China is already a nuclear power with its well tended arsenal and fast growing navy. It is expanding at a rate that is fostering apprehension amongst its neighbors. Vietnam, a former foe is actively courting the U.S. Japan and South Korea are strengthening their alliances with the U.S. Japan is bolstering its defenses by moving its forces from the north which used to face the Russians, to the south as they are aware of the danger emanating from China and its rising naval might. Even the Philippines which evicted the U.S. from its Subic Bay naval base that served as a much needed check on the vital shipping lanes of South East Asian waters, now seeks to tie the U.S. down to its defense by way of a treaty signed in the ‘50’s. No doubt this is being done because of recent aggressive incidents involving the Philippines and China in those same waters.
In September of last year, Japan had to capitulate to economic blackmail at the hands of China. A Chinese trawler was captured in Japan’s territorial waters after ramming a Japanese coast guard vessel and the captain of the Chinese vessel was detained. China halted the export of badly needed rare earth minerals for Japan’s vital industries after the incident. These rare earth minerals which almost exclusively come from China are vital in the manufacture of small yet powerful electric motors, clean air products, solar panels and cell phones etc. The Japanese were forced to release the vessel and its captain failing which Japan’s industries would have been devastated had the imbroglio continued. China which currently produces 95% of the world’s supply of these rare earth minerals was literally able to bring Japan to its knees. Japan now realizes its predicament . With the subsequent and timely help from the U.S. after the recent earthquake and the tsunami which caused its nuclear reactor’s explosion, Japan has aligned itself closer to the U.S. Japan has historical and complete rights to the islands of Senkaku and in the late 1970’s, studies and surveys indicated the possibilities of significant petroleum reserves in the East China Sea. Once again, China staked an unlawful claim because of its ravenous appetite for natural resources for its galloping economy, a slowdown of which could unleash devastating consequences amongst its population and thereby threaten the regime.
The naked invasion of Vietnam in February 1979 by the Chinese, fought solely on Vietnamese soil laid bare the the evil and aggressive intentions of the CCP in China. In the first month of the conflict alone about 20,000 Chinese soldiers died and the conflict dragged on aimlessly till the mid 1980’s. The spirited resistance put up by the Vietnamese ended with the eventual withdrawal by the Chinese. The Vietnamese have had centuries of conflict with the Chinese and that has fostered a sense of enmity. Now there are Chinese veterans of that war who question why their rulers even waged it. Some of them openly state that it was staged as a pretext to quell internal dissent and for some of their rulers to consolidate their power.
Likewise South Korea realizes the double game being played by China in relation to its conflict with the mad regime in North Korea. China actively supports belligerent North Korea especially after the sinking of the South Korean navy’s corvette and the shelling of its islands last year. China claims that the Yellow Sea and South China Sea fall within its core interests contrary to international law.
Many South Koreans feel that China is apprehensive of a growing realization amongst the Koreans of the disappearance of their ancient kingdom of Kogryo when it was conquered in A.D. 668 by China’s Tang dynasty. Some Koreans rightfully claim large areas that are now a part of China. That is why it is extremely expedient for China to pit North Korea against its successful neighbor to the south rather than see a unified Korea one day duly claim its lost territory. Like the territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malayasia, Indonesia and Brunei concerning the potential of oil and mineral deposits, China is again embroiled with South Korea over a submerged reef that Koreans call IEODO, which rightfully belongs to them. For such a pattern to emerge where so many nations are pitted against China, it points to an overpowering desire and greed by China to grab by force, which if not confronted soon will pave the way for clashes. No wonder some South Korean lawmakers have, with wisdom, urged their countrymen to ally with Tibetans, Mongolians and the Vietnamese to confront China’s aggressive behavior.
Taiwan could pose a great challenge in foreign affairs as the U.S. is not bound to defend it with the abrogation of the previous Mutual Defense Pact between the U.S. and Taiwan though the U.S. is required by virtue of the Taiwan Relations Act to supply it with arms for its defense. Taiwan, sadly had been pushed aside by the U.S. in favor of coddling China to offset the erstwhile Soviet Union. China covets Taiwan and will do whatever it can to subdue it and bring it under its sphere of influence. Taiwan stands out as a true and sovereign beacon of democracy, above all with its people enjoying their immutable rights and not in conflict with anyone.
China seeks to be able to penetrate into the Western Pacific (via Taiwan) and be in a position to confront Japan and the U.S. and Australia if need be. Australia would not want to be involved with any skirmish in relation to Taiwan and China because of its booming trade with China, especially its huge exports of natural resources. China has placed almost 1,500 missiles directed at Taiwan and envisions a swift lightning strike to overwhelm Taiwan’s defenses and then occupy it. The only drawback would be if Taiwan were able to defend itself like the Vietnamese did in 1979. That is the principal reason China vociferously opposes any arms sales to Taiwan. It is hard to visualize the U.S. willing to come to Taiwan’s defense because of its fiscal woes and its overstretched defense forces. In this respect, one should recall the statement made some years ago by General Zhu Chengdu of China’s defense establishment that were the U.S. to threaten China with its military might and prowess, China would respond with nuclear weapons and would even be willing to sacrifice its cities of Xian, but then the U.S. would have to be prepared for the destruction of its cities too. It is highly unlikely that the U.S. would be willing to sacrifice its cities to fight on Taiwan’s behalf. In its present unenviable position, Taiwan has to depend to a certain extent on the goodwill of the U.S. but prudently keep all its options open by cultivating those nations who face a Chinese threat including India farther away.
Another potential area of conflict is the prime target of India to the east. China has laid claim to large swaths of Indian territory including the state of Arunachal Pradesh which houses Tawang, the largest Buddhist monastery outside of Tibet. The Dalai Lama passed through the area and stopped by the monastery while fleeing the brutal crackdown and occupation in Tibet. In China’s convoluted way of thinking, this smacks of retaliation for sheltering the Dalai Lama in India. This retaliatory resonance was amply demonstrated when, in its fury over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, it refused to allow his wife to leave for Oslo, Norway to accept the prize. Not to mention the manner in which it pressed so many nations not to (even) attend the ceremonies in Oslo. About nineteen countries to their shame actually succumbed to such pressure. India surprisingly attended the event much to China’s displeasure. India has shown through other recent events where it seems to be standing up to China’s bellicose behavior. It has given the Dalai Lama sanctuary as an honored guest. Its Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the state of Arunachal Pradesh as did the Dalai Lama too regardless of China’s objections.
In 2008, the Dalai Lama publicly announced that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. There is a large Buddhist population there which reveres the Dalai Lama and because of China’s intransigence, the whole region is heavily militarized on both sides.
Arunachal Pradesh possesses 200 million cubic feet of flowing water per second, which would serve China’s needs in the future. By the year 2030, China will face a severe water shortage of about 25% and considering the drought that has plagued the country it actively seeks any source and right now close to 400 of its large cities are short of water. During the Chinese invasion in 1962, China briefly occupied Tawang and then withdrew. It in turn occupied Aksai Chin, a region north of the western Himalayas which India claims but the ineffectual political and military leadership in New Delhi at that time did not pursue the matter as they had badly neglected their defense forces.
At the conclusion of the Chinese Prime Minister’s last visit to India there was no mention from India of Taiwan being an inalienable part of China, as China had sought. In 1962 India was unexpectedly invaded by China. Due to the inept leadership, having a naive prime minister and a leftist communist sympathizing defense minister, India was totally unprepared and in the ensuing rout, lost sizable chunks of its territory to China. Thus, India belatedly concluded that it was time to stand up and confront China’s churlish aggressive stance. It faced the growing threat on its borders with the build up of forces on the Chinese side and the stationing of long range SS 5 missiles aimed at Indian cities. That is why it has placed two mountain divisions of almost 50,000 troops and two squadrons of fighter aircraft to counter it and is fast working on its AGNI V missiles to be able to reach China’s northernmost cities.
Indian generals have termed the area more dangerous than the border with Pakistan. China has now stationed its troops in the Pakistan held area of Kashmir. Right from the start, China has clandestinely supplied Pakistan with nuclear material for its arsenal as well as extending diplomatic support to that most dangerous nation on earth as realized by the entire world. After Osama Bin Laden’s death, when the world woke up to the fact that he was sheltered in Pakistan, China was the only friend that Pakistan could turn to for support. It does so to checkmate India and its calculated strategy of encircling India through its String of Pearls strategy, has it building bases to not only protect its shipping routes for the vital trade of raw materials but one day to counter the U.S. navy as well.
In this respect, Sarah Palin wisely sounded the alarm during her visit to India in March following a stop in Taiwan. She spoke in New Delhi of her Vision For America, and of China’s growing military might. She questioned who it was directed against, and so had Donald Rumsfeld earlier when he was the Defense Secretary in the previous administration. It was not by chance when India conducted its nuclear explosions in 1998 that the then Indian Defense Minister, George Frenandes openly stated that it was not meant with Pakistan in mind but to counter China and its nefarious designs.
Early on, the Obama administration embarked on a misguided policy of trying to work closely with China over a host of issues like trade friction, currency manipulation, restraining the combative and mad regime in North Korea, and matters concerning South East Asian countries much to the consternation of those countries who were rightfully apprehensive of China’s expansionist policies. It did not take long for the U.S. administration to belatedly reach the conclusion that its initial goals would not fruition. It now looks to India as implied by Secretary Hilary Clinton during her just concluded visit to India. The interests of the U.S. depend on a rising India with its democratic traditions (though not ideal), free press, independent and active judiciary and its fast growing economy (second only to China) to counter China. Sad to state that the same strategy of establishing close relations was espoused almost fifty years ago by the then American ambassador to India, Kenneth Galbraith after China’s naked invasion. But neither country acted upon it and history, as they say, repeats itself.
India’s LOOK EAST POLICY is now a welcome trend. Hopefully it will join the other threatened countries facing China’s evil designs, and in the matter of NATO when it successfully thwarted the former Soviet Union, embark on some manner of a similar alliance for everyone’s benefit.