WASHINGTON, China may again decide to use force to resolve its disputes with India, a major Pentagon study says.

A Pentagon working group on possible developments in the long run says: “China has already given military programme lower priority in recent years and reduced the defence burden, but military modernization remains the ‘fourth modernization’ in Chinese planning and may well be undertaken in earnest before the end of the century.”

The Pentagon also foresees a possible use of force by India against Pakistan to curb its nuclear programme. “

The prospect that Chinese and Indian military capital stocks will increase quite rapidly has already been noted”, it says. “Nations that greatly increase their military power may become less reluctant to apply military pressure directly against neighbours in longstanding border or other disputes. For example, China might again decide to use force to resolve its recurring border problems with Vietnam, or its longstanding disputes with India.”

India might undertake military action against Pakistan to curb a Pakistani nuclear weapons programme or in response to provocation or for any other reason, the Pentagon says.

“How such possible conflicts develop, and whether the Soviet Union is directly or indirectly involved in them, is likely to have important effects on US security interests”, it adds.

The economic growth projected for the northeast Asian countries, including India, “makes it likely that they will become even more important international mowers. Even if these countries do not significantly change their current policies and international alignment, their actions will carry more weight”, it says.

The US is not worried about the growth in Japan’s economic or military power. The paper says: “Even without large increases in active military forces and direct defence spending, Japan could exert its economic power in the service of collective security by, for example, financing possible joint military related research and development efforts or providing support for US bases in the Philippines and elsewhere.

“The national security interests of Japan and the United States generally coincide in the region, and efforts to develop and expand the strategic cooperation between the two countries are likely to continue along with expansion in Japanese military capabilities.”

Article extracted from this publication >> September 9, 1988