January 17, 2012

MILITARY BASES WITH “CHINESE CHARACTERISTICS”

BY DR. ADITYANJEE


http://www.councilforstrategicaffairs.blogspot.com/2012/01/military-bases-with-chinese.html

December 2011 was the epochal month during which the Chinese
neo-imperialistic ambitions were un-peeled very predictably like the
layers of an onion. It started with a Chinese military delegation,
headed by the Chinese Defense Minister General Liang Guanglie quietly
visiting the Seychelles on December 1st 2011. He signed a bilateral
agreement to set up a Chinese naval base in the Seychelles for
counter-piracy operations. This was followed by Hu Jintao's December
6th pronouncement; while addressing the PLA Navy (PLAN) he said that
PLAN should make "extended preparations for warfare in order to make
greater contributions to safeguard national security". The statement
was immediately denounced by the US that demanded more transparency on
Chinese intentions. Chinese claimed misinterpretation of the original
statement. Apparently, there is no equivalent word for transparency in
Mandarin. Concept of transparency is "Greek" to the Chinese political
& military establishment. Ridiculing the Western criticism, one
Chinese analyst Mao Xiaogang made a bellicose statement: "It is common
to see some irresponsible hype and smears around the world aimed at
China's military development, especially the so-called transparency
matter. China's announcement at such an opportune moment is
transparent enough".

The "outing" of the Chinese naval base by the Indian press on December
12th forced China to issue a "non-denial" denial. China acknowledged
the establishment of a "supply and recuperation facility" in the
Seychelles. The Seychelles comprises of 115 islands and is the
smallest African country with a population of 85,000 and an army of
only 500. The Seychelles government acknowledged the establishment of
a Chinese naval base ostensibly to crack down on piracy. The Chinese
Ministry of Defense tried to sanitize this in a statement:
"According to escort needs and the needs of other long-range missions,
China will consider seeking supply facilities at appropriate harbors
in the Seychelles or other countries". China acknowledged that it
already has "re-supply facilities" at harbors in Dijbouti, Oman &
Yemen since 2008 when China sent its first naval convoy to Gulf of
Aden apparently in an anti-piracy measure.

China repeatedly stressed that this move did not equate to
establishing overseas military bases. China has used a fig-leaf of
anti-piracy operations to cover the nakedness its strategic ambitions.
It is not going to stop at the Seychelles alone. China plans to
establish military bases in other countries also. Despite Chinese
insistence that China would not station its troops abroad, we see a
pattern of China expressing commercial or economic interests in a
territory (land, sea, air, space) as Chinese asset, sending PLA
soldiers there to safeguard its commercial interests and claiming
sovereignty subsequently. Professor Shen Dingli from Fudan University
has openly advocated the need for China to establish military bases
overseas.

Analogous to the Japanese euphemism of "comfort women" for Korean sex
slaves during the World War II, China calls its military bases as
"supply and recuperation facilities". Of Course, Chinese overseas
military bases are very different from the US or Russian military
bases because they are indeed part of "extended preparations for
warfare in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national
security". Per Chinese rhetoric these supply facilities will never be
used for aggression because they have the essential "Chinese
characteristic" of serving the Chinese core interests of safeguarding
the "divine" Chinese Ocean sovereignty in the Indian Ocean!
String of Pearls is not fervent imagination of delirious minds of
hypercritical analysts. It is a long-term strategy that is
sequentially unfolding. The façade of trade-oriented commercial ports
will be replaced by loud, vociferous and triumphant announcements of
China's core interests requiring conversion to naval bases. There was
no "objective evidence" that the China's first aircraft carrier when
purchased in 1998 from Ukraine would be deployed as a naval asset.
China had deceptively and fraudulently claimed that it would be
converted into a floating casino! Currently the Chinese aircraft
carrier is undergoing sea trials. So much for the "so-called
transparency issues". Although China has rejected Pakistani
exhortations to "please develop a naval base at the Gwadar port"; that
is bound to happen in next few years. Chinese "peace and harmony"
rhetoric and its strategic actions are always diametrically opposite.
The predictable pattern is that of initial stonewalling, hostile
denials, indignant & abusive comments followed by gradual but late
triumphant proclamations of Chinese core interests demanding strong
action against the enemies.

Pursuing modernization, China has become de facto number two naval
power. The PLA navy's goal is to have a "Thousand Ships Navy". This
stated "TSN" Goal is to further Chinese hegemony in the Indo-Pacific
region and exploit the mineral & hydrocarbon wealth in the
international seabeds. China has already signed an agreement with the
UN backed International Seabed Authority to gain exclusive rights to
explore poly-metallic sulfide ore deposits in 10,000 square-kilometers
of international seabed in Indian Ocean for the next 15 years. China
will use its naval base in the Seychelles to claim sovereignty over
the Indian Ocean using this contract as the legal basis. If Chinese
creeping pattern of expanding its sovereign territory is genuinely
understood, it would not be surprising if in the year 2112, China
claims the entire Indian Ocean as its sovereign territory and may
rename it as "South Tibet Sea" analogous to China's characterization
of Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet.

China is a rising hegemon that is no longer ashamed of asserting its
imperialistic ambitions. China's list of core interests is rapidly
expanding. Assertion of China's Ocean sovereignty as a new core
interest issue has been vociferously advocated in last few years.
China has disputes with the ASEAN countries about the ownership
various atolls and islands and their hydrocarbon and mineral
potential. It refuses to deal with these claims in multi-lateral fora
and wants to bully the smaller countries bilaterally. China also
warned India against exploring hydrocarbon drilling in collaboration
with Vietnam in South China Sea. China's blockade of Taiwan strait in
1996 and raining missiles across the strait is an indicator of Chinese
strategic response pattern. In a belligerent article published in
the Beijing Daily, Mao Xiaogang articulates this: The PLA Navy will
forever act in accordance with its duty in regard to China's Ocean
sovereignty and interests with no fear and flinch upon any
interference and will ensure the safety of national interests by
virtue of its own distinct views and powerful strength".

Historically, India never shared land border with the middle kingdom
till 1949. In ancient and medieval times, Indo-Tibetan border was very
porous and was part of the great Indic religious civilization. While
Tibetan Buddhist monks and lamas visited northern India for spiritual
enlightenment in the Land of Buddha, Hindus never needed Chinese visa
for pilgrimage to Mouth Kailash & Man Sarovar Lake. Tibet once was
under the suzerainty of the Dogra Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir whose
official title included the "Deshaadhipati of Tibet". Since the
Chinese occupation and annexation of Tibet in the nineteen fifties,
entire Tibet has become a vast Chinese military garrison.

Indo-Tibetan Border has been heavily fortified and militarized by
China. China has built permanent military-cum-civilian infrastructure
in the so-called Autonomous Tibetan Region (ATR) which should be aptly
called China-Occupied Tibet (COT). While India foolishly chose to
leave Indo-Tibetan border undeveloped in both eastern and western
sectors to "deter" aggression, China has constructed military barracks
and motorable roads that can move tanks and heavy armored vehicles
along the entire Into-Tibetan border. All this so-called civilian
infrastructure development in the occupied Tibet has military
applications. China has built five air ports along the Indo-Tibetan
borders. The Beijing-Lhasa rail-road connects the Chinese heartland
with the Occupied Tibet and has military significance besides being a
tourist attraction. In the event of hostilities, this rail-road would
not be carrying tourists or the western war correspondents. China
further plans to extend this Beijing-Lhasa rail-road into Nepal and
indeed very close to Indian borders. PLA routinely conducts high
altitude military exercises in the occupied Tibet. There are frequent
incursions of the PLA soldiers inside Indian territory across the Line
of Actual Control (LAC) with repeated damage to Indian civilian &
military infra-structure in both Eastern and Western sectors.

Since Pakistan ceded part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to
China in 1961, it has built the Korrakoram highway to facilitate
Chinese access to warm water port of Karachi. Though China has denied
it consistently, PLA has at least 10,000 troops stationed in the
Pak-Occupied Kashmir (POK) in the northern territories. These
developments amount to China de facto establishing an army base in the
POK. Presence of Chinese troops in POK indeed poses a military and
security threat to India as POK is an illegally occupied territory by
Pakistan.


India is going through internal political turmoil, uncertainty and
leadership crisis that is not conducive to long-term strategic
planning. India's current political leadership has been in deep
slumber and has been totally unresponsive to China's persistent and
purposeful hegemonic behavior in India's sphere of influence. A
situation has developed whereby India is forced to react to Chinese
aggressive postures by adopting an ostrich like approach. India has
either denied strategic significance to Chinese moves or tried to
minimize the significance by buying the Chinese fibs for explanation.
The Prime Minister denied last year the possibility of China attacking
India under any conceivable circumstance. Ministry of External affairs
has become an excellent spokesperson for mouthing Chinese core
interests. Indian Defense Ministry has repeated denied about the
Chinese incursions into Indian territory. This defeatist mindset was
amply demonstrated by yet another Pavlovian denial of geo-political
reality that India and China are strategic adversaries by Shiv Shankar
Menon, the NSA, who claimed that such determinism is "misplaced".

Admittedly, in the bilateral and multilateral diplomatic dances with
the Dragon, India's political leadership and bureaucratic mandarins
may be forced to indulge in verbal hyper-gymnastics; India's security
establishment & non-governmental strategic community must not allow
the repetition of the strategic blindness India suffered from in the
nineteen fifties and sixties. Owing to India's vulnerabilities and
current strategic weakness, the Government of India continues to
appease China while secretly hoping that the numerous strategic
threats posed by an aggressive and expansionist China will somehow
disappear. Some strategic experts have rightly cautioned that the
carefully choreographed Dragonese Dance may culminate in a
full-fledged attack on India while India's political leadership and
Defense Ministry establishment are doing their level best to
purposefully humiliate India's Chief of Army and thereby demoralize
the Indian soldiers. The public display of the "dirty linen" about the
Army chief's date of birth issue by the Indian defense ministry will
embolden China to strike at India, yet again, at an opportune moment
just like in 1962.

For the last several years the Indian Defense Ministry has been in a
persistent vegetative state leading to strategic asymmetry with China.
Future Governments of India will have to rectify this inertia and take
corrective measures to increase India's comprehensive national power.
The self-induced coma of the Indian defense establishment needs
emergency interventions on "war footings". Future Governments of India
will have to make tough decisions and increase the budgetary
allocation for the defense sector by many-folds. Military
modernization must be accelerated despite the pernicious and
ever-hanging issue of corruption in defense procurements. India must
leapfrog the military preparedness and indigenous weapons design and
production. We do need long-term strategic planning and prepare the
nation for the multi-dimensional strategic challenges posed by China
in the Indian Ocean, in the POK, on the Indo-Tibetan border, in
Myanmar, in South China Sea, in the Indo-Pacific region, in the air,
in the field of long-range ballistic missiles, in cyberspace, and in
militarization of the space.


WE FOCUS ON STRATEGIC ISSUES PERTAINING TO INDIA'S RISE AS A GLOBAL SUPER-POWER.
Posted by Dr. Adityanjee at 12:25 PM

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We not only lag behind in modernization of the armed forces, procurement of hardware, research and development in armaments, India does not even have basic infrastructure in the North-East to facilitate movement of troops, like roads, railways and airfields.

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