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¿Como percibe China las amenazas a su seguridad nacional?

Mensaje por ivan_077 el Septiembre 21st 2014, 21:28


China's Threat Perception
By RSN Singh
Issue Book Excerpt: Asian Strategy and Military Perspective | Date : 17 Sep , 2014

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Ancient China, was unparalleled in matters of strategic thinking, defence technology and organisation of Armed Forces, but became extremely inward looking by the 16th century, and was thus bypassed by the Industrial Revolution. Nevertheless, the guiding principles with regard to statecraft, strategy and warfare enunciated by Confucius and his contemporary, Sun Tzu, endured through the ages and continue to be instructive in many ways. The isolation of China was engendered by the fact that it became smug because of its economic self-sufficiency and sense of superiority.

Civilisations, however advanced, have declined or perished when they ceased to be interactive and China was no exception. It is ironical that ancient China, which is credited with invention of the gunpowder, could not develop upon it further and was in the 17th century bedevilled with illegal imports of muskets by Japanese pirates.

…the only redeeming feature in the modern history of China was its relative success against nascent independent India in the War of 1962. Chinas initiation of war against Vietnam in 1978, on the specious plea, “to teach it a lesson” turned out to be a miscalculated adventure.

All through history, China’s strategic thinking has been land oriented except during the Han Dynasty, Song Dynasty (960 AD to 1279 AD) and in the initial years under the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 AD). In fact, during the latter’s rule, the Chinese fleet went as far as to the east coast of Africa. Internal threats from warlords and frontier tribes precluded any growth of maritime traditions. All maritime advances had been reversed during the rule of the Ming Dynasty itself.

Therefore, when the western maritime powers i.e. the Portuguese, the Spanish, the British and the French arrived in the 16th century on the southern coast of China as traders, missionaries and soldiers; it was found floundering for an appropriate response. The Chinese empire could not correctly evaluate the nature of the new challenge, which eventually resulted in the demise of the Manchu Dynasty and the collapse of the historical framework of dynastic rule. Even after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, maritime issues continued to be ignored. It is only now and rather belatedly that there is a focus on the development of the People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLA– Navy). The lag however, is substantial and not amenable to quick solutions.

Modernisation Processes

‘Ism’ has been an important factor in China and the various isms have evolved and adapted. Mao Zedong, who debunked most of the early Chinese philosophers, was no less influenced by them. Many of his writings and diktats resonate with the theories and teachings of Confucius and Sun Tzu. Mao’s own ism was full of contradictions and led to disastrous experiments like the Great Leap Forward (1958-60) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).

Despite the heavy interference by Mao and some other communist leaders in Chinese historiography, China’s historical moorings remain as strong as ever. Even the modernisation programme ushered in by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s has historical parallels. After the disastrous defeat of Chinese forces by Britain in the first Anglo-Chinese War, better known as ‘Opium War’ (1839-1842), the Qing rulers realised the need to strengthen China by assimilation of western education and science, and adoption of western models of development. Students were sent abroad by the government and special schools based on the western pattern were established in larger cities, factories, and shipyards. The effort to graft western technology onto Chinese institutions became known as the ‘self-strengthening movement’. This movement did not yield much results as the Chinese leaders failed to recognise the significance of political institutions and the social theory that had fostered western advances and innovations. This historical experience should be instructive to the current Chinese leaders, while they pursue the modernisation of the country.

Military Defeats

China, which had brought under control or established its hegemony on most of its neighbouring states like Vietnam, Korea, Burma and parts of Central Asia, was a humiliated empire in the 19th century, and hemmed in from all sides. In 1850, Tsarist troops had invaded Manchuria. In 1864, France had colonised Cochin China (Southern Vietnam). In 1884-85, Britain took Burma and the Russians penetrated into Chinese Turkestan (modern day Xinjiang-Uygur autonomous region).

In 1894-95, Japan defeated China and forced it to cede Taiwan and Penghu Island. The British had sought further territorial concession (99 years lease) in Hong Kong in 1898. The foreign settlements in China had become sovereign pockets of territories with menacing presence of warships and gunboats. Internally too, China was bleeding in the later half of 19th century. The Taiping Revolution, which was led by Hong Xiu Quan and lasted for 14 years (1851-64), had claimed 30 million lives. Such was the debilitation of China that the Manchu ruler had to seek the assistance of British and French forces to crush the revolution.

The story of the military humiliations of China, which began with the first Anglo-Chinese War, better known as the Opium War (1839-1842), continued well into the first half of the 20th century i.e. till World War II. The Boxer Revolution in 1900 in which many western missionary facilities were burnt and thousands of Chinese Christians killed provoked an Allied military expedition, and China was comprehensively defeated. In 1932, Japan had annexed Manchuria, which finally resulted in a full-scale war in 1937 and lasted till the end of World War II. In this series of military humiliations, the only redeeming feature in the modern history of China was its relative success against nascent independent India in the War of 1962. China’s initiation of war against Vietnam in 1978, on the specious plea, “to teach it a lesson” turned out to be a miscalculated adventure.

Ideology and Reforms

Historically, every ism in China at some point or the other has fallen victim to disaffection, corruption, cronyism, and ideological degeneration. These were invariably followed by attempts at sweeping reforms. In 1898, there was a bold attempt by the Chinese Emperor Guangxu to root out corruption and introduce fundamental changes in a broad range of activities and areas like academics, civil services exam system, agriculture and industry.

China has become pragmatic to the extent that the Communist Party of China, despite all the rhetoric, appears to be just another political party engaged in the preservation of power.

The life of this reform process was only a hundred days and is therefore referred to as the ‘Hundred Days Reform’. It failed because of opposition from conservatives and gradualists. This has strong resonance on the present day reform and modernisation in China. However, in the current reform efforts the opposition has been effectively neutralised, as the reform process has yielded encouraging results. If it were to fail, communism may be rendered as ineffective a glue as in the case of the erstwhile USSR.

To its credit, China has been throwing up bold reformers with unfailing regularity, who battle against robust odds to steer the country through the morass. One such leader was Deng Xiaoping, the harbinger of the current reform and modernisation process. The impetus that Deng provided to modernisation continues to gather momentum. China, therefore, presently stands at the most momentous station in history. If the ideologically illiberal Communist Party of China could throw up such radical reformers, it can be inferred that within the Chinese populace, there would be segments, which hold independent political and social views despite all the indoctrination.

The Tiananmen Square incident in 1992 and the rise of the Falun Gong, bear testimony to this inference. Another factor that has an increasing bearing on the future evolution of China is the huge Chinese Diaspora, which is of different political orientations but is becoming increasingly active after the ushering in of the modernisation process. In its conduct of diplomacy, present day China has not been hostage to any ideology but has been ruthless in its pursuit of national interest and security. China has become pragmatic to the extent that the Communist Party of China, despite all the rhetoric, appears to be just another political party engaged in the preservation of power. Therefore, when the Chinese leaders talk of union of China and Taiwan based on ‘one country two systems’, it may not be entirely a ploy.

Military Reforms

Historically, a great deal of importance has been accorded to the army in China. The army in the view of Chinese philosophers was not only an instrument of force but also an institution for nation building. The Chinese philosophers propounded the idea of scholar generals and scholar administrators. When the ‘self-strengthening movement’ was initiated in the first half of the 19th century, the army was one of the high priority areas for development on western lines.

China is emerging as an economic centre of gravity in Asia. In 2003, China stood as the second largest economy in the world after the US, although in per capita income, the country is poor.

The biggest champions of these reforms were two scholar generals Li Hongzhang (1823-1901) and Zuo Zongtang (1812-1885). A substantial portion of the Banner Forces were demobilised and reconstituted into specialised military units, which were officered by professionals, who had received training in newly established academies or in military colleges abroad. However, the army still remained fragmented because of regionalism and political affiliations. Even the rebel Koumintang (KMT) Government, which at that time included the communists, had opened an academy based on Soviet lines (Bolshevik Academy) in 1923 at Whampoa (outside Guangzhou). Chiang Kai-Shek was the head of the academy and Zhou En-Lai was a senior instructor in the political department.

In the past, therefore, all military reforms and military modernisation programmes did not succeed due to warlordism, regionalism and factionalism. Subversion and switching of loyalties by the military has also not been uncommon in the past, whenever conditions deteriorated.

The Red Army, under Mao had swelled in the decisive years by inducing defections in the KMT Army. Crisis creates leaders, and Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao led from the front. Mao’s epic Long March covering some 12,000 km from Fujian to Shanxi in which only 5,000 members survived out of 100,000; served as a powerful ideological tool and benchmark for sustaining the PLA’s (People’s Liberation Army) ideological fervour in subsequent decades. Mao never grew out of it.

The PLA had become unwieldy and archaic during his lifetime. It was totally out of sync with modern methods of warfare. Therefore, the ongoing modernisation of the PLA should be viewed more as corrective measure, which in any case was long overdue. It must also be appreciated that there has been a generational shift and a substantial percentage of the present day PLA cadres do not share the same ideological fervour as their predecessors. Since, the ideological moorings of the PLA are getting diluted, there has to be a concomitant flux in its politico-military orientation.

Strategic Importance

China shares 76 km land boundary with Afghanistan; 470 km with Bhutan; 3,440 km with India; 1,533 km with Kazakhstan; 2,185 km with Myanmar; 1,416 km with North Korea; 858 km with Kyrgyzstan; 423 km with Laos; 4,677 km with Mongolia; 1,414 km with Nepal; 523 km with Pak Occupied Kashmir; 414 km with Tajikistan; 1,281 km with Vietnam; 3,605 km and 40 km with Russia in the northeast and northwest respectively. In addition, China lies at close proximity to Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. It also has a maritime interface with Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and to an extent with Indonesia. China, therefore, is pivotally positioned in a ring of nations formed by South Asia, Central Asia, Russia, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, and the Asia Pacific region.

China’s sheer size and economic growth are already altering the contours of Asian security, international commerce, and the global balance of power.

China is emerging as an economic centre of gravity in Asia. In 2003, China stood as the second largest economy in the world after the US, although in per capita income, the country is poor. Even discounting the Chinese propensity for exaggerating figures or statistics, the economic growth by its own previous standards is rather phenomenal. Some sources maintain that the economic growth of the smaller Region-States comprising cities like Shanghai, Dalian, Tianjin, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Qingdao, and Suzhou – are experiencing an economic growth of 15-20 per cent a year, which is much faster than that of the ASEAN Tigers like Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea. Even the mega regions like the Yangtze Delta, the Northeastern Tristates area (formerly known as Manchuria), the Pearl River Delta, the Beijing – Tianjin corridor and Shandong – would rank among Asia’s 10 largest economies, if they were separate country entities.

China is pursuing its economic agenda with such single-mindedness that it has kept its other strategic priorities like Taiwan, and South China Sea at a diplomatically manageable pitch. Going by the proclivities displayed by it in the past two decades, it appears that it shall not let any ideology or other global distraction derail its present economic agenda. Apart from the pressing necessity of improving the living conditions of its people, the desire to acquire economic leverage against other countries in its neighbourhood is also an equally strong imperative.

With regard to the measure of national power, there are some overwhelming tangible assets that China enjoys; they are: size (third largest in the world), population (largest population in the world), large natural resources (largest producer of coal) and the largest Armed Forces in the world. It is estimated that China is importing more than 30 per cent of its oil requirements; however, the Xinjiang province in China is believed to contain rich petroleum reserves, which remain unexploited. Its sheer size and economic growth are already altering the contours of Asian security, international commerce, and the global balance of power.

Many analysts believe that China is presently acquiescent to the US presence in its vicinity for reasons of strategic stability, which is an essential imperative for its ongoing economic development. Should the US withdraw its forces from the region…

In addition, China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, it’s a nuclear power, its missile capabilities are highly advanced and it possesses Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). It manufactures and launches its own satellites and is making further forays into space. Though its capabilities in these fields may be a generation or two behind those of USA, Russia and other western countries, nevertheless for China’s neighbours, living under its shadow is not easy.

China has emerged as the linchpin in determining the security agenda in its neighbourhood, encompassing the wide array of countries in Asia. Even those countries which have a close strategic partnership with the US, have begun to treat China as an established regional power. China is seen to be dispensing patronage and protection to countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan in return for their recognition of China’s superiority.

If the global flash points or spots of concerns were to be enumerated, China invariably figures as a direct or an important strategic interlocutor in most of them. Some of these flash points are India – Pakistan, Korean peninsula crisis, South China Sea and Spratly Islands, Afghanistan, and Taiwan. In fact, the US military presence in the Asia Pacific region (in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan) and the US strategic ties with Southeast Asian countries (Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines) is heavily motivated by the need to impose a strategic counterpoise to China.

Many analysts believe that China is presently acquiescent to the US presence in its vicinity for reasons of strategic stability, which is an essential imperative for its ongoing economic development. Should the US withdraw its forces from the region, the vacuum thus created may usher in forces that may drastically alter the present strategic equations with some alarming imponderables. Any such development may have global consequences as the protagonists involved – China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and ASEAN – are amongst the world’s most important economic hubs. Of course, the nuclear and missile dimension would remain a frightening factor.

While the Chinese capabilities are well known and can be extrapolated, its intentions are inscrutable. However, it is quite clear that China sees itself as a global power and probably desires to supplant the erstwhile USSR. It clearly shows signs of a dissatisfied and a non-status-quo power. In this quest, it has displayed dangerous and delinquent tendencies.

It supplied sensitive technology to Pakistan to keep India in check, which it feels is its strategic competitor in South Asia.

China has been a proliferator of missiles and nuclear technology. Its client states include Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. It supplied sensitive technology to Pakistan to keep India in check, which it feels is its strategic competitor in South Asia. Though, in international relations it is said that there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, China has been ruthless in pursuit of its perceived security interests, and in establishing its primacy in the region. Towards this it has not hesitated in jettisoning its historical allies and using force against countries on preposterous excuses of “teaching a lesson” as in the case of Vietnam in 1978-79.

The Chinese Naval forces clashed with the Vietnamese Navy in the South China Sea in 1988. It was the same country in whose assistance the PLA lost at least 20,000 personnel during the Vietnam conflict. One of the reasons that many analysts attribute to the Chinese invasion of India in 1962 was to drive home to the erstwhile USSR (after the estrangement in early ‘60s) that it could perpetrate military conflict on USSR’s newfound allies with impunity.

China has not been averse to making strategic probes in areas of its interest, especially to gauge the response of the global community, particularly the US, as evidenced by its forays into the South China Sea and its occupation of Mischief Reef Island in 1995, in the vicinity of the Philippines. This is probably in consonance with China’s new military doctrine, which envisages fighting away from its territory and, therefore, it needs to have new frontiers, which some of the islands in the South China Sea can provide. This doctrine has replaced the earlier Maoist doctrine of luring the enemy deep into the country’s main territory.

…in consonance with China’s new military doctrine, which envisages fighting away from its territory and, therefore, it needs to have new frontiers, which some of the islands in the South China Sea can provide.

Wherever there are limited options, a Chinese tendency to keep border issues or territorial disputes unresolved is quite pronounced, especially with those countries with which it seeks to retain strategic leverage. China’s dilatory tactics with regards to resolution of the boundary disputes with India should be seen in this backdrop. It is for the same reason that China has spurned all efforts to discuss the Spratly Island dispute with ASEAN as a block and has insisted on bilateral discussions with the concerned countries. In exercise of its relations with other countries, China has mastered the art of engaging in mutually beneficial relationships for economic and other benefits without addressing the core issues. Despite the fact that it has adopted a belligerent posture with regard to Taiwan (presently strategic ally of the US) by deploying an array of weapon systems, which include more than 600 Tactical Ballistic Missiles (TBMs), it has continued with an intimate economic cooperation with the US.

Both China and Taiwan are bristling with weapon systems in close proximity to each other. There are an estimated 170 Chinese combat aircraft deployed within a 250 mile radius of Taiwan and another 1,300 within a 250–500 miles radius. While this may be to deter Taiwan from declaring independence, it has serious portends for global security as it is may spawn an unbridled arms race in the region. Even if Taiwan was to be unified with China, this arsenal would remain and could obviously be redeployed elsewhere.

Notwithstanding China’s pre-occupation with its economic agenda, it may not dither in seeking a military solution for forcible re-unification of Taiwan, if the latter were to declare independence. In 1996, China conducted a series of ballistic missiles tests over Taiwan, which prodded the US to deploy its carrier battle group, and underscored the apprehension that if conflict breaks out in the region, the US involvement would be inevitable. Since then the PLA has been factoring in the US forces as combat targets in all military exercises relating to Taiwan.

Wherever there are limited options, a Chinese tendency to keep border issues or territorial disputes unresolved is quite pronounced, especially with those countries with which it seeks to retain strategic leverage.

In its security posturing, China is at present eastward oriented. In its strategic formulation, the southeast front takes priority over the other fronts. In prioritising its military focus, Taiwan assumes number one position, followed by Japan, India and Vietnam. However, in its strategic interlocution with Taiwan, Japan or the Southeast Asian countries, the US remains a constant factor. Many analysts are of the opinion that China is making cogent efforts to neutralise the superior US power projection ability in the Western Pacific region by exploiting the latter’s relative vulnerability due to the long logistics line, which has got further extended after the loss of US bases in Subic Bay and Clark (air base) in the Philippines. China has already positioned (in 2000) itself at the weakest link of the US Navy i.e. Isthmus of Panama through allied commercial entities. It is believed that after the US abandoned Subic Bay, the PLA had tried to take it over through commercial fronts.

Some experts are of the opinion that the Chinese thrust towards the Spratly Islands and Parcel Islands are in consonance with Mao’s later strategic thinking wherein he advocated the moving of Chinese control to an outward island chain i.e. from the southern part of Japan and running through Taiwan to the Indonesian archipelago. The occupation of these islands would automatically lend control over the Malacca Strait, and thus China would become the most dominant power in the Western Pacific. While the US was engaged in the Vietnam conflict, the PLA had already begun to occupy and fortify some of these islands. By the late 1980s, it had constructed an airstrip on Woody Island (Parcels) and is constantly upgrading its military facilities on the Mischief Reef (Spratly). Though China is far from acquiring a power projection capability like the US, however, since it sees itself as an imminent global power, in the same league as the USA, it has initiated moves in that direction with its available capability.

One of the attributes of a global power is that it should have maritime reach and influence in at least two oceans. Therefore, as per some reports, China is making forays into the Indian Ocean. Its present naval prowess precludes any such capability; nevertheless, it has made tentative moves in this regard. It is trying to exploit Myanmar’s economic and military dependency on China to secure an indirect presence in the Indian Ocean through the Irrawaddy Corridor proposal, which entails transportation of goods produced in the Yunan Province of China through the Irrawaddy River to Yangon port in Myanmar. This has implicit strategic implications as it may entail frequent visitations or permanent presence of Chinese merchant vessels at Thilawa port in Yangon. In times of crisis, this facility can be translated into a naval presence. China has been engaged in upgrading Myanmar’s Naval bases in Hanngyi and Coco Islands.

China has become an important arms supplier to third world countries, which include Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh. Initially, its arms supplies were based on friendship terms, however later, after having secured a degree of dependency, it has begun to supply arms and equipment on strictly commercial basis. It is not averse to adopting any machination for pushing its arms sales to its client countries. China considers its arms sales as another way of extending its influence, even though its capabilities are still limited and the quality of its arms and equipment leaves much to be desired. The arms sales have invariably resulted in Chinese involvement in infrastructural projects in these countries.

China considers its arms sales as another way of extending its influence, even though its capabilities are still limited and the quality of its arms and equipment leaves much to be desired.

The huge Chinese Diaspora in various countries, particularly the USA and Southeast Asian countries is an asset to China. There are approximately 2.8 million US citizens of Chinese origin, which constitutes 20 per cent of the total Asian population in the US. More than 70 per cent of Singapore’s population is of Chinese extraction. It is natural for this Diaspora to share a sense of cultural pull towards China, if not towards the Chinese political dispensation. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, most of the Southeast Asian countries were bedevilled by China inspired communist insurgencies; as a result the Chinese segment of the population in these countries was viewed with suspicion.

However, the Chinese lobby in many of these countries, has emerged as a reasonably powerful political and economic entity. This lobby is even considered to make some difference in the electoral prospects of Presidential candidates in the US. Some of the Chinese citizens in the US have come under suspicion for trying to smuggle forbidden technologies to China. This is not without precedence. Professor Qian Xueshen, who was repatriated to China in 1955 by the US, following the witch-hunts after the Korean War, can be called the Father of China’s Nuclear and Missile Programme. He was a graduate of the California Institute of Technology in 1935 and obtained his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1938.

During World War II, he was director of the rocket section of the United States National Defense Scientific Advisory Board. Dr Qian, and a number of other scientists trained in the United States and Europe, were instrumental in developing the PRC’s nuclear warheads and delivery systems.

The large size and geography bestows upon China a huge strategic depth, which in turn facilitates the exercise of a high degree of strategic autonomy. Mao had predicated his doctrine of ‘People’s War’ and the tactical concept of ‘luring the enemy deep’ on the attribute of strategic depth. The large geographic size and internal communications affords China a great deal of strategic and operational flexibility against its neighbours. While, China may be lacking in naval and air capabilities vis-à-vis powers like the USA and Russia, nevertheless subjugating China militarily would be a very remote and hazardous proposition. The per capita military effectiveness of China may be way behind other world powers, but its cumulative prowess could prove to be robust and formidable.

Threat Perception

In its early years, the Chinese communist leadership was apprehensive of a counter-revolution. China’s bitter history beginning in the 19th century and extending up to World War II, wherein it was humiliated by Russia, Japan, Britain, Portugal and France, had left an indelible scar on the national psyche. The ascendance of the Communist Party was after a bitter internal struggle, which cost millions of lives. For the new People’s Republic of China, the consolidation of the revolution was an overwhelming priority. Since the revolution was a mass movement in which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) played an important role, the mass revolutionary approach persisted in matters of governance, policies, doctrines and methods of warfare.

After the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia and China began to build bridges and today Russia has emerged as a major arms supplier to China. It is estimated that Russian arms supplies to China are US $ one billion a year and there are some 1,500 Russian experts employed in Chinas military-industrial complex.

The military posturing of China in the initial years was defensive i.e. maintenance of territorial integrity. Towards this it relied on the sheer size of the PLA and the country as such. It sought to compensate the qualitative military disadvantage by quantity and the impetus of revolutionary zeal. It, therefore, embarked on an appropriate strategy of ‘luring the enemy deep’ and defeating the enemy by a mix of guerrilla and conventional warfare in the areas of its own choosing. The PLA had a great deal of experience in this kind of warfare. In fact, the PLA’s existence predates the formation of the state. It was founded in 1927, more than 20 years before Mao declared the People’s Republic on the Tiananmen Square in 1949. The Chinese military assistance to North Korea in 1950 was more out of its own security concerns rather than any ideological reasons.

After the breakdown of a very intimate Sino-Soviet relationship in early 1960, China began to view the Soviet Union as its principal military opponent. The 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the build up of Soviet Forces in the Far East raised Chinese suspicions. The two countries clashed along the Ussuri River. China perceived that USSR’s strategic reach-out to Vietnam, India and Afghanistan was aimed at encircling China. In April 1979, the two countries finally abrogated the 30-year Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance, under which the Soviet Union aided the PLA formally.

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Later, other Soviet moves like the acquisition of a naval base at Camranh Bay (Vietnam), sale of MiG-23 aircraft to North Korea, and acquisition of over-flight and port calling facilities from North Korea, caused further estrangement between the two countries. It was during this period of the Cold War that the rapprochement between the US and China began. In the ‘80s, approximately 470,000 Soviet ground troops (53 divisions) were deployed in the Sino-Soviet border region including Mongolia, while the Chinese forces numbered about 1.5 million (68 divisions).

However, in terms of technology, mobility, firepower, and anti-aircraft capability, the Soviet forces were far superior. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia and China began to build bridges and today Russia has emerged as a major arms supplier to China. It is estimated that Russian arms supplies to China are US $ one billion a year and there are some 1,500 Russian experts employed in China’s military-industrial complex.

Notwithstanding the current bonhomie between Russia and China, which is being dictated by prevailing geo-strategic imperatives, the fact that the two countries share an extremely long border of 3,645 km; and that both are competing for world power status and influence is a geo-political reality. The difference is that Russia is trying to revive the strategic dominance that it once enjoyed; and China is aiming and incrementally moving towards that position. At some point of time, it is possible that their interests may clash. The exponential increase in the Chinese population in the Russian Far East has also become a bitter issue, particularly for the Russians residing in that area.

Central Asia, after the fragmentation of the Soviet Union is in a flux. Strategically, it is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world with competing influences of Russia, China and the US. Both US and Russia have military bases in some of the Central Asian States like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The US also has a large base at Khanabad in Uzbekistan. The US presence and influence in Central Asia adds another security dimension to China’s western flank.

China’s eastern flank in its security perception presents formidable challenges. It is not only the issue of Taiwan but also of China’s strategic interface with Japan, Korea, and by implication the US.

China’s eastern flank in its security perception presents formidable challenges. It is not only the issue of Taiwan but also of China’s strategic interface with Japan, Korea, and by implication the US. In addition, there are too many flash points, wherein China has direct stakes. The Taiwan issue requires a delicate internal and external balancing act by Chinese leadership. No Chinese leader can afford to repudiate the avowed aim of reunification of Taiwan but the US patronage of Taiwan is a major strategic constraint.

The moot question is as to how long China is willing to wait and accept the US primacy in the region. China is also very apprehensive of a resurgent Japan, which apart from economic predominance in the region, has the capability to switchover to assertive military posture whenever it decides to. China, therefore, sees the US presence in Japan as a restraining factor in the volatile Asia Pacific region. There are analysts who opine that China is not very comfortable with the prospects of a unified Korea, as that would entail the loss of a friendly buffer state i.e. North Korea.

The amalgamation of economically strong South Korea and North Korea with its manpower intensive military may add another dimension to China’s security. The presence of forces of a more powerful united Korea along the Yalu River (border between North Korea and China) is pregnant with potential for conflict due to the vast natural resources and ownership disputes over numerous islands. Otherwise, North Korea and China have a great deal of historical amity. North Korea had lent invaluable support to the communists against their struggle with the Kuomintang forces and China’s military assistance was responsible for the preservation of the entity of North Korea in the 1950s.

China is also very apprehensive of a resurgent Japan, which apart from economic predominance in the region, has the capability to switchover to assertive military posture whenever it decides to. China, therefore, sees the US presence in Japan as a restraining factor in the volatile Asia Pacific region.

In the ‘70s, the relations between China and Vietnam began to deteriorate sharply after Vietnam signed an Agreement of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union in 1978. China branded Vietnam as the ‘Cuba of the East’. The relations became inimical after Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978 and ousted the Chinese supported Pol Pot regime. ‘To teach Vietnam a lesson’, China attacked all along the Sino-Vietnamese border in February 1979 with 20 to 26 divisions. The Chinese have admitted that 2,000 PLA personnel were killed / wounded during the war. The war, which was limited in scope, lasted for over two months. Consequently, the war resulted in a further strengthening of relationships between the USSR and Vietnam.

Vietnam procured a large quantity of arms from the USSR and provided access to the harbours at Danang and Camranh Bay to Soviet ships. Soviet aircraft were permitted to use Vietnamese airfields for reconnaissance missions. During the ‘80s, low intensity conflict continued unabated in the mountainous border region between the two countries. Vietnam and China had deployed 28 and 32 divisions respectively along their common border during this period. The rapidity of shift in the global order had its impact on Vietnam-China relations. After the withdrawal of Vietnamese military forces from Cambodia and Laos, Vietnam-China relations were on the mend.

By 1987, the hostilities between the two countries had ceased along their border. China, however, began to make cogent forays into the Spratly Islands, which resulted in a clash between Chinese and Vietnamese naval vessels in the vicinity of Johnson Reef where several Vietnamese vessels were sunk and about 70 sailors killed or drowned. China took possession of the reef and four other similar features. In March 1997, another flare-up occurred when a Chinese oil rig began drilling on the Vietnamese continental shelf less than 65 nautical miles from Vietnam’s coastline.

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Maritime issues continue to be extremely contentious between the two countries, especially for Vietnam, for whom the issue involves not only its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but also its continental shelf as such. This ongoing Sino-Vietnamese maritime rivalry has prodded Vietnam to provide access to US naval vessels at its ports as a move to countervail China. Therefore, Sino-Vietnam relations continue to be full of imponderables.

The Chinese posturing with regards to the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands has unnerved not only those ASEAN countries which are directly involved, but also countries like Singapore, which are entirely dependent on the security of the Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) for their survival. These countries have adopted a hedging policy to maintain a balance of power in the Asia Pacific. They continue to facilitate US presence in the region by providing various kinds of assistance and facilities. Singapore has recently upgraded its Changi Naval Base to accommodate US aircraft carriers.

Also, the ‘Five Power Defence Agreement’, which involves UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia, continues to be operative, with greater strength, serving, and serves as a deterrent to China. Singapore and Malaysia also maintain credible defence forces and are continually modernising and upgrading them. The US makes no territorial claims in Asia but has very high stakes in the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Japan imports 90 per cent of its oil, which has to transit through the South China Sea. Therefore, the stability in the Asia Pacific region may be imperilled by any miscalculation by any of the protagonists.

China’s burgeoning industrial and economic centres lie close to its eastern coast, thus creating a strategic vulnerability, especially when seen in the context of a volatile Asia Pacific region. With the rapid increase in China’s economic development, this will become even more pronounced and may compel China to adopt a more assertive maritime posture in search of strategic depth for its industrial and economic heartland. The eastern part of China is bristling with Tactical Ballistic Missiles (TBM) and combat aircraft which are, therefore, not only for intimidation or defence against Taiwan but have a vital role in terms of security to its economic centres. The opening of the Chinese economy has also conferred economic leverages to global economic giants like the US and Japan.

The pro-independence and anti-regime groups in Tibet, though contained, continue to engage the concern of Beijing due to their tentacles in the form of a Tibetan Diaspora in different parts of the world.

China’s main internal security concerns are:

The festering of Uygur pro-independence movement in the Xinjiang autonomous region, despite the fact that Beijing has improved ties with Muslim countries bordering the region. Arms and other supplies continue to flow into this region from sympathisers in Islamic countries.
The pro-independence and anti-regime groups in Tibet, though contained, continue to engage the concern of Beijing due to their tentacles in the form of a Tibetan Diaspora in different parts of the world. These groups have been successful in highlighting human rights abuses by the Beijing regime in international fora.
As a result of the modernisation drive in China a large number of workers have been laid-off. These workers have formed separate trade unions and are becoming increasingly strident in their opposition to the government’s policies.
In a repeat of China’s 19th century history, the country’s leadership is deeply concerned with a mushrooming underground Church movement and conversions. The newly converted Chinese include not only westernised urban intellectuals but government officials and rural residents as well.

RSN Singh

RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW and author of books Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and The Military Factor in Pakistan. His latest book is The Unmaking of Nepal.



http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spotlights/chinas-threat-perception/

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"No hay mas diferencia entre los hombres que el vicio o la virtud" Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon.

No hay raza inferior; solo hay sujetos inferiores
Bendita se la muerte, porque a nadie le concede lo que no les da a todos los demas;alabada sea la muerte que se yergue piadosa ante el hombre que ha cumplido su deber.
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Re: ¿Como percibe China las amenazas a su seguridad nacional?

Mensaje por ivan_077 el Septiembre 27th 2014, 18:02

¿nadie dice nada?
charros...

__________________________________________________________________________________________________
"No hay mas diferencia entre los hombres que el vicio o la virtud" Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon.

No hay raza inferior; solo hay sujetos inferiores
Bendita se la muerte, porque a nadie le concede lo que no les da a todos los demas;alabada sea la muerte que se yergue piadosa ante el hombre que ha cumplido su deber.
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