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India no match for China: Navy chief

india Updated: Aug 11, 2009 01:54 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times

Should war break out between India and China, we are doomed.

Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta publicly admitted on Monday that India was no match for China and there was no way New Delhi could bridge the yawning gap in its capabilities against China.

He said it would be foolhardy to compare the two nations as equals.

Mehta, who retires on August 31 at the age of 62, warned: “In military terms, both conventionally and unconventionally, we can neither have the capability nor the intention to match China force for force…”

It is rare for service chiefs in India to articulate their concerns loudly. The government disapproves of it. But when a chief makes such a prophesy, he has to be taken seriously.

<b1>He said Beijing was in the process of consolidating its comprehensive national power and creating formidable military capability. “Once that is done, China is likely to be more assertive on its claims, especially in the immediate neighbourhood,” said Mehta, who as the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, is the country’s senior most military commander.

His remarks come barely two months after former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major said China was a greater threat to India than Pakistan as little was known about the communist nation’s combat capabilities.

He saw ominous signs everywhere while delivering a talk on India’s national security challenges on Monday. “Whether in terms of GDP, defence spending or any other economic, social or development parameter, the gap between the two is just too wide to bridge (and getting wider by the day).”

Mehta backed his claims with figures. He said India’s annual defence expenditure of roughly $30 billion paled in front of China’s defence spending. He said the Americans pegged China’s defence budget between $70 billion and $200 billion.

“Our trust deficit with China can never be liquidated unless our boundary problems are resolved…Coping with China will certainly be one of our primary challenges in the years ahead.”