Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why China ignored India’s new ‘military doctrine’

Defense Analysts and political scientists and students of international relations experts are watching the rhetoric out of Delhi with keep interests. The three capitals—are looking for small nuances to decipher what was said, when it was said and by whom

Here is the chronology of events. General Kapoor in what would be considered a highly provocative statement said that Bharat (aka India) was ready a two pronged war with Pakistan and China.

Reports on India's revision of its defence doctrine to meet the challenges of a 'two front war' with Pakistan and China have of late received media focus. Pakistan has been prompt in its response, describing India's reported move as 'betraying hostile intent' and reflecting a 'hegemonic and jingoistic mindset'. D S Rajan in Rediff News

As expected there was an explosion in Pakistan. Political leaders, as well as the head of the army and major politicians and the National Assembly decried General Kapoor’s statements and called it an act of grave provocation.

If some analyst had expect an equally robust and angry response from Beijing, they were disappointed. The Chinese response to the Bharati general’s speech was stone silence.

The Chinese leadership saw through the Bharati “strategy” and looked at it for what it was—bluster. The Chinese leadership correctly weighed the Bharti actions and were prepared for it. Deng Xiao Peng had taught them well—Confucius says “keep a low profile, “don’t over react” and “build yourself up”, “avoid conflict” and project “soft power”. There is hard work of nation building to be done—empty chatter resolves nothing and produces nothing.

The Chinese response to Bharati provocation was decided upon decades ago. It does not nee to be reiterated.

Keep a cool head and maintain a low profile. Never take the lead - but aim to do something big. Deng Xiao Peng

Beijing sees Delhi’s bluster as an attempt to raise the stature of Delhi. What better way to raise the stature than to challenge an emerging superpower? One would think that Delhi is some way or form could ever compete with Beijing in anything> If Beijing had responded to General Kapoor’s juvenile delinquency, it would have reduced itself to Delhi’s level. By taking the high road and ignoring Delhi, Beijing reduced Delhi to what it was, a regional bully that can’t even compete with Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Nuclear prowess had reduced Bharati plans. Delhi hegemony hits a brick wall on its Western front. It cannot go one inch forward. The boundary has become sacrosanct, and all the huffing and puffing and paper exercises do nothing to intimidate Islamabad.

The sagacious Maleeha Lodhi, the former Pakistani Ambassador to the US and the UK is one of the most talented political scientist around. she also clearly saw through Delhi’s game and clearly identified the source of entire passages, and the origins of the vocabulary of the Delhi’s new “doctrine”. Delhi had clearly plagiarized it from the American Doctrine of war.

Even more interesting is the fact that Beijing analysts seem to have pre-empted what Delhi was trying to do, and already seem to have written about it. Here is D.S. Rajan on the subject again.

The People's Republic of China does not appear to have come out so far with any official reaction on the subject; interesting however is that the same theme of India's 'two front war', worded a bit differently as 'two front mobile warfare' has figured in an in-depth authoritative Chinese evaluation of India's defence strategy, done as early as November 2009; it raises a question whether or not Beijing [ Images ] already knew about India's reported revision of its defence strategy. This apart, it would be important to have a close look at what has been said in that analysis, for drawing meaningful conclusions. What follows is an attempt in that direction.

Titled 'Great Changes in India's Defence Strategy -- War objective shifts to giving China importance, while treating Pakistan as lightweight', the analysis contributed by Hao Ding, a researcher of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, published in the Party-affiliated Chinese language organ, China Youth Daily, on November 27, 2009, identifies following five shifts that have taken place in India's defence strategy:

The Chinese have figured out Delhi’s strategy. Its Marketing 101. When Kia says its just as good as Samsung, it doesn’t increase its stature—but when it says it has better features than a Toyota, the strategy to make people think that its in the same league as a Toyota. Of course the strategy doesn’t work. No matter how many time GM, (with its billions of Dollars of marketing clout) said that its J cars, or K cars, or Saturns were better than Mercedes, or lately better than Toyota—the people didn’t really buy that line—and continue to buy Toyota, Nissan, and Mercedes—placing GM in bankruptcy.

Similarly Bharat’s goals are an over reach which cannot be sustained. A A Lada cannot go out and conquer the world—it lived and died in East Germany. Till Bharat gets its own house in order, and mends its fences with all her neighbors. Having an angry Nepal, a dissatisfied Bangladesh, a mad Sikkim, a seething Bhutan, a cold China, a fearful Maldives, and a belligerent Pakistan on its borders can never allow Bharat to achieve its full potential in world affairs.

'In terms of goals, India now aims at becoming a global military power in contrast to its earlier objective to acquire a regional military power status.' (The author's comments say in this connection that prior to end of the cold war, India followed an expansionist and hegemonic policy in South Asia, dismembered Pakistan, annexed Sikkim kingdom and dispatched troops to Sri Lanka [ Images ] and Maldives [ Images ].

Bharat canot become a world power, unless it fixes its painful penury. Instead of purchasing a $3 Billion Aircraft Carrier, it needs to eliminate “Grabibabad” the largest slum in the world which is really a huge trash can where people live. Slumdog India can not be shining India just because a TV commercial calls it ‘shining’.

According to loft goals, Bharat wants to be a South Asia, power, a Central Asian giant and an Asia-Pacific Hercules. Loft goals for a country where 75% of the people eek out a living at less than $2 per day. Bharat wants to project itself as a Eurasian giant. Amazing goals for a country where 450 million Dalits and invisiable Untouchables don’t have the right to live. Amazingly most Indians cannot see their existence and ignore their poverty through tokenism (appointing one highly visible person in a high position).

India always was  hegemonic. Its calim that it ever had “passive defense” as its policy is belies the facts on the ground—it bullied 560 states into joing the “Indian Unio” in 1948. Nehru declared that any state that would not join the union would be considered an enemy state. It blatantly and illegally took over Hyderabad which did not want to join the Union.

It was a regional bully. Now it wants to be a global bully—without the allies or the money to get there. Bharat’s ‘and aggressive defense’ is something that the Israelis use. Its planner face a Gordian knot. Delhi seems to be in a time warp. It feels that it is in 1972. It has failed to recognize the new nuclear realities of South Asia. It cannot comprehend that mutually assured destruction means just that. It wants to somehow find a sliver of hope to strangulate Pakistan that way it has a choke hold on Sikkim. When Islamabad doesn’t get in its hold—it cries foul and tries to destabilize it—using the Mukti Bahni and Lanka model. While exporting terror does, work, Bharat is unable to achieve its objectives, because its forces cannot cross its Western border—held at bay by Nuclear powered missiles, and tactical Nuclear weapons that will destroy only a moving army.

According to the Chinese analysts, Bharat faces security threats form”the low intensity conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir [ Images ] which can trigger a large scale conflict, the risk of a nuclear confrontation among the two nations and terrorism in South Asia.”

Though accurate, this threat perception is not actually accurate. Bharat faces three major threats to its existence. According to Indian Analyst, Bharat Verma, Bharat faces the biggest threat in Kashmir, the 2nd threat in the Northeast Seven Sister States in Assam and 89 insurgencies raging in almost every Indian state—including the lethal Naxal-Maoist threat that engulfs a huge swathe of land starting from the foot of the Himalayas in the North to the deep South in Andhra Pradesh. The recent issue of Talangana shoed the entire worked the fragile nature of the Indian Union. The people want more than 50 states—in varying degrees of secessionist tendencies. Denial of right willl further exacerbate linguistic, ethnic and  religious tensions in Bharat—leading to a USSR type of implosion or a Yugoslavia type of implosion.

The Indian defence strategy has been revised in such circumstances; The 'active defence' concept has replaced the old line of passive defence, the basic 'regional deterrence' principle has been given a new meaning with 'punishment deterrence' concept taking place of the old principle of 'only deterrence'. India is stressing on taking initiatives so as to be able to conduct a hi-tech 'limited conventional war' against the enemy 'under conditions of nuclear deterrence'. D. S. Rajan

In accordance with the GM strategy (mentioned earlier), the Chinese analyst says 'Looking from the angle of war objectives, India is now laying emphasis to giving China importance while treating Pakistan as lightweight, as compared to the past equal emphasis to China and Pakistan.'

The Chinese have repeatedly said that they are fully aware of the Indian thinking.

China, there is stable political situation, a fast developing economy, a continuously accelerating military modernisation drive and growing comprehensive national strength. India thinks that therefore, the potentials of 'China threat' to it are on the rise. It wants to correctly treat the dialectic relation between the changes that have occurred in military threats posed by Pakistan and China and prepare for all types of military struggles. Based on such reasoning, India has proposed the doctrine of 'two front mobile warfare'.

Bharat has done a lot of rearranging of the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. It thinks that the new pattern of the deck chairs will prevent the looming strategy. Instead of changing course and avoiding the iceberg, it spends all its time on the color scheme of the chairs.  Bharat may be in an illusion

'In matters of strategic deployment, India has shifted to a strategy of stabilising the western front and strengthening the northern front as well as giving equal emphasis to land and sea warfare, in contrast to the earlier stress only on land warfare.'

(1) in recent years, India has carried out adjustments in its defence system to suit to the new needs. 'Stabilising the western front and strengthening the northern front' is a step in this direction. India has already made plans to dispatch additional forces- two mountain divisions- to the Sino-Indian border and deploy Su-30 fighter aircraft as well as missiles there in order to further strengthen its 'partial military superiority' vis-à-vis China, sufficient to fight a 'middle or small-scale partial border war under hi-tech conditions',

(2) India is increasing its deployment of mobile warfare-capable troops. Some units, on 'double combat missions', can launch mobile operations in both China and Pakistan fronts and

(3) India's past attention only to land warfare is now getting shifted in the direction of the Indian Ocean, creating a deployment position capable of paying importance to both land and sea. A part of Indian troops so far located in the rear of the borders is being diverted for coastal defence purposes and a new naval fleet has come up in the south to increase strength in respect of the Indian Ocean.

China is not a superpower, nor will she ever seek to be one. If one day China should change her color and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it. Deng Xiaoping

We quote D. S. Rajan again.

'India is making efforts to create long-range mobile operational strength and gain capacity to launch cross-combat missions.' The Chinese military expert comments that structural adjustment of the Indian military is in progress with focus on building Indian Navy and Air Force as well as rapid action troops, leading to building up of global combat capability of Indian armed forces. The expert cites in this connection the war doctrines of the Indian Army [ Images ] (2004), Indian Navy (2005) and Indian Air Force (2007).

The analysis above needs to be examined together with a very recent Chinese assessment. Given under the title 'Panoramic View of International Military Situation in 2009', the analysis contributed by Ma Kang, deputy director, Institute of Strategic Studies, National Defence University, Liberation Army Daily, December 29 highlights the defence budget increases in the US, Russia [ Images ] and India. It points to India's '24 percent defence budget increase' in 2009 as compared to previous year as well as efforts to build an aircraft carrier of its own, launch of first home made submarine Arihant and goals set towards possessing 'three dimensional nuclear strategic capability.'

What stand out are the unmistakable adversarial tones with which the two highly placed Chinese experts have talked about India. Especially, the evaluation of Hao Ding runs contrary to the officially declared perceptions of India and China that each nation is not a threat to other. Observers in India have reasons to raise their eyebrows on the reappearance of the terminology 'partial border war' after some gap, more so in a contribution made by an academician close to Chinese hierarchy (the last such reference figured in an unofficial strategic affairs website in November 2008).

Also odd is the timing of such comments when India-China bilateral defence, political and economic ties are progressing steadily -- senior Chinese military officers including the Tibet [ Images ] commander have visited India recently, the Indian defence secretary is scheduled to visit Beijing for talks, both India and China have coordinated their actions in the conference at Copenhagen on climatic change, preparations are being made by both sides for the scheduled visit this year to China by the Indian President and lastly, India-China trade volume is slated to touch $60 billion by this year.

Not to place a break on Mr. Rajan’s rhetoric, and burst his bubble, but the Bharati Naval Chief says the following about China:

“In military terms, both conventional and non-conventional, we neither have the capability nor the intention to match China, force for force. These are indeed sobering thoughts and therefore our strategy to deal with China would need to be in consonance with these realities,” Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Suresh Mehta

The coming war between India and China

A basic question would therefore be what is the real meaning of the latest Chinese assessment of Indian defence strategy as above, which, judging from the affiliation of the analyst concerned, can definitely be considered as reflecting official views, especially that of the military. First comes the apparent dichotomy in the thinking of the civilian and military apparatus in China on relationship with India. However, when looked carefully, the reality looks different.

China has always been encouraging expression of strategic opinions and treating them as inputs for decision making at appropriate times. It has at the same time been taking care to see that the required diplomatic options, whether relating to India or other countries, are not prejudiced by such opinions. Specifically, this premise explains the rationale behind China's support to holding diplomatic initiatives, like talks between special representatives, to solve the boundary issue with India, while at the same time allowing hostile articulations on the subject by its strategists.

Beijing's such two-track mindset may also be seen as setting a context for understanding the opinion expressed by the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh [ Images ] during his recent visit to the US regarding China's 'assertiveness' vis-a-vis India of late.

Secondly, it is probable that the analysis clearly bringing out the 'India threat' theory, albeit after a gap, has something to do with the US factor. No doubt, it makes no mention of the US, but its appearance subsequent to the issuing of US-China Joint Declaration of November 17, 2009, may have its own meaning. Undeniably, reasons seem to have arisen for Beijing to feel that a qualitative change in its favour has occurred in the triangular China-US-India relations consequent to the opening of a new foreign policy course based on a 'smart power' concept (said to be a mix of hard and soft power) by the Barack Obama [ Images ] administration.

The US imperative towards China has undergone a shift to encompass a wider vision -- from one seeking China's emergence as a responsible stake holder in the international system to that aiming to establish a 'positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship' in the 21st century. In addition, the US has chosen to adopt a 'pragmatic' approach on human rights issue in China. If China thinks that it has as such come to occupy a superior position in the Sino-US equation at this juncture in the background of it having emerged as America's biggest creditor, the same may not be misplaced.

The simple fact that the Bush policy of building Bharat as a counterweight to China is no longer feasible or part of the Obama Doctrine. Washington cannot afford to anger its biggest creditor. Bharati policy makers are still under the illusion of Condaleeza Rice when she promised the Bharatis that the USA would make Bharat a Superpower.

For Beijing, the same reason may hold good in believing that the US will be inclined to tone down its support to India on sensitive issues like the boundary problem and that the time is opportune to intensify its strategic pressure on India.

Its readiness to agree with Washington to 'cooperate' on India-Pakistan issues, which touched Indian sensitivities, may relate to such thinking. It may at the same time be not wrong to assume that some Chinese pronouncements (official journal Liaowang, December 1, 2009) considering China-US and China-India relations not as a zero sum game, are only for public consumption.

China does not see a huge threat from Bharat. It is did, it would simply open the technology spigot to Pakistan, and Myanmar—and cut down Bharat to size. Already there are rumors that Burma wants to acquire Nuclear weapons. Lanka has allowed a port to China right on the Bharati border

Lastly, China can be expected to factor the latest views of experts in formulation of its own defence strategy vis-a-vis India. The assessment that China, not Pakistan, is India's priority military target is not going to be missed by the defence policy planners in China. But China may not need to make fresh responses. It has already consolidated its troop strength in the border, established firm defence ties with Indian ocean littorals and stepped up military help to Pakistan; On the last mentioned, Beijing's recent justification of its military aid to Pakistan as a response to India's getting arms from the US and Russia, unveils what could be in store for future.

China's occasional talks on partial border war with India need close attention of New Delhi [ Images ] as they could be in conformity with the need expressed by China to 'win local wars under conditions of informatisation' (China's latest Defence White Paper). In a broader sense, trends in China towards enhancing its extended range force projection capabilities and establishing overseas naval bases, may have implications for the entire region, especially for countries like Japan [ Images], India and South China sea littorals, all having territorial problems with China.

One has only to take note of the US position that China's military modernisation is changing the balance of power in East Asia.

China is giving mixed signals, but it would be in India's interests to continue 'engaging' China. It should at the same time take all necessary steps to protect its strategic interests; India's revised defence strategy proves that it is prepared to do the same. D S Rajan is director, Chennai Centre for China Studies. China experts feel Indian defence strategy treats China, not Pakistan, as priority target, which they also believe provides for a partial border war, writes D S Rajan.

The pace of Chinese development in the past 60 years is one of the wonders of the world. Not long ago the entire Chinese nation was kept in bondage by the East India Company which forced the country to continue to import opium. When the patriots revolted, Britain forced two wars on them. Finally Mao Ze Dung led the country to freedom from the machinations of Imperial Japan, Colonial Britain and a US which was supporting others in the civil war. In the past century the Chinese have walked softly and hidden the Big stick. It has whispered where others have shouted. The leadership in Beiing has bitten its lip on Taiwan and Arunchal Pradesh. It has kept quiet on the boundary line South of Tibet and kept quiet on international issues that it felt strongly about. Now the results are evident for all to see.

National Security: As China announces yet another double-digit increase in its military budget, and as this and other threats continue to grow, President Obama plans to spend just 3% of GDP on defense by 2016.

Almost unnoticed in January was the presence of Chinese warships deployed in the Gulf of Aden, south of the Saudi peninsula, to assist in the international anti-piracy mission. The deployment of naval vessels 4,000 miles from home is significant and historic. It demonstrates that China now has a blue-water navy.

China has announced in advance of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress that it intends to increase its 2009 defense budget by 14.9%. This follows increases of 17.8% in 2007 and 17.6% in 2008. The actual increase may be higher, as China has traditionally kept many things, including major arms purchases, off budget.

China’s military budget has grown at an average rate of 16% the past decade. China’s military buildup is clearly aimed at acquiring the ability to overwhelm the defenses of, and successfully attack, U.S. carrier battle groups that might come to the aid of Taiwan in a crisis. Investors dot com

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