Abhijit Bhattacharyya | Fire in the water: China in the great Indian Ocean push
CPC switched to its snow-sea mega route after completing its land, commercial, banking and telecommunications penetration in India
Beijing overlord Xi Jinping, raised to the Chinese pantheon and placed on par with Chairman Mao Zedong at the recent Communist Party Central Committee session, plans to target India by sea, using increased firepower and Growing reach of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA Navy) in the Indian Ocean, as Mao had tried to teach India a lesson on the Himalayan border in 1962.
The writing is visible on the wall – from the Himalayas to the waterfront. It is no longer a question of what and why, but when the PLA navy, which serves the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), will put up his Indian Ocean Theater Command centered on India, chasing everyone through his “Maritime Command”, “Sea Control” and “Sea Denial” ops!
CPC moved onto its snow-sea mega-road after completing its land, commercial, banking and telecom penetration in India, and “buying” a few targeted Indian players, and with very little backlash. The CCP has also forced India to increase its border spending to the Himalayan heights following the current standoff in the Ladakh region which began in April-May 2020, aided by its annual profit of $ 50 million. from bilateral trade (expected to be $ 60 billion in 2021). India’s annual defense budget for 2020 was $ 64.1 billion (2021 military balance). China’s annual trade profit is therefore almost equal to India’s defense spending. Does the Indian taxpayer bear the expenses of his country as well as those of the rival nation?
China’s defense budget of $ 193.3 billion for 2020 is three times that of India.
Can it be argued that China’s defense budget is actually $ 253.3 billion ($ 193.3 billion and over $ 60 billion from India)? India now stands on the brink of a precipice as the CCP dictator finds new ways to target her on all fronts.
One example will suffice. No Chinese visa has been issued to an Indian for over a year. It has severely affected the lives and careers of over 25,000 Indian students enrolled in Chinese institutions. But Chinese criminals roam freely all over India, engaging in a variety of activities ranging from smuggling, espionage, illegal fishing, and bank and financial fraud. Will Indians in Beijing and elsewhere be allowed to get away with a fraction of this? Bertrand Russell wrote: “Does man have a future? If he were alive today, he would surely joke on prime-time television, “O Lord! Does India have a future before the Chinese peril?
The People’s Republic is determined to disrupt or deny India’s uninterrupted access to the world’s third largest body of water, the Indian Ocean, and the flexibility available to its navy, maneuvering unhindered. The Han’s enduring dream of dominating the waves and reducing their rivals to size remains unfulfilled, mainly due to unfriendly geography, despite the 7,830 nautical mile long coastline with the Yellow, East China and China Seas. southern, dotted with more than 3,400 offshore islands serving as an insurmountable obstacle.
Problems with China’s access to the Pacific are growing, as all of the key island nations around it have issues with Beijing. The PLA Navy, however, is still prone to tension and confrontation. There is desperation in subjugating every maritime state, and carrying the Chinese ensign high is alluring. The Soviet Union almost succeeded in a similar endeavor, and its navy soared to dizzying heights, only to fall without a fight 30 years ago, in December 1991.
China’s fundamentals are formidable, however, and it needs to focus on feeding its 1.5 billion people. There are also factors such as fishing, fuel, finance, factory and firepower – for which he focused on the Belt and Road initiative and the resulting CPEC. The CCP knows full well that breaking through the Pacific will not be easy because the United States will not tolerate any challenger as the Japanese did between the two world wars and after. Besides the two smaller navies of Japan and South Korea, the combined fleets of Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are not child’s play either.
The Chinese push towards the Indian Ocean is clearly visible. The Pakistani navy and bases are already bought and penetrated, making Islamabad a virtual vassal state. The Gulf of Aden and the Bab-el-Mandeb (Asia-Europe gate) were fortified. Beijing’s supply of ships and submarines to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar extended its influence. After its takeover of a Sri Lankan port, at least four Indian Ocean island countries are on the CCP’s radar, along with the Persian Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates and Iran. The UAE, as a crew rest and refit station, is a distinct possibility for its hospitality and growing technological infrastructure.
On the islands of the Indian Ocean, the actual game begins with the unexplored, uninhabited, unexploited, and unmapped points, such as in the South China Sea. Lucrative long-term leases from the ruling class could be irresistible to small islanders. Who can really refuse billions of dollars to rent barren islands?
At present, however, the PLA navy does not yet have minimum provisions for “Sea Command” – for its own use and to deny it to the enemy. Thus, despite vigorous and vitriolic claims on the South China Sea as a “Chinese lake”, the PLA navy cannot prevent the fleets of the United States and its allies from passing through the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.
If “Sea Command” does not work, there is always “Sea Control”, implying more realistic control in limited areas, for a shorter duration. For China, it will be in the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea. For a few nations like Britain and France, which still have remote islands like the Falklands and the British Indian Ocean Territories, and the US World Naval Command, the merger of Maritime Command and Maritime Control has become a political constraint.
For India, if the PLA navy begins to deeply probe its EEZ (exclusive economic zone), which it is already doing through so-called fishing vessels equipped with satellite communication and modern electronics , what is the best strategy? It could be the “Sea Denial”, which the weaker navy normally adopts against a stronger fleet. Like the constant attempts of the Pakistani navy in the Arabian Sea. For the Indian Navy, however, the strategic threat increases dramatically in Pakistan’s “Sea Denial” and China’s “Sea Command / Control”.
Virtually adjacent to the Indian EEZ, the main Pakistani-Chinese strategy is to keep the Indian navy confined to the “brown water zone”. This is what New Delhi simply cannot afford.
Xi Jinping may be getting too big for his boots. He might be better off staying focused on Taiwan, Tibet, and the Taliban, and not venturing too far into the Indian Ocean region.