India not unduly worried over China’s military modernisation: Antony

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NEW DELHI - India Wednesday said it was “not unduly worried” over China’s military modernisation, though the neighbour’s defence budget was a matter of concern.

“Modernisation of China’s armed forces and its ever increasing military spending is a matter of serious concern. But we are not unduly worried because what we need to do is we have to modernise our own armed forces,” Defence Minister A. K. Antony told reporters here on the sidelines of a defence function.

“We must also increase our capabilities and also strengthen our infrastructure. That, now, we are doing. The Indian government is also now modernising its armed forces to meet any challenge from any quarters. We are also strengthening our infrastructure along our borders,” Antony said in response to question on China’s growing military strength.

He said the government was carrying out a defence review, which was “a constant thing and not static thing”.

“We have to always assess the modernisation and preparedness around us. Every now and then we have to review our modernisation and preparedness. Wherever we feel there is a gap, we have to fill up that gap. That process is going on,” he said.

“We are not unduly concerned about China’s military modernisation but we need to carry out a comprehensive review of our defence preparedness and remain vigilant at all times,” he added.

On the long-pending border dispute with China, Antony said the complicated issue could be settled only through dialogue and discussions. “We are modernising our armed forces not in view of any other country’s modernisation. We have a comprehensive study about security scenario around us and on the basis of that, we also every now and then reviewing our own preparedness and we are also modernising the armed forces to meet the emerging security scenario around us,” he added.

Regarding the India-US Malabar series of naval exercises in April, which are being viewed by the country’s Left parties as being China-specific, Antony said the drill was meant to increase the Indian Navy’s capabilities and was not against any country. He said the Malabar series was 15 years old and was held every year.

Speaking at the South Asian Security Conference of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), Antony said India’s relations with other nations were governed by its security imperatives and was not aimed against other countries.

“Our relations with other nations are dictated by our security imperatives. We have never wanted to further our relationship with a particular nation at the cost of the relations with any other country. In our neighbourhood, we have always been in favour of resolving issues through dialogue and constant engagement,” he said.

Antony said as the two largest nations of the region, India and China needed to enhance cooperation levels on common issues such as climate change and trade. Recently, the 13th round of discussions were held at the level of special representatives.

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