CHINA’S DEADLY PROXY : A VIEWPOINT
While more intrusions aimed at nibbling away more territory can be expected from the Chinese python, what we should not gloss over is the asymmetric war that China is waging in India’s heartland tying down our economy, development work and security forces
Like all visiting Chinese visitors, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang smiled through his visit to India and mentioned Panch Sheel portraying peace and harmony. But China’s proclivity to wage sub-conventional has never really been hidden. Spawning extremist movements like the New People’s Army of Philippines, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Japanese Red Army, Shining Path in Peru and Maoist movements in Burma and Nepal as part of ideology spread was just one early form.
China was already providing training to Taliban while the American invasion was still on in Afghanistan. Subsequently, China has been providing training, military advisors and arms including shoulder-fired air defence missiles (QW-1 manpads) to the Taliban for fighting US/NATO forces. China had also supplied the QW-1 manpads to the Iraqi Shia militants.
As for India, China not only is supplying weapons to Indian Maoists but has also provided them with arms manufacturing capabilities. The Chinese have deep relations with ULFA, having provided them sanctuary on Chinese soil, training and arms. China did not hesitate to show her support to Pakistan’s anti-India jihad by vetoing at the United Nations actions against Pakistani terror acts.
Over the years, what China has been using against India are its multiple proxies posing irregular threats: Pakistan; Pakistani proxies that include AlQaeda-Taliban-LeT-JuD-HuM and the like; Nepalese Maoists; and Kachen rebels of Myanmar, to whom also China has provided arms and arms manufacturing capabilities and through whom sophisticated arms and communication equipment are being pumped into India, particularly to Maoists and PLA of Manipur.
The next China-Pakistan collusive irregular threat is under orchestration in Maldives which the Al-Qaeda and LeT have already infiltrated. But what is emerging now is that China has been surreptitiously creating her deadliest proxy in the USWA (United State Wa Army) in Myanmar. The Wa Tribe is the brain and heart that controls the drug trade in the famed ‘Golden Triangle’, much like the Taliban did during their 10-year rule in Afghanistan. The Wa Tribe was the muscle of the original Burmese Communist Party. Despite the close political, economic and military relations between China and Myanmar, China had been steadily arming the USWA who have large tracts of Myanmar territory under their control as ‘liberated’ zones in north and east Myanmar, particularly in Shan State. The obvious Chinese aim was to ensure that the USWA remain its proxy, Myanmar Military is unable to regain this territory and China can use the USWA as the trump card to keep Myanmar subservient to China in China accessing the Indian Ocean, permit energy supplies through Myanmar and establish the Chinese navy in ports of Myanmar of Chinese choosing.
In recent years Chinese support to USWA from assault rifles and machine guns was upgraded to supply of rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons, shoulderfired QW-1 manpads and even armoured troop carrying vehicles. However, in the months of February and March this year, China has supplied two Mi-17 ‘Hip’ medium transport helicopters armed with TY-90 air-to-air missiles to the USWA (three more are to follow), creating a proxy that will be even deadlier than the LTTE. In a bid to deceive, China flew in these helicopters via a third country.
The intrusion made by China 19-30 kilometres deep into Indian territory in April this year pointedly violated the principle of ‘mutual and equal security’ clearly enunciated and established by the 1993 Agreement on “confidence building measures in the military field”. While more intrusions aimed at nibbling away more territory can be expected from the Chinese python, what we should not gloss over is the asymmetric war that China is waging in India’s heartland tying down our economy, development work and security forces in the process. There is every possibility that China will raise the stakes under cover of deniability.
LT GENERAL (RETD) P.C. KATOCH