South Asia and Beyond

“India Has Risen In China’s Level Of Concern, Beijing Will Find Casualties Difficult To Deal With”

New Delhi: On ‘Talking Point‘, Meia Nouwens, Senior Fellow for Chinese Security and Defence Policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) London in conversation with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi.

“Our armed forces, with a focus on the goals for the centenary of the People’s Liberation Army in 2027, should work to carry out military operations, boost combat preparedness and enhance military capabilities,” China’s outgoing Premier Li Keqiang said in his March 5th work report to the National People’s Congress (NPC) – the country’s rubber-stamp parliament. China has marginally hiked its planned defence budget for the year to 1.55 trillion yuan ($225 billion), a 7.2 per cent rise YoY. China is the second biggest spender on defence after the U.S. whose defence budget for 2023 totalled $816 billion. Beijing’s defence budget continues to be over three times higher than India’s 2023-24 budget that is Rs 5.94 lakh crore (about $72.6 billion).

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Meia Nouwens discusses the IISS ‘Military Balance 2023’ report released in February, “China’s increase in military spending — its largest ever in absolute terms — and China’s military modernisation which is prompting further investments by regional states”. The expert in “Chinese cross-service defence analysis, China’s defence industry and innovation, as well as China’s regional strategic affairs and international relations” analyses the Chinese Communist Party’s near, mid-term(2027) and 2035 military modernisation goals. The 2035 goal she points out is “for full military modernisation to be on par with the United States across the PLA’s capabilities and to be able to displace the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region as the main security and military actor”. Watch the full interview in which Meia argues, “it’s one thing for China to build modern military platforms, quite another to completely change the mindset, the doctrine, the strategy, the operational concepts, to use those platforms effectively and also to train and to retain the talent within the People’s Liberation Army.” In the event of a conflict in the Indo Pacific, Meia has “absolutely no doubt that the United States will be 100% committed to that” since “it is very laser focused on what it sees as its main challenge in the long term.” In Meia’s assessment, “India has risen up in the level of concern for Beijing. And Beijing is going to find it difficult to potentially deal with the loss of personnel and attrition and casualties in a potential conflict”