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China's designs

September 2, 2010

'China trying to encircle India is matter of concern.'
Deccan Herald (India)
September 1, 2010

The hectic civil and military activities of China
and the large presence of Chinese troops in the
Gilgit-Baltistan area of Kashmir held by Pakistan
should be a matter of serious concern to India.
According to reports, intensive infrastructure
development work is being undertaken by China in
the region and over 11,000 Chinese troops are
actively engaged in it. This cannot be considered
a normal case of development collaboration
between China and Pakistan. Roads, dams and rail
lines are being built, tunnels are being
constructed and the area is under the control of
China. The Gilgit-Baltistan area is of strategic
importance to both China and India. Its proximity
to the troubled Xinjiang province and the access
it provides to China to the Gulf region makes it
important to Beijing. The area is of vital
importance to India on account of its closeness
to Kargil, Ladakh and the Indian territory under
occupation by China after the 1962 war.

China’s control of the area and the facilities it
is setting up there will give it a big economic
advantage by shortening the distance and time to
reach the Gulf and the deep water ports it is
constructing in Pakistan. The tunnels being
constructed may be part of a proposed oil
pipeline from Iran to China but they are also
considered to be useful as missile storage sites.
All the constructions have a military dimension
also and the secrecy that marks them and the
speed with which they are undertaken show the
importance China attaches to its activities
there. These should cause more disquiet in India
than diplomatic pinpricks like the denial of visa
to a senior Indian army officer, objection to an
ADB loan to Arunachal Pradesh or protests about
Dalai Lama’s activities in India.

China’s attempts to encircle India with a string
of pearls "ports in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and
Pakistan, bases and oil pipeline facilities in
Myanmar and roads in Nepal — have been widely
noticed. The Chinese military will soon be a
force to reckon with in the Indian Ocean too. The
activity in Gilgit-Baltistan gives it the
advantage of control of land in a strategically
important area, to complete the encirclement. The
development of transport and other communication
facilities in Tibet has already given it great
strategic advantage along India’s entire northern
border. India should heighten vigil and take
steps to secure its national security and
interests against any threat that may arise in future.
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