The proposal that the navies of Japan, Australia and India could join the U.S. in preserving freedom of navigation in the contested waters of South China Sea was voiced recently by chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry B. Harris.But within days, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said, “As of now, India has never taken part in any joint patrol; we only do joint exercises. The question of joint patrol does not arise.”
Indian naval spokesman D.K. Sharma underscored India’s position that it only participates in military operations that take place under the United Nations flag.
“The biggest example in contemporary times is the Gulf of Aden patrols. From 2008 onwards when piracy has infested the Gulf of Aden and North Aegean Sea, India has not joined hands with any NATO or any other construct,” said Sharma.
Wary of China’s push in South China Sea, where maritime and territorial disputes are festering, India has shed its traditional diffidence and been vocal in calling for freedom of navigation and maritime security in the disputed waters.
At the same time, strategic experts say that New Delhi wants to be seen as a “neutral player” in an area where it is not directly involved.
Satellite imagery analysis by geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor shows overall land, building and military expansion by China on Woody Island in the South China Sea. (Courtesy of Stratfor)
Wary of provoking China
Manoj Joshi at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi says India is concerned about the potential ramifications in the Indian Ocean if its ships take part in U.S.-led patrols in waters close to China.
“India is worried that if we do joint patrols with the U.S, the Chinese could do it to us with Pakistan. That is really the worry — the US navy can operate globally, but India is not that powerful and that same thing could be turned on its head as far as we are concerned,” says Joshi.
Beijing’s bid to expand its presence in the Indian Ocean remains a huge concern for India and has partly prompted its growing defense partnership with Washington.
Overriding Chinese objections, last year India invited Japan back into annual naval exercises held with the U.S. for the first time in eight years.
This year, the three countries are scheduled to hold naval drills in waters off the northern Philippines near the South China Sea — a move that is likely to irk Beijing.
FILE – The U.S. Hamilton-class cutter, Manila’s largest Navy warship, was sent to check on Chinese fishing boats after a Philippines Navy surveillance plane spotted the Chinese vessels in the Scarborough Shoal, April 8, 2012.
But for the time being, joint exercises is as far as India is willing to go. “If India and the U.S. have not contemplated similar kind of patrol in Indian Ocean, what could justify India and U.S. patrolling waters of South China Sea?” asks Chintamani Mahapatra, a foreign policy professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
India’s decades-long border dispute in the Himalayas with Beijing where their armies face off is also likely to hold New Delhi back from wading into the contentious waters of South China Sea.
“We have a long border and it is just us and them on that border. We will certainly stand firm in our position, but we don’t want to provoke,” says Jayadeva Ranade, a China specialist at India’s National Security Advisory Board.
The “dispute” may be broken down into three main areas of argument. The first is the matter of delineating territorial waters and economic exclusivity zones (EEZ) for each individual nation that borders the South China Sea and how these areas may often overlap. The second issue are the legal rights to exploration and exploitation of oil and natural gas, mineral and renewable resources in the overlapping EEZs as well as the international sea zone that lies outside territorial and EEZ areas. The third matter of contention is the free passage of international commercial traffic and warships through United Nations delineated “International” waters. @veteranstoday.com
“SC Sea conflict is being used by USA to exploit it’s China containment policy”
Obama’ recent visit to India netted a trove of economic, military, and nuclear power agreements with India. The visit – and the agreements – underscored the attempt by the U.S. state to utilize its ‘pivot to Asia’ to create military and economic alliances with other Asian nations in order to encircle and isolate China.
The military wing of the ‘Asian Pivot’ is called ‘Air-Sea Battle Plan’. It involves progressively moving up to 60% of U.S. military forces into the Asian area, alongside the placement of new and advanced military equipment and new military bases and alliances with countries like the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan.
The economic wing of the pivot is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty which would exclude and which currently involves negotiations between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
This military and economic encirclement strategy confronts, however, a very large obstacle. The U.S. state may for now remain the worlds sole military super-power, based on its enormous expenditures for military, security, and online monitoring of the worlds’ people. But China has emerged in the past seven years as the worlds’ leading industrial super-power. In a shift – unprecedented historically for its speed – China has ,moved at warp speed in the past seven years to replace the U.S. as the world’s largest industrial producer. As recently as 2007, China produced a mere 62% of U.S. industrial output. But by 2011, China’s output was 120% of U.S. output, and the gap continues to grow. This displacement of the U.S. by China is the fastest shift in the balance of world industrial output in recorded economic history. @euro-synergies.hautetfort.com
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