‘A continuum of security requirements’: The US Pacific Command and the rise of the Indian Ocean April 3, 2013Posted by nishankmotwani in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, India, South Asia - General , Comment
As the US refocuses its attention to the Asia Pacific region, it is also seeking to augment its presence in the unstable and heavily contested Indian Ocean Region. Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, who commands the US Pacific Command, or PACOM, talked to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe on the programme he is spearheading to reposition the US military footing towards the Indian Ocean and the revitalised strategy to engage South Asia and Australia.
How is the Indian Ocean of relevance to the US Asia Pacific rebalance?
Admiral Locklear: Whether the name is Indo-Pacific or something else, when I am sitting in my office looking at a pretty detailed chart of my entire jurisdiction, I view it as a continuum of security requirements, not broken down by historical perspectives of the different oceans. I think ‘one continuum’ is a good concept. However, it’s not just about the Indian Ocean. It’s about the connectivity of these large economies, the large core populations, and how things have to move.
Take that to the next level and you have the cyber commons and the space commons. Ships and airplanes travelling across the Indian Ocean, whether it be to the Arabian Gulf or through the Straits of Malacca, are critical for trade and flow of energy sources. The PACOM helps protect these routes. (more…)
India: which way will the ‘swing state’ swing? June 8, 2012Posted by sandygordon in : Afghanistan, Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan, Uncategorized , 1 comment so far
According to a leading article in The Times of India, India now finds itself in the enviable position of being courted by both the US and China, thus confirming its status as a ‘swing state’ of Asia.
Two recent meetings highlight India’s emerging role in Asian security. On 6 June, American Secretary for Defense, Leon Panetta, told a think tank in New Delhi that India is a “linchpin” in America’s re-engagement with Asia. He also promised India access to significant military technologies.
Following that meeting, Mr Panetta bypassed Islamabad and warned from Kabul that the US is “losing patience” with Pakistan.
Meanwhile, in the wings of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Beijing, Chinese vice premier Li Keqiang – widely expected to be China’s next premier – told Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna that Sino-Indian ties would be the most important bilateral relationship in the twenty-first century. According to The Wall Street Journal, in return Mr Krishna made a strong pitch for full membership of the resource-rich SCO.
FEATURE ARTICLE: Burning for freedom May 21, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : Features, Powers, John, South Asia - General , Comment
John Powers, Australian National University
In April 1998 in Delhi, a Tibetan exile named Tupden Ngodup doused himself with petrol and calmly set himself alight. He then knelt and brought his hands together in a gesture of prayer as the flames consumed him. Despite the agony he must have endured, his physical demeanor remained calm as horrified bystanders watched him burn. His action sent shockwaves through the Tibetan community, both in exile and in the Tibetan Plateau. This was the first time a Tibetan had engaged in self-immolation, and opinions were divided. Many hailed him as a hero in the struggle against Chinese oppression, while others described his suicide as contrary to Buddhist principles. Most Tibetans acknowledged the depth of his commitment to the Tibetan struggle for freedom and human rights, but none chose to follow his example in the aftermath of his dramatic public demonstration of Tibetan discontent.
Ngodup’s suicide was an important event in an ongoing campaign of protest against the actions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Tibet. It began in 1950 when Chinese troops crossed the Drichu River, the traditional border between Tibet and China, and marched to the capital, Lhasa. They announced that they had come to ‘liberate’ Tibetans from the feudal theocracy of the Dalai Lama’s government and that they would depart as soon as this was accomplished. Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had been assured by their leaders that they would be welcomed as saviors by the oppressed Tibetans, and so they were shocked and angered to hear people shouting “Han go home!” as they marched into the city.
The India–US–China–Pakistan strategic quadrilateral May 14, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Merrington, Louise, Pakistan , Comment
Louise Merrington, ANU
Although the disputed border between China and India is often highlighted as the major sticking point in Sino–Indian relations, in reality it has remained relatively peaceful since the end of the 1962 war, and the potential for overt military conflict in the region remains minimal.
Of much greater concern is the strategic quadrilateral relationship in South Asia involving China, India, the United States and Pakistan. It has both regional and wider implications. At the heart of this matter is the India–Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, and continuing US involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The relationships between these four actors are extremely complex. China’s support for Pakistan in its conflict with India is a serious and ongoing source of tension in the Sino–Indian relationship, while the US relationship with Pakistan is looking increasingly fraught even as its relationship with India improves in the wake of the 2008 civilian nuclear deal. Growing closeness between India and the US has caused some concern in China about the possibility that the US may be establishing a policy of containment or encirclement, and this concern in turn affects China’s relationship with both the US and India. Understanding this complex web of relationships is key to understanding the issues which are at the heart of China–India relations and which affect markedly how these two countries interact in the region.
Indian Ocean ‘strategy’: don’t make China nervous March 30, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : Weigold, Auriol , Comment
To borrow from an earlier piece published here at the start of this year (8 Jan 2012), I cited President Obama’s Defence Strategy Review, (5 Jan 2012) in which it was stated that “we will of necessity rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific Region …”, and I take this as an element in raising Chinese concerns.
In his excellent piece “Indian Ocean: don’t militarise the ‘great connector’”, (29 Mar 2012) Sandy Gordon set out the security dilemma in the Indian Ocean region, and argued against any proposals, whether Indian ‘commonalities’ with the US in terms of strategic outlook, or borne of the US-Australian alliance, that make China nervous.
India, he has argued, is in a strategic ‘box seat’ in the Indian Ocean. Another view is that Australia is also in a box seat in the Indo-Pacific region. As a middle power able, if it chooses to do so, to take an independent stance in its own national interest – including its long-term engagement with China that is much broader than trade – and on its relations in the Indian Ocean region, notably with India and the US. (more…)
Indian Ocean: don’t militarise the ‘great connector’ March 29, 2012Posted by sandygordon in : Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , 1 comment so far
The Indian Ocean is Australia’s back yard – or at least if you live in the West. It also plays a major role in transporting energy from the oil and gas-rich Persian Gulf to Australia’s principal trading partners, China and Japan. With each passing year, these and other East Asian powers become more dependent on the free passage of oil over the Indian Ocean.
This makes China nervous. India and China have an ambivalent relationship. On the one hand they have common interests based on growing trade and similar positions in the WTO and on climate change. But on the other, they have abiding suspicions over the longstanding border dispute and what India sees as Chinese meddling in its own back yard – South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.
USN Los Angeles class nuclear powered submarine
Another bead in the ‘string of pearls’?: interpreting Sri Lanka’s foreign policy realignment February 24, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, India, Sri Lanka , Comment
Sergei De Silva-Ranasinghe
In this article, Sergei De Silva-Ranasinghe argues that India should be differentiated from the West in analysing Sri Lanka’s apparent drift towards a strategic relationship with China. The West’s diminishing influence in relation to China should be seen as a manifestation of its overall decline. Not so with India, which seeks to balance China’s involvement with Sri Lanka, and which also has a dynamic, on-going aid and trade relationship with the strategically placed island. To read the article in Issue 19 of ChinaSecurity click here.
China-India relations in 2012: bilateral ties set to expand January 27, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , Comment
First published in Future Directions International on 25 January 2012
After holding talks for the 15th round of boundary negotiations in New Delhi on 16-17 January, China’s State Councillor, Dai Bingguo, and India’s National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon, signed the ‘India-China Agreement on the Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Co-ordination on India-China Border Affairs’, which will be headed by high-level diplomatic and military officials from each country.
Building on the spirit of previous border agreements signed in 1993, 1996 and 2005, the 2012 accord is an important practical and symbolic step towards normalising bilateral ties, as both countries pledge to build what has been officially termed the ‘India-China Strategic and Co-operative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity’.
From a broader strategic perspective, the new working mechanism is a clear indication that China and India see increasing benefit from peaceful relations, although they remain strategic rivals competing for regional influence and engage in contradictory and counterproductive acts.
“Containment” no longer in the lexicon January 8, 2012Posted by auriolweigold in : India, Weigold, Auriol , Comment
President Obama’s Defence Strategy Review, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for the 21st Century Defence, published on 5 January 2012, states that “we will of necessity rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region … This includes emphasising existing alliances and expanding cooperation to ‘ensure collective capability and capacity for securing common interests’”. Addressing China’s emergence as a regional power, the Review reports that both countries have a strong stake in regional peace and stability and an interest in establishing a cooperative relationship. Nonetheless, the United States will continue to ensure access to, and an ability to operate across, the broader Indian Ocean region.
In an interview Australia’s Ambassador in Washington, Kim Beazley, said on 6 January, that the U.S. commitment is to access to vital waterways, “ … is a commitment to the global commons … It is not a containment strategy”. This makes all the more strange a statement attributed to Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, however inaccurately reported by the Times of India on the 1 and 2 December 2011, that Australia, India and the United States may frame a tripartite security pact. Mr Rudd said that his message had been misrepresented.
China-Comoros ties: ‘A pragmatic cooperation of 36 years’ December 18, 2011Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , 1 comment so far
- Comoros is seeking to attract greater foreign investment to facilitate national development. It sees China as a useful, sympathetic and powerful ally that is willing to provide aid and development assistance.
- Given that India now operates a listening station in northern Madagascar and has an active and expanding presence in the western Indian Ocean, China may increasingly view the strategic location of the Comoros as important to its regional strategic objectives.
- China’s growing profile in the Comoros has attracted the attention of other competing powers, particularly India, which is trying to contest and limit China’s influence in the western Indian Ocean.
Evolution of the Relationship
After the former-French colony declared independence in 1975, China was the first country to recognise the new nation and establish diplomatic relations. In the years that followed official two-way visits by senior Chinese and Comorian officials became a notable feature of the expanding ties. Bilateral institutions have since been formed to facilitate greater co-operation and exchanges, such as the Comoros-China Friendship Association and the Sino-Comoros Friendship Association. China began to dispatch medical teams to the Comoros in 1994, as part of its diplomatic strategy.
Strategically, there have been suggestions that, initially, China cultivated relations with the Comoros to counterbalance Soviet, Western, and now, growing Indian influence in the Indian Ocean region. The investments by China have secured the continued support of the Comoros for the one-China policy and also encouraged the Comoros to extend its support to China in 2001, when tensions escalated after a US surveillance plane collided with a Chinese jet fighter.