China Ups the Ante

China is sen­si­tive when another na­tion chal­lenges its au­ton­omy of the south China sea. The last free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tion’ (FONOP) ex­er­cise by US re­sulted in China ac­cus­ing the US of “se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary provo­ca­tion”.

SP's NavalForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral Naresh Chand (Retd)

China is sen­si­tive when another na­tion chal­lenges its au­ton­omy of the South China Sea. The last free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tion’ (FONOP) ex­er­cise by US re­sulted in China ac­cus­ing the US of “se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary provo­ca­tion”.

ChinA Un­fUrleD iTs GrAnD de­sign for the south China sea and Tai­wan by car­ry­ing out ma­neu­vers by the Chi­nese Air force in south China sea and Western Pa­cific, call­ing them a “re­hearsals for fu­ture wars.Ó in a state­ment made on march 25, the Chi­nese Air force said that it had dis­patched h-6K bombers and su-30 and su-35 fight­ers, as well as other air­craft, for sep­a­rate com­bat train­ing mis­sions in an un­spec­i­fied area of the south China sea and through the miyako strait be­tween ok­i­nawa and miyako is­land. ex­act dates were not dis­closed. Ja­pan scram­bled their fight­ers af­ter the Chi­nese Air­craft flew over the miyako strait. This was a re­ac­tion to US Navy’s de­stroyer com­ing as close as 12 nau­ti­cal miles to a ar­ti­fi­cial is­land built in the strate­gic wa­ter­way to score a point for Ôfree­dom of nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tion’ (FONOP). How­ever China had pro­voked world wide op­po­si­tion when it uni­lat­er­ally an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of its east China sea Air De­fense Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone (ADIZ) on Novem­ber 23, 2013. it was de­fined as a zone that al­lowed a coastal state to “iden­tify, mon­i­tor, con­trol and re­act to air­craft en­ter­ing this zone with po­ten­tial air threats.Ó

Us has been fol­low­ing the pol­icy on free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion since 1983 to ex­er­cise and as­sert its nav­i­ga­tion and over­flight rights and free­doms on a world­wide ba­sis that is con­sis­tent with of law of the sea (los) Con­ven­tion. fonoPs is one of the key meth­ods used by Us chal­lenges mar­itime claims which are con­trary to in­ter­na­tional law. since oc­to­ber 2015, the Us has con­ducted seven fonoPs that seek to chal­lenge spe­cific Chi­nese claims in the area.

China claims al­most the en­tire south China sea (sCs) with over­lap­ping claims by Philip­pines, viet­nam, malaysia, Tai­wan and Brunei. Both China and Tai­wan claim al­most the en­tire sCs and in­di­cate their claims with what is known as the nine-Dot­ted Line or Nine–Dash Line. This claimed bound­ary vir­tu­ally over­laps ev­ery other coun­try in the re­gion. China is go­ing ahead with rapid and large-scale land recla­ma­tion works on seven of the spratly is­lands and has also built in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing run­ways, and ports that can be used for mil­i­tary pur­poses. China is sen­si­tive when another na­tion chal­lenges its au­ton­omy of the sCs. The last fonoP ex­er­cise by Us re­sulted in China ac­cus­ing the Us of “se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary provo­ca­tionÓ. Us has been crit­i­cal of China for its man-made is­lands in the sCs and fears that the out­posts could be used to re­strict free move­ment of ship­ping in­clud­ing im­por­tant sea lanes through which about $3 tril­lion in global trade passes each year. China has dis­puted this claim by de­fend­ing its ac­tions as it has ab­so­lute sovereignty over the area and the con­struc­tion of posts are for self de­fence only.

China’s largest dis­play of Mar­itime Power in SCS

China’s Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion held the coun­try’s largest ever dis­play of mar­itime mil­i­tary power in the sCs dur­ing end march and be­gin­ning of April. it fea­tured China’s most ad­vance naval plat­forms in­clud­ing its first car­rier strike group based on the air craft car­rier liaon­ing. The PlA Daily re­ported that forty-eight war­ships, 76 air­craft and more than 10,000 sailors and sol­diers took part in the pa­rade which was hailed as “the biggest mar­itime mil­i­tary pa­rade since the foun­da­tion of the Peo­ple’s repub­lic of China in 1949 and a heroic dis­play of the PlA navy in the new era.Ó Also on dis­play was the most ad­vanced weaponry of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PlA). The mar­itime pa­rade was re­viewed by the China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, who is the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and also the Chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion. Xin­hua News Agency re­ported that while ad­dress­ing the troops, Xi said that the need to build a strong navy “has never been more ur­gent than to­day,Ó and he called for ef­forts to build a first-class navy in the world.

It was the first mar­itime mil­i­tary pa­rade held in the south China sea and was open to the pub­lic. China’s air­craft car­rier, the Liaon­ing, joined the pa­rade for the first time. it was re­ported that all com­bat sys­tems of the PlA navy and 10 air ech­e­lons joined the pa­rade. The most ad­vanced war­ships, in­clud­ing the liaon­ing, type 052D destroyers, type 052C destroyers, type 071 am­phibi­ous trans­port dock and type 093 sub­ma­rine took part in the pa­rade. The mar­itime dis­play of China’s might was to an­nounce that China has ar­rived on the world stage as an emerg­ing naval power and is fully ca­pa­ble of guard­ing its mar­itime in­ter­ests. This dis­play should also act as a de­ter­rence to other na­tions who want to chal­lenge China in the re­gion.

The destroyers who took part in the pa­rade sub­se­quently sailed to­wards Tai­wan straits to con­duct sim­i­lar ma­noeu­vres. China’s Fu­jian Mar­itime Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion had an­nounced ear­lier that live-fire drills would be con­ducted in the Tai­wan straits on April 18.

Force Pro­jec­tion

Con­duct­ing such a dis­play of mar­itime might in sCs and the straits of Tai­wan in­di­cate China’s fu­ture plans and some ex­perts go to the ex­tent of stat­ing that it is a dress re­hearsal for op­er­a­tions if re­quired to be con­ducted in the sCs and the Tai­wan straits in the fu­ture. some even com­mented that it was to take Tai­wan back at the right op­por­tu­nity. The dis­play of air power as a pre­lude to the naval ex­er­cise was also re­lated to Tai­wan. There is peren­nial ten­sion be­tween China and Tai­wan as. China sees Tai­wan as a break­away prov­ince but Tai­wan con­sid­ers it­self as an in­de­pen­dent, sov­er­eign state. Both China and Tai­wan have dis­played their mar­itime might in the Tai­wan strait dur­ing April. Song Zhong­ping, a former mem­ber of the PLA’s Sec­ond Ar­tillery Corps, told the south China morn­ing Post that China is plan­ning to re­solve the Tai­wan is­sue. “The ground force’s avi­a­tion drills in Fu­jian, the air force’s fly­ing over the ‘first is­land chain’ and the liaon­ing full-voy­age ex­er­cises all in­di­cate that the PlA has a com­pre­hen­sive bat­tle plan for Tai­wan.” He added that, “it seems like the ex­er­cise near fu­jian was rel­a­tively small, but ac­tu­ally, there were sev­eral joint op­er­a­tional drills hap­pen­ing in dif­fer­ent ar­eas around Tai­wan at the same time.“The com­pre­hen­sive, joint op­er­a­tional drills sug­gest the PlA is not just tar­get­ing one area, but the whole re­gion.” It’s a the­ory sup­ported by a sec­ond mil­i­tary ex­pert, who did not wish to be named but told the news­pa­per the drills were “un­doubt­edly Ópart of prepa­ra­tions by China to take back Tai­wan by force if nec­es­sary. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the state Coun­cil Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice, said in a re­sponse to a ques­tion dur­ing a news con­fer­ence about whether “mil­i­tary force for re­uni­fi­ca­tion” should be em­ployed said that, “the re­cent live-fire drills car­ried out by the PLA have sent an ex­plicit and clear mes­sage that we aim to pur­sue peace­ful re­uni­fi­ca­tion with sin­cer­ity and great ef­forts, but we have the re­solve, the con­fi­dence and the abil­ity to de­feat se­ces­sion­ist at­tempts in any form, to safe­guard na­tional sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity.Ó ma said the drills tar­geted a “Tai­wan in­de­pen­dence” force, and the gov­ern­ment aims for a peace­ful and steady cross-straits re­la­tion­ship and to pro­tect the com­mon in­ter­ests of peo­ple on both sides of the Straits. “Wang Hail­iang, a re­searcher of Tai­wan stud­ies at the shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sci­ences said that, “it (the live-fire drill) is a warn­ing to the Us, to Tsai ing-wen (Pres­i­dent of Tai­wan) and lai Chingte (Pre­mier of Tai­wan),Ó

Key De­fence Tech­nolo­gies Which Are On China’s Radar

it is well known that China is in­vest­ing heav­ily in key mil­i­tary tech­nolo­gies. in­di­ca­tions are that this in­vest­ment will grow over the years as China wants to catch up with Us. some key de­vel­op­ments are:

Nu­clear Pow­ered and other Naval Plat­forms. China’s Ship­build­ing In­dus­try Cor­po­ra­tion (CsiC) has stated in fe­bru­ary this year that that it plans to ac­cel­er­ate the process of de­vel­op­ing nu­clear-pow­ered air­craft car­ri­ers and new-type nu­clear sub­marines. he lin, an aca­demi­cian of the Chi­nese Academy of En­gi­neer­ing, said that “in 2025, noise on a nu­clear sub­ma­rine will be largely re­duced, and Chi­nese nu­clear sub­marines’ per­for­mances will be im­proved to world class level.Ó The other tech­nolo­gies re­late to quiet sub­marines and com­pre­hen­sive elec­tronic in­for­ma­tion sys­tems for naval war­fare. Plans are afoot to have China’s first nu­clear-pow­ered air­craft car­rier in­ducted into ser­vice by 2025. China had al­ready man­aged to re­fur­bish a former soviet air­craft car­rier liaon­ing and is in the process of de­vel­op­ing another air­craft car­rier of their own de­sign, now do­ing sea tri­als in the Bo­hai Sea – for de­liv­ery to the navy by the end of the year. it has not yet been named but is called Type 001A which was un­der con­struc­tion in Dalian. Plans are also un­der­way to build a sec­ond car­rier in shang­hai. At present, only the Us (10) and france (one) are oper­at­ing nu­clear-pow­ered air­craft car­ri­ers. Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has also el­e­vated “resur­gence of the Chi­nese na­tionÓinto a con­sti­tu­tional goal.

Naval Weapons. elec­tro­mag­netic rail­gun is alos in the ad­vance stage of de­vel­op­ment and is neck to neck race with the Us for this. it is re­ported that the rail­gun is un­der­go­ing tri­als on a war­ship.

Stealth Air­craft. The mil­i­tary Bal­ance has hinted that China may break US’ mo­nop­oly on stealth air­craft soon. The Chi­nese Chengdu J-20 air­craft is po­ten­tially pos­ing a chal­lenge to f-35.

Global Mar­itime Pres­ence

China and rus­sia have been hold­ing joint mar­itime ex­er­cises since 2012 to show the world that they do not stand alone. They had their first joint naval ex­er­cise in the Baltic sea last year un­der the back­drop of height­ened ten­sions be­tween rus­sia and the West. The nATo al­liance, which has six mem­ber na­tions on the Baltic, stated that the naval ex­er­cise was be­ing mon­i­tored as

The PLA Daily re­ported that Forty-eight war­ships, 76 air­craft and more than 10,000 sailors and sol­diers took part in the pa­rade which was hailed as “the biggest mar­itime mil­i­tary pa­rade since the foun­da­tion of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China in 1949

a rou­tine ac­tion. Chi­nese and rus­sian com­man­ders in­sisted that the ex­er­cises were not aimed at any third coun­try. The ex­er­cise in the Baltic was part of Joint sea 2017. in septem­ber Joint sea 2017 was held in the Sea of Ja­pan and for the first time in the Okhotsk Sea. It was also re­ported that . five Chi­nese ves­sels had passed within about 12 nau­ti­cal miles of the Aleu­tian is­lands af­ter a joint rus­sian-Chi­nese mil­i­tary ex­er­cise. As per mil­i­tary ex­perts, Chi­nese ships did not vi­o­late in­ter­na­tional law, which al­lows coun­tries to tran­sit other na­tions’ seas un­der what is called “in­no­cent pas­sage.” Chi­nese navy has also shown their pres­ence in the mediter­ranean and of the Coast of Su­dan. China’s mil­i­tary base at Dji­bouti is sup­ported by their navy. This is sim­i­lar to the tran­sit­ing of Us ships through the strait of hor­muz, off the coast of iran. China’s mar­itime ex­er­cises in the Baltic Sea, mediter­ranean and in the sea of Ja­pan is a ‘tit for tat’ ma­noeu­vre against US.

In­dian Per­spec­tive

In­dia’s dis­putes with China in­clude the dis­agree­ment of the bor­der, Ti­bet, Tai­wan and closer re­la­tions with Us, Aus­tralia and Ja­pan. it feels that it is much stronger than in­dia eco­nom­i­cally and mil­i­tar­ily and thus should be able to dom­i­nate the re­gion. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (also known as one Belt, one road (oBor)) is one of Pres­i­dent Xi’s most am­bi­tious for­eign and eco­nomic poli­cies which in­dia has not agreed to join. in­dia also feels that Chi­naPak­istan eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPeC) will bring the Chi­nese navy on its door step. China is very sen­si­tive of Us, in­dia, Ja­pan and Aus­tralia gang­ing against it in joint naval ex­er­cises and also the Quadri­lat­eral se­cu­rity Di­a­logue. it en­cour­ages Pak­istan to wage a hy­brid war against in­dia which in­cludes in­fring­ing cease fire norms on the bor­der , ter­ror­ism and cy­ber war­fare. how­ever, Prime min­is­ter naren­dra modi went to China at the end of April to meet Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in an in­for­mal sum­mit at Wuhan which had no set agenda ex­cept to re­set the re­la­tions af­ter the Dok­lam plateau stand off. It was re­ported that Pres­i­dent Xi has agreed to a sim­i­lar sum­mit in in­dia in 2019. naren­dra modi is now go­ing to rus­sia to have a in­for­mal sum­mit with Pres­i­dent Putin. The re­sult could be a new blue print for In­dia’s for­eign pol­icy for bal­anc­ing its re­la­tions with east and West, sim­i­lar to the UPA gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach.


Chi­nese PLA Navy ships dur­ing a grand mar­itime pa­rade in the South China Sea. It was the largest naval pa­rade ever car­ried out by the Chi­nese PLA Navy, with 48 ships and 76 air­craft tak­ing part in. Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, who is also Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and Chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion (CMC), in­spected the whole event.


Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with Pres­i­dent of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China, Xi Jin­ping in Wuhan, China, on April 27, 2018.

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