By Bhaskar Roy*
The Chinese official newspaper, the Global Times (January 11) in an article entitled “Indian arms same to Hanoi disturbing if aimed at China”, warned New Delhi that India must desist from doing to China what China does to India.
The Chinese official article was in response to Indian media reports on discussions between Indian and Vietnam on supplying India made Akash surface-to-air missiles to (25 Km range) to Vietnam.
Some Indian media speculated that this agreement could be a reaction to China arming India’s neighbours especially Pakistan which has fought at least three wars with India, and engaged in regular terrorist attacks against India, sometimes with China’s blessings.
China’s propaganda establishment must understand how the free Indian media functions. They attack the government and criticise even the prime minister. In China, this is unthinkable. The print media, television channels and radio have to follow the line laid down by the communist Party and the government. Any perceived misdemeanour is treated harshly. Therefore, the Chinese commentators must listen to what the Indian government says.
Having said that, Indian journalist, commentators and members of think tanks are not fools. They understand what is happening around and the rising threat from China. The Indians are not blind, the Global Times should know.
The Global Times article further warns that if the Indian government “genuinely treats its enhancement of military relations with Vietnam as a strategic arrangement or even revenge against Beijing it will only create disturbance in the region and China will hardly sit with its arms crossed.” It also warns India against creating alliances or partnerships with some countries at the exclusion of some others, or else its development will be hurt severely. If India wants to grow as a great power it needs more cooperation with others.
The article advises or even warns India to forget about competition with China and for bids it to expanding its footprints and influence especially in areas over which China claims suzerainty historically. Because it then goes on to suggest that India should join China’s Belt and Road initiative which will not only promote the development of the region but also “solve the India-Pakistan contradictions”. Basically, be a ‘good boy’ and subservient to China.
The article was completely silent on what China has been doing in Pakistan over the decades since 1976. China helped construct Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, which was openly centred against India. China gave Pakistan the blueprint for a nuclear bomb; Pakistan’s first nuclear bomb was tested in China’s Lop Nor nuclear testing site. China set up all of Pakistan’s nuclear enrichment and plutonium plants.
The papers that Alpha Project (at King’s College, London) published last year, reveals several Chinese entities involved in clandestinely providing Pakistan with advanced nuclear weapons technology, components and material. It may also be recalled that in the 1990s Chinese front companies were used to procure heavy earth moving equipment to dig siles for parking securely nuclear weapons/warheads. Lastly, no one can forget the clandestine supply of 5000 ring magnets to Pakistan in 1995 required for Uranium enrichment.
In 1991-92, China supplied Pakistan with the M-11 nuclear capable missiles (range=300 km), capable of reaching New Delhi. This was followed by massive transfer of technology, material and expertise for Pakistan’s medium range nuclear capable missiles. The supply of battle ships, aircraft, conventional missiles, submarines and other weapons are arming the Pakistani military. These are not play things. Most importantly, the Chinese Navy is deploying a naval detachment at Pakistan’s Gwadar Port paid for and built by China.
The Global Times may like to reply whether China’s militarization of Pakistan, including with nuclear weapons, were “responsible” acts as they claim? Incrementally, Beijing created a nuclear flash point in South Asia, debilitating moves by India towards reconciliation with Pakistan and fighting international terrorism. India’s move to list Pakistan based terrorist Masood Azhar in the UN Committee has only encouraged Pakistan’s deep state to continue with their foreign policy laced with terrorism with countries like Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh.
Beijing leaders must realise that their double-edged policy on Pakistan sponsored terrorism has not gone down well with SAARC member countries. These countries declined to attend the SAARC summit in Pakistan last year on this very ground.
With the release of its white paper “China’s Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation” (state Council Information Office, January 11), Beijing unveiled its hegemonic map of the region. Although primarily aimed at US President-elect and his incoming administration, the blue-print indirectly targets countries like India, which in China’s political ecology, does not belong to the Asia-Pacific region. But the new definition of “Indo-Pacific region” challenges the antiquated nomenclature.
The white paper cautions “some small and medium-sized countries uphold US hegemony over the Asia-Pacific region, but in fact, it is at the cost of their own interests”.
For years the Chinese officials propaganda machinery tried to spread apprehension among India’s neighbours including in South East Asia about New Delhi’s hegemonic ambition. Periodically, India was warned that if India entered Central Asia and South East Asia with seriousness especially military relations than “China will not sit idly by”. This is being acted upon in the India-Vietnam military relations case.
The white paper makes another critical statement that “the country will build a strong national defence force that, is commensurate with China’s international standing”. This is a shift from its earlier position that its defence build-up was based on its own defence needs. This new position is a significant shift, in tune with their super power status quest. Divide the world in China’s domain and the US domain.
Such a division cannot be allowed for a new cold war with Chinese characteristics. India is neither countering China nor encircling China. The people of India will not allow their government to cede India’s interests based on international laws. China cannot hold India back from its destiny.
*The writer is a New Delhi based strategic analyst. He can be reached at e-mail [email protected]