Chinese Threats and India’s Bits

WH May 2011 (101)

India’s  tackling of the Chinese threats are in tits and bits. Like handling the Chinese fishing nets in Cochin, strategy spin masters of our national security are totally callous. From Sri Lanka to Somalia, from Pakistan to Peru, Chinese are stitching an international network against India. They know well that India is a big challenger to Chinese supremacy in the coming days.

For India it is not enough knowing what the Chinese are up against it. But checkmating their moves and eliminating the collaborations in the early stage will steady India’s growth.

If India fails to wake up to the growing Chinese interests around the world, it will have to pay heavily in the future. This is a very delicate issue to be managed. Pushing overt action against the Chinese and its new friends will permanently damage India’s growth. For instance, over drive of relationship with USA will put India against Russia – the longest ally. Quickly they will turn to China. Imagine the situation where Russia, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Gulf countries, African nations in the Chinese kitty!

Time for real strategies and realisation of those strategies in quick time.

Nayan Chanda writes in The Times of India.
The Silk Road, a romantic name that evokes images of camel caravans laden with luxuries wending their way through picturesque mountains and steppes, is back in the news. In its latest avatar, the Silk Road is a Chinese strategic initiative comprising an infrastructure bank and a slew of road, high-speed rail, pipelines, ports and fibre-optic cables projects. Recently unveiled by President Xi Jinping, its ambition is to tie Central Asia and Europe with the Silk Road Economic Belt and expand its trade and strategic reach in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean all the way to East Africa with the help of Maritime Silk Road.
If the Chinese vision is realised it could transform the country’s relationship with its neighbours giving it an unassailable position in all of Asia including the Indian Ocean. Surprisingly India has signed up to be a co-founder of the infrastructure bank to fund the project. Before jumping on the ‘New’ Silk Road caravan, India would do well to examine where it is headed.
Despite the comfortingly familiar old name, what China is seeking to achieve with its 21st century version bears no resemblance to the historic connector. Some two millennia ago, road networks were used by foreign traders to buy items like silk, precious stones and sell Buddhist icons and paraphernalia to China. A subsequent seaborne trade route (dubbed the ‘Maritime Silk Road’) came to be the dominant connection between southern China and the Mediterranean, with a network of Southeast Asian and Indian ports in between.
Remarkably, while China supplied the goods, it was Central Asian traders, as well as Arabs, Persians, Indians and Malays, who played the central role in the old Silk Road. In the New Silk Road of Xi Jinping’s imagination, China will not only sell its domestically produced cornucopia but will also create pathways to move goods and even manufacture them in partner countries. Instead of the world coming to China as in the past, China will now be going out to the world, building naval and resupply facilities along the ocean route. Although strategic aspect of the proactive policy is never mentioned Chinese scholars in Beijing privately explained that the New Silk Road is China’s response to what it views as US-led encirclement effort through its ‘Asia pivot’ and Trans-Pacific Partnership project.
The proposed $40 billion Silk Road Fund will finance construction of railroads, pipelines and roadways that will link China with three continents over land and sea. A proposed canal across the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand could provide a faster link between South China Sea and Indian Ocean. A state-owned Chinese company is building a deep-water container port and industrial park in Malaysia. China has already taken over from India a $500-million airport development in Maldives, considered an integral part of the Maritime Silk Road. President Xi recently inaugurated one of the most ambitious of China’s recent projects — $1.4 billion Colombo port city.
Economic factors behind China’s plans for ambitious opening to the world are easy to understand. With its greying population making labour expensive and adding to social welfare costs, and with lacklustre demand from western markets, China’s economic growth has plateaued. Closer integration with regional neighbours would dramatically expand the mainland’s potential market for goods and services. Meanwhile, relocating China’s old, polluting and labour-intensive industries to neighbouring countries would allow it to invest its mounting dollar reserves in alternative energies and meet its emissions reduction targets.
Unmentioned in the Silk Road projects, but seemingly an integral part of the outward push, is setting up facilities for China’s power projection: a reported special transmission centre in southern Balochistan to communicate with submerged submarines; an aircraft maintenance facility near Chinese-aided Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. The recent appearance of Chinese submarines in Sri Lanka gave a peek into the steel that lies under the so-called Maritime Silk Road.
While promoting the New Silk Road China has not said what the rules of the road it envisages are. Given China’s refusal to accept the UN Convention on Law of the Sea to define its territorial claims in South China Sea, the maritime passages would likely be governed by Chinese law. One can expect the Chinese navy to take over responsibility for protecting the new maritime Silk Road, as the Mongol army did for the Central Asian Silk Road in the 14th century. China’s latest project is unlikely to be as smooth as its name might suggest.

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