Monday, September 9, 2013

Strategypage : September 6, 2013: Chinese violations of the LAC (Line of Actual Control) border with India continues. Most of the recent Chinese intrusions are in the northwest and have, in effect, taken control of 640 square kilometers of territory on the Indian side of the border. There are three separate areas where Chinese troops have made these incursions. In response India announced it is expanding its network of border bases along the 3,488 kilometer Tibet frontier. Currently there are 150 of these small, fortified bases. Most (98) of these outposts will be enlarged and improved while 35 new ones will be built over the next four years. Negotiations to settle the dispute are stalled.
The LAC is also known as the MacCartney-MacDonald Line and is the unofficial border between India and China. The LAC is 4,057 kilometers long and is mostly Tibet on the Chinese side. China claims much territory that is now considered part of India because when Tibet was independent in the early 20th century Tibet agreed to the MacCartney-MacDonald Line. When China reconquered Tibet in the 1950s that border agreement was renounced as “unfair”. China has never backed away from its claims on Indian territory and its violation of the LAC is a major crises for India (which has a defense budget one third that of China’s).

The Chinese believe that the Indians are militarily weaker and not willing to confront a gradual and persistent Chinese effort to take control of contested area.Sometimes this attitudes shows up in the Chinese media,

Over the last week Chinese state controlled media has been mocking the capabilities of the Indian Navy, using the August 14th explosion that sank a Russian built Indian Kilo class sub while docked near Mumbai as an example. The 16 year old submarine had recently returned from Russia after an $80 million refurbishment. Eighteen sailors were killed as the sub sank at dockside. The Chinese media also criticized the earlier launching of India’s first Indian built aircraft carrier as essentially foreign made because the vessel used French blueprints, Russian aircraft and American engines. 

This harsh commentary ignored that fact that China has had similar problems with its warships in the recent past and that Chinese built warships use lots of foreign technology (usually stolen). This public disparagement angered many Indians and in response India has cancelled the visit of a senior air force general, in response to a Chinese invitation last month.

India is alarmed at growing Chinese and Pakistani investment in neighboring Sri Lanka. Chinese firms are more experienced and effective at arranging these foreign investments and India’s smaller neighbor feels more comfortable with investment from distant China rather than neighbor (and sometimes big bully) India. The Chinese economic investments often have military implications, like China building satellite ground stations in Sri Lanka.There is also growing Sri Lankan military cooperation with China and Pakistan.

As a good will gesture both nations meanwhile agreed to hold joint counter-terrorism drills in November. This would be the third time this has been done, although it hasn’t happened for the past five years because of the growing Chinese aggressiveness along the LAC. These counter-terrorism drills only involve 150 special operations troops from either country and are mostly for show.

Rural eastern India continues to suffer from a low-level war with Maoist rebels. These armed leftists have been involved in incidents that have left over 200 dead so far this year. For the last few years the Indian national police have been using a special force of nearly 100,000 para-military troops and civilians to destroy the Maoist organization (which has about 11,000 armed followers and three times as many unarmed supporters).

August 31, 2013: Bowing to Chinese pressure, Pakistan has agreed to share intelligence on terrorist with China and take more effective action against Pakistani terrorists who attack Chinese citizens in Pakistan. China was able to force the issue with threats to halt economic investments in Pakistan if something was not done about the terrorism. 

One of the more important projects for China is an $18 billion effort to build a road from Pakistan’s Indian Ocean port of Gwadar into northwest China. This will require drilling long tunnels through the Himalayan Mountains on the border (in Pakistani controlled Kashmir.) China does not want to make this kind of commitment without some Pakistani assurances that the terrorism problem is dealt with.

August 30, 2013: Pakistan agreed to join China in opposing any military intervention in Syria. This has become more likely after Syria made a large scale use of nerve gas against Syrian civilians in Damascus on the 21st. While this pleases Iran, it angers the Sunni Arab Gulf oil states (led by Saudi Arabia) that are locked in an increasingly violent confrontation with Iran. Pakistan is over 75 percent Sunni but most of the rest are Shia.

August 28, 2013: Now India has a problem with Burma because of a border dispute. In the last week Indian soldiers found Burmese troops setting up a base five kilometers inside India. The Burmese insisted this was actually their territory. Only after days of negotiations, and some threats, did the Burmese agree to withdraw. The Burmese are upset because India is building a border fence to help curb illegal migrants and smugglers.

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