July 18, 2024

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Chinese Defence Budget Growth Raises Concerns for India’s Security

China’s annual defence budget has continued to rise, surpassing seven percent for the third consecutive year, despite a slowing economy. This trend holds significant political and military implications for its principal adversaries, including India, in the coming decade. While China’s defence spending is three times that of India’s, it remains lower than the US military budget.

Of particular concern is the year 2027, when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) marks its centenary. During this milestone year, President Xi Jinping aims to integrate Taiwan with mainland China through military means, according to assessments by the US Indo-Pacific Command. The PLA is rapidly upgrading its nuclear and conventional forces to assert dominance in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Indian Ocean, with carrier-based task forces and enhanced maritime and missile capabilities in the South China Sea.

Amid a prolonged standoff between India and China on the Line of Actual Control in East Ladakh, the PLA is expected to exert pressure in the maritime domain by bolstering Pakistan’s naval capabilities with submarines and surface combatants. As the PLA Navy expands its reach, India, without participation in military alliances like AUKUS or a fully active QUAD, must enhance its maritime force capacity to counter Chinese aggression effectively.

Against this backdrop, Indian Navy commanders, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, are deliberating on strategies to confront the PLA Navy’s challenge during a conference aboard the INS Vikramaditya carrier off the coast of Goa. The discussions will focus on the necessity of constructing a technologically advanced aircraft carrier to succeed INS Vikrant and the acquisition of nuclear-powered attack submarines to deter Chinese naval expansion in the Indian Ocean.

Given the urgency posed by Chinese advancements, Indian national security planners must expedite decision-making processes regarding defence acquisitions, considering the lengthy gestation periods of large-scale projects like aircraft carriers and submarines. Time is of the essence as India seeks to safeguard its maritime interests amid evolving regional security dynamics.