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Sources in Delhi said the recent visit to India of Chinese People’s Liberation Army Chief of Staff General Liang Guangli was aimed at working on an improved protocol described as “confidence building measures” between the two militaries, reports Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

This is the first visit of a Chinese chief of staff in seven years. It is assumed by intelligence analysts that the Chinese and Indians are developing a protocol to prevent of accidental use of WMDs.

But what if it is more than that?

The warming of relations between China and India, the world’s two biggest nations, is giving intelligence analysts in the West nightmares.

India, whose population is expected to surpass China’s 1.2 billion some time in the next decade or two, has stopped eyeing Beijing as enemy No. 1.

In one of his meetings earlier this year with a top Indian official, the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, is reported to have remarked: “When we shake hands, the whole world will be watching.”

Indeed he was right.

Together, the populations of the two giants equals more than a third of all the people on earth.

Without worrying about a threat from India, China is free to consider expansionist policies including, but not limited to, a move against Taiwan.

Separately, both China and India are becoming economic powerhouses. Together, acting in concert, they can make each other stronger – and the leaders of both nations openly acknowledge their preferences for cooperation rather than confrontation in what is being characterized as the dawn of the “Asian Century.”

According to the United States National Intelligence Council Report on emerging global trends, by 2020 the rest of the world will have to confront the military, political and economic dimensions of the rise of a China-India axis.

New ties between the two former adversaries were jump-started with the visit of the Indian prime minister to China in June 2003, the first by an Indian premier in a decade. The joint declaration expressed the view that China was not a threat to India despite harsh rhetoric of the past. The two states appointed special representatives to create momentum to border negotiations that have lasted 24 years.

India also acknowledged China’s sovereignty over Tibet and pledged not to allow “anti-China” political activities in India.

For its part, China has acknowledged India’s 1975 annexation of the former monarchy of Sikkim by agreeing to open a trading post along the border with the former kingdom and later by rectifying its official maps to include Sikkim as part of India.

India and China have strengthened their bilateral relationship in areas as distinct as cultural and educational exchanges, military exchanges, and science and technology cooperation.

Bilateral trade has recorded a rapid growth from $265 million in 1991 to about $13 billion at present. The two nations are even evaluating the possibility of signing a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement and a free trade agreement by the end of this year.

Both states are also taking steps to upgrade their military-related cooperation, a move that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

What if…? It’s a question few western military planners even want to consider.

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