The Dragon Breathes Fire Nyayapati Gautam Triumphant Institute of Management Education P Ltd
India & China - A Background The Indo-China conflict of 1962 - Interpretations • Competition for status and influence in Asia • Domestic political issues pushed the two leaderships to be more assertive and that a spiral of assertiveness followed, until Jawaharlal Nehru initiated the “Forward Policy” which proved to be the final trigger. • Nehru and Mao took the issue of territory seriously
India & China - A Background • Fear of Chinese interference in domestic politics • Beijing would support Indian communists • it would help separatists in the northeastern states of India. On the Chinese side • The Pakistani Connect • As China’s relations with India worsened in the 1950s, its appreciation of Pakistan grew apace. • Pakistan stands strategically located at the mouth of the energy-rich Gulf. • China’s partner in the Islamic world. • Islamabad was a key ally against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. • Islamic extremists operating from Pakistan are a threat to the stability of Xinjiang province.
String of Pearls • No formal definition of the String of Pearls but these could be considered: • Maldives and Coco Islands • A container shipping facility in Chittagong. • A deep-water port in Sittwe, Myanmar. • A navy base in Gwadar, Pakistan • The ‘pearls’ extend from: • the coast of mainland China • through the littorals of the South China Sea, • the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the littorals of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf
String of Pearls • Upgrading the radar facilities on the Coco Islands. • The Coco Islands lie North of the northern tip of the Andaman Island chain. The radar facility would definitely accord the Chinese surveillance inputs in monitoring activities around the northern Andaman Islands. • Development of Kyaukpyu deep water port. • The port of Kyaukpyu in the Northeast of the Bay of Bengal would give the Chinese greater leverage in the Bay of Bengal especially the waters surrounding the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. • A position to influence events in the Malacca Straits, which is one of the major choke points of the IOR
String of Pearls • The port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, under development with Chinese assistance, would be a major facility for refueling and resupply for Chinese vessels .
String of Pearls The problems for the Chinese: • Overseas bases are not staging points, they also need to be secured and supplied. • Other than Gwadar, all other ports have the same vulnerability of relying on sea supplies where the Indian Navy will have a significant disruptive capability arising out of its closer proximity and deployable assets. • What if supplies are pre-positioned? • Securing them against air and missile attacks from Indian territory would be difficult.
String of Pearls • The Problems … for China • The Chinese Air force (PLAAF) is also unlikely to come into serious play. • Airfields in the Tibetan plateau are located at heights of 7000 to 9000 feet. • In that rarefied atmosphere, aircraft can take off with only very limited fuel and ordnance. • If PLAAF does use the Tibetan airfields for fighter operations, the time on station and the ordnance load carried by the fighters will be severely compromised. • The IAF, on the other hand, will be taking off from the north Indian plains and be capable of reaching the theatre within 20 to 30 minutes.
String of Pearls • The Problems … for China • India commands the entry into the Indian Ocean from the east. • International trade contributes more than 30 per cent to the Chinese economy. • A substantial part of this shipping as well as 60 per cent of China’s energy supplies transit the Indian Ocean. • Though the Chinese Navy (PLAN) is far bigger than the Indian Navy, but geography favours India and China cannot have an asymmetric advantage. • The Indian Navy can disrupt Chinese shipping right from the Gulf of Aden to the Malacca Straits (which is particularly well covered from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and the Bay of Bengal.)
Theatres of Conflict - Arunachal Pradesh • Instances of Visa denial to Indian officials. • Incursions into Indian territory by the Chinese army. • Damage to property in Arunachal Pradesh.
Theatres of Conflict - Arunachal Pradesh • There could be three plausible reasons behind China’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh. • Balancing India. • Tibet Factor and ‘Lost’ Territories Argument. • Quest for Resources.
Theatres of Conflict - Arunachal Pradesh • Arunachal has recently entered China’s ‘Core Interests’ list. • Tawang is a tremendous prize. • If the Chinese get an opportunity to ‘teach India a lesson’ in the Eastern portion, they may be tempted to give it a shot provided the gains outweigh the costs.
Tibet and the Dalai Lama • Closely tied to China’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh, is the presence of the Dalai Lama. • The Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh was the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama in the 17th century • It is the second largest Tibetan monastery after the one in Lhasa. • The 14th Dalai Lama may choose his successor from the Tawang monastery. • If this were to happen, the international questioning of China’s legitimacy over Tibet will continue. • Consequently, China perhaps believes that its aggressive posture on Arunachal Pradesh will deter India from overplaying its Tibet card, • 120,000 Tibetan refugees live in India.
Militarization in Tibet • According to a 2010 US Department of Defense report: • China has replaced its old liquid fuelled, nuclear capable CSS-3 intermediate range ballistic missile with “more advanced CSS-5 MRBMs” • Improved its border roads in the eastern sector bordering India to enhance PLA movement. • Intercontinental missiles have also been deployed by China at Delingha, north of Tibet. • China has deployed 13 Border Defence Regiments totalling around 300,000 troops on the border. • Airfields have also been established at Hoping, Pangta and Kong Ka, which are in addition to the existing six airfields in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, for supporting fighter aircraft.
Possible Indian response • Our response could include: • Strengthen surveillance capability, remote sensing, SIGINT and HUMINT. Denial of surprise is crucial. • Deny the Chinese the advantage of their superior infrastructure. • The Chinese infrastructure can be used for replenishment of supplies and quick rotation of troops to exploit breakthroughs. • India’s raising of two additional regiments of BrahMos and positioning them in the northeast will neutralize this Chinese advantage. • BrahMos employed in the steep diving mode and with a 290 km range can degrade the Chinese infrastructure advantage in the opening hours of the conflict.
Possible Indian response • Expedite the deployment of ‘Nirbhay’— the 700 km range, terrain following, cruise missile under development — must be given high priority and brought under deployment as soon as possible. • This range can bring Chinese infrastructure even deep within Tibet including the Qinghai-Tibet Railway into attack range. Such an enlargement of the attack bubble will nullify a large part of the infrastructural advantage that the Chinese have built up. • Match the Chinese capability of logistics through airlift capability till India’s own ground infrastructure is developed.
Theatres of Conflict - The North West: • There is Increasing Chinese Footprint in India's North West • The Indian Army Chief`s statement about the presence of 3000 to 4000 Chinese, including troops, in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) has been widely reported. • The statement is significant coming as it does after the statement of the Northern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik, in April 2011 that, “not only they are in the neighbourhood but the fact is that they are actually present and stationed near the LoC.”
Implications for India • The presence of Chinese troops in such close proximity, on a permanent basis, only exacerbates the threat of two fronts opening up. • The widening of the KKH and its increased load capacity will improve mobility in switching forces and the movement of heavy equipment and stores across borders. • Once the US-led ISAF de-inducts from Afghanistan, the focus of the Mujahideen will shift away from Afghanistan. • The presence of the Chinese in North Afghanistan and PoK will prevent them from entering Xinjiang. • Then would J&K be the target?
Theatres of Conflict – The Water Front? • Tibetan plateau happens to be the largest water tank in the world. • All the 10 major river systems of Asia including the Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra, Irrawady, Salween and Mekong originate in the Tibetan plateau. • Of the world’s 6.92 billion people, for nearly 2 billion (29 per cent) living in South Asia from Afghanistan to the Ganga-Meghna-Brahmaputra basin and in Southeast Asia the rivers flowing from Tibet constitute the lifeline.
Theatres of Conflict – The Water Front? • According to media reports, China has: • built a barrage on the Sutlej river. • Since November 2010, it has started construction work for damming/diversion of the Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) in Tibet • It might want to develop hydropower … • partly to reduce the development gap between its eastern and western provinces • And also to sell the electricity generated to neighbours and thus promote cross-border integration of economies. • The energy produced in Tibet might also be used to tap the region’s rich mineral reserves including uranium, borax, lithium, copper, zinc and iron.
Theatres of Conflict – The Water Front? • Any diversion of waters from Nepalese rivers originating in Tibet would directly affect the flow of water of the Ganga, the soul of the people living • China started work on the Brahmaputra river in November 2010 without sharing any information about it with the lower riparian countries. • This is only 30 km north of the border. • China is likely to use the Brahmaputra waters as a leverage to arm twist its riparian neighbours. • Mekong river
Theatres of Conflict – The Water Front? • The United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-Navigation Uses of International Watercourses does not allow any country to bar the natural flow of water of an international river. • However, China is not a signatory to this Convention. • According to the National Remote Sensing Centre in Hyderabad, satellite pictures show Chinese construction on 28 power stations at the Great Bend and downstream. This is where the river makes its journey into India.
Theatre of Conflict - The South China Sea • China reasserted China’s “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea and warned us against investment in the region. • These are seen as signs of Chinese aggressiveness that would inevitably precipitate conflict. • “It's not worthwhile for Vietnam and India to damage the greater interests of the peace, stability and economic development between China and Vietnam, China and India, and in the whole region, for the sake of these small interests in the South China Sea,“ • "Any foreign company that engages in oil-exploration activity in waters under China's jurisdiction without the agreement of China has violated China's sovereignty, rights and interests. "This is illegal and invalid."
Theatre of Conflict - The South China Sea • Options: • Should India revise its policy on the South China Sea? • It is unclear how far Vietnam would be a willing partner in escalation of conflict with China. • Given that escalation is not in China’s interests either, it remains unlikely that China will use military force to disrupt OVL’s operations (others such as ExonnMobil have continued to operate in areas China claims). • In any case, India’s military relations with Vietnam should deter any such occurrence. There is no need for India to take positions on territorial disputes in which it is not involved.