Saturday, June 27, 2015

India cries foul in Pakistan's glee

"...had the people of India refused to buy Chinese products/services for one day, China would have learnt its lesson...!"

For the last couple of days, Indian media is going crazy over China blocking India's proposal against Zakhir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi the terror mastermind of 26/11 massacre. However, it is neither new nor in the interest of China's grand strategy to help India in the issue of Pakistan-sponsored-terrorism.

China's act is nothing new

In fact China is consistently blocking India's attempt to bring Pakistan's state sponsored terrorism for quite sometime. China did the same in the case of Syed Salahuddin (United Jihad Council), when China put India's proposal on a "Technical hold", effectively stalling the process. Since December 2014, it seems India had filed three separate proposals with UN, each of which has been stalled by China. The discussion on Syed Salahuddin was even stalled for long time, thanks to China. Similarly, China had blocked India's proposals against Maulana Masood Ashar, Abdur Rehman Makki and Azam Cheema in 2010.

It is not just with the proposals on terrorism. China was against US-India nuclear deal as well and has been consistently sabotaging India's bid to UN Security Council. It was also consistently blocking India's entry into the Nuclear Supplier Group and was trying to push Pakistan, in the name of 'parity' with utter disregard to Pakistan's nuclear proliferation history. 

Hence, it could be safely said that China blocking India's proposal on Lakhvi is nothing new but was consistent with their unstated official policy. In other words, China is India's foe in the grab of a "friend". Though many in India would agree, those clamouring for a few bucks at the cost of the national security wouldn't and the government of India is still spineless to call spade a spade.

Pakistan's all-weather friend

In my previous post, I had argued that Pakistan plays a vital role in China's grand strategy, as spoiler state of the region and as a counter-balance for India. As long as India concerned with the Pakieconomic assistance to nuclear blue prints?
stan sponsored terrorism, it wouldn't look to challenge China in the global politics - at least thats what China expects. To add value to the expectation, India is extremely occupied with Pakistan than the source of the threat. Isn't this the reason, it is carefully harbouring Pakistan, from providing

There is also another dimensions, why China wouldn't go against Pakistan. Pakistan didn't hesitate to sabotage US operations and supply routes through Pakistan, even after accepting billions in aid, ostensibly against US' drone strikes. However, this is also viewed as the result of growing India-US relations in nuclear energy and counter-terrorism. Dwadar Port and the road through Karakoram range is vital to China's "String of pearl" strategy, aimed at encircling India. Further, Pakistan is one of the staunch supporter of China's "Silk Road" project. If China votes in favour of India, it is highly likely that it would face break-down in relation similar to US. While US had no "string of pearls", China has and it cannot afford to lose its advantage after spending billions for the purpose. 

India Cries foul

Yes, history stands as a proof for India's credentials to regional and world peace. However sometimes, India should look beyond its own self-inflicted restraints. Further, with a UNSC a foe and a supporter of the nations hostile to India's interest, India's efforts are next to nothing but just "optics" to fool people. Doesn't India know that China is going to block its proposals? Had it not done before? So waste time in doing the same and waste taxpayer's money? Until this date, India has not enacted any acts to counter China or make China rethink its actions. This shows nothing but the political-strategic ineptitude of our politicians and bureaucracy. "Linear" thinking may be great for bureaucracy but wouldn't work in power-play.

I believe India's state, with respect to terrorism, is a consequence of the ill-fated and ill-advised move by Mr. I. K. Gujral to disband India's covert operational capabilities in Pakistan. Had, the tough speaking Mr. Modi's Government determined in bringing the perpetrators to books, he would have re-instituted India's covert operational capabilities. With covert capabilities, these masterminds could have been eliminated. Similarly, had India spent some time in developing technologies, India could easily pinpoint and eliminate its hostile targets within Pakistan with perfect deniability. However, I don't see any sincerity on the part of Mr. Modi or his government, in this direction. Though, Mr. Modi is trying to emulate China is other aspects, he fails to emulate it in the most important one - reversing brain drain and bring technologies and know hows from other nations...

I understand that India, as a nation may not be in position to impose sanctions against Chinese business interests due to it being a part of WTO. However, what makes the people to renounce Chinese products? In response, to China's act in the US, had the people of India refused to buy Chinese products/services for one day, China would have learnt its lesson...!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

West drives Russia...

US, EU  and NATO drives Russia to China and India is oblivious to the consequences
Russia has been a strategic friend and ally of India for the past few decades. However, Russia's policy maneuvers in the last 5 years seems to show an increasing trend towards China and Pakistan. While many Indian analysts term these moves a mistake, I think that these are strategic moves with multiple messages. This article views some of the policy maneuvers of Russia and the context in which they are made.

Sino-Russian Relations in the context:

Russia and China have been gradually building relations since the 1990s. However, the following policy maneuvers by Russia seems more of a consequences of geo-politics than of friendship...

2004 Complementary Agreement

Since the 1990s the Sino-Russia border situations has been steadily improving, which culminated in the transfer of land by Russia to China in 2004, with the complementary agreement. With the transfer of the islands, the border dispute between the two countries was resolved. This could enable them to pursue common strategic goals and deepen their economic ties.

Though, from the surface, it may seem like Russia capitulating to China, it is not the case when this act is viewed from a global perspective. During 2004, the West and Russia were trying to assert their influence in Ukraine. The joining of some former Soviet States in EU might have not gone well with Russia. In this context, by ceding some land that is disputed to China, Russia turned a potential foe into a friend. This is also a signal by Russia for a multi-polar world. US should have noted the signal, as such moves not only rises China's stature but also its aspirations, potentially making the Asia-pacific open to Chinese brinkmanship and adventurism.

India, should also have noted this Russian move as it has ominous warnings to India. Though China's military and economic capabilities are awesome, China is still far behind Russia in military technologies. The alliance would mean that China is now capable of acquiring more advanced weaponry for potential use against India and other nations with which it has hostilities over territories. China, being a "blood brother" of Pakistan is likely to influence Russia to end its arms embargo against Pakistan. Further, the boost in China's economy is likely to increase its defense spending. None of the mentioned situations bode well for India but I'm not sure how India chose to be blind to the developments. 

30 Year Gas deal

The long meddling of  West and Russia in Ukraine led to the break up of Crimea, which was successfully annexed to Russia on 18 March, 2014. Following which, the West (NATO and EU) were up in arms with a slew of economic sanctions against Russia. I believe the 30 year Gas deal with China is a consequence of these sanctions, as the deal followed the first two rounds of economic sanctions against Russia - its enterprises and individuals. In other words, the West's activities not only split Ukraine and pushed it into a civil war but also helped China to diversify its energy routes. With the supply of Russian oil, China is less dependent on its oil routes through Malacca strait, a strategic choke point. Further, the boost to China's economy is likely to affect the security and territorial interests of countries in the Asia pacific.

In this context, it should also be noted that Russia's proposal to bypass Ukraine as its main oil transit hub, which is likely to affect Ukraine's economy adversely and have far flung implications.

Personally, I think India missed an opportunity both in terms of strategy and solidarity. India could have struck a similar deal with Russia which would have provided a boost to Indian economy. However, India has been increasingly showing timidity and ineptitude in such affairs for quite some time (as in the case of Iran). I believe, the reason behind India's reluctance to make use of the opportunity is due to its intentions to purchase "not so much needed" nuclear reactors from Western nations. Please don't mistake me. India very much needs power but India, over the years, have developed capabilities to build its own nuclear reactors. At this juncture, what India needed most is to further develop its capabilities - which could be through attracting Indian diaspora as well as help from friends, as Chinese did. However, the 'turf-dom' politics, corruption, nepotism, etc., is a turn-away for most of the talents. India is also not serious in making its own facilities efficient. India also forgot that it was Russia which helped build its first capabilities. Hence, it is wonderful opportunity wasted. 

End of Arms Embargo to Pakistan

As I had mentioned earlier, China's close association with Russia is likely to influence the latter to end its arms embargo against Pakistan, a country which uses terrorism as its state-policy. However, the tipping point, I believe is the MMRCA deal to France in which Russia was one of the contender. In this context, the action of Russia seems like a punitive action for India's decision to give the deal to the West with which it is in conflict. Further, it is also a demonstration that Russia is not solely dependent on Indian market for its defense products. Though MiG-35 was cheaper considerably than Rafale, it was also inferior to Rafale in range and combat radius. However MiG-35 is faster than Rafale and had a better climb rate. Rafale is also consider among the top 10 dog-fighters. In addition, Rafale is tested and found to suit army needs based on other non-combative factors too. So, though it is in Indian interest to choose Rafale, it is likely that Russia had felt betrayed.

The economic prospect in the MMRCA deal is likely to make any country, rich or poor, drool. In this context, it may be a human nature to feel betrayed. However, India was both inept and myopic here. It could have gradually tried to acquire the crafts, instead of giving the total number of acquisitions in a "winner-takes-all" fashion. If at all, the 1998 sanctions against India, should have served as a warning. Further, by gradual increase, India is at a better position to acquire the latest and best. In any case, the deal is literally dead now, after many delays and cost overruns, portraying India's indecisiveness and ineptitude in strategic acquisitions.  This is much ado about nothing...

West drives East

In this context, some believe that Russia has diminished its stature and strategic sheen by "bear-hugging" with China. However, I believe that Russia's actions are more of its response to International events that has direct bearing to its security and economy.

Some times it is hard for me to shake the feeling whether the West (US, EU and NATO) is more intent on erasing Russia from the map instead of achieving world peace. If such is the case, it wouldn't surprise me given the cold-war attitude of the politicians in US and NATO. This attitude is against the very democratic principles, that the West supposedly champion (Isn't tolerance a core principle of democracy?). However, with the world dynamics changing, EU is no more the sole power wielder next to US. China is rising, belligerently. Unlike the erstwhile Soviet Union, it is more calculative and vicious. The world economy is suffering and the terrorism, ISIS, is at large. In this context, I believe the entire Ukraine episode could (should) have been avoided, had the West been a bit more sensitive to Russian sentiments (US was not particularly accommodative to communist ideals in its backyard, so why should Russia?!). With the events on the contrary, I believe the West drove Russia into China's embrace, a more aggressive opponent.

India would do well to have its interests as priority and develop ability to identify its friends from foes. As the rise of China would have a immediate bearing on its security and territorial integrity. Mr. Modi, should realize that boasting and Hindutva, is not going to make India rise to a super-power status if it makes a habit of missing strategic opportunities and continues show immaturity and inefficiently in building its capabilities.

It is not late for India and the West to realign their strategic priorities with a view on the future. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dragon's Rise: Could it be Caged?

For the past few decades, China is developing rapidly both in terms of economy and military prowess. However, China's rise is studied with caution by many countries while looked-upon in fear by the others. China's attempt to allay those fear is the propaganda of "China's peaceful rise" by Mr. Hu, the president of China from 2003 to 2013. Unfortunately, I believe many of the countries in China's periphery might buy that. In my previous post, I argued that the lack of leadership is aiding China's hegemony in the region. However, what are the cards China hold? What could be the possible implications of China's rise to the region? Could it be contained? - Let us See...

China's Tactics

Benevolence or Bait

China is now a member of many important international organizations and financial institutions. In its global aspirations it has extended credit lines to many nations. However, these financial assistance seem to come at a great cost to the debtor. These financial benevolence seems to become a debt trap forcing countries to work of Chinese interests instead of their own. Usually, China and Chinese companies benefit from these relations more than the debtor itself.

As case in point is Sri Lanka. When Sri Lanka was reprimanded by entire world for its excess and war crimes during the last phase of the Elam War, China became highly benevolent to Sri Lanka. Mr. Rajapaska trying to play the China card against India when India didn't support Sri Lanka in UNHRC resolution, neglecting the warnings of his opposition.  It seems part of the nation has been mortgaged to China. The new president, Mr. Sirisena, was not shy when he said "foreigners are stealing his nation" in his election manifesto. After his successful election as the president of Sri Lanka, he announced that he'd be reviewing the terms of Chinese loans to Sri Lanka. However, when he was visiting China after coming to power, it seems that he was forced by China to look away. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka didn't have much room to maneuver. 

Another case in point is Africa, where China has committed billions in aid. However, what is not well publicized is that in the same period (in the last 10 years) more than a million Chinese have settled in these regions, capturing every employment opportunities. 

Currently many countries are receiving financial assistance from China and are getting caught in its trap...!  

"Old Rum in New Bottle"

Another diplomatic route that China pursues is the "One Road One  Belt" project, which is a revival of the ancient (206 BC - 220 BC) "Silk Road". However, unlike the ancient silk road, the proposed project has security, strategic and political implications, though China is trying hard to sell its economic credentials. India for one seeing this project as a part of "String of Pearl" strategy to encircle it. China isn't helping either, by setting up suspicious listening towers in Sri Lanka.  Similarly, the Gwadar Port and the Karakoram Highway development by Chinese are watched with caution in India. US and Russia who should be concerned with the project. The revived silk route also will diversify China's supply routes thereby reduce its dependence on Malacca Strait, a possible choke point.

From the military perspective, it has a tremendous potential for China to mobilize its troops. Most of China's ICBMs and nuclear stockpile are mobile. In a case of confrontation, the road increases the probability of survival of China's stockpile for retaliatory action. If China is the offender, as could be the case in South Asia, it would ensure the destruction of China's opponents. No wonder countries with history of nuclear proliferation are the most interested in the project.  

Spoilers: Pakistan and North Korea

Source: IMF
Cultivating and harnessing these two spoilers of the regions is vital to the China's aspirations. While China commits a lot of financial aid to Pakistan, most of it are loans that could inevitably draw Pakistan into a debt-trap. Further, the benevolence of China is mostly in handing over its old war machinery such as submarines, missiles and nuclear technology, while Pakistan is suffering from militancy and poor economy. If I'm to guess, China wants Pakistan to be poor so that it can control and use it to counter India. Pakistan is stupid and arrogant, as is India,  for failing to look into the Chinese schemes. Pakistan is more than happy to give a piece of land to China that would ensure its unending sufferings than settle it with India, which is only looked up on as a soft-power.

Similarly in the Pacific, China is cultivating North Korea by arming it with nuclear and missile technologies (through Pakistan). It also has a similarity. Like Pakistan, North Korea is cultivated against Japan and US forces in the region. Having obtained reputation for being unpredictable and for having the least concern to the well being of its citizens, North Korea is full open to China to be prodded to attack on any US or Japanese installations, which would give China an edge in the region.

Interestingly, these two nations are reeling in poverty and both need not be actually asked to attack any of the countries in the region. For example, if Pakistan feels necessary or think it has an edge, it would attack India on its own volition and with the Chinese nuclear submarines the risk of nuclear clash has just gone up. Similarly, North Korea, would have no apprehensions to attack South Korea. That is the reason, I called these countries as "Spoilers" of the region. Further, US is more happy to engage with Pakistan, a spoiler state that survives with US aids but consider itself closer to China, than to help India or other countries for that matter, which have had no aggression or proliferation history. As a matter of fact, the only two choices US may have in the region are India and Japan...neither of them are capable of taking on China by themselves.


I have argued in my previous post that China wants to keep the border issue unsettled with India so as to extract financial gains that would inevitably finds its way to China's strategy for world dominance. But such pressure points has some strategic elements too. For example, any attempt of India to help Tibetan refugees could be chastised by China and India scarred by its humiliation in 1962 would try to "consider" China's sensitivities. 

Another incident that comes to mind is China's coercion of Vietnam against internationalizing the South China sea issue. In fact, though many countries are not happy with China constructing artificial islands in the South China Sea, most remains mute spectators even when their own domain is encroached fearing China's military and economic clout.

Philippines is no stranger to China's coercion either. 

Even the Asian quadrilateral to be formed between US, India, Japan and Australia fizzled away as the countries didn't want to be seen as block against China - yielding to Chinese sentiments. 

US: From China's perspective

Source: IMF
US is undoubtedly the most powerful country in the world in both economy and military terms. However, since 2008 US's economy and the economy of many of the Western countries have slowed down considerably. On the other hand, China's economy didn't suffer much due to recession and is strong even after that. Many of the US industries are dependent on China's exports of raw materials. US companies like Wal-Mart are also great importer of China's cheaper goods. This scenario could be seen as two economies entangled, though the countries themselves have diverging visions.

US' commitments in the Middle East, had emboldened China's regional and global brinkmanship and coercion. Much of the woes of US in the Middle East are its own doing. By destroying Libya and destabilizing Syria US has only succeeded in creating ISIS, much worse than Al-Qaeda itself. Hence, China is confident that US would give a free reign to its ambitions in South Asia. In fact, the US policy was ambiguous for a very long time. Even after the announcement of Asia pivot, there many lobbies that try to pull US back from Asia.

Chinese thinking do hold some credence as a confrontation with China is likely to send US economy in a nose drive, and currently US may not be in a position to absorb the economic fall-outs, having spent a lot in the Middle East. The best US could do is "optics", pretend it is serious in stopping China and provide some reassurance but nothing more than that. That's exactly, what the much hyped US' Asia re-balancing strategy is all about.

The Chinese are aware of this... the US is aware of this... but, for those this matters, is nothing but oblivious!

Possible impacts of China's uncontrolled rise

China's rise has serious socio, economic and strategic ramifications. Some of the possible impacts that could happen are:

  • Most likely it would start with the withering away of US influence in the region, if not the entire world. 
  • Japan which has a serious history with China would likely suffer the most - loss of territories, destruction of economy, etc. 
  • Given Japan-China history and China's apathy to human right abuses, I wouldn't be surprised if the resulting poverty and mafia lead to increase in human trafficking and slave trade. The same result with other countries such as Vietnam, Philippines, etc as it is now happening... 
  • Could likely spell a doom for South Korea as well. Given the close relationship between N. Korea and China, especially if China considers S. Korea a challenge to its communist ideologies and a competitor in economy. 
  • India will lose its entire North Eastern region to China and secessionist forces and J&K to Pakistan. 
  • India would also economically suffer, given China's penchant to dictate terms in any negotiations.
  • Other countries may lose their economic well-beings and Communists ideologies will find a renewal.
Of course, the impact of the China's rise would not be felt immediately. As the proverbial frog, the countries would only realize when it is already too late. Think about the state of Tibetans in China now, that is pretty much the state the countries in the region would be after China's ascent. This may seem like a pretty pessimistic attitude towards China, but I don't have proof that convince me otherwise...!

Containing China

The Asia Pivot strategy of US is to deploy forward forces in the region to contain China. This is based on the assumption, that lack of US entrenchment in the region is what causing China's brinkmanship in the region and China is dependent on US for its growth. However, it is not entirely true. So, if China is to be contained:

  • US, Japan, and other trading partners of China need to untangle their economies from China. Though this may not completely stop China, it would at least make China to rethink its conduct in the region and the world
  • India is behind China by decades. Given the amount of nepotism, and corruption (I know some would disagree but many from South and East in the Hindi belt would agree...!) in India combined with red-tape, myopic attitude and racism, it is extremely difficult for India to increase its capabilities in any near future. The best India could do at the moment is to reinstate its covert operational capabilities.
  • India should try and break the Chinese "String of Pearl" strategy while US should concentrate on the "One Road One Belt" strategy.
  • International trade laws and understanding may prevent the nations from making anti-dumping duties. However, since the Govts. are vested in the interest and well-being of its citizens, they could try and ensure that the interest of their citizens are met. A simple rule India that all products imported should be biodegradable, and free of PBA or lead would greatly reduce the import of China goods. Further, India could make the importer pay for those tests and hold the importer accountable for any violations. This is would greatly increase the cost of import and could encourage the local industries to prime up their supplies. 
  • Formation of  "SATO" or sort of: None of the countries in the region could counter China by itself. US, given its commitments in middle East may not be able to completely devote his muscles or money in the region. Hence, the need to form a block such as NATO or EU for the region, in the region and without China (and of course its proxies) is a need of the hour. Such a block would have benefits beyond the region.
  • Most importantly, the countries together should find a way to counter Chinese espionage.

In simple words, some one should take the brave step or everyone is sure to perish...!