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US lets China act belligerent

US lets China act belligerent

Author: G Parthasarathy
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 28, 2009
URL: http://dailypioneer.com/179138/US-lets-China-act-belligerent.html

Non-proliferation ayatollahs in the USA, close to the Democratic Party establishment, have recently been publishing 'revelations' of Pakistan constructing two new plutonium reactors at its nuclear nerve centre, Khushab. The timing and contents of these 'revelations' are intriguing. They appeared just as a new Government was assuming office in New Delhi.

While claiming that these two new nuclear reactors will substantially increase Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, and voicing fears of a jihadi takeover in Pakistan, the authors are demanding that India should immediately join Pakistan in stopping the production of fissile material for weapons. This would serve China's aim of making India's nuclear weapons programme totally Pakistan-centric and depriving the country of a credible nuclear deterrent, which can safeguard us against Chinese challenges, overt and covert.

On April, 23, 2009 the US-based Institute of Science and International Security published satellite imagery taken from Digital Globe, showing two large plutonium reactors being constructed in Khushab near another plutonium reactor that was built by the Chinese in the 1990s. The Americans know that China had supplied Pakistan with not only an un-safeguarded 40 MW plutonium reactor but also a plutonium reprocessing plant.

Moreover, as these reactors require 'heavy water' and Pakistan's production facilities for this (built with Chinese assistance) have limited capacity, the requirement of heavy water for these reactors is evidently being met by diverting Chinese heavy water supplies to nuclear power plants built with China's assistance in nearby Chashma.

China joined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1992 and thereafter pledged that it would stop supplies of all un-safeguarded nuclear material and facilities to Pakistan. In 1991-1992, China also pledged to abide by the Missile Technology Control Regime, thereby ruling out supplies of missiles with a range of over 300 km.

But China continues to violate all these undertakings. The plutonium reactors in Khushab now under construction are nothing more than a continuation of the assistance China gave for Pakistan's first 40 MW plutonium reactor.

Apart from having supplied Pakistan the designs for their original uranium nuclear warheads, the ongoing Chinese assistance to Pakistan's plutonium weapons facilities is obviously meant to enable it to make more potent and miniaturised warheads. These can be fitted to the Chinese designed Shaheen I and Shaheen II missiles, capable of targeting cities across India.

Thus, when America's non-proliferation ayatollahs start demanding that India should hold negotiations with Pakistan because of threats arising to international security from China's unrestrained nuclear and missile proliferation, New Delhi should tell them that they are barking up the wrong tree. India is not going to allow the size or capabilities of is nuclear and missile arsenals to be limited because of American unwillingness to check unrestrained Chinese nuclear and missile proliferation.

The view of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Sino-American relationship is the "most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century" has in recent days fuelled China's arrogance and aggressiveness in its relations with India. Following the recent display of its naval prowess, a senior Chinese naval officer revealed China's intentions earlier this month when he suggested to the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Timothy Keating, that the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean should be regarded as spheres of predominant Chinese influence.

Admiral Keating was told: "You (the US) take Hawaii East and we (China) will take Hawaii West and the Indian Ocean. Then you need not come to the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean and we will not need to go to the eastern Pacific". The recent move of a Chinese fleet into the Indian Ocean, ostensibly in the name of dealing with piracy, together with China's quest for facilities and bases from Gwadar in Pakistan to Hambantota in Sri Lanka are obviously part of a long-term plan to dominate the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.

Chinese aggressiveness on its territorial claims has also grown. Chinese scholars have spoken of 'liberating' southern Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) in the event of tensions between India and Pakistan. China has moved to block loans to India amounting to $ 2.9 billion from the Asian Development Bank because there is provision for assistance to development projects in Arunachal Pradesh. If China did have reservations on this score, it could have recorded them instead of blocking an entire country programme.

In Nepal, the Chinese have been fishing in troubled waters, attempting to finalise a treaty with the Himalayan nation, which obviously raises security concerns in India, and also by encouraging Maoist plans to undermine democratic functioning of key institutions like the Army and the judiciary. China has used its support for Myanmar in the UN Security Council to undermine India's access to off shore gas.

As Mr Manmohan Singh commences his second term in office, he will have to take note of the serious challenges that an assertive China now poses across India's land borders and its maritime frontiers. Given the ongoing US-China honeymoon, it would require imaginative diplomacy to persuade the Obama Administration of our concerns on Chinese behaviour.

China has not hesitated to use force to enforce its territorial claims on its disputed maritime boundaries with Vietnam and Philippines. Under the UN Convention of the Law of the Seas, China was required to intimate where its maritime frontiers lie earlier this month.

In its presentation, China has laid claim to thousands of square miles of maritime territory in the South China Sea, based on its unilateral claims to several offshore islands bordering Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. When the Philippines objected to Chinese claims, its envoy was summoned to receive a protest and a high level visit to Manila was indefinitely postponed.

With India's Communist parties, which have tacitly backed China's global ambitions and policies, no longer pulling the strings of power, New Delhi should not be constrained in responding appropriately to Chinese manoeuvres in India's neighbourhood. It is not India alone that is concerned by China's 'rise'. Partnerships will have to be forged with Japan and others to meet the challenges a resurgent and aggressive China poses, even as India fashions policies to accelerate economic growth and develop its conventional defences and nuclear capabilities.


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