India-China in 2030: a net assessment of the competition between two rising powers
This paper examines the balance between China and India in 2030. The assessment also incorporates the actions of other actors such as the U.S. and Pakistan, as well as regional actors, where necessary. The assessment uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures, and seeks to avoid previous assessment templates wherever possible. This is a unique competition, not previously faced by our planners, and requires a unique approach.
The paper is based on the following starting assumptions:
a. A global multipolar system is emerging with the rise of China, India, and others. With a shift in the locus of global politics from the Atlantic to the Pacific, India, the U.S. and China will define the emerging global balance of power. This triangular relationship, or tri-polarity, is likely to be the most significant aspect of the emerging 21st century global system.
b. The growth of the Chinese and Indian economies over the past decade, and in the next two decades, will lead to increasingly assertive political and military strategies from both nations.
c. The increasingly assertive nature of both nations will bring them into competition with each other, as they seek global stature and access to energy resources and raw materials to continue their economic growth. There has been, and there will continue to be, a continuing technological revolution.
This will particularly manifest in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, hypersonics, and materials science. This ongoing revolution will impact on geopolitics and military balances, as well as the India-China competition.
e. Significant discontinuities are possible. The National Intelligence Council (2008) has noted that historically, geopolitical rivalries trigger discontinuities more than technological change. Technology is resulting in radical change and has been a major driver. However, over the past century, geopolitical rivalries and their consequences have been more significant causes of the multiple wars, collapse of empires, and rise of new powers than technology alone.
The assessment of the India-China competition is built in four parts:
The Nature of the Competition. The first element of the balance examines the nature of the competition between India and China. Description of competition describes how both sides see the different areas of competition, as well as the importance attached to each. This also includes India-China contrasts that affect the competition, including objectives, strategic culture, differences in strategic characteristics and competencies, and the application of national resources to realizing strategic goals.
Key India-China Balances. The next part of the paper is an examination of key balances. These balances are neither exhaustive nor independent of each other. Significant issues will differ depending on the context, but were possible, each balance will include a basic assessment, and consider goals, key asymmetries, trends, and implications. The key balances are: 1. Command and Control Capability; 2. Nuclear Forces; 3. Conventional Maritime capability; and, 4. Conventional Air-land Capability.
Scenarios. Through the extrapolation of long-term trends from these key balances, three India-China scenarios have been be generated to examine how the balance could manifest in 2030.11 Key drivers and critical uncertainties are incorporated into the scenarios and described in detail. These scenarios are reviewed from both the Indian and Chinese perspectives based on strategic aspirations and the investment in military capabilities likely to be deployed in 2030. This also will highlight issues that earlier parts of the paper have not identified.
Implications. The last section will be an overall assessment of the balance in the India-China competition. This section describes where there are strategic asymmetries, and environmental opportunities for both India and China – as seen from their point of view - and where they might seek to improve the situation in their favor. Finally, it describes potential impacts on the U.S. as well as issues that require further examination.
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