Can India Blockade China?

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by WMD, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. WMD

    WMD Regular Member

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    Can India Blockade China?

    The Indian Navy has had a big week. The reactor in its first indigenous nuclear submarine, the Arihant, went critical on Saturday, and its first indigenous aircraft carrier, the Vikrant, was formally unveiled today. It's long been assumed that one of the primary tasks of the rapidly-modernizing service and its expanding fleet is to apply pressure to China's Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs) in the event of conflict.

    The Economist suggested a few months ago that "India’s naval advantage might allow it, for example, to impede oil traffic heading for China through the Malacca Strait." David Scott's recent article in the Journal of Strategic Studies, argues that: "In the case of the Malacca Strait … India [has] the ability to block (China’s so-called ‘Malacca Dilemma’) easy Chinese access to the Indian Ocean." Ajai Shukla, a well-informed defense journalist, writes that "analysts agree that the Indian Navy … can shut down the Indian Ocean shipping lanes whenever it chooses," and quotes a retired fleet commander as saying that "a couple of submarines and a fighter squadron at Car Nicobar could easily enforce a declared blockade." India's first official naval doctrine, in 2004, itself boasted that "control of the choke points could be used as a bargaining chip in the international power game."

    Raja Menon, a retired Rear Admiral and prominent advocate of seapower in Indian strategic debates, built on these assumptions in a recent op-ed in the Hindu, criticizing the government's decision to invest substantially in raising a new Indian Army strike corps intended for the Chinese border:

    Most of all, we appear not to have assessed the Chinese weakness and strengths. Their strength is the huge logistic network that they have built up in Tibet. By creating a one axis strike corps, we have played into their strengths. The Chinese weakness lies in the Indian Ocean, a fact that even Beijing will readily concede. The clash between their political system and economic prosperity requires resources and, increasingly, the Chinese resource pool is Africa, which generates massive sea lines of communication (SLOC) through the Indian Ocean. Today, they are merely SLOCs; tomorrow they will be the Chinese Jugular. Beijing’s paranoia about the Indian Ocean is therefore understandable but the threat according to its strategic commentators comes only from the U.S. Sixty thousand crore [around $10bn] spent on strengthening the Indian Navy’s SLOC interdiction capability would have given us a stranglehold on the Chinese routes through the Indian Ocean. The Himalayan border, the entire border, could have been held hostage by our strength in the Indian Ocean with an investment of Rs.60,000 crore.

    Menon’s take is a familiar one. But what is interesting is the scale of pushback against this argument. Zorawar Daulet Singh countered in the Hindu:

    While conceptually intuitive, the linkage requires equivalence: Beijing must value the integrity of its SLOCs enough to change its calculus on the mountains. Naval blockades are also complicated operations. The time horizon for success to the point that China would find its resource security threatened would be significantly longer than a swift and limited, continental operation whether pursued for punitive reasons or to change the Line of Actual Control. China’s growing, strategic petroleum reserve, though intended to offset market disruptions, will also be an asset in such a scenario. Further, China’s pursuit of new Eurasian lines of communication, both with growing energy linkages with Russia and connectivity through Central Asia, indicate a potential, declining dependence on Indian Ocean SLOCs at least for some strategic resources. Plainly put, a core interest cannot be secured by peripheral, horizontal escalation.

    Bharat Karnad made some similar points in the New India Express:

    [A]s empirical evidence shows, a maritime strategy can overcome only island nations (such as Japan in World War II) but by itself can at most seriously discomfit, not stifle, major land powers enjoying interior lines of communications [...]

    In a “limited war” launched by PLA, sinking a few Chinese warships found east of the Malacca Strait, or sinking or capturing Chinese merchantmen on the high seas is surely not enough recompense for loss of valuable territory in Arunachal Pradesh and elsewhere along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and from which the Chinese forces are unlikely to withdraw as they did in 1962. So, the status quo ante will not be restored on land as it will be on the seas.


    Karnad also doubts that India’s navy “of 50-odd capital ships by 2030” will be enough to impose a complete blockade on China, and raises the important issue that blockades take much longer to achieve their aim than ground operations:

    Indeed, the Chinese could well achieve their limited war aims before many Chinese naval ships and merchant marine can be found and sunk, and the Chinese economy impacted. [...] Thirdly, unlike India, China has built up strategic reserves of oil and minerals; these will last longer than the limited war will endure and before India’s maritime counter can have effect.

    Nitin Gokhale concurs, adding:

    SLOCs are not an exclusive preserve of either India or China and the international community is therefore bound to intervene to keep the passage free to enable trade and commerce to function normally. A selective blockade of China-centric sea traffic is realistically difficult to implement even if on paper the prospect looks alluring.

    This debate is interesting for a few reasons.

    First, it represents a quieter echo of a U.S. debate over the feasibility of blockading China. Despite growing interaction between the U.S. and Indian navies, and India’s growing interest in broader Asia-focused debates over China, India still views this question firmly in unilateral terms. The scenarios discussed are usually bilateral disputes between China and India, and envision India acting unilaterally in imposing the hypothetical blockade.

    Second, Indian assessments of the country's maritime strength will be important factors in shaping Indian crisis behavior, particularly as the border dispute flares up once more. Whether or not India believes it possesses this degree of naval leverage might affect whether it feels able to escalate a future crisis on the border.

    What's particularly important about this round of the debate is that the specific question of distinguishing Chinese shipping from other international shipping is getting some attention – a practical question that usually is ignored in discussions of the Indian Navy's coercive missions, resulting in the ease of a "blockade" being overstated.

    Third, the debate has implications for interservice resource allocation, with the Navy recently losing out to its rival services. In the 2013-2014 defense budget, the Navy's share of total defense spending fell by the most, and the Navy comprises the smallest share of the budget (18 percent – versus 28 percent for the Indian Air Force and 49 percent for the Indian Army).

    Moreover, a recent report by India's Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that the Indian Navy only has "61, 44 and 20 percent respectively of the frigates, destroyers and corvettes that it has projected as its minimum requirement." The debate over whether China is more vulnerable on land or sea has a bearing on how India's resources are spent in the future and whether those shortfalls in boat (and especially submarine) numbers are rectified over the longer-term.

    Fourth, and finally, the debate over how to respond to China is valuable because, in being sparked by the decision to raise a mountain corps, it has been couched as a trade-off, and therefore brings the question of priorities to the forefront.

    Tradeoffs and priorities lie at the heart of strategy, and it is beneficial for India – a country long criticized for a lack of strategic thinking - that it should be forced to think about the question of military modernization as a series of choices across all dimensions of power, including land, sea, and air, rather than a series of decisions to be made in isolation from one another.

    India was able to throw money at the problem in its period of plenty, but it now faces growth rates much lower than those of the 2000s with little prospect of a swift return to the boom days. The debate between navalists, contintentalists, and others is an important bellwether of how India’s military maturation might progress.

    Can India Blockade China? | Flashpoints | The Diplomat
     
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  3. trackwhack

    trackwhack Tihar Jail Banned

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    While we live in the past, China is fixing its weakness. In a decade its oil will mainly come through pipelines. In a decade most of its SLOCs will be through the Arctic. In a decade a lot of its trade will be driven from Gwadar and maybe even Chabahar
     
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  4. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    even today maybe barring the USN no other country could blockade PRC.

    In a few years even the USN will not be able to do that.
     
  5. natarajan

    natarajan Senior Member Senior Member

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    just check our list of active ship vs chinese list of ships

    They have around 70 submarines out of which 10 are nuclear.
     
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  6. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    One word: No

    We must not be deluded like pakis and claim something that we can't do atm.
     
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  7. Tianshan

    Tianshan Regular Member

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    we are focusing on pipelines to central asia and russia (already built and working for a while now). russia seems to have the largest unproven reserves of oil and gas, so we can always buy more from them if the need arises.

    and we are working on the the arctic route as well, which is how we will do our trade with europe in the future. trade with america is already over the pacific.

    malacca is a vulnerability, however there are plenty of other routes around indonesia. they just take longer.

    it is the USN which is the biggest concern of course. given the enormity of russia's potential reserves (or even the reserves they currently have) our best bet is to focus more on pipelines to russia and the central asian republics. and focus on our own shale oil and gas reserves, since we have the number 1 biggest shale gas reserves, and 3rd biggest shale oil reserves.

    but even after all that, energy is still our major vulnerability.
     
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  8. angeldude13

    angeldude13 Lestat De Lioncourt Senior Member

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    USN+other western countries+chinese navy would not allow it.
    how will you know that if the ship is chinese or not???

    i doubt even usn have balls to set a blockade without the help of nato.
    because a blockade means that no ship will be allowed to bypass. :gangnam:
     
  9. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Just to showcase how important it is for China to secure sea routes, despite all the pipelines completed or under construction -

    [​IMG]
     
  10. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    During war anything is possible. People shouldn't take guarantees, war means things have gone out of control.

    During world war II the battle for control of Atlantic both parties were hitting each other at whim and the Atlantic ocean was highly saturated. Chinese pipelines and ports of strategic importance will be more easier to hit than intercepting their flotillas in high seas.
     
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  11. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    agree whole heartedly

    blockading whoever it may be is one thing

    but our bullock-cart institutions and corruption are equally or more important

    lets get our own house in order, not before but simultaneously while planning whatever blockade
     
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  12. Satanist

    Satanist Tihar Jail Banned

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    This belong in the jokes thread.
     
  13. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    To some great extend, Yes ..
     
  14. Abhijeet Dey

    Abhijeet Dey Regular Member

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    No arms race between China, India: Chinese daily
    SOURCE: IANS/idrw.org

    There is no arms race between China and India but New Delhi launching aircraft carrier provides Beijing with “a more favourable international opinion environment in terms of the development of its own advanced armaments”, a state-run Chinese daily said Tuesday.

    INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier and that displaces 37,500-tonnes, was launched in Kerala’s Kochi city Monday.

    An article in the Global Times Tuesday said: “The waves caused by India’s aircraft carrier launch haven’t been as sensational as those caused by Japan’s light carrier the Izumo among Chinese.”

    “India has adopted a different attitude than Japan toward territorial disputes with China,” it said.

    The daily added that India’s “overall national strength lags behind that of China”.

    “Therefore, China perceives Japan rather than India as its biggest neighbouring threat.”

    The daily went on to say that the fact “India is moving faster in terms of developing armaments such as aircraft carriers provides China with a more favourable international opinion environment in terms of the development of its own advanced armaments”.

    “However, there is no arms race between China and India,” it stressed.

    The article exhorted China to speed up its construction of domestic aircraft carriers.

    “India’s actions remind us that the strategic significance of developing aircraft carriers in Asia is not declining. Rather, they are one of the most effective strategic tools in maintaining national maritime interests. The earlier China establishes its own aircraft carrier capabilities, the earlier it will gain the strategic initiative.

    “We need not worry that the ‘China threat’ theory may gain ground with the proliferation of aircraft carriers. Past experiences have taught us that this theory can do little harm to China,” it said.

    The daily noted that “the strategic deterrence provided by aircraft carriers is still significant”.

    “China is a latecomer among big powers in terms of developing domestic aircraft carriers,” it said and rued: “Even India has moved ahead of us.”

    China has acquired technologies relating to nuclear weapons, missiles and nuclear-powered submarines, though with limited scales. China has proved itself as a defensive country, strategically speaking.
     
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  15. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    For Chinese pipelines, if your air force have that power to penetrate Chinese air defence network thousands kilometres inland, you obviously have ability to win the war, in which case your military power should be even bigger than americans.

    For the ports of strategic importance, I assume you are talking about those located in your neighbours. No, you can't attack them unless you declaring a war on these countries or they declare a war on you by allowing PLAN use their ports as the bases atttacking India. If thse ports are only hosting Chinese civilian boats, you have no right to attack the ports except intercept the boats when they come out. More importantly, Chinese can import the oil through third country such as south korea, tailand and malaysia, etc.
     
  16. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Wasn't this one of the exercises during Malabar?
     
  17. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    The Diplomat

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was much debate about whether war between major powers in Asia was even imaginable. It is a disturbing sign of how much the strategic environment has deteriorated that analysts are now starting to write publicly about how such a war might be fought.

    There is a growing literature on the U.S. concept of Air-Sea Battle,- including the question of whether its use of conventional strikes against targets on the Chinese mainland would lead to wider escalation.- Presumably this has struck a chord in the Chinese security debate – raising questions about the efficacy of an anti-access strategy against U.S. maritime forces – and perhaps that was the point.

    Now there's another emerging theme in American open-source speculation about how a U.S.-China conflict could unfold – a naval blockade.

    In one recent article,- Sean Mirski sets forth what he sees as the elements of a potentially successful U.S.-led blockade strategy to impose huge economic costs on China in a hypothetical future confrontation or war.--

    Of course, a recognition of China's massive seaborne oil-supply vulnerabilities has influenced Beijing's defense, energy and foreign policies for a decade. Whether or not the U.S. Navy has serious plans for the possibility of blockading China, through the Malacca Strait and other chokepoints, there are presumably those in the Chinese security establishment who assume it does.

    But a reading of this new offering to the debate suggests that maybe the Chinese don't need to worry so much.

    In theory, the United States could inflict grievous harm on China in a conflict. After all, regardless of the changing conventional balance, America has overwhelming nuclear superiority. In practice, such crude measures of force are unlikely to count so much. The critical questions are about how much risk, cost and self-harm the United States, China, Japan and any other possible belligerents might be willing to incur in a prospective Asian maritime conflict.

    Air-Sea Battle and its associated Joint Operational Access Concept are explicitly about risk, and a recognition that the U.S. would need to be willing to sustain some substantial military losses in a conflict.- That leaves unanswered the overriding political question – how much risk is too much?

    Likewise with the blockade idea. Mirski acknowledges that any attempt to strangle the Chinese economy as a conflict strategy would be "deeply embedded in the mire of global politics" and would exact great costs on the United States and other participants.- And those participants, he argues, would need to include India and Japan, along with collaboration from Russia in refusing to provide emergency energy relief overland.

    Where his analysis on this score is far from complete is the question of how far Washington and its allies would be willing to go in damaging the global economy – and their own economies – in order to prevail against China by using blockade as a principal weapon of war.

    This leads to an even bigger question. If a reliance on nuclear deterrence against China is disproportionate or simply not credible, if conventional Air-Sea Battle is based on uncertain judgments about risk and political will, and if a blockade would be prone to global economic and diplomatic blowback, then what are the arrows that really count in America's strategic quiver in a contested Asia?/
     
  18. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Antony sees Chinese shipping bypassing Indian blockade

    ://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/antony-sees-chinese-shipping-bypassing-indian-blockade-112022800029_1.html

    One morning in 1999, the tiny Canadian village of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean awoke to a surprise. Parked off the coast was a Chinese icebreaker ship, the Xue Long, mocking Ottawa’s pretensions of control over its northern waters. China is not even amongst the eight Arctic countries — Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, the US (Alaska), Iceland, Denmark (Greenland) and Canada itself — that claim the Arctic’s fabled hydrocarbon reserves, and the rapidly opening Arctic shipping lanes. But Beijing knows that global warming is melting the Arctic ice cap; and it is readying to exploit this, both commercially and militarily.

    This growing capability threatens Indian strategy in a war with China. Defence analysts point to India's two-fold strategy: defending the land border in the north with the army and the air force; while using the Indian Navy to block China’s commercial and military shipping in the Indian Ocean. India’s coastal airfields, especially in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and its proximity to the choke points of Malacca and Sunda in southeast Asia and the Straits of Hormuz and Aden in West Asia will allow the Indian Navy to impose a strangling economic blockade on China.

    But this is not possible if Chinese shipping transits through the Arctic routes, which bypass the Indian Ocean. On Monday, at an international maritime seminar in New Delhi, Defence Minister A K Antony expressed concern, saying: “The possible melting of the polar ice caps will have tectonic consequences for our understanding of what maritime domains constitute ‘navigable’ oceans of the world. Specific to Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, there may be a need to reassess concepts like chokepoints and critical sea lines of communication (SLOCs).”

    Global warming has created the new SLOCs that Antony refers to. Arctic winter temperatures have risen by more than seven degrees over the last six decades. The resulting thinner ice melts easily during summer. In the unusually warm summer of 2007 the Arctic ice cap shrunk by a million square miles. Advanced scientific models presented at the American Geophysical Union in 2007 anticipated an ice-free Arctic summer by 2013.

    The melting ice is opening two Arctic sea routes: the Northwest Passage connects the Northern Atlantic, through Canada’s northern islands, with the Northern Pacific Ocean. In September, 2008, the MV Camilla Desgagnes became the first commercial ship to traverse the Northwest Passage, with the crew reporting that it “did not see one cube of ice.” More relevant to China is the Northern Sea Route, which connects the North Atlantic, passing north of Russia, to the North Pacific and then to the South China Sea. This not just bypasses any Indian ambushes in the Indian Ocean but also reduces the distance from northern Europe to Japan by over 40 per cent, from 21,000 kilometres to just 12,000 kilometres.

    In a Financial Times article in January 2008, Professor Robert Wade of the London School of Economics revealed that China “has lately displayed special interest in relations with Iceland, the tiny island in the north Atlantic, which with its strategic location is believed to get a key role in future shipping in the region. China wants to start shipping containers in the north, and sees the deep-sea ports of Iceland as potential port bases.”

    China is harnessing a global maritime trend. Just as trans-polar routes revolutionised air travel, the melting of Arctic ice caps is revolutionising commercial shipping. Shipping companies worldwide have already built close to 500 ice-class ships and more are on order.

    But China also recognises the strategic and military advantage of an alternative route for its commercial shipping. Beijing has set up the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, to oversee polar research and expeditions. This maintains an outpost, the Yellow River Station, in Norway’s Spitsbergen Archipelago. It bought the Xue Long, just as it bought its first aircraft carrier, the Varyag, from Ukraine and then spent 31 million Yuan ($5 million) to make it polar-capable. The Xue Long has made four major research trips into the Arctic, the most recent one last year.

    With competing claims and counter-claims over waters, the Arctic is seeing a growing military presence. Scott Borgerson revealed in Foreign Affairs magazine that, after the UN rejected Russia’s claim to almost half a million square miles of Arctic waters, “the Kremlin dispatched a nuclear-powered ice-breaker and two submarines to plant its flag on the North Pole’s sea floor. Days later the Russians provocatively ordered strategic bomber flights over the Arctic Ocean for the first time since the Cold War.”
     
  19. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    the whole scenario has changed ...... no more of that war with china mentality ....both countries are strong militarily

    yes we still need strong defence , - and appropriate connections with usa, russia, france are absolutely necessary

    but the competition is now more along economic lines
     

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