Dragon’s teeth

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Daredevil, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Dragon’s teeth


    Growing threat: China drew the first blood by fortifying Tibet
    EXCLUSIVE

    COVER STORY

    China sees red over India securing Tawang, looks to attack where it hurts the most—Kashmir

    By R. Prasannan

    It is back to eyeball-to-eyeball, barrel-to-barrel and bayonet-to-bayonet on the India-China border. Narasimha Rao’s 1993 agreement on border peace and tranquillity is dead. So is the 1995 agreement to pull back from Sumdorong Chu, as well as the 1996 agreement on military confidence-building. These agreements had enabled the Indian Army to move several divisions from the China border and deploy them in the Kashmir Valley to fight insurgents. It also enabled China to focus less on military matters, make economic progress, show a soft face to the world, host the Olympics and gain global prestige.

    Kashmir is secure and the Olympics over. Both countries are currently on a military-building spree over the Himalayas. Indeed, China drew the first blood by building rail lines, roads and airfields so that it can quickly move huge divisions into Tibet from where they can pulverise the frontiers of India. Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, with its politically sensitive monastery which the Chinese have always coveted, looked particularly vulnerable.

    India has been paying back in the same coin, building border roads for quick troop movement, upgrading airfields in Ladakh and helipads in Arunachal, raising new Army divisions, redeploying an entire corps, and even giving wings to entire brigades for heli-lift. Operation Falcon, Indira Gandhi’s 15-year border militarisation programme launched in 1980 and given up in 1993, has been re-started under another name. With the result that Arunachal, especially Tawang, is today an Indian fortress, or a windmill which would be quixotic for the Chinese to tilt at. A frustrated China, therefore, is seeking out another Achilles’ heel in Kashmir’s Ladakh.

    Recent Chinese actions against Kashmir and Ladakh are evidence of this frustration, say senior Indian Army officers. Militarily, there were a series of Chinese border intrusions in Ladakh last year. Diplomatically, China altered its public posture on Kashmir from ‘hands-off’ (even during Kargil war, China refused to help Pakistan) to a declaration that Kashmir is ‘disputed territory’. Adding insult, Beijing even offered to mediate on Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Then it offered to host Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in China and began issuing visas to Kashmiris on loose sheets, indicating that Beijing does not recognise their Indian passports and nationality.

    The latest: China denied visa to India’s Kashmir commander, Lt.-Gen. B.S. Jaswal, who was to visit Beijing on a mutually agreed confidence-building military visit. Simultaneously, it moved a battalion of troops into Khunjerab Pass in Pakistan-held Gilgit-Baltistan, ostensibly to help Pakistan combat the floods, but probably to build a rail line that would take Chinese goods to Pakistan’s ports and Chinese troops to the doors of Siachen. From there, the troops could threaten the Indian sources of several rivers that flow into Pakistan. All of a sudden, the Indian Army in Ladakh is finding the Chinese on three sides—Aksai Chin in the east which China occupied in 1962, Xinjiang in the north and Gilgit-Baltistan in the west annexed by Pakistan in 1947-48.

    The Chinese build-up around Ladakh, India believes, is a tit-for-tat for India’s fortressing Arunachal which, in turn, had been done in response to the Chinese build-up in Tibet. China’s People's Liberation Army (PLA) had moved troops into Tibet following the anti-Beijing riots in March 2008. Hundreds of armoured vehicles, fit for fighting regular military battles, poured into Tibet from the Leshan-(Sichuan province) based 149 Division through the newly built Qinghai-Tibet rail line. More of them drove in through the Sichuan-Tibet Highway.

    Most of the troops returned after shooting the rioters, but the 149 Division’s 52 and 53 Brigades have since been converted into rapidly mobile units which can be deployed in Tibet’s southern frontiers (bordering India) within 48 hours. Next, the PLA moved to acquire a capability to rail-move its 61 and 149 Rapid Action Divisions into Tibet.

    Sensing trouble, the Indian defence ministry permitted the Indian Air Force (IAF) to move a squadron of Sukhoi-30MKI warjets from their Pune base to Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh from where they can strike deep into Tibet and even mainland China. And early this year, the 30 squadron of Sukhois flew into Tezpur in Assam and parked themselves there, just in case.

    The presence of Sukhois rattled China. It suddenly realised that its rail line into Tibet, a military engineering marvel (runs at 4,200 metres from sea level, and so the crew and passengers need to be acclimatised for the journey), is vulnerable to interdiction bombing by Sukhois. It also realised that roads were safer for troop movement during war than trains. So Beijing embarked on a programme of upgrading its highways into Tibet, especially National Highway 318 which connects Linzhi (where the 52 Mechanised Brigade is stationed) to Lhasa, the Qinghai-Tibet Highway and the Sichuan-Tibet Highway.

    The development was noted by the defence ministry. “...There is a feeling,” Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar told Parliament’s standing committee on defence in a classic understatement, “that our neighbouring country, China, has been able to build up a very good infrastructure” close to the Indian borders.

    China has also been enhancing its strike power in Tibet. The Indian Army believes that the PLA can move one full mechanised infantry division into Tibet in 48 hours in an emergency, and about 10 divisions in one month for a permanent base. More worryingly, in its largest ever tactical exercises (code-named Stride) last year, the PLA demonstrated awesome airlift capability. As per the Indian Army’s assessment, China today can airdrop an infantry brigade of 3,000-plus in one airlift and an entire infantry division of about 15,000 troops and their equipment in a single operation.

    In addition, China is also learnt to have raised a rapid deployment force (called Emergency-Resolving Mobile Combat Force) which can induct four divisions on any stretch of its frontier (or enemy territory) on a day’s notice. Plus, the PLA’s logistics management has been tuned in such a way as to gain a capability to move 20 to 25 divisions over two months. Most of these capabilities were proven in Stride-2009 in which 50,000 troops were moved across 1,600km by road, rail and air from the military districts of Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan and Guangzhou.

    Stride-2009 was essentially aimed at proving the PLA’s ability to mobilise in real time. However, what alarmed India was the simultaneous building of advance infrastructure in Tibet so that nearly 25 divisions could be moved into Tibet at short notice. China had three main airfields in Tibet—Kongka, Hoping and Pangta. However, in the months prior to Stride-2009, China built or operationalised two more around Lhasa, and four more elsewhere in Tibet, thus giving them nine airfields to land troops and support fighter operations. And about two months ago, China even exercised a few squadrons of Sukhois and J1s over Tibet. “Exercising them over Tibet has other implications,” said an IAF officer. “You cannot have a sustained exercise programme without having built massive ground support system. Thus even if China is not basing advanced fighters in Tibet as of now, they have all the ground systems in place. They can move in the aircraft in a matter of two hours now.”

    More worrying has been the recent integration of their non-nuclear strategic missiles with their military area commands. India has kept its non-nuclear missile regiments (such as 333) under a separate command so that battalion or brigade commanders are not tempted to use them in the event of minor battlefield reverses. China, however, has integrated them into their area commands which signals that their use in battle is being left to the judgment of middle-level commanders.

    All these military posturings, which have been evolving over the last two years, have been ‘doctrinised’ in the White Paper that China published on January 20, 2009, the day Barack Obama was inaugurated in Washington. The White Paper talked of a new doctrine called ‘active defence’ aimed at “winning local wars in conditions of informationisation [sic].... This guideline lays stress on deterring crises and wars.... It calls for the building of a lean and effective deterrent force and the flexible use of different means of deterrence.”

    Indian defence ministry reacted with unprecedented alacrity. It sought permission to restart Operation Falcon—programme to build border roads and other infrastructure for quick military movement into Arunachal— launched in 1980 by General Krishna Rao on the orders of Indira Gandhi. China had captured Tawang in 1962 but had withdrawn realising that it could not hold on in the event of a counter-attack by the Indian Army. The operation was launched to secure Tawang against any adventurism by China. However, India had to suspend the operation in 1993 in lieu of China promising not to foment any border trouble.

    Now with China building up forces in Tibet, Delhi had no option but to re-start the operation. The foreign office made a high-level visit to Arunachal and apprised the cabinet of the pluses and minuses of agreeing to the defence ministry’s request. Reacting with unprecedented swiftness, India launched a massive border road-building programme, not just by the defence ministry’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO), but even under Centrally-funded state government efforts such as Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. “Earlier the military doctrine of the country was not to have roads close to borders,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony told the Rajya Sabha last month, “but the same has now been revised in the changing geo-political scenario, and the government has taken a conscious decision to expedite construction of road infrastructure in border areas.”

    A few days earlier, the BRO had told Parliament’s standing committee on defence: “Two years back the philosophy of our nation was that we should not make roads as near to the border as possible.... It is only two to three years back that we suddenly decided a change in philosophy and said, no, we must go as far forward as possible.”

    Indeed, the military and the BRO moved with incredible speed to match the Chinese road for road. “Border Roads Organisation has been asked to concentrate on strategic roads,” Antony told the Rajya Sabha on August 11. “There are 73 roads on India-China border (length 3,647km), out of which the BRO has been entrusted with 61 roads of total length of 3,394km in J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Out of 61 roads, 14 roads of length 556.22km have already been completed and work is under progress on 42 roads....[Work] on five roads has not commenced.” According to Antony, 41 roads are planned to be completed by 2013 and the remaining six later.

    The IAF, facing a severe shortage of transport helicopters, too, has been asked to pitch in. It lent 142.45 tonnes of heli-lift capability to the BRO in the last six months. Finding this inadequate, the ministry has asked the BRO to hire Pawan Hans helicopters.

    While the BRO has been building roads, the Army and Air Force have been enhancing their strike power. The Dimapur Corps (3 Corps), which has several mountain divisions under it, has been completely pulled out of counter-insurgency operations in the northeast and converted into a full-fledged offensive corps on the China border. The corps has also been given awesome firepower. The Rangia-based 2 Mountain Division has been pulled out from the Tezpur Corps (4 Corps) and attached to the offensive Dimapur Corps. The corps has also been promised, in an emergency, the services of 41 Division, which is still under the Tezpur Corps. And crowning all the moves is a recent accretion: two new mountain divisions—numbered 41 and 56—have been quietly raised and given to the Dimapur Corps.

    In short, in case the Chinese attempt any kind of adventurism on the Arunachal-Sikkim sector, the Indian Army would have three full corps waiting for them—the Sukhna-based 33 Corps, the Tezpur-based 4 Corps and the newly-augmented Dimapur-based 3 Corps. All of them have also been given the light 155mm guns which can be heli-lifted. Advanced landing grounds have been built in Tuting, Pasighat, Vijaynagar, Along and Mechuka in Arunachal for heli-landing troops and equipment. “Take it from me,” said a general staff officer, “if they come, the Chinese will find Tawang an impregnable fortress.”

    Apparently the Chinese know this. And so they have been shifting focus onto the western sector comprising India’s Ladakh. A few probing trespasses were made there last year, to which India responded with three measures. First, Jairam Ramesh’s road-blocking environment ministry withdrew its objections to building roads in some 760 Himachal villages. Second, the Indian Air Force augmented and activated a landing strip at Nyoma, 20km from the China border for taking troop-carrying Antonov-32 planes. Next, the IAF developed two more airstrips at Fukche and Daulat Beg Oldi.

    The third move, by the cabinet, was to clear the contract for building a tunnel in Rohtang which would make it possible for the troops to move to Ladakh at any time of the year. At present the Ladakh garrisons are supplied troops, food, fuel and ammunition through two routes. One is the Pathankot-Srinagar-Zoji la-Kargil-Leh route, which is blocked by snow in winter and is within the firing range of Pakistani artillery (Kargil war 1999). The other is the Kullu-Manali-Rohtang-Leh route, which is also snow-blocked in winter. A horse-shoe tunnel in the snow-prone stretch at more than 3,000 metres near the 4,000-metre-high Rohtang Pass would make the route available throughout the year. The project was approved in 2000, but no progress has been made since. Suddenly the government remembered it and Sonia Gandhi inaugurated its construction on June 28.

    These moves, India expects, would make a Chinese bid on Ladakh from Aksai Chin in the east almost impossible. So the Chinese are opening another front on the west—from Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-held northern areas.
    What next, Delhi?
     
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  3. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    An excellent article on how India prepared herself to face any future aggression from China in the Tawang area. I think, India will give a bloody nose if ever China will try to sneak into Tawang. Well done India!!!
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    thats says a lot about present sudden flare ups of violence in valley in response to rumors of on quran burning in usa.Afghanistan and kashmir is becoming play ground for china-usa rivalry where pakistan is playing both sides and india is getting dragged into this.
     
  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Well said.

    Should India arm Gilgit-Baltistan based Balwaristani fighters who want merger with India? Or is it a bad idea as they could potentially turn into a Frankenstein, just like the LTTE?
     
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Poke the soft underbelly of the dragon..ie... tibet,Uighur,Taiwan.
     
  7. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    I would like the Government of India do a few things:
    • Keep reminding China about human rights violations in Tibet and East Turkestan (Xinjiang) and frequently mentioning this in international fora.
    • Start issuing VISAS to Tibetans and not attach them to passports issued by government of People's Republic of China.
    • Officially recognise Taiwan ROC and have embassies opened in both countries.
    • Provide military aid to Vietnam.
    • Peform military exercises with US and Japan near Japan. Russia, Taiwan and Vietnam may be included.
    • Prepare for a naval blockade of Pakistan's ports in the event there is any indication of railway lines in Gilgit-Baltistan being used for transportation of goods from China to Karachi or Gwadar citing violation of India's territorial integrity. The idea is to make transportation through Gilgit-Baltistan frustrating, unrelaible and expensive for China. Renegade Balwaristani groups can be used to sabotage Chinese efforts there. There have been attacks on Chinese before (done by RAW/CIA?).
     
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    K Subrahmanyam: Countering China's new assertiveness

    India needs to devise a new balance of power equation to ensure its security and development in the face of the Chinese military challenge
    K Subrahmanyam / September 5, 2010, 0:09 IST
    There can be no doubt that China is trying to apply pressure on India through measures like refusing a visa to India’s Northern Army Commander in Jammu and Kashmir, issuing stapled visas to people from that state visiting China, undertaking large-scale projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and discussing the possibility of limited war against India. The New York Times has reported that 7,000-11,000 Chinese troops have been deployed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and that the area is closed to the world. Questions are naturally being raised in India as to why the Chinese are indulging in such pressure tactics at this stage.

    There was a brief honeymoon period between China and the United States, when there was speculation in both countries about the world order being governed by G-2 (China and the US). After their interaction on economic issues, in which they reached an understanding on the stability of the dollar and continuing Chinese purchases of US treasury bonds, they reverted to their normal stance of competition. China has become more assertive on its ‘core’ concerns, including its interest in international waters as being its ‘waters of concern’. With China’s military modernisation speeding up and its navy expanding, increasing military assertiveness is becoming evident in China’s international behaviour.China has overtaken Japan as the second largest economy in the world, and it is expected to become the number one economy in the world in the next two decades. Meanwhile, the Chinese aim is to assert itself as the dominant power in Asia. They see India as the only hindrance to their achieving that aim, in view of India’s comparable population, its likely advantage of a youth bulge as China ages and its growth slows down, and the developing Indo-US strategic partnership.
    A pluralistic, democratic and secular India as one of the world’s largest knowledge pools is seen as a challenge by China, which emphasises harmony over pluralism and single-party-directed order, as against democracy with emphasis on individual human rights, espoused by India. China has been using Pakistan to counter India by arming it with nuclear weapons, missiles and conventional weapons. India as a poverty-free country having one of the largest knowledge pools in the world is challenged on two sides by the religious-extremist fundamentalism of Pakistan and the single-party state ideological fundamentalism of China. Moreover, they are bonded together by their nuclear and missile proliferation relationship.

    Both countries are interested in fragmenting India. Both have tried to encourage extremist and secessionist groups within the country in J&K, the North-east and the Maoist areas. It is therefore natural for China and Pakistan to attempt to ensure that US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to India does not take the Indo-US relationship further forward. China has questioned India’s sovereignty over Kashmir with its stapled visas and denial of a visa to India’s Northern Army Commander, and its ostensible military presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir/Pakistan has activated its ‘sleeper agents’ in various Kashmiri towns to stage stone-pelting protests.

    In a move to reassure Pakistan, China has discussed in its media the possibility of a limited war against India, copying the Indian debate on the ‘cold start’. China wants to duplicate the Indo-US nuclear deal by offering two more reactors to Pakistan in defiance of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines.

    How does India deal with this Chinese pressure? We should learn from China. In 1971 China was a nuclear weapon power with thermo-nuclear weapons and missiles. Yet, when it faced the Soviet Union after the Ussuri clashes, it felt the need for allies, overt or covert. Though it had fought the US in the Korean war and lost 150,000 lives, including that of Mao Zedong’s pilot son, it entered into an entente with the US against the Soviet Union.

    China made available to the US monitoring stations in Xinjiang against Soviet missile tests and subsequently developed close economic relations with the US, which made China the economic and military power it is today. China’s communist ideology did not come in the way of its national security interests. It was to demonstrate to China the credibility of the US as a covert ally that Kissinger ordered the USS Enterprise mission into the Bay of Bengal during the last days of the Bangladesh war.

    The Chinese are masters of statecraft and strategy. In the wake of Chiang Kai-shek’s defeat, when they faced a hostile United States, they allied themselves with the Soviet Union, and when they had problems with the USSR, they switched to a covert alliance with the US. Once the Soviet Union was dissolved and was no longer a threat, China became Russia’s largest arms market. National security interests and not ideology become the primary determinant of national strategy.

    Though it is not always fully recognised, it was Indira Gandhi’s astute balance of power strategy that produced the Bangladesh victory. At the time she concluded the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty, she was denounced as a Soviet stooge and a ‘poodle’ of Moscow. The Western media talked of Soviet bases in India and Soviet advisers to the Indian armed forces, just as, today, accusations are hurled at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh charging him with toeing the US line and acting under US instructions.

    Similarly, while Krishna Menon committed many mistakes in our defence policy vis-a-vis China, he recognised instinctively that when a country goes for purchase of fighter aircraft and transfer of technology, it is not a mere procurement decision but a geostrategic one. He overrode all objections and decided on the MiG-21 aircraft and thereby established a geostrategic relationship with the Soviet Union which has served the country well ever since.

    Times have changed, as has the international strategic milieu. Even while retaining Russia as a friend in the Asian context, India has to develop a new balance of power equation to deal with the challenge from China and Pakistan not merely to our external security but to our national development as a pluralistic, secular and democratic nation. India too has its ancient strategic wisdom, preached in the Panchatantra, Hitopadesa and Arthasastra, encompassing sama (cooperation), dhana (buying up), bedha (causing division) and dhanda (use of force). It is time to invoke that ancient wisdom and devise an appropriate international strategy to counter the Chinese-Pakistani challenge.
     
  9. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    When Opportunity Knocks

    24 Mar 2009
    By Jayadeva Ranade, Source : Times Of India

    By the time the ongoing international economic crisis runs its course, it will have wrought significant changes in the global geopolitical
    landscape. While the US's strength or power projection capability will not have diminished and the country will continue to be a predominant world power, other centres of power and influence would have emerged. China will be one of these new centres. Unless the Chinese Communist Party's monopoly on power collapses, China will in all likelihood emerge wealthier and stronger. This will have serious implications for India and the region.
    The global crisis has not left China unscathed. President Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao, however, appear confident that their move in October 2005 to replace the policy of allowing 'some people to get rich first' with 'common prosperity' will pay off. Investments have since been channelled into schemes with long-term benefits such as rural health care, medical insurance and social security, targeted at the countryside where 70 per cent of China's population resides.
    China recently unveiled a $587 billion (four trillion yuan) economic stimulus package and planned labour-intensive infrastructure projects. For example, 1,20,000 km of railway lines will be built by 2020 instead of 16,000 km. China's leadership now expects to maintain annual growth at around 7-8 per cent and weather the crisis without too much pain. China's huge foreign currency reserves of $2 trillion must contribute to this confidence.
    China's leadership has traditionally been acutely conscious of the need to guard against social upheavals. After an unprecedented 87,000 'incidents' in 2005, party and public security authorities were trained in sophisticated crowd control techniques and security has been constantly tightened. As a result, the Chinese leadership considers any threat to internal stability or the Chinese Communist Party unlikely. It is now focused on achieving major national security and foreign policy objectives at a time the world remains preoccupied with the economic crisis.
    China's major concern has been to secure assured supplies of natural resources essential for modernisation. Its quest for such resources remains unabated and the past few months have seen the biggest push since 2005 in investments in oil companies. China's policy has, however, shifted to investing in resource companies rather than outright purchase. China is equally active in investing in mineral and metal companies and, in the past few months alone, has invested over $55 billion. Most of these companies are strapped for cash and their share prices are down. But these will undoubtedly rise as construction picks up worldwide, enhancing the value of Chinese investments.
    Earlier this year, China dispatched warships for anti-piracy patrols off Somalia ostensibly to safeguard its maritime trade, the fifth largest in the world, with 60 per cent of oil imports by sea. Chinese navy vessels have, for the first time in 600 years, sailed into action outside their territorial waters. The patrols will be a long-term feature and could use a Pakistani port for resupply. The next flotilla may include a nuclear-powered submarine. Significantly, Beijing took this decision when the rest of the world was otherwise preoccupied. The decision demonstrates the extended operational reach acquired by the Chinese navy right into the Indian Ocean and its determination to act to ensure the safety of its maritime cargo.
    China's enormous wealth has given it a lot of heft in achieving major foreign policy goals. It secured a breakthrough when, in October 2008, the British foreign secretary jettisoned the concept of suzerainty as outdated and declared that Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China. This was around the time British prime minister Gordon Brown made a pitch for infusion of Chinese funds into the IMF. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in Beijing recently, also downplayed references to human rights and Tibet. China will press this advantage further. On the Taiwan issue too, there was some forward movement when Clinton emphasised the role of diplomacy in settling the China-Taiwan dispute.
    The Chinese leadership has sought to enhance its international profile in areas of its interest, including by disbursing financial aid in these difficult times to cash-strapped nations. Closer home, a Chinese military delegation visited Nepal and agreed to give aid. China has simultaneously positioned itself for a role in Afghanistan and the subcontinent. It has continued to maintain its investments in Afghanistan and links with the Taliban, and made clear that it closely watches developments in the region adjoining its troubled Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region.
    The Italian foreign minister's mention that the G-8 would invite China for a conference on Afghanistan indicates that China is poised to play a larger role in the region. It has also consolidated influence in Pakistan, with the Chinese Communist Party signing an agreement with the Jamaat-e-Islami. This is the first time it has concluded an agreement with a political party with an avowedly religious orientation.
    China is trying to assume a more assertive role in regions of its interest: Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific. Picking up on a veiled suggestion Bill Clinton, then US president, in Beijing in 1998, Beijing will try and persuade the US to yield it a greater role in these areas. The implications of a stronger and wealthier China exercising such a role are far-reaching for India and the world.
    The writer is a former additional secretary in the cabinet secretariat.
     
  10. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    THE DANGERS OF GOING INTO DENIAL

    India needs to create political space for imposing costs on China for the latter’s adversarial policies, writes Kanwal Sibal

    China’s denial of a normal visa to General Jaswal, who heads India’s Northern Command, for the fourth round of the defence dialogue in Beijing — because he came from the “sensitive location of Jammu and Kashmir” and “people from this part of the world come with a different kind of visa” — is grave political provocation and not mere “needling”, as termed by our media. This Chinese step has many implications.

    China has no territorial claims on J&K other than its claim to Aksai Chin in Ladakh, where it occupies territory even beyond its own pre-1962 claim line. If it did not recognize vis-à-vis itself India’s legal authority over the remaining territory in J&K, it would not have engaged us in prolonged border parleys covering the western sector as well. Moreover, as China remains committed, at least ostensibly, to a border settlement, why has it begun to question J&K’s status as Indian territory, for that would make India ineligible as an empowered negotiating partner? Issuing stapled visas to Kashmiris holding Indian passports was the first offensive step in the direction of questioning India’s sovereignty over J&K. It has now compounded the provocation by denying a normal visa to an appointee of the government of India in J&K. By referring to J&K as “this part of the world”, Beijing is implying that the territory is not Indian and has undetermined status.

    China’s denial of a visa also contradicts its stated political willingness to promote mutual trust and confidence through increased dialogue between the armed forces of the two countries. Already some modest naval and anti-terrorism joint exercises have taken place as part of an effort to build bridges with the People’s Liberation Army. The general who was denied the visa is in charge of the Aksai Chin area, where the forces of the two countries confront each other and where increasing Chinese incursions worry India. Does China want to signal now that it does not want to engage any general in charge of the sensitive Aksai Chin front even though it supports a bilateral defence dialogue intended to build greater mutual confidence?

    China’s step seems even more incongruous when one considers that the present Indian army chief, General V.K. Singh, visited China in 2009 as head of the Eastern Command, which includes Arunachal Pradesh in its jurisdiction. Was China not worried that giving him a visa might be construed as accepting Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory? Is Arunachal Pradesh less of a “ sensitive location” for China than J&K is? Moreover, the Chinese reportedly gave a visa last year to the Indian corps commander at Leh to visit China as part of an Indian defence delegation.

    One cannot even argue that these are momentary aberrations in Chinese policy. The issue of stapled visas for Kashmiris has been raised officially by us with the Chinese ever since the practice was detected last year, but they have ignored our démarches. In General Jaswal’s case, the Indian side remonstrated with the Chinese officially before the issue became public, but without result. These political attacks on India’s sovereignty over J&K are therefore well-considered Chinese decisions, taken in full awareness of how they could potentially affect relations between India and China.

    China’s expanded challenge to India’s territorial integrity seems to be part of its growing international assertiveness as a result of its phenomenal economic growth, its financial muscle, its developing military capacities and America’s perceived decline as a global power. It has declared the South China Sea an area of its “core interest”, prompting the United States of America to declare that it has “national interests” in this zone. China is establishing the network of an enhanced naval presence in the Indian Ocean that will challenge India’s security interests. Its hardened position on Arunachal Pradesh has become a political fact that India has to contend with, even if its provocations there have subsided now.

    China has shifted its attention to J&K for several reasons. It has developed new security interests in the Pakistan-occupied territory not only in the context of the Uighur insurgency in Eastern Turkestan, but also because of the ambitious project to develop an energy lifeline for itself through Gwadar to sources of oil and gas in the Gulf area and beyond. This requires it to have an entrenched presence in PoK through involvement in large-scale infrastructure projects. The recent New York Times story about the presence of thousands of PLA units in PoK has some basis as the Chinese government admits PLA presence, though for flood-relief work. By its massive ground presence and increased stakes in this region, China intends to become a material factor in any eventual settlement between India and Pakistan regarding the state’s future. In the eventuality of Pakistan’s disintegration or inability to govern this region, China would want to prevent any Indian attempt to control it or play a political role there.

    We have reacted to the latest provocation by suspending military exchanges with China for the time being. Unidentified official sources have also cautioned China that J&K to us is as sensitive a matter as Tibet is to them. The prime minister’s public candour about China exploiting our “soft underbelly” in Kashmir and Pakistan to keep India in a “low level equilibrium” is a welcome change from the normal tendency to appease China. It is important that our response to this denial of a visa does not remain confined to decisions on military exchanges.

    The Chinese action transcends such exchanges; it is a direct assault on our sovereignty over J&K. If we fail to respond, we would be creating space for China to continue questioning our sovereignty over this territory and create more problems for us in tandem with its all-weather friend, Pakistan, whose case for Kashmir it now wants to bolster for evolving strategic reasons. We must, therefore, be more vocal in opposing China’s presence in PoK in public as well as in private talks with the Chinese.

    We should rally international opinion against the China-Pakistan nuclear deal, which is a calculated threat to our security. Our engagement with Taiwan should go up visibly. We must seize this opportunity to prise open the question of China’s untrammelled sovereignty over Tibet. We should consider giving stapled visas to the inhabitants of the Greater Tibet region on their Chinese passports. We must begin reminding the Chinese that India has recognized an “autonomous” Tibet as part of China, not a militarily occupied zone; that China should demilitarize Tibet as a necessary bilateral confidence-building measure; that it should reach a peaceful settlement with the Dalai Lama for stable and tension-free relations between India and China.

    A rising China will be an escalating problem for us. We urgently need to create political space for ourselves to impose costs on China for its adversarial policies towards us, even as we continue to engage with it.

    The author is former foreign secretary of India [email protected]
     
  11. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The article by KS does not suggest what India should do explicitly.

    It is an interesting issue that the article speaks of - discussing limited war with India.

    Isn't it over-reaching and over confidence?

    One has to be wary of China. It has had border talks with India and thereby de facto accepting Kashmir as a part of India and now it is singing a different tune.

    While it may sound politically incorrect, but China appears to have no morality wherein it indicates an attitude of a weather vane, wherein what it says at one time, she can cast asunder at a different time since the direction of the political wind has changed.

    Therefore, nothing coming from China should be taken seriously.

    It is time to acquire friends around the periphery of China, take a strong stand against insensitive diplomatic overtures of China and gear up the RAW and armed forces to not only take on China militarily but also encourage the freedom movements in not only Tibet and Xinjiang but in other minority areas.

    If China can promote insurgency in India, so can India should be the message.

    If Chan can cook, so can you!

    Time to stir fry a Peking duck!

    It is time to show that a Peking Duck can also be stir fried!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2010
  12. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    The dragon takes a leap

    September 15, 2010 1:38:19 PM

    Sandhya jain

    China has emerged as a serious challenger to American hegemony on the Eurasian landmass. It will be less easy to out-manoeuvre Beijing

    Catching a somnolent Indian political and security establishment unawares, the Chinese dragon has taken virtual charge of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan in the north-west corner of the undivided kingdom of Kashmir. This — like the 38,000 sq km in Ladakh connecting Tibet and Xinjiang, and 5,000 sq km in Shaksgam Valley given by Pakistan in 1963 — is Indian territory acceded on October 26, 1947 by Maharaja Hari Singh, but lost to Pakistani invaders by a Prime Minister who allowed himself to be manipulated by Governor-General Louis Mountbatten.

    India’s loss was sealed by the US-dominated United Nations that froze the status quo via Australian jurist Owen Dixon and Czech-American Josef Korbel, who was supposed to represent India. For Mountbatten, who had urged Hari Singh to join Pakistan, this was no mean feat; he breezed off to England with India partitioned on three frontiers, its elite none the wiser.

    Korbel’s daughter, Ms Madeleine Albright, became Secretary of State to US President Bill Clinton, which only goes to show how the imperial West protects its geo-political-strategic interests through generations of committed ‘mandarins’ while spouting the rhetoric of democracy and open society. Indians nursing the Clinton-sold dream of ‘emerging superpower’ must realise that greatness comes from a national understanding of power, not mindless adherence to a pretended friendly superpower.

    Indian analysts fell into frenzy after former journalist Selig Harrison revealed the new geo-political reality in The New York Times (August 26, 2010). The article, which said 7,000 to 11,000 Chinese soldiers have moved into Gilgit-Baltistan is interesting on several counts.

    Beijing, says Mr Harrison, wants to secure access to the Persian Gulf via Pakistan. Currently, it takes 16 to 25 days for Chinese oil tankers to reach the Persian Gulf. Once the high-speed rail and road links through Gilgit-Baltistan are done, cargo from China will reach Pakistani naval bases at Gwadar, and Pasni and Ormara on the Makran coast, within 48 hours.

    People’s Liberation Army engineers and soldiers are working on the railroad and also extending the Karakoram Highway that links Xinjiang province with Pakistan. Other projects include dams, expressways, and 22 secret tunnels. These could house the projected gas pipeline from Iran to China (excluding India because of our self-destructive loyalty to the US); they could equally store missiles and hence challenge American designs on the Yellow Sea, South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Washington is worried because Islamabad's support for the Taliban and offer of passage to the Persian Gulf to China proves it is not an ‘ally’. Perhaps it is just a major non-NATO mercenary.

    New Delhi must ponder over Mr Harrison’s advocacy of a “settlement” of Kashmiri demands for autonomy on both sides of the ceasefire line. Mr Harrison knows the State legally ceded to India in 1947. He knows the Shias of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir hate Pakistan; he avoids assessing their possible reaction to the Han Chinese soldiers if they stay too long.

    But Mr Harrison does not make even polite noises about the return of Indian territory to India. Instead, he brazenly asks New Delhi to join hands with Washington, DC to ensure that Beijing is denied a foothold in Gilgit-Baltistan and does not take it over like Tibet. Islamabad has been asked to cooperate, a polite way of telling the Generals to boot out the PLA, an unlikely scenario.

    So what’s the score for New Delhi? First, by getting into northern Pakistan, China is adjacent to the strategic Siachen Glacier, where the Pakistani Army is deployed on one side. Peaceniks, Track II and assorted jholawallahs who advocate demilitarisation of the glacier — as a prelude to a Pakistani, and now Chinese walkover — must be made to hold their tongues, or tried as foreign agents.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must cease all talk about porous borders. All our frontiers are open — land and sea. We must upgrade the border infrastructure on a war-footing (think what we could have done with the money looted for the Commonwealth Games fiasco!) and fix our neighbourhood diplomacy with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, and resist the temptation to needle China.

    Of course, India cannot ignore provocations like Beijing's refusal of a visa to Northern Command chief Lt Gen BS Jaswal and rightly cancelled all military exchanges with China until the issue is resolved. We need some reciprocal action for the stapled visas granted to Indians from Jammu & Kashmir; so far we have penalised our own citizens by not letting them travel on such documents, a correct move in itself, but one which does not redress the issue.

    Above all, India must recognise that Pakistan is the fulcrum of the Persian Gulf-Central Asia strategy of America (whom it mistakenly views as a friend) and China (whose enmity it exaggerates). If New Delhi is touchy about Beijing giving Islamabad two nuclear reactors (breaching Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines) it cannot overlook the covert American aid to AQ Khan.

    China has emerged as a serious challenger to American hegemony on the Eurasian landmass, the first real threat since the smashing of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and one whose elite will be less easy to manipulate and out-manoeuvre, unless Christian missionaries succeed in penetrating the upper echelons of the Communist Party of China. Undeterred by American hostility, China is helping Iran's nuclear ambitions, and has reportedly sold long-range solid-fuel missiles to Saudi Arabia, which can hold nuclear warheads. The gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China, bypassing Russia, is another power statement.

    China has suffered tremendously at the hands of Western and Japanese imperialism, and has worked hard to rise again in the comity of nations. It has studied the Anglo-American geopolitical strategies that caused the two World Wars, and, unlike India, has realised that Islam is the best buffer against the West and Asia, and can also help achieve Chinese geopolitical and security interests. Hence the cultivation of Pakistan from the time of President Ayub Khan, the Saudi dynasty, and so on. The chink in Beijing’s armour is the CIA-trained mercenary jihadis of Pakistan, who can be moved from the Northern Areas into Xinjiang.

    For India, a collateral benefit of Chinese presence in Gilgit-Baltistan is that it has nixed plans to delink Jammu & Kashmir from India by creating an East Timor-like situation in Srinagar Valley prior to President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi, thereby forcing UN intervention and plebiscite.
     
  13. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Tawang is the birth place of Tsangyang Gyatso, the 6th Dalai Lama, who was ousted by Qing Dynasty in power struggles.

    His poems are very popular in China nowadays.
     
  14. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    Guys the situation is that there are a thousand ways to weaken this so called Sino-Pak grip on the "Disputed" territories that they claim as theirs. Only thing is, we need an iron strong leadership to both do stuff in secret as well as show publicly that we know how to break necks as well. This, we don't have as of yet and a strong Army, smart strategists, excellent analysts, is in the hands of weak and spineless fools.

    The credit of arming the east should go entirely to the strategic command for pressing Delhi to sign up agreements and pass bills fast.
     
  15. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The outlines of the history of Buddhism in Tibet from this time are well-known. At this early time also, from the south came the influence of scholars under the Pāla dynasty in the Indian state of Magadha. They had achieved a blend of Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna that has come to characterize all forms of Tibetan Buddhism.

    Tibetan king Khri srong lde btsan (742–797) invited the Ch’an master Mo-ho-yen (whose name consists of the same Chinese characters used to transliterate “Mahayana”) to transmit the Dharma at Samye Monastery. Mo-ho-yen had been disseminating Dharma in the Tun-huang locale, but, according to Tibetan sources, lost an important philosophical debate on the nature of emptiness with the Indian master Kamalaśīla, and the king declared Kamalaśīla's philosophy should form the basis for Tibetan Buddhism. However, a Chinese source says their side won, and some scholars conclude that the entire episode is fictitious. Pioneering Buddhologist Giuseppe Tucci speculated that Hwashang's ideas were preserved by the Nyingmapas in the form of dzogchen teachings.

    Whichever may be the case, Tibetan Buddhists today trace their spiritual roots from Indian masters such as Padmasambhāva, Atiśa, Tilopa, Naropa and their later Tibetan students.

    Dalai Lama lives in India, which gave form for Tibetan Buddhism.


    The next Dalai Lama for all we know may reincarnate in the US!\

    Historically, Tibet is a independent land of Tibetans, ravaged by imperialist foreigners.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010
  16. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    China’s Indian Provocations Part of Broader Trend


    Over the last few years, tensions have been brewing between India and China over their long-held border disputes. The source of the tensions is multi-faceted but driven in large part by China’s concern with an emergent India and Beijing’s desire to consolidate its position on Tibet. While military conflict between the two Asian giants is unlikely any time soon, recent Chinese moves illustrate a broader trend of muscular diplomacy from Beijing over its various territorial claims.
    In order to guard against a variety of threats, including a potentially hostile China, India will continue to pursue a robust military modernization program and closer diplomatic ties with other Asian nations. The U.S. should keep close tabs on the simmering Sino-Indian border friction and continue with plans to enhance U.S.–Indian defense cooperation, through coordinated maritime security programs, joint military exercises, and defense trade deals that assist India in accessing advanced military technology.
    Unresolved Issues
    While trade and economic ties between India and China are improving (bilateral trade has increased from around $5 billion in 2002 to over $60 billion in 2010), both sides continue to harbor deep suspicions of the other’s strategic intentions. In recent years, China has increasingly pressured India over their disputed borders by questioning Indian sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh.
    China lays claim to more than 34,000 square miles of this northeast Indian state and since 2007 has focused on building up its military infrastructure in areas close to the Arunachal Pradesh border, as well as expanding a network of road, rail, and air links. India has sought to match the Chinese moves and to reinforce its own territorial claims by augmenting forces—including the raising of two mountain divisions and placing of two squadrons of Sukhoi-30 fighters near the state—and constructing several roads on its side of the border in Arunachal Pradesh.
    The most recent flare-up between Beijing and New Delhi, however, involves Indian sovereignty over the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This is a particularly sensitive region for India since the state was wracked by a Pakistan-backed insurgency throughout the 1990s and has more recently erupted in violent riots led by anti-Indian Kashmiri youth. India and Pakistan have disputed the status of Jammu and Kashmir since partition in 1947 and fought two full-fledged wars and one brief border war in 1999 over the issue. During the 1962 Sino–Indian war, China invaded the eastern and western sectors of their shared borders and ended up annexing the area of Aksai Chin, which had been part of the pre-partition princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
    The current tussle developed late last month when Beijing refused to grant a visa to Indian Lieutenant General B. S. Jaswal, chief of Northern Command, which includes parts of Kashmir. General Jaswal had intended to travel to Beijing to participate in a high-level China–India defense exchange. It is unclear what prompted the latest visa incident, but it follows Chinese complaints about a meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and the Dalai Lama in mid-August. India is a long-term host to the Dalai Lama and about 100,000 Tibetan refugees, although the Indian government forbids them from participating in any political activity.
    In response to China’s refusal to grant General Jaswal a visa, India cancelled a visit by Chinese officers to India and postponed indefinitely any further defense exchanges with China. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh convened a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security last week to discuss the visa incident.
    The meeting also likely included discussions of new claims of a Chinese troop presence in Pakistan’s Northern Areas that abut the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.[1] Most likely, these troops are construction battalions helping to build transportation links between Pakistan and the PRC, possibly from the Chinese-funded port facility at Gwadar.
    Nonetheless, New Delhi would view with consternation the possibility of Chinese troops being stationed on both the eastern and western borders of Indian Kashmir. China already maintains a robust defense relationship with Pakistan, and the China–Pakistan partnership serves both Chinese and Pakistani interests by presenting India with a potential two-front theater in the event of war with either country.
    China may be returning to a position of reflexively supporting Pakistan on Kashmir. Since the 1999 Kargil border conflict between India and Pakistan, Beijing’s position on Kashmir seemed to be evolving toward a more neutral position. During that conflict, Beijing helped convince Pakistan to withdraw forces from the Indian side of the Line of Control following its incursion into the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir. Beijing made clear its position that the two sides should resolve the Kashmir conflict through bilateral negotiations, not military force. Any Chinese backtracking from this neutral position on Kashmir would likely be met with subtle moves by India that increasingly question Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.
    Pattern of Chinese Pressure
    China’s recent actions are increasing pressure on many of its neighbors. In April, Chinese naval forces engaged in exercises near the Ryukyu Islands. In August, Chinese naval forces conducted major naval exercises in the East China Sea and more recently have held live-fire exercises in the Yellow Sea (after protesting U.S.–South Korean military exercises in the same area).
    More recently, the Chinese also planted a flag on the floor of the South China Sea to reinforce their claims to that entire area. Meanwhile, Chinese naval vessels made a port call in Burma, marking the first time Chinese naval combatants have called on that nation.[2]
    China’s growing assertiveness is supported by a range of increasingly sophisticated military capabilities. This year’s report on Chinese military power from the U.S. Department of Defense highlights China’s ever more effective air and naval forces, as well as ongoing investments in both space and cyber operations.
    A concrete example of this growing set of capabilities was displayed in August, when China held its first major parachute exercise in the Tibetan plateau. This involved a paratroop drop of 600 troops, clearly establishing a rapid force insertion capability on the part of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).[3] As a Chinese officer observed, this exercise showed that, in the event of a crisis, Chinese paratroopers could rapidly deploy at any time.
    These modernization efforts are supported by investments in training and doctrine so that the PLA can put those new weapons to effective use. The paratroop drop is only one example of the current Chinese training tempo, which includes major joint exercises in the Jinan Military Region (which appears to be the PLA’s test-bed military region for “test-driving” new operational concepts) and naval exercises ever farther from Chinese shores. Chinese media also reports that Chinese “third generation” fighters, deployed into the Chengdu Military Region since March, have recently flown with live ammunition in the skies above Tibet.[4]
    U.S. Reaction
    With regard to China’s maneuvering in South Asia, the U.S. should:
    Continue to build strong strategic ties to India and encourage India to play a more active political and economic role in the region. To help India fulfill that role, Washington should continue to seek a robust military-to-military relationship with New Delhi and enhance defense trade ties.
    Collaborate more closely with India on initiatives that strengthen economic development and democratic trends in the region and work with India to counter any Chinese moves that could potentially undermine such trends in order to ensure the peaceful, democratic development of South Asia.
    Cooperate with India in matching increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region. Given the substantial Indian naval capabilities, U.S. naval forces should increase their interaction with their Indian counterparts, both to improve Indian naval capabilities and to signal Beijing that its moves will be matched jointly by New Delhi and Washington.
    Leadership Needed
    With an ascendant China determined to flex its diplomatic and military muscle, American leadership is needed now more than ever.
    Dean Cheng is Research Fellow in Chinese Political and Security Affairs and Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia, in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.
     
  17. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Himachal Chief Minister expresses concern over Chinese threat


    2010-09-12 22:20:00
    In the wake of many strange developments in the recent past with China, the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal has voiced his concern over the threat posed by China.

    Speaking on sidelines of a function to inaugurate a building of Consumer Forum here, Dhumal cited that China had denied a visa to an IAS officer from Arunachal Pradesh cadre when around 100 IAS officers were going on an official visit to China in 2008.

    "When our Prime Minister goes to Arunachal (Pradesh), so China objects on that; when IAS delegation has to got to China, it objects in giving visa to the IAS of Arunachal (Pradesh). Right now, I have learnt that they have set missiles in Tibet, which would target main cities of India. All these things are problematic. They are a threat to the nation's security, and I am saying this repeatedly that India has the greatest threat from China only," said Prem Kumar Dhumal.

    He suggested that India should construct an international-level airport in Himachal Pradesh, both for tourism and from security point of view.

    "We also brought this topic in the National Development Council meeting. On one side, China is making several airports and helipads, and making railway lines as well (in Tibet region)," Dhumal added.

    Last month Beijing had refused a visa to an Indian Army General presently posted in Kashmir which happened to be the latest diplomatic spat between two Asian giants jostling for global influence and resources.

    It may also be noted that in spite of decades of mistrust, China is today India's biggest trade partner. The value of bilateral deals was expected to pass $60 billion this year, a 30-fold increase since 2000, raising the stakes in maintaining peace.
     
  18. Rahul92

    Rahul92 Senior Member Senior Member

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    China is taking all measures to make India aggressive It has given pakistan the nukes provoking the un to look at kashmir issue and now trying to establish contact with taliban
     
  19. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    it's equally true - of below statement

    Historically, Assam (or Bangla or...) is an independent land of Assamese (or Banglese?), ravaged by imperialist foreigners.
    Timeline of history of Assam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    And, Babur, Humayun, Akbar... are among those foreign imperialist invaders.

    Let Assam be Assamese Assam! Let us rewrite the history!
     
  20. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Inaction not the answer

    September 16, 2010 6:32:21 PM

    G Parthasarathy

    India must respond in a calculated manner to Chinese ‘assertiveness'. We could commence Minister-level economic exchanges with Taiwan

    Former National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra has long been known to have a deep commitment to a friendly and normalised relationship with China. This is not surprising, with his having been the recipient of the famous ‘Mao Smile’ and Mao’s “let us be friends again” comment on May 1, 1970. The normally reticent Mr Mishra, however, made some scathing comments to a gathering of distinguished American academics in New Delhi on July 20. Outlining India’s major National Security Challenges, the veteran diplomat said, “What has created more problems for us today is the unmitigated hostility of Pakistan and China towards India.”

    He was strongly critical of the flip-flops on policy towards Pakistan, which he asserted only encouraged Islamabad to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy. More significantly, he added, “Now we are facing a situation in which terrorism is going to increase because for the first time China has come out openly for Pakistan’s position on Jammu & Kashmir, the issuance of visas on separate pieces of paper, the projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and, of course, the military and nuclear assistance which is being given.”

    When Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao visited India in 2005, he agreed to a boundary settlement along “easily identifiable, natural geographical features”, adding that in reaching an agreement, “the two sides shall safeguard the interests of their settled populations in border areas”. Our over-enthusiastic Sinologists promptly read this as a Chinese commitment to soften their claims on populated areas like Tawang. They were soon in for a reality check when China upped its border claims, asserting that the whole of Arunachal Pradesh is a part of what it described as “south Tibet”. This was accompanied by increasing border intrusions. Pakistan remains a convenient stalking horse for a China bent on ‘containment’ of Indian influence.

    Along with these developments came the introduction of ‘stapled visas’ for Indian nationals from Jammu & Kashmir. While China’s reference to Gilgit-Baltistan as “northern Pakistan” may have been inadvertent, the refusal of a visa to India’s Northern Army Commander is clearly unacceptable. All this is certainly very different from the advice tendered by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin to his Pakistani hosts in 1996 that they should settle the ‘Kashmir issue’ through patient bilateral negotiations with India.

    Few in New Delhi have bothered to seriously note that China has backed Pakistan’s efforts to block US-sponsored moves since 2007 in the UN Security Council to declare Hafiz Mohammed Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa’h as an international terrorist organisation. China also appears to have struck a deal with pro-Taliban warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to ensure its citizens working on its investments in copper mining in north-eastern Afghanistan are not attacked.

    Following the 26/11 terrorist outrage, Chinese ‘scholars’ proclaimed that the Mumbai attack reflected “the failure of Indian Intelligence”. They claimed that India was blaming Pakistan to “enhance its control over the disputed Kashmir” and warned that “China can support Pakistan in the event of a war”. They asserted that in such circumstances, China may have the option of resorting to a “strategic military action in southern Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) to thoroughly liberate the people there”.

    China has since agreed to co-produce 240 JF-17 fighters and supply 30 J-10 fighters, apart from four Frigates, tanks and AWACS to Pakistan. China is also upgrading Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and missile capabilities. India has to carefully analyse if Pakistan is being assisted to shift its nuclear weapons from the increasingly unstable Balochistan Province to tunnels in the remote parts of Gilgit-Baltistan.

    As its maritime power grows, China is becoming increasingly ‘assertive’ on its maritime boundaries, claiming that like Taiwan and Tibet, the entire South China Sea is an area of “core interest”. The Yellow Sea and the East China Sea are claimed to be parts of China’s “sphere of influence”. The simmering differences over maritime boundaries between China and its ASEAN neighbours, (particularly Vietnam) came to the fore at the recent Hanoi meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum.

    Chinese ‘assertiveness’, including statements by senior Chinese military officials suggesting that the US should accept the Eastern Pacific and Indian Oceans as China’s “sphere of influence”, has raised eyebrows in Washington, DC. Is China prematurely manifesting hubris in the belief that American power is declining and can be challenged? After displaying incredible naiveté in its initial months in office, the Obama Administration now acknowledges China’s economic policies are “mercantilist” and its export-led growth responsible for exacerbating global economic imbalances. Will China’s rise be peaceful and non-threatening? This is the question being asked not just in New Delhi but across the world.

    Current Chinese ‘assertiveness’ may well be the result of the People’s Liberation Army becoming increasingly aggressive at a time when the country is preparing for a change of leadership in 2012. Moreover, it would not be surprising if China has concluded that the political leadership in India has been unable to build a national consensus and confront serious challenges ranging from Maoist violence to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

    The Chinese could well be mistaking robust democratic debate for weakness. India does have advantages to exploit. Apart from Pakistan, there is virtually no other country that accuses us of territorial ambitions or of greed in seeking access to their natural resources. Most important, major centres of power — the US, Russia, Japan and the EU — seek to engage China but deeply distrust Chinese long-term ambitions. This gives us access to defence, space and industrial technology not available to China.

    While it would be counter-productive for India to respond in kind to aggressive Chinese rhetoric, diplomatic inaction is not an answer. India’s ‘Look East’ policies are paying dividends in our engagement with ASEAN member-states. Our growing defence and strategic ties with Japan, South Korea and Vietnam have not escaped notice in China.

    But would it not be worthwhile to equip Vietnam with Cruise and ballistic missiles, together with the supply of safe-guarded nuclear power and research reactors and reprocessing facilities? Can we not, like the ASEAN countries, commence Minister-level economic exchanges with Taiwan? Should we not suggest that since China and the Dalai Lama signed a 17-Point Agreement in 1951 and that we hope both sides agree to abide by and implement that agreement in letter and spirit? Measured and calculated responses are the best answers to Chinese ‘assertiveness’.
     
  21. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Breathing down our neck


    Director of the Asia Programme at the Centre for International Policy Selig H. Harrison’s report on the recent deployment of Chinese troops in the Gilgit region of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) has caused concern in South Asia. By way of denial, Pakistan and China haven’t refuted the presence of


    the troops but their purpose. Pakistan claims they were there to assist in “flood control”. Zhao Gang Cheng of the Shanghai-based Institute of International Studies stated that the purpose was for considerations of economy and energy and not to pose a threat to anyone.
    The Chinese are conscious of the vulnerability of their Sea Line of Communications (Sloc) to disruption by any hostile navy in the event of a conflict. China’s dependence on imported oil is now to the tune of 56 per cent. By 2015, it will go up to two-thirds of China’s energy needs and by 2030 it would touch four-fifth. Hence the Chinese paranoia over the vulnerability of its energy imports. To achieve a supply chain that is less vulnerable to disruption from outside factors, China has devised a ‘Malacca Bypass Strategy’ that seeks to re-route its oil inflows via overland routes and pipelines. A key component of this strategy hinges upon its investment in the Gwadar Port of Pakistan and the frenzied construction/upgradation of a triple-tier rail and road highway along with a gas pipeline that will carry Iranian gas to China’s Western Provinces. This will reduce a 16,500-km journey to just 2,500 km. This Chinese oil and gas artery via Pakistan and the Shia rebellious province of Gilgit in PoK has become a core Chinese interest.

    But China has an ingrained habit of defining core interests and vital communications arteries. Over time it becomes prepared to launch ‘self defence’ counter attacks to ‘safeguard’ these arteries. For example, in the 1962 India-China war, a key Chinese concern was its perceived threat to the Aksai Chin highway that connects Tibet with Xinjiang. It perceived India’s ‘Forward Policy’ (of establishing its claims by token posts in disputed areas) a threat. If Pakistan persists with its terrorist provocations, a limited war between the two nations could erupt. China could view it as a threat to Gwadar–Karakoram energy lifeline and intervene militarily.

    This is not mere conjecture. There has been an alarming shift in the Chinese stance over Kashmir. From complete neutrality in the Kargil war of 1999, China now assertively claims J&K as disputed territory. It’s even rejecting visas to Indian citizens from J&K. It has now deliberately escalated the level of provocation by denying a visa to Lt Gen. B.S. Jaswal (Army Commander Northern Command) on the plea that he commands troops in J&K. The same logic didn’t apply to the Eastern Army Commander, who commands our forces in Arunachal Pradesh. This is not a minor shift of stance or nuance. It’s a major, and deliberate, provocation.

    The Chinese troops in Gilgit are reportedly involved in the upgradation of the existing Karakoram Highway to double-lane status and adding a new railroad and a gas pipeline. What’s most baffling is the construction of 22 tunnels to which even Pakistani troops are not allowed. One speculation is that these are designed to store the new aircraft carrier killer Dong Feng 21 anti-ship missiles, which can move down the Karakoram Highway to attack America or Indian aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. If true, then it would be a strange way for Pakistan to repay its American patrons for their generous aid. The positioning of the missiles will also have a significant impact on our naval operations in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

    China’s moves have long-term implications that we can’t afford to overlook. There is an urgent need to speed up our arms acquisition process. We can’t postpone them to a distant date in 2025, the date line being based on the presumption that we must complete our economic reconstruction first and then build up our military muscle by 2025. Will our adversaries patiently wait and watch till then? This decade could be critical in terms of sudden and non-linear changes. The reports of a sizeable Chinese military presence in Gilgit and its change in stance on the status of J&K are an ominous shift of pattern that is cause for serious disquiet.

    G.D. Bakshi is a retired Major General of the Indian Army
     

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