With the advent of US-China trade war and reset of China-India relations with their informal summit at Wuhan, at the relations between the two countries seem to be getting better than the previous years when bitterness between both countries over Doklam crisis had touched a new height.
At this point, China needs good relations with India to ensure the latter does not get into the US club and peace and tranquillity prevails on the borders.
Meanwhile, there is going to be no change in India’s stance on the border issue or BRI/CPEC. However, some agreements on delimitation leading to the demarcation of LAC, to prevent a repeat of Doklam like incident is doable, if the political will exists on both sides.
China is expected to control its adventurism during the ongoing trade war. We can thus expect a relatively quiet period on Chinese borders, with some positive steps for better border management.
In 2019, I do not visualise any dramatic change in Pakistan’s behaviour. The terror industry and proxy war will continue, notwithstanding the perceived economic difficulties the country is facing. Whenever Pakistan is on the verge of sinking, some country will it out to foster its own interest through it.
Their terror industry is mainly sustained by parallel economy involving drug trafficking and assistance from ISI, with material and operational support from Pakistan Army. As the security situation unfolds in AfPak Region, I will not be surprised if Taliban would be in driving seat of power in Afghanistan (much against Indian interest), and the US may have no option but to silently end their pursuit against them.
Pakistan is well used to international isolation, hence, UN-declared terrorists will continue to move freely and plan terror operations against India in 2019.
The progress on CPEC will continue despite India's opposition, although BRI will face many roadblocks in 2019 as well. According to experts, CPEC will force Pakistan to enter into a patron-client relationship, wherein strategic choices of Pakistan will be hostage to China. This brings out a long-term threat to India in terms of "two-front war" which India has to prepare for.
What should India do
Over the last few decades, financial allocations and attention towards military have been marred by bureaucratic denials. Chanakya, Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu have said, and rightly so, that no nation will be secure unless it has a powerful military which can deter a potential adversary.
The military is trained and equipped to launch operations across the IB/LC/LAC. We should realise that defence capabilities take a long time to build up, more-so, if India does not have a strong manufacturing base. The defence budget allocation made in 2018 should be increased in 2019.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)