theme of the Indian Maritime Doctrine (published by
Naval Headquarters as a Book of Reference) was two
fold naval warfare and the Indian Ocean. The
basic theme was that the India Ocean was like
Indias backyard and we should have the capacity
to respond in the region predominantly with our
Navy. That is indeed a tall order and will require
huge resources, which so far the Navy has been
denied but the tsunami disaster may have
brought home the truth that the Navy is truly the
force that can project strategic depth in the
region. In past analyses we had highlighted that
China was building the Gwadar port in Pakistan next
to Iran, which could well be China's outlet port for
oil and gas from Central Asia.
the coming two decades energy security will be
India's challenge, which will decide how swiftly we
move ahead economically to support India's strategic
ambitions, outlined in the Maritime Doctrine. Hence
we post an interesting piece from the Washington
Post that exposes how China is expanding its
strategic depth in India's backyard and will be
India's competitor in the region.
has begun to think strategically too and among our
neighbours Sri Lanka is amenable to a defence pact
that is lying ready for inking, Myanmar is being
wooed, Bangladesh has had a rethink, while Nepal is
in dire straits but mostly pro India. Our task in
the region can be made easier if we are kinder to
our neighbours with more free trade. However, until
Kashmir is resolved tensions will remain.
beauty with China is that it has controlled all
tensions and announced bigger plans to build things
like the world's largest shiplift along the Yangtze.
Construction on the project will begin this fall.
Once completed the lift, which will measure 120
metres by 18 metres by 3.5 metres, will reduce
travel times for vessels passing the Three Gorges
Dam by more than 2 hours. It is their vision of the
future that is worrisome. There are lessons for
India's strategy planners and Shyam Saran the
Foreign Secretary who has been appointed India's
interlocutor with China will have to hold two hats
NSA for China and our FS.
Builds Up Strategic Sea Lanes
is building up military forces and setting up bases
along sea lanes from the Middle East to project its
power overseas and protect its oil shipments,
according to a previously undisclosed internal
report prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H.
is building strategic relationships along the sea
lanes from the Middle East to the South China Sea in
ways that suggest defensive and offensive
positioning to protect China's energy interests, but
also to serve broad security objectives," said
the report sponsored by the director, Net
Assessment, who heads Mr. Rumsfeld's office on
Washington Times obtained a copy of the report,
titled "Energy Futures in Asia," which was
produced by defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
internal report stated that China is adopting a
"string of pearls" strategy of bases and
diplomatic ties stretching from the Middle East to
southern China that includes a new naval base under
construction at the Pakistani port of Gwadar.
already has set up electronic eavesdropping posts at
Gwadar in the country's southwest corner, the part
nearest the Persian Gulf. The post is monitoring
ship traffic through the Strait of Hormuz and the
Arabian Sea, the report said.
"pearls" in the sea-lane strategy include:
China is strengthening its ties to the
government and building a container port
facility at Chittagong. The Chinese are
"seeking much more extensive naval and
commercial access" in Bangladesh.
China has developed close ties to the military
regime in Rangoon and turned a nation wary of
China into a "satellite" of Beijing
close to the Strait of Malacca, through which 80
percent of China's imported oil passes.
is building naval bases in Burma and has
electronic intelligence gathering facilities on
islands in the Bay of Bengal and near the Strait
of Malacca. Beijing also supplied Burma with
"billions of dollars in military assistance
to support a de facto military alliance,"
the report said.
China signed a military agreement in November
2003 to provide training and equipment. Cambodia
is helping Beijing build a railway line from
southern China to the sea.
China Sea: Chinese activities in the region are
less about territorial claims than
"protecting or denying the transit of
tankers through the South China Sea," the
also is building up its military forces in the
region to be able to "project air and sea
power" from the mainland and Hainan Island.
China recently upgraded a military airstrip on
Woody Island and increased its presence through
oil drilling platforms and ocean survey ships.
China is considering funding construction of a
$20 billion canal across the Kra Isthmus that
would allow ships to bypass the Strait of
Malacca. The canal project would give China port
facilities, warehouses and other infrastructure
in Thailand aimed at enhancing Chinese influence
in the region, the report said.
report reflects growing fears in the Pentagon about
China's long-term development. Many Pentagon
analysts believe China's military buildup is taking
place faster than earlier estimates, and that China
will use its power to project force and undermine
U.S. and regional security.
U.S. military's Southern Command produced a similar
classified report in the late 1990s that warned that
China was seeking to use commercial port facilities
around the world to control strategic
Chinese company with close ties to Beijing's
communist rulers holds long-term leases on port
facilities at either end of the Panama Canal.
Pentagon report said China, by militarily
controlling oil shipping sea lanes, could threaten
ships, "thereby creating a climate of
uncertainty about the safety of all ships on the
report noted that the vast amount of oil shipments
through the sea lanes, along with growing piracy and
maritime terrorism, prompted China, as well as
India, to build up naval power at
"chokepoints" along the sea routes from
the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea.
... is looking not only to build a blue-water navy
to control the sea lanes, but also to develop
undersea mines and missile capabilities to deter the
potential disruption of its energy supplies from
potential threats, including the U.S. Navy,
especially in the case of a conflict with
Taiwan," the report said.
weapons for sea-lane control include new warships
equipped with long-range cruise missiles, submarines
and undersea mines, the report said. China also is
buying aircraft and long-range target acquisition
systems, including optical satellites and maritime
unmanned aerial vehicles.
focus on the naval buildup is a departure from
China's past focus on ground forces, the report
Iraq war, in particular, revived concerns over the
impact of a disturbance in Middle Eastern supplies
or a U.S. naval blockade," the report said,
noting that Chinese military leaders want an
ocean-going navy and "undersea retaliatory
capability to protect the sea lanes."
believes the U.S. military will disrupt China's
energy imports in any conflict over Taiwan, and sees
the United States as an unpredictable country that
violates others' sovereignty and wants to
"encircle" China, the report said.
leaders see access to oil and gas resources as vital
to economic growth and fear that stalled economic
growth could cause instability and ultimately the
collapse of their nation of 1.3 billion people.
demand, particularly for oil, will increase sharply
in the next 20 years -- from 75 million barrels per
day last year to 120 million barrels in 2025 -- with
Asia consuming 80 percent of the added 45 million
barrels, the report said.
percent of China's oil currently passes through the
Strait of Malacca, and the report states that China
believes the sea area is "controlled by the
President Hu Jintao recently stated that China faces
a "Malacca Dilemma" -- the vulnerability
of its oil supply lines from the Middle East and
Africa to disruption.
traffic through the Strait, which is closest to
Indonesia, is projected to grow from 10 million
barrels a day in 2002 to 20 million barrels a day in
2020, the report said.
specialists interviewed for the report said the
United States has the military capability to cut off
Chinese oil imports and could "severely
cripple" China by blocking its energy supplies.