence.
A nation that is neutral between two more powerful adversaries is referred to as a “buffer state” because its neutrality aims to stop the escalation of a regional war.
“Each large country makes investments in its’sphere of influence,’ or at the very least seeks to be surrounded by friendly nations. According to Sridharan Subramanyam of the Chennai Centre for China Studies, “the Indian administrations have generally recognized validity in such British notions, at least in the early decades following Independence.
He pointed out that while New Delhi did not have a clear foreign policy to recognize Tibet as a “buffer state,” Chinese incursion into Western Ladakh in the middle of the 1950s was motivated by the need to protect its G219 route through Aksai Chin.
Tibet would have continued to be a sovereign nation-state, as it always has been, and would have benefited the most from engaging with both of the major countries on its two sides, according to Subramanyam.
Anushka Saxena of the Takshashila Institution noted that, when considering the complicated history of Tibet’s interactions with China and India, the British did see the value in establishing Tibet as a “autonomous buffer” to thwart Russian aggression against its territory in India and south of China during the ‘Great Game’ years between London and Moscow.
The Anglo-China Treaty of 1906 and the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1907 recognized Chinese’suzerainty’ over Tibet and upheld the need that all foreign interactions with Tibet be conducted via Chinese diplomatic missions, among other concessions made by the British to China.
However, Saxena said, “Three years after India gained independence from the British, Tibet’s status as a buffer was ended due to the People’s Republic of China’s expanding historical territorial claims after the Communist Party of China established its rule over the nation in 1949.