Tuesday 2 October 2007

CHINA ENCIRCLING INDIA

na’s military planners think that the addition of India’s substantial military muscle could create a “second front” across the Himalayas, in the event of a conflict between the US and the PRC over Taiwan, and that the Indian Air Force is ideally positioned — because of its proficiency with the same advanced Russian equipment that China deploys.
It is not only Pakistan and—since 2005— Bangladesh that is being gifted nuclear teeth courtesy Beijing. In the case of Myanmar, a country that has even less industry to power than North Korea, and which is moreover blessed with abundant oil and gas deposits, nearly a thousand nuclear scientists and technicians have gone to Russia for training, of which 280 are full-fledged nuclear scientists. These days, Russia has become the UK to China’s US: a poodle of Beijing ever ready to bark or bite on command. Thus, the likelihood that China is behind the expansion of Russo-Myanmar nuclear ties is high. Additionally to training the nuclear scientists and technicians, Moscow signed an agreement with the China-controlled junta in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) on May 15, 2007 to set up a “Nuclear Research Centre” and to provide a so-called “research reactor” at Ayela. Given that there is significant and overt collaboration between North Korea and Myanmar, both of which are military allies of China, those who see the secretive junta in Yangon, as a conduit for the transfer of technologies from Moscow to Pyongyang may not be wrong. In addition, Beijing is developing the Sittwe port as a safe harbour both its merchant men as well as its battle ships, and has recently shown interest in creating alike facility near Tilawa, where a 12-million square meter economic zone has been set aside to accommodate Chinese hi-tech enterprises, several of which are known to function in concert with the PLA. It will not be forgotten that arms and other assistance regularly flow to the NSCN(K) and NSCN (IM) in the north-east from Yunnan in China through Myanmar, a fact ignored by the Sonia-led UPA. There are also reports—as yet unconfirmed—of a PRC electronic listening post in one of the Maldivian Atolls. Unlike the western powers, who have on behalf of Wahabbi interests based in Saudi Arabia pressured the secular Gayoom administration into accommodating a (largely Wahabbi) opposition, the much more intelligent. Chinese diplomats have refrained from seeking to impose their own political preferences on the elite of the strategically-located island republic, thus earning goodwill for China in yet another country that is historically close to India, the Maldives. Indeed, in 1999 the PLA (through front agencies) leased the Marao Island Atoll from the Maldives for establishing a listening post close to the Diego Garcia base. In Bangladesh, which is an officially recognised nuclear partner of China, several teams of Chinese nuclear and missile experts have already visited the country, deepening the links between its own military and the powerful Bangladesh armed forces. Soon, BD frigates will be armed with Chinese-supplied C-802 missiles, that can be used to challenge capital ships from countries seen by Dacca as unfriendly. The latest such visit was in August this year, led by CMC member Chen Bingde and comprising of experts from the PLA’s Armaments Department. The visit was in furtherance of the plan to add Bangladesh to Pakistan as a strategic pressure point for India. It will be remembered that Pakistan is already a leading beneficiary of Chinese-source missiles, including the reverse-engineered Tomahawk (that is called the HATF by Islamabad). The PLA has also set up a huge training facility for artillery firing in the Chittagaon Hill Tracts to give the Bangladesh army teeth against a possible rise in tensions with India. Of course,while all this is happening, Sonia and her marry men are silent, indeed effusively appreciative of Beijing, the city that the “Madam” plans to visit in October. Substantial electronic and human capacity to monitor both civilian and military shipping along the Straits of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea have already been put in place in Gwadar, in Pakistan’s captive Baloch province. Even Bhutan and Nepal— thus far seen as being within the Indian sphere of influence—are being energetically wooed by Beijing, which has already expanded its presence in the second considerably during the past four years. Once the Qinghai-Tibet railway line gets extended from Lhasa to Nepal via Xigaze to Kodari in 2012, the PLA plans to use Chinese assets in India to get a second rail and road link that would connect Yunnan with India’s north-east. This would expand the links already present with Pakistan and Myanmar. Since 1999, the PRC has quietly but consistently enhanced its force projection capabilities to a level that can seriously challenge the US, Australia and Japan. Unless, that is, India joins the trio in crafting a deterrent to the steady expansion of China’s might in the region. Even while China is going ballistic about “nuclearising” India, the reality is that Beijing has created a second nuclear device power (apart from North Korea) in Asia, and is on the way to creating a third (Iran) with the help from its junior partner, Russia. Khushab is being upgraded, with a new Chinese-supplied plutonium-producing reactor being installed. Chinese companies such as Southwest Aluminium and China International Engineering are openly providing help, while Unit-2 of Chashma is nearing completion, and negotiations are on for four more nuclear power plants of Chinese design in Pakistan. Ominously in the light of the Sonia-led UPA’s plans to degrade India’s own production capabilities by rushing through the one-sided India-US nuclear deal, China is helping the Directorate of Nuclear Fuel Cycle in Pakistan’s AEC to create a spent-fuel reprocessing facility. Substantial quantities of deadly items such as special aluminium, nuclear-class pipes, special steel and graphite composites are being supplied to a country known to be an international proliferator of nuclear technology. Plants in Pakistan are being built to produce HTPB, ammonium perchlorate, aluminium powder, missile casings and other deadly items, all this while Sonia smiles as she gazes towards Beijing in fond anticipation of the welcome she will get in that grateful city. The Manmohan Singh government has been as weak-kneed towards the several hostile actions of China as it has been towards Pakistan’s demands in Kashmir and elsewhere, to the detriment of India’s security. In order to help their Pakistani friends deliver nuclear weapons to Indian targets, China is helping Pakistan’s National (Missile) Development Complex to develop solid-fuel missile systems to rivals those designed by the DRDO. Thanks to China’s help, Pakistan’s missiles now have a 2400-kilometre range, even as the Sonia-led UPA has reportedly committed the treasonous act of choking further development of the ballistic missile programme, as a result of Chinese, US and EU pressure on the weak Manmohan Singh government. The August 26, 2007 firing of a Chinese-supplied RAAD cruise missile from a Pakistan Air Force Mirage-III EA platform should be a wake-up call, not for the compromised Sonia regime, but for the administration that will follow it by the middle of next year. The rulers of China have sought to arm militaries in the region that are potentially or presently hostile to India, beginning with Pakistan and later moving on to Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and now Nepal. In every one of these and other countries, Chinese diplomats and armed forces personnel talk about the “hegemonistic ambitions of New Delhi”, and promise help in battling against this danger. Alarmingly, in Pakistan and now Bangladesh and Myanmar, the assistance given (directly or through surrogates) has assumed a nuclear dimension. Such activities have recently been intensified after the warming of military-to-military relations with the country seen by the PRC as Enemy Number One, the US, which has now displaced India as the primary target of Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean region. While military strategists in India raise their blood pressure levels by pointing to the PRC’s “encirclement” of the country through an archipelago of military and intelligence assets around the periphery of the world’s only billion-plus democracy, the reality is that India has been displaced by the US as the primary target of Beijing’s attention and actions since 1999. New Delhi does indeed alarm military planners in Beijing, but only because they foresee a situation in which India joins the two “Deputy Sheriffs” of Washington, Japan and Australia, in a US-led coalition capable of taking on the PLA on land, sea and air, should the eventuality arise. China’s military planners think that the addition of India’s substantial military muscle could create a “second front” across the Himalayas, in the event of a conflict between the US and the PRC over Taiwan, and that the Indian Air Force is ideally positioned—because of its proficiency with the same advanced Russian equipment that China deploys—to challenge their Chinese counterparts for air supremacy across the Sino-Indian border. Today, apart from the army and the air force, the Indian Navy would be as lethal, denying Beijing access to oil and other resources needing to pass through the two choke points of the Straits of Hormuz and the Malacca Straits. Small wonder that the distancing of India from the US is the topmost priority for Beijing’s most numerous agents in India. While the pell-mell rush of the Sonia-led UPA to sign the present flawed US-India nuclear deal is understandable only in the context of her subservience to outside diktat, what is beyond doubt is the steady acceleration of the US-India military relationship, fuelled in large part by the enhanced capabilities of China in the region. Handled cautiously and on the basis of equality, this emerging India-US military partnership could propel the Indian armed forces to greatly expanded force capabilities within 15 years, capacities that could surpass those of Beijing, a country that has had a more advanced military than India since 1958. Small wonder that the PRC’s agents in India are angry over this development, eager, as they are to protect Chinese interests at the expense of India.

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