India's decision to boost its military capabilities near the border with China was a political move aimed at “containing” China's rise, the official newspaper of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has said.
The PLA Daily said that India's reported plan to carry out a $13-billion military modernisation, including deployment of 1,00,00 soldiers along the disputed border with China — the biggest expansion since the 1962 war — reflected “adjustments” to India's national security strategy that suggested New Delhi had begun to regard Beijing as a “de facto competitor”.
“India has begun to consider China as an opponent,” the PLA Daily said.
In recent months, tensions with countries across the South China Sea have prompted a flurry of commentaries in China's state-run media examining relations with neighbours.
India's plans to boost its border security have been viewed by some Chinese analysts as a part of a larger United States-led move to contain China, and by others as a reflection of China's less than successful policies towards many of its neighbours.
“The East China Sea and South China Sea issues have further continued to expose some countries' ‘envious, jealous and hateful' attitude toward China,” the commentary said. “The changes in the international and regional security landscape will negatively affect China and other countries involved, but they will benefit one country — India,” it added, noting that India had also “stepped into the South China Sea issue,” referring to recent cooperation with Vietnam.
Chinese analysts have particularly blamed the West for recent tensions with neighbours. Fu Xiaoqiang, a scholar at the state-run China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), told the official China Daily newspaper that India's move to boost its military strength was sourced in a larger plan by the West to contain China.
“The West's vigilance and confinement of China's rise are increasing,” he said. “One of its means is to take advantage of China's conflicts and issues with its neighbouring countries, and instigate and radicalise issues to exhaust China's energy, resources and strategic projection.”
Jin Yinan, head of the Strategic Research Institute at National Defense University, told the same newspaper that China should “not only remain alert of actions taken by parties to contain its rise, but also actively adjust its strategy and focus on improving its relations with neighbouring countries instead of the big powers.”
The PLA Daily said while relations between India and China had developed well with “harmonious” high-level exchanges, the border dispute and the “complex China-India-Pakistan triangle”, which was the “biggest problem” in the relationship, had created mistrust.
The commentary said it saw India's military upgrade as the reflection of an anxious domestic elite who viewed China's faster development as a threat.
“Deploying 100,000 more soldiers along the border areas with China is more of a political move than a military one,” the newspaper said.
“After taking necessary precautions, China just needs to continue to develop friendly relations with neighbouring countries and adhere to its established security strategy, and then India's troop increase will be in vain.”