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India Ups the Ante Along Chinese Border

MBI Munshi

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By Rajeev Sharma

August 22, 2012


India has recently reactivated its Panagarh air base in West Bengal which was developed by the Americans during World War II to fly aircraft into China. This is a bold China-specific military move by India, indicating that the Delhi government, feeling boxed in by China’s upgrades to its military infrastructure, is being forced to take counter measures.

New reports this week suggest that India will now deploy half a dozen mid-air refueling tanker aircraft at the Panagarh to boost the strike range of Indian Air Force fighter planes like SU-30 MKIs, which are already deployed along the Chinese border.

Mid-air refueling planes are vital force multipliers, militarily speaking. But in the context of India’s contingency plans to counter China’s growing military power these planes could hardly be referred to as “force multipliers” given that they are currently based in Agra, which is too far away from the Tezpur and Chhabua air bases in Assam where the SU-30 MKIs’ squadrons are located to be of any use. The reactivation of the Panagarh air base and the eventual relocation of the mid-air refueling planes there would correct this anomaly.

However, the latest Indian move is hardly sufficient to counter the vast military infrastructure that China has already built in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) right on India’s doorstep. Indeed, this is the case despite even if one takes into account that India has also reopened airfields in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) and raised two additional divisions of troops in the northeast.

China has at least a half a dozen air fields fully operational in TAR alone. These have all been built in the past couple of years. In the event of a conflict, China has the capability of bringing trainloads of arms, ammunition, and troops right on the Indian border from its mainland. India does not have this kind of capability even in a planning stage just yet.

Significantly, the Director of the U.S. National Intelligence Agency (NIA) stated in an unclassified report to the Senate Intelligence Committee on January 31, 2012: “Despite public statements intended to downplay tensions between India and China, we judge India is increasingly concerned about China’s posture along the border and Beijing’s aggressive posture in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific Region (APR)”.

India Ups the Ante Along Chinese Border | Indian Decade
 

MBI Munshi

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China’s New Himalayan Thrust

By Bhaskar Roy


Recent views of some Indian experts studying China are persuading the strategic community that China is very likely to attack India in 2012. This view has apparently begun to influence some in the government, too. The underlined some is to emphasize that this is not the dominant view. But the importance of the view is to keep those in charge alert and awake.

Various reasons or evidence have been quoted to bolster this thesis. These include rapid Chinese infrastructures construction and up-gradation in Tibet which support military efficiency, high grade People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exercises in Tibet, possible missile back up and even the likelihood of a hard line commander or a crazy anti-India commander opening a front at some point along the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC).

There appeared to be a syndrome of looking at China’s strategic thinking through a Pakistani prism, speculating that China’s internal problems may induce Beijing to engage in confrontational military skirmish with India to divert internal pressure. This, however, is not China’s strategic culture. They close up when faced with internal political and social challenges.

It is, however, true that China in the last three years at least, has become highly assertive in its Asia Pacific neighbourhood over territorial claims. Low level skirmishes (non-military with Japan over the sovereignty over the Senkaku (in Japan)/Diaoyu (in China) Islands in the East China Sea and confrontations, especially with the Philippines and Vietnam, over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea have intensified. The issue of Taiwan’s return to the mainland is a major issue. The US pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, reinforcement of US-Philippines military agreement, new US-Vietnam contacts which have military overtones are all matters of concern to China.

PLA spokesmen have been threatening military responses to establish Chinese sovereignty over these territories, though the political leadership have recognized their overreach and are trying to reduce tensions. Chinese national strategic interest in the Asia Pacific far surpasses their intentions along the Sino-India border currently. Chinese activities including military, statements from official strategic experts including from the PLA, and official media comments have refrained from threats to India.

This, however, does not mean that China has gone soft over the border issue. Not in the least. They reiterate their position periodically both officially and demi-officially.

Tibet is being militarized aggressively. Old airports have been renovated. Advanced aircraft including SU-27 have been located in Gonga Airport along with Surface-to-Air anti-aircraft missiles. The critical railway is being extended towards the borders with India. Military exercises including ground and air force have been notable for their defensive-offensive joint operations. Most remarkable has been China’s infrastructure construction along the Sino-Indian borders especially in the Eastern Sector.

The PLA studies and simulated exercises over the years have not yielded results encouraging another military adventure against India at the moment. The first conclusion was the 1962 situation no longer obtains. The PLA’s misadventure in Vietnam in 1979 taught them that there is more to winning a war then only sheer armament power. Tactics, planning and morale of soldiers are very important.

Some PLA strategists have suggested that the next India-China war will have to be fought on the ground, air and sea – a much bigger battle concept.

The current Chinese battle doctrine is focused on winning a local war under modern conditions. From the on-going developments it is evident that its Asia Pacific Sea board and territorial claims remain the prime focus. India does not figure in this frame work.

India, however, looms much larger in China’s Asia perspective to start with. Perhaps, China’s founding leader Mao Zedong recognized India’s potential much before the Indians did. This weakness, lack of self-belief and self-confidence among Indians almost across the board, and search for peace where there is none, were handsomely exploited by the relentless Chinese propaganda machinery. It is no secret that the defeat of the Indian army in 1962 was rubbed in by the Chinese propaganda and dent the self-confidence of the Indian armed force. This also affected Indian bureaucrats and political leaders who tended to brush Chinese misdemeanors under the carpet. Recently, the Chinese are using some Indian writers to write on the 1962 war on lines dictated by the Chinese in the Chinese media.

In recent years, whenever the Indian leadership reacted strongly to an issue the Chinese backed down. But even then, appeasement of the Chinese continues. It is alleged that the formation of strike corps for the Eastern Sector was shelved a year ago allegedly in order not to provoke China. The proposal is apparently being reconsidered.

It is evident from the recent Joint Working Group (JWG) on the border and Senior Representative (SR) level talks between the two countries that the Chinese are not willing to resolve the border issue at the moment and it does not suit them. A live border issue also gives China an instrument to needle India periodically.

What the Chinese are doing is to buy time till they resolve the territorial issues in the Asia Pacific region in their favour. Then a more powerful China will seriously focus militarily on the Sino-Indian border, and their strength will depend on India’s capability or the lack of it. India has no time to procrastinate its military preparedness.

Chinese Defence White Papers make it clear that only strength can ensure peace and, on this basis, China’s perseverance in military modernization and preparedness.

China’s encirclement of India strategy, commonly known as the “string of pearls” strategy, an American nomenclature, has been widely discussed. Beijing, of course, denies this allegation. The strategy, however, continues but its effectiveness may have dented to an extent with India’s development including military modernization.

Pakistan, China’s fulcrum for promoting the string of pearls in South Asia may not be as effective any longer because of related developments centering on Afghanistan. But Islamabad has not been given up, though Beijing today finds that its silent support to Pakistan’s Islamic terrorist assets against India is beginning to impact China’s Muslim separatist in Xinjing. Beijing has made inroads into Sri Lanka. But the Island nation has its limitations.

The weak links discovered by Beijing are Bhutan and Nepal. The Himalayan states and the Indo-Himalayan belt always attracted by China as soft power projections against India - winning a war without firing a bullet. It has nurtured anti-India forces in Nepal for years, taking advantage of small country antipathy against a big neighbour. India’s arrogant diplomacy periodically, only back fired. A section virulently anti-India among Nepalese politicians and media has been studiously nurtured by Beijing.

Bhutan and China do not enjoy diplomatic relationship. They have a serious border territorial issue. But official contacts are maintained to resolve the issue, while some trade takes place. But there are those in Bhutan who look at India as a hegemon controlling their life.

In fact, the 1949 Indo-Bhutan treaty virtually made Bhutan an Indian principality. Bhutan agreed to be guided by the advice of the Indian government in regard to its international relations. India’s aid made the most part of Thimpu’s budget. As the country came of age, aspirations of an independent state developed.

This was natural and in tune with the trends of the world. In the 2007 revised treaty, the above article was revised to establish close co-operation between the two countries and not to allow use of their respective territories for activities harmful to the national security and interests of each other. All reference to Bhutan’s external relations was deleted.

This was an astute diplomatic and strategic decision from New Delhi. Bhutan was free to execute its foreign relations independently.

The next steps in China-Bhutan relations promise some interesting propositions for India-China relationship. Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinlay met Chinese premier Wen Jiabao at the Rio + 20 summit in Beijing on June 21. This should not have been a surprise as Bhutan was encouraged by India to seek its foreign policy interests.

More importantly, according Bhutan official website, Mr. Thinley discussed with Mr. Wen bilateral issues including Bhutan’s bid for a non-permanent seat on UN Security Council for the term 2013-14. This was interpreted as Bhutan seeking China’s support. But the Chinese Foreign Ministry website made no mention of this.

Following, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister responsible for South Asia, Ms. Fu Ying was in Bhutan from August 9 to 11, for the 20th round of China-Bhutan boundary talks. Expectedly, there was no progress in the talks with the two sides sticking to their positions.

What was important was Ms. Fuying’s speech on arrival in Thimpu. After laboring over China’s admiration for Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage and shared history with China, she came to the specifics. Early establishment of diplomatic relations, building bridges of friendship and cooperation, and supporting Bhutan’s international aspirations. What should not be missed in Ms. Fu Ying’s speech are the following: (i) Bhutan was well placed to benefit from the development of China and India, and (ii) she related a Bhutanese folk tale where a partridge, rabbit, monkey and elephant forged a harmonious relationship fulfilling their wishes together. The reference was obviously to Nepal, Bhutan, China and India.

On to Kathmandu from Bhutan on an official visit, Ms. Fu Ying told Nepal Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai that “Unity between China, India, Bhutan and Nepal could be valuable for the entire region”. She further added “China is not India’s competitor. We want to maintain cooperative relations with India”. (The Telegraph, Nepal, August 14).

China perceives Nepal as a strategic neighbor closely tied in its security and threat calculations. Beijing has established relations with all the major political parties of Nepal, and hoped to marginalise Indian influence in Nepal. But the recent split in Nepal’s largest political party, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) UCPN(M), on which Beijing was banking on mainly, has disturbed the Chinese strategy. The hardline pro-China split group calling itself CPN (Maoists) led by Mohan Baidya (Kiran) is viscerally anti-India. Baidya visited China for ten days in July at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department.

On his return from China (July 25) Baidya declared the Chinese leaders were worried that “federalism” in any from may lead to the disintegration of the nation and rise of foreign influence, and that was not acceptable to China. The reference was emphatically to India. But China is also concerned about US and European influence in Nepal who, they believe, use Nepali territory to promote Tibetan separatism in Tibet. From China’s strategic view point, Nepal must be brought under Chinese influences to safeguard security and territorial integrity. China suspects that the USA at least is riding on India’s influence in Nepal.

Consolidation of the Indo-Himalayan border remains a priority for China. Beijing refused to recognize Sikkim’s accession to India till 2005 on the ground that India took over Sikkim by force. Visiting India in 2005, Premier Wen Jiabao gave the assurance to Indian leaders that China had changed their policy, and showed a map indicating Sikkim as a part of India. But questions still remain. Soon after Premier Wen’s India visit, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman stated in Beijing that the Sikkim issue will be resolved along with the boundary issue. Official Chinese maps have not yet been published incorporating this change.

It appears China has embarked on, or testing, a new strategy without discarding the exisiting policies. Vice Minister Fu Ying’s visit has initiated a debate in Bhutan on relations with India and China. Some feel Chinese will deliver Thimpu from international hermitage. For India, it time to lead Bhutan by hand to the international playing field following up from the 2007 amendment in the India-Bhutan treaty.

More important is the scenario that with the new template of “India, China, Bhutan, Nepal” cooperation, Beijing is not only trying bring Bhutan out of India’s influence, but also pushing itself into India’s immediate neighbourhood and sensitive relationships.

The importance of this Chinese move to India’s relations with the north-eastern neighbourhood needs no emphasis. In the long run the Chinese move may be connected to India’s ‘Look East’ policy. The discussions and developments on connectivity between Nepal and Bhutan with Bangladesh through Indian territory in which India is a natural participant is the making of new economic and development frame work. It is poised to create this Asian connectivity through Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand linking South East Asia. The project has huge potential for all the concerned countries taking India’s profile to the region claimed by China as its backyard. Therefore, neutralizing or even balancing India among the Himalayan states will be a major success for China in containing India.

Preparing for the visible military threat from China is of high importance. The issue cannot be ignored any longer. India’s defense development and deployment is India’s business for its security. Chinese comments, though till now mainly through these propagandas apparatus, amounts to interference in India’s internal affairs.

Notwithstanding the visible challenge, the invisible challenge is far more threatening to India’s development. New Delhi must urgently find ways to respond.

China’s New Himalayan Thrust
 

Killswitch

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India is merely playing catch up. China is the country that "upped the ante" by developing capabilities India did not have.

The PRC seems more interested in the South China sea at the moment as compared to the Himalayas.

It is up to India to close the significant gap as fast as possible.
 

cirr

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India is merely playing catch up. China is the country that "upped the ante" by developing capabilities India did not have.

The PRC seems more interested in the South China sea at the moment as compared to the Himalayas.

It is up to India to close the significant gap as fast as possible.
Pls develop the infrastructure in your border regions as soos as possible so that when in peace,China and India can conduct brisk trade and,should a war breakout between the two countries,China can bring its troops not only to the border but deep into the Indian territory,both in an efficient and speedy manner。

India is merely playing catch up. China is the country that "upped the ante" by developing capabilities India did not have.

The PRC seems more interested in the South China sea at the moment as compared to the Himalayas.

It is up to India to close the significant gap as fast as possible.
Pls develop the infrastructure in your border regions as soos as possible so that when in peace,China and India may conduct brisk trade and,should a war breakout between the two countries,China may bring its troops not only to the border but deep into the Indian territory,both in an efficient and speedy manner。
 

Indian Tiger

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Pls develop the infrastructure in your border regions as soos as possible so that when in peace,China and India can conduct brisk trade and,should a war breakout between the two countries,China can bring its troops not only to the border but deep into the Indian territory,both in an efficient and speedy manner。



Pls develop the infrastructure in your border regions as soos as possible so that when in peace,China and India may conduct brisk trade and,should a war breakout between the two countries,China may bring its troops not only to the border but deep into the Indian territory,both in an efficient and speedy manner。
What make you think, we will not do the same???
 

ares

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If you surrender your illegally occupied territories that belong to us there will be eternal peace! How about that!?
If you manage to grow a brain in the future, and prove it to us and rest of the world on how those territories belong to you, then there will be eternal peace!! How about that??!!
 

third eye

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Firstly, there no Upping the ante as the title suggests - the title is more for effect.

If India has refuelers , they have to be placed somewhere. Whats wrong with an existing air field in the East ? No , why East ? It is further away from the west.

I do not think there is a need to read too much between the lines and come to sensational conclusions.
 

Icewolf

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India's China anxiety an ‘inferiority complex,' says Xinhua

India's “jitters” and fears of encirclement by Chinese influence in South Asia reflected an “inferiority complex” and “loud jealousy” over China's rise, State-run Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Thursday.

India was “living under the delusion that China lays out a strategic chessboard to lock up and contain India,” said the commentary, the latest of a series of editorials in China's State media outlets that have taken a hard line on India following disagreements over ONGC Videsh's cooperation with Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea.

While it struck a similar tone voiced by a number of Communist Party-run papers in recent weeks, including the nationalistic Global Times and PLA Daily, this commentary was unusual because it was issued by the official government news agency, and posted prominently on the front page of its website.

It was authored by Li Hongmei, a columnist known for her particularly nationalistic views.

“India jitters at the sight of China gaining prestige in Asia, in particular, in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and takes China's ever-growing regional influence in recent years as a strategic encirclement to target and contain India,” the commentary said.

“It sounds nothing more than a loud jealousy, for the simple reason that China has done what India could not, especially when India perceives that China's influence has well reached to its doorsteps and created tremendous impact on those who should have banked on India as imagined.”

The Xinhua commentary follows editorials last month by the official People's Liberation Army Daily and the Global Times, which hit out at India for “stepping into the South China Sea issue.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in talks in Bali last week, on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, that ONGC Videsh's projects were conducted on a purely commercial basis, and did not mean India was taking sides with Vietnam, one of more than ten countries that contests China's claims of “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has since taken a more measured tone on relations with India, playing down differences following the meeting between the two leaders. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said this week there was “no power in the world that can prevent the development of bilateral relations between the two countries.”

Chinese officials and analysts had hoped the Prime Ministers' meeting would draw a line over differences over the South China Sea, which they said had created strains, although exaggerated by the media on both sides of the border.

However, analysts acknowledge that a series of editorials in influential Party papers — and now in the official news agency — underscore prevailing views, at least among an influential section of the Party and Army leadership.

The Xinhua commentary, the first of its kind published by the official news agency, said India had “put sand in the wheels of its own progress” by not allowing foreign investment from Chinese companies because of its “iron-clad suspiciousness.”

India's “jealousy” and “inferiority,” it said, were a legacy of the 1962 war which left “deep-seated mistrust.”

“By currying favour with China's neighbour, in particular, those who have brewed disputes with China, India would assume it could instigate these smaller nations to engage in a gang fight against China and contain China's growing clout in the region,” it said.

“Today's India,” the commentary added, “no matter how anxious it intends to lead the region and even the world, is far from potent and prosperous to act of its own accord … To grow up to be a real power and stand as a sound competitor, India needs to, first and foremost, break through its own psychological fence.”

The Hindu : News / International : India's China anxiety an
 

shuttler

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Are the People of Arunachal Pradesh crying to join with China??? they are happy to be with India.
Just walk away and we will do more in a year to the welfare of the people living in AP than indians in a century

If you manage to grow a brain in the future, and prove it to us and rest of the world on how those territories belong to you, then there will be eternal peace!! How about that??!!
Cant you look up what is "McMahon line"? we did not put our ink to it, Braindead!
 

ares

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Just walk away and we will do more in a year to the welfare of the people living in AP than indians in a century
By that logic..you guys should hand over your entire country to one of the western powers, which are more developed than you..after all..they can give you so much more..welfare, wealth and most of all freedom and you do have example of Hongkong to lead you by.
Cant you look up what is "McMahon line"? we did not put our ink to it, Braindead!
And what is McMohon line..isn't it the line diving India from Tibet..which was a resultant of negotiations b/w British(who were at helm of affairs in India) and Tibetan athoruties (who were helm of affairs in Tibet at that time.)

So if you any problems with the line ..then take it up with Tibetans or the British...we were not involved..this is what we inherited and that is what we intend to keep!!
 

shuttler

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China over ran the Mc Mohan line, took parts of AP in 62.

...and returned it.

Why now ?
You improve a bit on your conceding the territory back to us. We had too much mercy on you which was a stance now proven to be a mistake. We should have taken it and governed it from then on!

By that logic..you guys should hand over your entire country to one of the western powers, which are more developed than you..after all..they can give you so much more..welfare, wealth and most of all freedom and you do have example of Hongkong to lead you by.
This is only indian logic. And your whole india subcontinent to the brits? how silly are you! we have much better prowess to advance dilapidated territories than indians.

we lead HKers by law and in effect! all those dissidents are free to leave, including many poor indian HKers there, back to india!


And what is McMohon line..isn't it the line diving India from Tibet..which was a resultant of negotiations b/w British(who were at helm of affairs in India) and Tibetan athoruties (who were helm of affairs in Tibet at that time.)

So if you any problems with the line ..then take it up with Tibetans or the British...we were not involved..this is what we inherited and that is what we intend to keep!!
let's see how long can you keep this silly token of the brits! we have no problems with Xizang. The brit wont meddle in it. it is you who have taken over something that does not belong to you. So just walk away and we'll take care of the rest and clean up the mess!
 

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