Asian Defence Review 2021

Editor: Air Marshal Anil Chopra

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India began 2021 with Chinese troops still holding tactically important positions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and despite eleven rounds of talks, deescalation has not taken place significantly. More recently the very lethal second wave of COVID-19 hit India taking a massive toll of human lives. Globally, USA saw election of Joe Biden, a Democrat, after a very hotly contested polarised election. After 100 days of his Presidency, USA continues to progress most foreign policy issues with a hardline approach towards China. Biden meanwhile has decided to take forward his predecessor’s decision to pullout of Afghanistan. USA clearly sees China as a competitor and challenger. China and the US are decoupling, disrupting bilateral flows of technology (semiconductors, cloud computing and 5G), talent, and investment. The 21st century is getting set for geostrategic play in Asia-pacific region. Biden is more open to participate and accept climate change challenges.

With action shifting to the Indo-Pacific, Europe is having to take its calls and alignments. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) is engaging in greater interaction, but each partner is still taking individual calls on the extent of the alliance. Meanwhile, many South East Asian countries that have been directly affected by China’s unilateral actions of usurping a large part of the South China Sea have become possible contenders to join QUAD-Plus. Some European powers, like France, also want to be part of the action in the area.

China meanwhile continues to push its flag-ship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for strategic expansion and influence. China has also been making threatening postures towards Taiwan, which many feels is a prelude to a possible invasion and forceful unification. But, Taiwan remains firm and with a resolve to defend and remain independent. As China makes massive investment offers to Iran, USA is using backdoor diplomacy to keep channels to Tehran open.

The European Union is finding its feet in the changing global environment, and trying to defend itself more aggressively against competing economic and political models. Europe is still not closing all doors towards China. Turkey’s President Erdogan, was for long displaying provocative behaviour, and acting as a leader of the Islamic world. Ankara’s relations with the US have hit new lows, and US sanctions are affecting the country as an investment destination.

Despite general global economic slow-down and Covid, Asian economies will recover faster than those in the West. Donald Trump’s “America first” has not worked. Extended US sanctions against Russia, have pushed Moscow, much to its dislike, closer to Beijing. A positive trend is the stability and improved relations among long-standing rivals in West Asia.

Meanwhile India continues to push for “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” and driving indigenous defence production. Many of these subjects have been covered in this issue of the Asian Defence Review.

Editor: Air Marshal Anil Chopra PVSM, AVSM, VM, VSM (Retd), a fighter pilot, test pilot, and a pioneer of Mirage-2000 fleet, who has commanded a Mirage 2000 Squadron and the Flight Test Centre, Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) of the Indian Air Force (IAF). He was the Team Leader of MiG 21 Bison Upgrade project in Russia. He has commanded operational air bases in both Western and Eastern sectors. He was head of IAF in J&K, and head of operational Inspections of the IAF. He retired as the Air Officer Personnel. He has been a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal, Lucknow Bench, and member of the Executive Council of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). He has also been an advisor on a committee of the National Green Tribunal. In addition to the four Presidential awards, he is recipient of Gandhi Family Peace Medal for his work in J&K.

An Avid writer, who has more than 500 articles published in various magazines, newspapers and books. He has recently written a book titled China —The Rising Aerospace Power—Implications for India. Air Marshal runs “Air Power Asia” a website that puts Asia’s aviation and military power into correct perspective.


Editor’s Note


1. To Succeed the Quad Needs to be More Focused

2. Aerospace Doctrine and Strategy: A Time for Review?
D Choudhury

3. Air Power—Versatile and Responsive
Anil Chopra

4. UAS Rules-2021: Challenges for India to Becoming A Drone Hub
RK Narang

5. China’s MSR Asset Accumulations in the IOR
Joshy M Paul

6. Pakistan Air Force: Expansion and Modernisation
Shalini Chawla

7. Great Power Competition: Beijing’s Quest to Reshape the US-led International Order

8. Unpacking China’s BRI Plans in Eurasia: Implications for India
Anu Sharma

9. China’s Relations with Myanmar: Implications for India
Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury

10. India’s Development Cooperation as a Tool for Strategic Thinking in the Neighbourhood: Looking at the Decade Ahead
Urmi Tat



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