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Neither friend, nor foe, China is just a ‘competitor’

'Indian army does not consider Chinese People’s Liberation Army to be an “enemy”. But, it considers the PLA and China itself as a “peer competitor”.' This was revealed by a senior officer of the army at the South Block headquarters of the force.

The officer also mentioned that this change had come about as a product of the government’s external policies towards China. After the 1962 border war, for quite a while China had been ‘enemy’ in the parlance of the Indian armed forces. But, off late, this has changed.

Though during the exercises, the armed forces still identify themselves as a 'blue' force, while identifying the contending forces as 'green', 'red' and 'brown', etc. While the meaning of the 'green' and 'red' forces are easily identifiable as Pakistan and China respectively, curiously the 'brown' forces are not.

The 'brown' forces vary in terms of whichever country helps the 'green' and the 'red' forces to launch their operations. The launch-pads of such operations are also to be demarcated so that during actual 'war' breaking out, they could be neutralised first. However, while it is clear that the Pakistan army considers India the 'enemy', along with the Bangladesh army, it is not known whether the People's Liberation Army [PLA] takes Indian army as the same.

The Indian army will soon have a 'table-top' exercise with Pakistan as the enemy, while Pakistan launches its biggest exercise in the desertified areas of Sindh province. These are the simple equations that the armed forces make in terms of defining their goals.

Bangladesh's designation of the Indian army as the 'enemy' force took place during General Zia-ur Rehman’s regime, not because that the Indian army was particularly threatening, but because it was the only contiguous land force of the nation.

China was the other country with which Bangladesh shared a short border, besides Myanmar. But, it was never designated as 'enemy', as Beijing supported Dhaka's army with materiel and training, a role they assumed after India cooled down its cooperation with the country's armed forces.

While these are really mundane details in terms of armed forces' behaviour in these countries and have little meaning in diplomatic and political terms, they still reflect the minds of the ruling classes when it comes to the crunch.
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