The new China cells set up by the Indian military could help broaden New Delhi’s strategic vision about its neighbour but could also plant seeds of mistrust if their mandate was to solely work against the Chinese military, analysts have told the state media.
Reacting to a report in the Hindustan Times about the Indian military setting up China-focused cells, Fu Xiaoqiang, an expert on South Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said it revealed that India had identified China as a strategic rival.
The state-run China Daily newspaper quoted him as saying that accurate information collected by the cells could aid the political leadership in India to make right decisions. “But it also shows that the Indian army has clearly identified China as a real strategic rival,” he added.
Ma Jun, a researcher on Indian studies with the Military Science Academy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, indicated that the influence of the cells — on military to military as well as broad bilateral relationship — boils down to the mandate of the cells.
“If the purpose of ‘China cells’ is to handle the disagreements in a better way, they will play a positive role in bilateral relations; but if their goal is to monitor the Chinese army in the region and work against Chinese forces, they are likely to generate further distrust between the two countries,” Ma said.
The militaries of the two countries have been involved in a number of stand-offs along the long and disputed border in recent times. Wan Wei, an India expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, said the opinion of those manning the cells could influence on India’s strategic issues.