Pakistan a pawn in Chinese policy, serious Indo-Sino conflict not good for China: IAF Chief

Pakistan has become a pawn in the Chinese policy and its military dependence on China would increase further in view of the debt trap due to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Indian Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said on Tuesday.
In an address at a webinar on ‘National Security Challenges and Air Power’ organised by Vivekanand International Foundation, he said China has invested billions of dollars in the CPEC as loans to Islamabad and the already debt-ridden Pakistani administration would be under a lot of financial stress to repay even the interest as per the current fiscal situation there.
Bhadauria said India’s “most important” national security challenge is to understand China, its “possible game plan” and the deepening and evolving Sino-Pak relationship.
“Pakistan has increasingly become a pawn in Chinese policy, under an increasing CPEC related debt trap there will be further military dependencies in future,” he said.
He further said the evolving uncertainties and instability at the global geopolitical front has provided China with an opportunity to demonstrate its growing power and indirectly it has also brought to fore the inadequate contribution of major powers to global security.
The Air Chief said any serious India-China conflict is not good for China on the global front. If Chinese aspirations are global then it does not suit their grand plan.
“What could be possible Chinese objectives for their action in the north? It is important that we recognise what they have really achieved,” he added.
Further talking about the nexus and its possible resultant impact in the region, he said, “American exit from Afghanistan has opened increased options for China in the region both directly and through Pakistan — allowing it a possible entry into Central Asia, a region that they have been eyeing for long”.
After remaining in Afghanistan for almost two decades, American forces are scheduled to be withdrawn from there soon which is likely to leave the field open for other players to slip in the turbulent region strategically located as the gateway to and from the central Asian republics.
“We are now witnessing a rise in attempts to alter the status quo through wanton disregard or selective interpretation of established international laws and norms. Coercion and economic dependence are being used as tools for making weaker countries accept one-sided actions, thereby undermining the established order itself at the international level,” he said.
“Fragile states find it convenient to align with dominant powers to ensure regime survival, thereby affecting the regional security scenario further and something we need to increasingly factor in in our national security matrix,” he added.
Replying to a question on possible military cooperation among India, the US, Japan and Australia under the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition, he did not rule out such a possibility and indicated that discussions are underway.
“Quad, as a kind of execution, has not happened so far. But as a plan of action, it is possible,” he said.
Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria also referred to the “debt-trap diplomacy” used by China to achieve geopolitical goals. He said it has allowed “foreign created and controlled” ports and facilities very close to the Indian mainland and island territories.
“With the new PLA doctrines underscoring the importance of developing force projection capabilities to counter US global dominance, there is a direct impact of such development on our security matrix,” he said.
“For example, what happens if China was to use one of such launching pads for an action against us in a conflict situation? Does the third country port or launching pad become a target for us or not? What are the implications? It is something we need to factor in, it is something that needs to go into our planning process and thinking process,” he said.
Speaking about the possible objectives for China to engage in a military standoff, he said that it could be military signaling or domination efforts with adequate escalation control.
“Was it deployment and training of their western theatre forces in a war-like scenario where Galwan was an overreach or was it to fine-tune and enhance their military technologies and fill the gaps or it could be planned to start border talks for new positions or was it just a misadventure that got escalated?” he asked.
He also said India needs to maintain effective capabilities to counter any misadventure if the situation so arises.