China’s ambitions cross borders

Discussion in 'China' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Dec 20, 2013.



    Sep 22, 2012
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    Detroit MI
    Making a maximum claim and then appearing to settle for minimum territory is typical of its strategy.

    December 19, 2013:
    The symbolism in Japanese Emperor Akihito’s visit to Delhi and India’s extraordinary gesture to it — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally received the Monarch — could not have passed unnoticed in Beijing and other Asian capitals.

    The visit took place when Beijing was introducing unprecedented steps to declare large areas beyond its borders as an “Air Defence Identification Zone” (ADIZ), challenging sovereign rights of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, over the islands and reefs they control.

    Under its new notification, China asked all foreign powers to give prior notification of their aircraft — civilian and military — flying over their ADIZ, reinforced by the threat to scramble fighter aircraft to challenge any violations.

    Extraordinary claims

    These extraordinary measures, known to have taken years of internal discussions, were undertaken almost immediately after the Third Plenum of the Communist Party’s 18th Congress. The Plenum put the seal on President Xi Jinping’s virtually unchallenged leadership.

    Apart from populist measures such as doing away with the one-child policy, eliminating repressive labour camps and providing relief to migrant labour, strong anti-corruption measures were promised, together with removing Government control over allocation of resources.

    But perhaps the most significant announcement was the establishment of an Apex National Security Committee under President Xi, which would give him powers on national security issues, akin to those exercised by Deng Xiaoping.

    Deng wielded these powers when China was weak economically and militarily and had to follow his wise advice: “Hide your strength and bide your time.”

    The Deng era has been followed by an economically vibrant and militarily robust China flexing its muscles across its entire neighbourhood.

    Having added an aircraft carrier to its fleet to project power, China intends to expand its reach across the Pacific and Indian oceans, defining its maritime frontiers unilaterally in the South China Sea under its “Nine-Dotted Line.”

    It has militarily seized the Paracel islands from Vietnam and asserted claims of sovereignty on the Spratly Islands, overriding objections from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. It has used force to seize the Mischief Reef, located barely 51 km from the Philippines and 590 km from its Hainan Island. China’s extraordinary claims on its maritime borders do not conform to the provisions of the UN Convention of the Laws of the Seas.

    China’s assertion of its ADIZ has been challenged by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The US has challenged its legality by sending unarmed B-52 bombers into the zone. But the US has asked its commercial aircraft to observe China’s requirements. Japan and South Korea have, however, refused to comply with Chinese demands. Chinese threats of over-flying the disputed Senkaku Islands have been met by Japan scrambling F-15 fighters.

    The South Koreans proclaimed: “We expressed deep regret and reaffirmed our jurisdictional rights to the waters surrounding the (submerged rock) Leodo, would not be affected by neighbouring States’ air defence zones”.

    The Chinese announcement of its ADIZ has exacerbated the existing disputes with South Korea over fishing rights in the Yellow Sea.

    During his visits to Tokyo and Seoul, US Vice President Joe Biden expressed his solidarity with allies Japan and South Korea over China’s border claims. The US has also sent P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft to Japan.

    China’s aim is clearly to get Japan to accept that the Senkaku Islands are disputed territories. According to the well-informed Hong Kong-based Asia Weekly, China sees its maritime boundary in the East China Sea as stretching from the Southernmost Japanese Island towards the East Coast of Taiwan and joining the South China Sea. China is now clearly seeking unchallenged access to the Pacific Ocean.

    In 2009, the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Timothy Keating, told Indian interlocutors that one of his Chinese counterparts had suggested to him that when China acquired aircraft carriers, the US should leave maritime security responsibilities in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans to be handled by the Chinese navy, with the US confining itself to security of the Eastern Pacific.

    Poor defence

    Even as Japan and others facing security challenges from China are upgrading their defences, India’s defence spending this year has reached an estimated all-time low of 1.79 per cent of GDP. Even as the Chinese build up their communications networks across their borders with India and across Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan, our armed forces take days to reach the outer periphery of our borders.

    The Indian army is woefully short of mountain artillery, the Air Force desperately needs Multi-Role Combat Aircraft and the navy is equipped with an aging and obsolescent submarine fleet.

    Essential reforms to our archaic defence structures recommended by the Naresh Chandra Task Force around 18 months ago remain unimplemented. Sadly, South Block has no dearth of apologists for China’s policies who have even sought to downplay Chinese transgressions in Chumar in the Ladakh sector.

    These continuing intrusions have crossed the Karakoram Range, the great watershed that separates China from the subcontinent. They have been accompanied by Chinese claims to the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, reiterated recently to protest the visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to the State.

    P. Stopdan, who hails from Ladakh, recently voiced serious concern of Chinese ingress into the region.

    After explaining how the Ladakh-Tibetan border was defined in the Ladakh-Tibet Treaty of Tingmosgang in 1684, Stopdan has dwelt on how Chinese territorial claims have grown in Ladakh ever since 1956. He has drawn attention to how China dealt with its borders with its Central Asian neighbours. He notes that China purports to give “concessions” without actually giving an inch of territory.

    Adds Stopdan: “The Chinese will have a maximum claim and then they will settle for (what purports to be) the minimum territory. They will present it as a win-win situation to all parties, but in essence usurp what is far more than their legitimate claim”.

    Referring to negotiations with Kazakhstan, Stopden notes: “After the Soviet Union collapsed, China settled for a third of the territories it claimed, the claim itself being maximalist with little basis”.

    Overawed by the Chinese, the Kazakhs were forced to give assurances of non-interference from their soil and part with 60 per cent of their oil resources to the Chinese. China follows the advice of its Chanakya, Sun Tzu, who said: “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence”.

    Our brilliant negotiators, forever apologetic about Chinese intrusions and claims, would be well advised to study Chanakya’s Arthashastra, on statecraft.

    (The author is a former High Commissioner to Pakistan.)

    China’s ambitions cross borders | Business Line

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