Pak has ceded Gilgit-Baltistan to China?

China is indulging in `muscular diplomacy` with India, two noted American scholars have said.

Updated: Sep 10, 2010, 10:42 AM IST

Washington: China is indulging in `muscular
diplomacy` with India, two noted American scholars have said
and recommended the US to not only keep a close tab on
Sino-India border frictions, but also enhance the defense
co-operation with India.

Over the last few years, tensions have been brewing
between India and China over their long-held border disputes,
said Dean Cheng and Lisa Curtis of The Heritage Foundation.

"The source of the tensions is multi-faceted but driven
in large part by China`s concern with an emergent India and
Beijing`s desire to consolidate its position on Tibet," they
said.

While military conflict between the two Asian giants is
unlikely any time soon, recent Chinese moves illustrate a
broader trend of muscular diplomacy from Beijing over its
various territorial claims, Cheng and Curtis said.

"In order to guard against a variety of threats,
including a potentially hostile China, India will continue to
pursue a robust military modernisation programme and closer
diplomatic ties with other Asian nations," they said.

"The US should keep close tabs on the simmering
Sino-India border friction and continue with plans to enhance
US-India defense cooperation, through coordinated maritime
security programmes, joint military exercises, and defense
trade deals that assist India in accessing advanced military
technology," the article said.

Cheng and Curtis referred to the recent Chinese steps
with regard to Kashmir, including issuing of stapled visa,
denying visa to a top army official and sending its troops to
Gilgit-Baltistan.

New Delhi would view with consternation the possibility
of Chinese troops being stationed on both the eastern and
western borders of Indian Kashmir, they said.

"China already maintains a robust defense relationship
with Pakistan, and the China-Pakistan partnership serves both
Chinese and Pakistani interests by presenting India with a
potential" they wrote.

Noting that China may be returning to a position of
reflexively supporting Pakistan on Kashmir, they noted since
the 1999 Kargil border conflict between India and Pakistan,
Beijing’s position on Kashmir seemed to be evolving toward a
more neutral position.

During that conflict, Beijing helped convince Pakistan to
withdraw forces from the Indian side of the Line of Control
following its incursion into the Kargil region of Jammu and
Kashmir.

Beijing made clear its position that the two sides should
resolve the Kashmir conflict through bilateral negotiations,
not military force.

"Any Chinese backtracking from this neutral position on
Kashmir would likely be met with subtle moves by India that
increasingly question Chinese sovereignty over Tibet," they
said.

China`s growing assertiveness is supported by a range of
increasingly sophisticated military capabilities, they noted.

A concrete example of this growing set of capabilities
was displayed in August, when China held its first major
parachute exercise in the Tibetan plateau.

"This involved a paratroop drop of 600 troops, clearly
establishing a rapid force insertion capability on the part of
the People`s Liberation Army (PLA).

As a Chinese officer observed, this exercise showed that,
in the event of a crisis, Chinese paratroopers could rapidly
deploy at any time," the two scholars wrote.

Curtis and Cheng urged the Obama Administration to
cooperate with India in matching increased Chinese presence in
the Indian Ocean region.

"Given the substantial Indian naval capabilities, US
naval forces should increase their interaction with their
Indian counterparts, both to improve Indian naval capabilities
and to signal Beijing that its moves will be matched jointly
by New Delhi and Washington," they said.

PTI

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