Tag Archives: India China Economic Union

China is Preparing Tibet as a Future War Zone

China’s massive infrastructure build-up in Tibet far in excess of genuine civilian requirements is causing concern to the government of India. Defence minister A K Antony has spoken in parliament of the rapid development of rail, road, airfield and telecom infrastructure and military camps being undertaken by the Chinese authorities in Tibet. He assured the MPs that ‘necessary steps’ were being taken to counter these developments.

Antony acknowledged that a road network stretching across 58,000 km has been constructed and five operational airfields have come up at Gongar, Pangta, Linchi, Hoping and Gar Gunsa in Tibet. Extension of the Qinghai Tibet Railway (QTR) line to Xigaze and another line from Kashgar to Hotan in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is also in progress.

Control over Tibet forms part of the larger concept of Chinese national integration under President Hu Jintao’s dictum of ‘going down the road of development with Chinese characteristics and a Tibetan flavour.’ In the wake of ethnic violence in Tibet in 2008, increased force levels of the paramilitary people’s armed police, Chinese frontier guards and the garrison duty forces have been stationed in the region.

China has chosen to upgrade the infrastructure and logistics system in Tibet to enhance the ability of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to become a more mobile and better-equipped fighting force that can be deployed faster and sustained over a longer period of time. The concentrated expansion of infrastructure in Tibet has improved the PLA’s capability to rapidly induct integrated forces.

The QTR railway line is being further extending westwards from Lhasa to Xigaze. Along with the rapid development of the lateral road network in Tibet, a large number of axial roads leading to passes bordering India are being constructed. The roads are being constructed to military specifications in order to be turned over to the PLA in the event of war or an internal disorder. The logistics build-up opposite India’s eastern theatre is a cause for concern since it augments the PLA’s ability to deploy rapidly from the mainland.

Construction of new airfields and the upgradation of advanced landing grounds (ALGs) and helipads in and around the TAR, coupled with the acquisition of new transport aircraft, will enhance China’s strategic airlift capability resulting in faster induction and concentration of field formations in comparatively shorter time-frames and, consequently, over shorter warning periods. It also boosts the striking range of PLA Air Force fighter aircraft and provides the ability to strike and engage targets in India on a broad front and in depth.

Another major infrastructure development is the construction of new missile bases in Tibet. China has placed advanced Dong Feng-21 medium-range ballistic missiles along the borders it shares with India. During a future conflict with India, the PLA could easily move 500 to 600 mobile ballistic missile launchers to bases close to the Indian border from their current deployment areas opposite Taiwan.

Complexities of the Tibetan terrain, vagaries of climate, and sustenance capacities of the thrust lines chosen, are all factors that influence the depth of operations that are planned to be undertaken. To address this aspect, the PLA is reportedly constructing Hyperbaric Chambers to facilitate the rapid acclimatisation of troops brought in from lower altitudes. It is also building the first batch of oxygen-enriched barracks using plants for troops in the TAR at the Nagchu Military Sub-Command at an altitude of 4,500 metres.

It is in the Indian interest to upgrade the logistics infrastructure in the states bordering Tibet so as to facilitate the rapid reinforcement of sectors threatened by the Chinese during any future conflict. Simultaneously, India should enhance its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to maintain all round vigil on the border. The army and the air force must also upgrade their firepower capabilities by an order of magnitude so as to engage and destroy PLA forces at a distance.

India China Economic Union – An open letter

Dear PM Wen Jiabao and PM Manmohan Singh,

Only a sixth sense of mutuality and common sense can help China-India relations today. While the realities are being resolved and negotiated, we simultaneously and urgently need a powerful new idea of joint interest to both countries.

Economic entanglements are the surest guarantor of peace and development. India and China must start exploratory discussions of any variation of an economic union between the two countries. Working towards such a framework will ensure peace and economic development between both countries.

* The reality of the India China Economic Union may happen in 50 years or 100 years, but by progressing towards such an objective both countries will accelerate friendship and socio-economic development of one-third of global population.
* It is but obvious that in 20-30 years or by 50-100 years the relationship and economics will be so different that we cannot even imagine today. But one thing will be sure – the two countries and our people will be far deeply integrated and inter-connected in their economies, cultural understanding, people-to-people linkages, and global challenges.
* Sirs, you can see the future – kindly seize the moment and take a bold step.
* In advance of this summit in Delhi, we had been researching and modeling various thoughts to protect and advance the national interest of each country, as well to make a generational change towards friendship, peace, socio-economic and cultural relations between both countries.
* Our research shows that the first thing both our countries need today, is a sixth sense. The current and historic issues are too deep and will take time to resolve. While these issues are being resolved, it is now time to introduce, in parallel, a sixth sense in our relationship and to create a vision for an India China Economic Union.
* Other research, including a small web-based sample, shows that the topmost problem in relations between China and India is of mutual images, and mutual trust. Apart from the government in each country, this is the top concern in the publics too.
* Therefore the top priority of our leaderships today must be to find a solution to these two problems. By promoting this sixth sense of the imminence of an economic union, our leaders will guide the policy and publics of both countries towards peace, people-to-people relationships, and socio-economic development.
* Such a vision will lay the foundations for harmonious growth for hundreds of years ahead. Both countries should set up a joint working group and think-tank, funded with US$ 10 million by each country, as first step. This economic union may be modeled after the example of European Union or any variation, and the working group should present reports of the progress on sidelines of annual PM level meetings.

Premier Wen Jiabao is visiting India along with a business delegation of over 300 businessmen. Geopolitics, business and people-to-people linkages are all on the agenda. In all these meetings and discussions, the key underlying dynamic will be mutual images and trust.

Mutual Imagery and Trust

To improve mutual imagery and trust, both countries need to take several urgent steps. Each country should take responsibility to take 3 specific steps to build trust and image. These steps should be reflected in the joint communiqué which shall be issued during the visit.

* India has already announced introduction of Mandarin as an optional subject in schools. China must similarly introduce Hindi language in its school system. Also, China must ramp up English speaking skills among its citizens. Lack of English is proving an obstacle to better understanding and business with China.
* Both countries must promote people-to-people linkages. Through tourism, even a weekly flight with free seats; through cultural exchanges, even promoting film shoots in each other; and through youth and business exchange programs. The expatriate communities in each country must be guided by embassies to engage more with the host society.
* India must encourage its communist parties to act as a bridge in building relations with China. U.S.-India relations improved in large part due to a unique presence of an over 3 million strong Indian-American community. Similarly, with China, the communists of India can play a unique role in building image and trust between both countries.
* Any delegation which travels to the other country must be provided a three hour orientation and cross-cultural understanding of the country they will visit. The embassies should provide this service to their host country government. The chambers of business must provide this service to the business delegations they take.
* More Chinese students must be given generous scholarships to come and study journalism and MBA in India, and similarly Chinese government must attract Indian students to China. These future businessmen and media leaders will help to promote understanding and economic activity between the two countries and many may settle down in host country.

India China Economic Union

Improvement in mutual images and trust shall further pave the way for reducing fears and concerns of each country, and for creation of the India China Economic Union. India fears China’s “string of pearls” strategy, and China fears India is ganging up with the U.S. to restrain its growth. China is troubled by India’s stance on Tibet and Taiwan, and India is concerned with China’s behavior on its Western and Eastern borders.

Both countries also need to take fresh confidence building measures. China must vacate the portion of Kashmir which Pakistan ceded to it. India must clarify and settle the Tibet and Taiwan issue with China.

Thus a sixth sense of Indo-China relations will need a troika approach – all in parallel:

* Improvement of mutual imagery and trust,
* Fresh confidence building measures, and,
* A vision for creating the India China Economic Union.

Much of these may not happen in our lifetimes, or even for several generations. But some such framework will be a reality 100-200 years from today. By taking this visionary step, Sirs, you will leave an imprint on history for ever.


Robinder Sachdev