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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

US asked to counter China's muscular diplomacy against India

September 14, 2010

Tibetan Review
September 12, 2010

Two American scholars have described China’s
recent aggressive moves against India as
illustrations of a broader trend of muscular
diplomacy to reassert its various territorial
claims. Dean Cheng and Lisa Curtis, research
fellows at the Heritage Foundation, have said Sep
9 that the source of the tensions was
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.

Writing on the foundation’s website
Sep 9, the two have said military conflict
between the two Asian giants was unlikely any
time soon. However, they wanted the US to keep
close tabs on the simmering Sino-Indian border
friction and continue with plans to enhance
US-Indian defence cooperation, through
coordinated maritime security programs, joint
military exercises, and defence trade deals that
assist India in accessing advanced military technology.

The scholars have said that despite their
improving economic ties, with bilateral trade
increasing from around $5 billion in 2002 to over
$60 billion in 2010, both sides continued to
harbour deep suspicions of the other’s strategic
intentions. In particular, they have noted, China
has increasingly pressured India over their
disputed borders by questioning Indian sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh.

The scholars were not sure what prompted the
latest Chinese provocation of disputing the
status of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state but
have noted that it followed Chinese complaints
about a meeting between the Indian Prime Minister
and the Dalai Lama in mid-August.

Nevertheless, they feel that any Chinese
backtracking from its publicly stated neutral
position on Kashmir would likely be met with
subtle moves by India that increasingly question
Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.

Cheng and Curtis have also noted that China’s
robust defence relationship with Pakistan, and
the China-Pakistan partnership, serves both
Chinese and Pakistani interests by presenting
India with a potential two-front theatre in the
event of war with either country.

The scholars want the US to both cooperate and
collaborate with India to maintain the peace and
stability in the region. In particular, they have
suggested that the US collaborate more closely
with India on initiatives that strengthen
economic development and democratic trends in the
region. They wanted the US to work with India to
counter any Chinese moves that could potentially
undermine such trends in order to ensure the
peaceful, democratic development of South Asia.

They also wanted the US to cooperate with India
in matching increased Chinese presence in the
Indian Ocean region. In particular, they wanted
the US naval forces to 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.

"With an ascendant China determined to flex its
diplomatic and military muscle, American
leadership is needed now more than ever," they have concluded.
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