Fifth Asian Security Conference (ASC 2003)

An IDC Report 


New Delhi, 03 February 2003

The fifth in the series but truly a path breaking and interesting Conference on “Asian Security and China in the Period 2000–2010,” was held at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi from 27–29 January 2003, under the aegis of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and its dynamic Director Dr S Santhanam. It was all the more exciting as the Taiwanese and the PRC delegates clashed over differing positions.

The Conference achieved the aim of enhancing understanding among Asian scholars and strategic analysts on Security matters affecting Asian countries, including the role of non-Asian powers; and the experiences of China in economic, social, political and security reforms and their impact on other Asian countries.

Many positive aspects relevant to Asia in the years ahead emerged, as China continued to maintain its high growth rate, as also act as a powerhouse of growth and engaged in greater integration with Asia. Energy security, China’s capabilities and intentions and terrorism dominated the discussions.

The Conference had papers presented by 23 countries including Australia, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Israel, Krgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, USA, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, on the following subjects spread over 9 sessions:

  • Overview of Asian Security.

  • Economic Reforms and Asia Security

  • China’s Military Modernisation

  • North & South-East Asia Perspectives

  • Southern Asia Perspectives

  • Central Asia Perspectives

  • West Asia Perspectives

  • Non-Asian Powers in Asia

  • Non-Military Security Challenges in Asia

Shri Yashwant Sinha, Minister for External Affairs delivered the Inaugural Address on January 27 and the concluding session was addressed by Shri George Fernandes, Defence Minister.

Day 1 –– 27 January, 2003

Session I –– Overview of Asian Security from Different Perspectives

Chairperson: Shri MK Rasgotra, (former Foreign Secretary, India)




Ambassador CV Ranganathan, National Security Advisory Board


Dr Xu Jian, Director, Department of International Relations, China Institute for International Studies, Beijing.


Dr Robert Blackwill

US Ambassador to India


Dr Madhavan Palat, Chairman,

Centre for Historical Studies

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Recent Security Initiatives in Asia

Prof Satish Kumar, Former Chairman Centre for Studies in Diplomacy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi


Chairperson: Dr Shankar Acharya, former Economic Advisor, Government of India



Economic Liberalisation and its Impact On Asian Security

Dr Charan Wadhwa, Director, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

China’s Economic Reforms

Dr Liu Shucheng & Dr Chang Xin, Institute of Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing

Microelectronics Industry in China

K Santhanam, Director, IDSA and Dr K Neelakantan, former Director, Anurag, DRDO, Hyderabad


Chairperson: Lt. Gen VK Singh (Retd.), former Director General, Military Operations, India



China’s Strategic Outlook

Dr Michael Pillsbury, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council of the United States, Washington, DC

Information Warfare and China

Dr Desmond Ball, Australian National University, Canberra

Taiwan’s Security Aspects

Dr Arthur Ding, Director, Institute of International Relations, National Chengchi University, Taipei

Chinese Missile and Space Warfare Capabilities

Dr Richard Fisher Jr, Centre for Security Policy, Washington, DC

China’s Military Capabilities, 2000–2010

Dr Srikanth Kondapalli, Research Fellow, IDSA, New Delhi

Day 2 ––28 January, 2003


Chairperson : Ambassador Vinod Khanna



Korean Peninsula-China Relations

Dr Taeho Kim, Senior Fellow, Korean Institute for Defence Analyses, Seoul

Northeast Asian Security and Taiwan

Dr Parris H Chang, Professor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University, USA

Mongolia-China Relations

Dr TS Batbayar, Ministry of External Affairs, Ulaan Bator

China & Southeast Asia: Security Aspects

Dr Amitav Acharya, Deputy Director, Institute for Defence & Strategic Studies, Singapore

Political Economy of Southeast Asia and China Interactions

Dr Kusuma Snitwongse, Chairperson, Advisory Board, Institute of Security and International Studies, Bangkok

Sino-Vietnamese Relations

Prof Ramses Amer, Coordinator, South East Asian Programme, Uppsala University, Sweden

Session V –– SOUTH ASIA

Chairperson: Shri NN Vohra, Director India International Centre, New Delhi



India–China Relations

Dr KN Ramachandran, Former Research Associate, IDSA, New Delhi

China–Southern Asia Relations

Dr Han Hua, Institute of International Relations Beijing University, China

China’s South Asia Policy: A Bangladesh Perspective

M Abdul Mannan, Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies, Dhaka

Pakistan–China Relations

Dr Samina Yasmeen, Senior Lecturer, Western Australian University, Perth

Nepal-China Relations

Dr Dhruba Kumar, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu

Bangladesh-China Relations

Dr Shaheen Afroze, Senior Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies, Dhaka


Chairperson: Prof Devendra Kaushik, Chairman, Maulana Azad Institute for Social Sciences, Kolkata



Central Asia-China Relations : Implications for India Kazakhstan-China Relations

P Stobdan, Research Fellow, IDSA

Dr Kamal N Burkhanov, Director, Institute of Russian & Chinese Studies, Almaty

Kygyzstan-China Relations

Dr Zamira Karabaeva, Director, Centre for Middle East & South Asian Studies, Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, Bishkek

Kygyzstan-China Relations : Border Dispute as a Factor

Dr Marat Chanachev, Deputy Director, Institute for Strategic Studies, Dushanbe

Uzbekistan-China Relations

Dr Rakhimjan K Kadirov, Deputy Director, Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies, Tashkent

Day 3 –– 29 January, 2003

Session VII –– WEST ASIA

Chairperson: Dr Gulshan Dietl, Centre for West Asian and African Studies,

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi



China-–West Asia Relations with Special Reference to Egypt

Dr Mohammad Selim, Cairo University, Egypt

Forced Landing: Israel’s Security Policy towards China

Dr Yitzhak Schichor, Hebrew University, Israel

Saudi-China Relations

Dr Abdul Karim Al-Dukhayyil, King Fahd University, Saudi Arabia

China’s International Security Environment: An Iranian Perspective

Dr Ahmad Sadeghi, Deputy Director, Institute of Political & International Studies, Tehran


Chairperson: Dr C Raja Mohan, Strategic Affairs Editor, The Hindu, New Delhi



US–China Relations

Dr Harry Harding, Dean, International Affairs & Political Science, Elliot School, George Washington University, USA

Russia–China Relations

Dr. Mikhail Titarenko, RAS Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Moscow

European Union and China Relations

Dr Valerie Niquet, Senior Researcher, Centre for the Study of Chinese & Asian Strategy, Institute for International Relations & Strategic Studies, Paris


Chairperson: Shri K Santhanam, Director IDSA



China’s Energy Security Policy and Geopolitical Implications in the Next Decade

Dr Mehmet Ogutcu, OECD, Paris

China’s Energy Policy and Implications to India

Ms Sudha Mahalingam, Senior Fellow, IDSA

Seek Jihad as far as China

Ahmad Lutfi, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London

Terrorism in Asia Today: An Update

B Raman, Institute of Topical Studies, Chennai.

China’s Response to The Global Campaign against Terrorism

Dr Fang Jinying, China Institute for Contemporary International Relations, Beijing

China’s Environmental Policies

Dr Zheng Yuxin, Deputy Director, Insitute of Quantitative and Technical Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing

Xinjiang’s Present Challenges and Future Prospects

Dr Dru C Gladney, Asia-Pacific Center, Hawaii

Tibet’s Ethnic Identities

Vijay Kranti, Freelane Journalist, New Delhi



The Seminar highlighted that China was poised to be well ahead of India as a regional power and Indian leadership acknowledges it. The only problems that China would encounter were containment by USA, energy security, disparity in incomes between the coast and hinterland and Uhgyar Islamic terrorism from Xinjiang. China would balance its relations with Russia, India and Pakistan cleverly and settle the India-China border dispute with past history and the advantage it held in occupation of the disputed land.

In the East, proactivity on Sikkim would die down, Tibet would continue to simmer and some adjustments in the central sector may follow. China has said it is too early to talk.

It emerged that China was an economic power, with accent on its future economy, rocketry, nuclear capability and space. This scares USA and neighbours and every speaker said Chinese intentions were unclear.

Chinese speakers maintained that Taiwan was an integral part of China, and even that problem they wish to resolve peacefully. Unlike Hong Kong and Macao that were hired off in 1842, Taiwan had broken away in 1949 and must therefore be reunited. USA was the stumbling block.

Taiwanese speakers maintained that Taiwan was independent and did not want be under Beijing’s hegemony. There were HOT EXCHANGES between PRC Chinese and Taiwanese speakers on this score. However, Dr Fang had the last word in reply to all –– “China today has to be recognised as an engine of growth like Japan was in the 1980’s”. What she implied separately was that it would be an engine without subservience to USA.

South East Asian speakers like Amitabh Acharya said they were carefully evaluating China’s future ambitions which at present seemed less aggressive.

On India–China relations, Ramachandran explained the pre 1962, post 1962 and post May 1998 relations thus –– close, then antagonistic and now better. He said the issues that dog India–China relations were the border issue and Tibet –– an issue where India does not permit the Dalai Lama to enter any political activity but the Western powers had tried their best to fuel it.

Chinese speakers were worried about the return of US presence in Pakistan and Middle East, and the coming war with Iraq. They saw it as an irritant and hence China had to be careful with Pakistan so that it did not fall not into a trap. The China–Pakistan relationship was explained as very complex –– dominant state versus small state and that relationship would continue.

Bangladesh had good relations with China and there was mutual trust, respect and trade ($500 million) in China’s favour. Military aid to Bangladesh consisted of training and technology upgrades and Bangladesh saw no threat from China. Bangladesh may sell gas to China. It emerged that India would need more hydrocarbon energy from external sources than China.

The Nepal–China relations came out as most tricky.

The aim  of the Chinese leadership was to achieve a per capita income of $5000 by 2020 which meant a GDP of $6 trillion. China was an economic power on the rise so the question arose –– are we looking at China’s growing capabilities and ascribing intentions to it? (which actually emanates from USA’s China containment policy). US speakers, however, denied this saying they were actually investing in China but wanted more transparency from China.

India–Pakistan Relations

Stabilizing the nuclear relationship between India and Pakistan came out as crucial for peace and stability in South Asia as a whole. However, India’s overall strength with increasing inputs into its nuclear and missile programmes, the asymmetry that already exists in the nuclear capabilities had grown. The widening gap between the two, further undermines the effort to stabilizing the relationship.

It emerged that in China’s view there were countries that were in favour of China’s interest in building a regional order with multiple actors, while recognizing China’s importance as a strategic power and balancer. Countries like Pakistan, North Korea, Burma, Nepal, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Russia, and Central Asian states, desire, in China’s view, that China became stronger as a counterweight to US pressure in their domestic affairs.

The second category comprising countries like Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, New Zealand, and India were in favour of preserving the status quo of the existing balance. Although they did not have a major clash of interests with China, they would like to see a strategic advantageous position of the USA as a counterweight to China.

A third category were USA and Japan. They saw China’s rise as a challenge to regional and international order and were cooperating to build a multilateral arrangement in China’s surrounding areas in order to counter the Chinese threat to their interests.

The above geopolitical perceptions, perhaps, shape China’s foreign policy and security thinking and security build-up.


The modernisation of China’s military capability was imminent and China was following the route to become a super power. Chinese strategists had studied how USA’s Republicans helped make USA become a super power and had read Cornelli Barnett’s ‘Death of an Economy’ very carefully –– which in effect says –– USA is the largest economy and is dependent on its Military Industrial Complex (MIC) –– the greater the MIC the greater its economy. Today weapon systems had upto 30% software and once again USA was driving up the MIC. Cornelli’s theory was that if MIC dies US economy would die.

India was in a good position with the cold war gone and the baggage of the past as history. India could maintain strategic cooperation with Russia, cooperate with China and meet USA’s overtures and cooperate in the Indian Ocean and open its markets. The challenge for Asia, China and the East would be Energy Security. The great game in Central Asian Republics, Iraq and Iran had just begun. The tussle would be for oil and China would need to use finesse to safeguard its interests. So too would India but it was more vulnerable.

Finally, what the Indian press highlighted about this Conference, were Defence Minister George Fernandes’ comments in his closing address. He termed the 1962 India–China incident as a “clash” not a “war”, thus for the first time a high level leader had downplayed the Sino–Indian prickliness. This view assumed significance because Fernandes was known to be a China basher, having in 1998 called it a potential threat No 1. He articulated the new framework for Sino–Indian ties and urged an “Asian civilisation response” to the disputes between the two countries who were the oldest and largest states in the world and had managed to live in harmony for 2500 years. He argued, “we need neither ignore 1962 nor be captive to that experience”, and stressed that as a bigger power, China had a bigger responsibility to accommodate India’s concerns. He maintained that on Taiwan and Tibet, India’s position was a principled one.

Disclaimer   Copyright