Directorate of Intelligence
Office of East Asian Analysis2
China: Tilting the Balance in Its Approach to Post-Cold War South Asia
China has shifted its approach to South Asia in order io capitalize on the new opportunities brought about by the end of the Cold War. Beijing is strengthening its political and economic links to India to counter what it sees as ongoing efforts by the West to fill the political gap left by the decline of Soviet influence in the region. Beijing simultaneously views its continuing special military and political relationship with Islamabaday to constrain India's ambition to establish preeminence in South Asia. Increased pressure on China to participate in global arms control and greater economic dependence on access lo Western markets-especial ly that of the United States-have placed new limitations on that alliance, however.onsequence, we believe Beijing will eschew transferring complete ballistic missile systems that would be nuclear
Pursuing Improved Relations With ^
Despite historical Sino-Lhdian competition for influence in South Asia, Beijing in recent years has sought better relations with New Delhi as part of its effort to ease tensions with its neighbors in order to free resources for economic development Beijing, moreover, apparently believes that better ties to India will reduce the chances for military confrontation on the subcontinent by affording the opportunity to lobby New Delhi to participate in multilateral and bilateral discussions with Islamabad-except on those issues thai could require Chinese concessions. We believe part of Beijing's calculus is to cultivate Indiaounterweight to the United States and the West:
Since Rajiv8 visit to China, Beijing has steadily increased diplomatic contacts with New Delhi-culminating in Premier Li Peng's visit to India inndia and Chinaour-page communique* at the end of Li's trip, describing agreements on the exchange of consulates in Bombay and Shanghai, the resumption of bolder trade, and cooperation on peaceful applications of space technology. |
sides have also sought an increased role for the United Nations, probably in the belief that the United Nations is less likely to be dominated by the United States and other Western countries because of China's position on the Security Council.
The Sino-Indian BorderNew" Chinese Proposal
The Sino-Indian border dispute revolves around two main areas of conflict In the west, China occupies an area0 square kilometers that India considers part of its Kashmir state. This area, known as Aksai Chin, is strategically important to China because the road that crosses it connects northwest China with Tibet in the east Indiasquaie-kilorneter area that it considers essential to the control of its sensitive northeast This area is now the state of Arunachal Pradesh. China and Indiaorder war over this eastern section6 and China still claims sovereignty over it| j
India insists that the border should be drawn along the mountain ridge lines and
should be determined sector by sector.]
Despite the advances that have been made in the Sino-Indian border dispute, the negotiating process remains slow and deliberate, and Beijing appears to have no sense of urgency in solving it Most Chinese statements regarding the border stress that the solution will be long in corning and will be possible only with negotiations and concessions by both sides,
The bilateral relationship has moved forward in other areas, demonstrating that Beijing is hoping to irunimiie the border disputeoadblock to other areas of cooperation. Beijing and New Delhi officially reopened cross-border trade through Tibet in holy, though total bilateral trade reached only0 million during the fust half of this year. Cross-border trade had been suspended forears before it was agreed during Li Peng's visit in December to resume trade between June and September of each year. Meanwhile. Beijing and New Delhi have expanded space cooperaoon discussionsove that buildspace technology accord signed in
A Scwlh'Asia Nuclear-Free Zone and tb* Rre-NaUon Talks
With the goa] of blocking the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction inand as an effort to reduce the risk of another Indo-Pakistani war that couldbelligerentsuclear exchange, the United States suggested multilateral(India, Pakistan. China, the United States, and the QS) talks to addressof nonproliferaaon and underlying security concerns.eriodBeijing last year agreed to participate in these talks. China maybeen concerned that the initiative would compromise its nuclear capabilities;to attend, Beijing has implied that its nuclear arsenal would not be subjectBeijing certainly realizes thai reduced tensions would create afor Chinese regional economic development by lessening the burdenthe Pakistani military at concessionary-
While reportedly supporting Pakistani callsuclear-weapons-free zone that would include India and Pakistan, the Chinese will remain wary of Indian arguments thai nonproUferaoonlobal issue. Beijing undoubtedly infers from this argument that Indiaouth Asian nuclear-weapons-free zone extending well into China and affecting missiles deployed in its southwest Despite progress on implementing conventional force confidence-building measurese believe Beijing would be wary of becoming engaged in nuclear CBMs, which would probably place unequal restrictions on the mature Chinese forces. Even if India made an effort to reduce the threat of nuclear conflict in South Asia, we believe China would continue to view Indiaotential threat and would not risk reducing its small
strategic arsenal while still facing perceived security threats from Russia and the
United States. P
Wc believe Beijing will continue its dual-track approach to South Asia, hoping to rriaintain its delicate balancing act with India and Pakistan by tilting its policy away from outright support of Pakistan to allow cultivation of New Delhi. However, Beijing will continue to maintain close ties to Islamabad in order to preserve Pakistan's roleounterweight to India
|onsecpacnce, Cftina wiu continue to pusneaceful settlement of the Kashmir crisis while avoiding outright support of Pakistan on
China will probably also pursue increased trade and technological cooperation with India for the economic benefits it derives. From the military perspective. China will probably reach agreement on conftdence-building measures and may well respond to India's decision to vrididraw its forces from disputed territoryOBecause of the complexities of the border talks and both sides' sensitivity onorder demarcation agreement will probably prove elusive.
A number of events, however, could upset Beijing's strategic calculations:
A breakdown in negotiations or the status quo between Islamabad and New Delhi that would force Beijing to take sides.
India's fielding of advanced, longer range strategic missile systems. Indian missile development would at least threaten continued Sino-Indian space cooperation and possibly also border negotiations by confinning Qiinese suspicions of India's nuclear threat. Tensions over such issues would be fueled if other irritants in the relationship were increased, such as pro-independence activities by Tibetan exiles in India.
The China-PakisLan Relationship in Perspective
The relationship between China and Pakistan traces its roots to the era of Cold War diplomacy. Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize the People's Republic of China after its founding and lobbied intensively for it to regain the China seat in the United Nations. Throughout. Pakistan paved the way for China to expand its relations with other countries, while China supported it rrulitarilyounterweight to Soviet influence in the region. This was especially true during the Indo-Pakistani Waroncerned by what China perceived as Moscow's effort to encircle it with pro-Soviet regimes, China backed the more rightwing Pakistanis over the Indians because the latter were being supported by the Soviets. Similarly during the Bangladesh independence warhina renewed its support for Pafcjstan--this time against Soviet-backed India and Bangladesh. This policy approach culminated in2 Chinese declaration of support for Pakistan in the event of offensive action by India.
For Pakistan, the relationship has meant developmenttronger voice in world forums, and greater security. Pakistan views Chinaounterweight to both India and the former Soviet Union in the region. Chinese support continues to include joint projects, such as the Sandak copper mine; financial and military aid. including
buitural and technical exchanges; cooperation in deiense ana space tecnnoiogy. such as the Chinese launch of the first Pakistani meterological satellite; and high-level political visits.
China has also sustained close military cooperation with Islamabad for over three decades. Almostercent of PaJrisian's tanks and more thanercent of its combat aircraft are Chinese, and the Pakistanis rely on China to help maintain the equipment. China, moreover, which previously was second only to the United States in supplying mililary equipment to Pakistan, has emerged as Pakistan's primary supplier now that the United States has suspended its military support