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Chinese “Blue Book” optimistic on Indian future May 27, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, By country, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Daniel Barnes

The first Chinese “blue book” on the state of India has expressed concern over a government in ‘serious crisis’, but also believes India will emerge stronger after conquering its current obstacles.

Background

Chinese think tanks release “blue books” every year on numerous issues; the books have tacit backing by the Chinese government, even if they do not fully represent its views. The “blue book” on India runs to over 300 pages and was compiled by Yunnan University, which hosts one of China’s biggest South Asia programmes.

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‘A continuum of security requirements’: The US Pacific Command and the rise of the Indian Ocean April 3, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, India, South Asia - General , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

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…)

Sri Lanka: still difficult to ‘bell the cat’ February 23, 2013

Posted by auriolweigold in : Gordon, Sandy, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

Commissioned by East Asia Forum and previously published in Future Directions International

Sri Lanka is a small country of about the population of Australia. Its location astride the major energy sea lanes of communication (SLOCS) of the Indian Ocean and just south of behemoth India, however, puts it in a strategic box seat for the forthcoming struggle for influence over the liquid energy requirements of the East Asian economic giants, including China.

Until about a decade ago, the island was a Western-leaning democracy, but one with a generational civil war involving human rights violations on both side. The denouement of the war in May 2009 saw the death of the head of the Tamil Tigers, Vellupillai Prabhakaran. Few who were not Tamil Tiger loyalists would have mourned the passing of the homicidal head of the feared organisation.  Fewer still would have regretted the ending of a civil war that had lasted since 1983 and caused an estimated 80,000 deaths.

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Rebalancing Asia: Panetta visits India July 24, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Merrington, Louise , comments closed

Louise Merrington

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s visit to India in June highlighted both India’s increasing importance as a regional balance in the US ‘pivot’ to the Asia Pacific and the extent to which the US–Pakistan relationship has deteriorated in recent months.

Although the US–India relationship reached a high note with the 2008 civilian nuclear deal, several sticking points remain. First, India’s nuclear liability law, designed to guard against a repeat of the Bhopal disaster, made the manufacturers of nuclear reactors liable for accidents caused by faulty equipment. (more…)

The US pivot and India’s look east June 25, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Sourabh Gupta

The US and India held their third annual strategic dialogue in Washington on 13 June 2012. At the second dialogue in June 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed India to assume a more proactive leadership role in the Asia Pacific region, exhorting it to ‘not just look east, but continue to engage and act east as well’.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta enthusiastically restated the same message during his recent post-Shangri-La Dialogue swing through New Delhi.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) shakes hands with India's Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna (L) during a joint press conference at the State Department in Washington DC, USA, 13 June 2012. (Photo: AAP)

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China-Comoros ties: ‘A pragmatic cooperation of 36 years’ December 18, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

Key Points

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.

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ADF reviews plans for the IOR with a mining industry protection focus August 17, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

This article first appeared on 3 August in Future Directions International

Background

In an example of Australia’s increasing awareness of the importance of the central and north-west of this country, the ADF has announced a force structure review with a focus on onshore mining and offshore oil and gas infrastructure and operations. It includes a shift in defence strategy towards the Indian Ocean’s vital sea-lines of communication and choke points close to Australia.

Comment

In geopolitical terms, the review recognises Indian and Chinese ambitions to “manage” the IO. The Indo-Pacific route is not just about trade, including Australia’s, but possible disruptions; best illustrated currently in India’s force projection and China’s acquisition of interests in littoral ports. Australia’s bilateral relations, particularly with India, still have to overcome some major problems, but are of high strategic importance in an IO context. Such scenarios must also include the maritime aims of other Indian Ocean users, including, for example, West African nations, Russia, Iran and Pakistan. There are implications also for long-term Australian coastal security and trans-ocean transport. (more…)

Looking west again – to the Indian Ocean and India February 16, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

An article in The Australian, published on 31 March 2010, notes Australia’s inconsistent interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in its headline ‘We must look west to the Indian Ocean …’.  It goes on to remind that Australia should be a ‘pre-eminent country’ in the IOR and notes that a ‘new maritime great game’ is visible as ‘strategic competition between India and China’ grows. These ideas, verging on directives, are drawn from Bateman’s and Bergin’s Australian Strategic Policy Institute Paper, Our Western Front: Australia and the Indian Ocean, launched by Australia’s former Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, on the same day in 2010.  The Australian concluded its article by reporting that Australia’s policies vis-a-vis the Indian Ocean have been ‘relatively opaque and spasmodic’, and should be embedded in the mainstream of foreign policy.

Despite its inconsistent and often neglectful approach to engagement in the Indian Ocean as a whole, Australia has had an historical interest in the Indian Ocean, which is vital to its import and export markets and sea-lines communications. It relies on Indian Ocean sea-routes and access points for its globalised trade, and the ever-increasing importance of security and stability demand deeper engagement: geographically Australia is well-placed to play a prominent role in the Indian Ocean region.

Crew of HMAS Melbourne board a pirated Chinese tanker in the Indian Ocean,  Photo ABC

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