China has announced its new political leadership for what can be called the next ten years. Global attention has been focussed on what the change in leadership portends for the region and the international system. This naturally arises from China’s sizeable military potential and its stupendous economic resources and growth. In India too a lot of hopes and expectations have been aroused that this change of political leadership may portend better relations with India.
In my assessment such hopes and expectations are unjustifiable as it does not take into account the reality that policy formulations in China are made by the Communist Party hierarchy and not individual political leaders.
More so, when it comes to India, policy formulations are determined to a great extent by the People’s Liberation Army hierarchy.
In the Chinese military hierarchy perspectives India is China’s peer military competitor in Asia and needs to be balanced and tied down. In their perspectives and planning India can only be contained by proxy through a regional spoiler state like Pakistan.
That perception is unlikely to change even with a new change of political leadership even though the new President unlike the post will also step into the Chairmanship of the Central Military Commission.
China has not taken kindly to the growing ties of the US-India Strategic Partnership and views it as a joint US-India China Containment Strategy. Therefore in Chinese perceptions it would be strategically prudent for them to keep sustained military pressure on India which includes keeping tension on the India-Occupied Tibet borders alive.
India would be well advised not to invest heavily on hopes and expectations that peace with China would be possible with a change in political leadership in China.