WASHINGTON: China could consider adopting a “different approach” to deal with India as a nuclear rival as it does not want the Indian military on par with its own, a top US think tank today said.
Even as India has embarked on modernisation of its armed forces to meet its national security needs, China currently sees the US as its main potential adversary in determining its nuclear force structure and other strategic-deterrence requirements, the Rand Corporation said in a report on China.
“It is possible, however, that China could become more concerned about the nuclear capabilities of India, which could result in changes such as a larger arsenal of theatre nuclear missiles,” Rand Corporation said.
“Indeed, China could consider adopting a different approach to deal with India as a nuclear rival, one that could diverge from China’s longstanding focus on deploying a secure second-strike capability without matching the numbers of weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear superpowers,” it said.
Whereas China accepts an asymmetric nuclear relationship with the US and Russia, so long as it can maintain a secure second-strike capability, it could very well choose a different approach to dealing with India, Rand said.
For example, if India increased the size of its nuclear forces to a level that rivalled China’s, Beijing might feel a need to build a larger arsenal than India’s, it added.
“China may do this even if only because it judged that, for reasons of status, it must avoid the perception — whether domestically or internationally — that the two countries are on an equal footing as far as military power is concerned,” Rand said.
“This concern about avoiding the appearance of failing to stay ahead of India’s military technology developments could also influence China’s thinking about its requirements for the deployment of strategic missile-defence capabilities,” the report said.
Also, China’s growing nuclear deterrence, conventional precision strike, space and counter-space, and network-warfare capabilities will create some new options for Chinese strategists and decision makers, which will probably lead to debates about many aspects of China’s approach to strategic deterrence, it said.
In its report, ‘China’s Evolving Approach to Integrated Strategic Deterrence’ Rand said that China’s evolving approach to strategic deterrence may prove challenging to the US and its regional allies.
The US will need to invest in maintaining its own strategic deterrence capabilities, enhance the survivability and resilience of its forces in the region, and reduce its dependence on space and information systems that are potentially vulnerable to disruption, the report said.
China is rapidly closing what was once a substantial gap between the People’s Liberation Army’s strategic weapons capabilities and its strategic deterrence concepts, it said.