Monday, September 22, 2014

Research in China

My article Research in China has been published by Uday India.

It was recently reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was extremely unhappy about the state of affairs at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
According to The Times of India, when he visited the DRDO headquarters on August 20, Modi “has asked the tardy organisation to shape-up in the face of competition from the private sector”.
Modi asked the defence minister to conduct a detailed review of the DRDO, and eventually come out with a white paper.
Modi also asked the officers to give up their ‘chalta hai’ (lackadaisical) attitude.
It appears that 15 top DRDO scientists, including Director General Avinash Chander are on extension; Chander holds three posts — Secretary (Defence) R&D, DG (DRDO) and Scientific Advisor to the defence minister.
A senior defence ministry official told The Times of India: "The PM was not happy about [this]. As per a department of personnel and training (DoPT) ruling, only the best scientists of international stature should be considered for extensions. He asked for all the details. He was told about the high attrition rate among the younger scientists."
The daily remarked: “DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta could not be contacted for a comment”; ‘Missing in Action’ in Army terms.
In the meantime, China takes giant strides to catch up with the US in the field of military innovations.
Xinhua reported that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) would soon take delivery of a new generation’s aerial drone.
CCTV showed a test flight of the Rainbow 4 (CH-4), a hunter-killer drone, which successfully hit a target with a missile. The new CH-4 has been developed for reconnaissance and military strikes by the China Aerospace Science and Technology.
Li Pingkun, the head of the CH-4 project, told CCTV that the new drone could fly long-distance and hit a target with a error margin of less than 1.5 metres. Li explained that the precision was due to several new original ways to guide the missiles (or smart bombs) to their target.
The South China Morning Post, quoting some reports in the mainland, said: “The Rainbow 4 was developed as the PLA's answer to the MQ-9 Reaper, a hunter-killer drone mainly used by the US military for reconnaissance and high-precision air strikes”.
The nine metres long CH-4 has an 18-metre wingspan. With its 40-hour autonomy, it can carry four missiles, while its ground control centre can be fitted on two trucks.
Can the CH-4 catch up with the US Reaper in terms of targeting precision, flight length and payloads? Certainly not as yet, though intense efforts are being put in the project by Chinese scientists.
If today the Reaper can fly at 740km/h, the Chinese drone’s maximum speed is 235km/h, but the Chinese project is progressing fast.
But that is not all.
Have you heard of 'supercavitation' technology?
During the cold war, Soviet scientists had developed a technology called ‘supercavitation’, by which a submerged vessel would proceed inside an air bubble to avoid water drag.
Theoretically, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound, and this underwater; it would reduce the time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes.
Today, it may be science-fiction, but the Chinese scientists are working hard to solve the many technical hurdles.
The South China Morning Post explains: “China has moved a step closer to creating a supersonic submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours.”
It is hard to believe, but a team of scientists at Harbin Institute of Technology's Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab has made some breakthrough which should help a submarine, or a torpedo, to travel at extremely high speeds underwater.
Li Fengchen, professor of fluid machinery and engineering, announced that the new technology “could create the complicated air ‘bubble’ required for rapid underwater travel.”
Well, it is not done, but China is working on it.
Li affirmed that his team has found innovative means of addressing some of the unresolved problems: “Our method is different from any other approach, such as vector propulsion, or thrust created by an engine. By combining liquid-membrane technology with supercavitation, we can significantly reduce the launch challenges and make cruising control easier.”
In future the supercavitation technology will not be limited to military use only; it could also be utilized for civilian projects.
Professor Wang Guoyu, of the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory at Beijing Institute of Technology admits huge scientific and engineering challenges: “The size of the bubble is difficult to control, and the vessel is almost impossible to steer. While cruising at high speed during supercavitation, a fin could be snapped off if it touched the water because of the liquid's far greater density.”
There is more. The Chinese press recently conducted the second flight test of a new, ultra-high-speed missile. Analysts believe that it is part of a global system of attack weapons capable of striking the United States with nuclear warheads.
The flight of the new hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) or Wu-14 took place August 7 at a missile facility in western China.
The Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool stated: “We routinely monitor foreign defense activities, however we don’t comment on our intelligence or assessments of foreign weapons systems.”
He however confirmed a first test of the Wu-14 in January, though declined to provide a similar confirmation on the second test.
According to The South China Morning Post: “The first flight test of the Wu-14 took place January 9 and flew at speeds of around Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound—around 7,680 miles per hour. Hypersonic speeds pose severe guidance and control challenges for weapons engineers and produce extreme stress to metal and components.”
The US intelligence circles see this as an emerging hypersonic arms race.
The Chinese press did not mention the August 7 test, but reports about the presumed Wu-14 launch appeared on Internet which mentioned a missile launched from the Jiuquan satellite launch facility located in the Gobi Desert. Further, reports and photos posted online indicated that the booster rocket used in the test crash landed in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The booster crash is consistent with a hypersonic test.
Hypersonic glide vehicles travel in near space and thus the rocket that launched it may not have left the atmosphere.
The Pentagon has tested several hypersonic weapons platforms such as the X-37B Space Plane, the Lockheed Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 or the Boeing’s hypersonic craft known as the X-51 WaveRider.
What worries the US defence establishment are the sharp Pentagon budget cuts which may strike the funding for U.S. hypersonic craft.
In the meantime, President Xi Jinping (who is also Chairman of the Central Military Commission) spoke a ‘new military revolution’: "The new military revolution has provided China with opportunities and challenges at the same time and we must have foresight to adapt to changes in warfare.”
He was addressing his 24 colleagues of the Political Bureau
Xi asked Communist Party members to devote more attention to military issues, national defense and military development and military preparedness, and to support national defense and military reforms. The message is clear. Further, according to Xinhua, Xi said: “The changes will include developing new military strategies, technologies, doctrines, combat forces and management models with military informatization being central to modern combat.
Xi also mentioned four principles of comprehensive planning for military ‘renovation’. The Party should formulate an overall strategy to enhance its military strength:
  • by developing a new mindset for the different military departments
  • by uniting under a coherent strategy,
  • by adopting a coordinated approach to innovation, and
  • by fostering independent innovation.
The CMC Chairman added: “The new military revolution is developing at a pace so fast and with its impact so broad and profound that has rarely been seen since the end of WWII. The Chinese military must make great leaps in development and innovation so as to close the gap with its better-developed peers in the world.
He further urged the integration of military and civilian innovation “so that the two can accommodate each other and develop together”.
It is time for DRDO (and HAL) to wake up from their slumber. The world is moving; China is progressing fast, India will be left behind.
A solution might be to split DRDO into several autonomous projects with orders to deliver the goods.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Xi Jinping must engage Dalai Lama on Tibet

Xi Jinping (then Vice-President) in Tibet in 2011
My article Xi Jinping must engage Dalai Lama on Tibet was published by NitiCentral on September 17.

The same publication also quoted me in another article.

Dalai Lama on Xi Jinping – Open-Minded and realistic

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are still discussing and writing the script for India-China ties ahead, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, hailing Xi Jinping as “open-minded” and “realistic”, advised him:
India is a vast country with a huge population. Different parts of the country speak different languages, yet there is a sense of oneness among Indians. Democracy is practised strongly in the country and there is a free media. The Chinese president should learn these values from Indians.
The 79-year-old Buddhist monk, who has been living in exile since 1959, further added:
Actually the Tibetan problem (is) also (a) problem of India. Before 1950, you see the whole northern border, really peaceful, no single soldier. So India’s problem.
Author of several books on Tibet and Sino-Indian relations, Claude Arpi, in his article ‘Xi Jinping must engage Dalai Lama on Tibet’, opines:
India can’t contemplate with indifference what is happening in Tibet. If the Tibet issue is not solved to the satisfaction of all, it is doubtful if the India-China relations can one day be normal. One solution could be that a senior trusted member of Xi’s entourage meets the Dalai Lama and starts earnest negotiations for a genuine autonomy of the Roof of the World.
Earlier this month, the 14th Dalai Lama told a German newspaper that he should be the last Tibetan spiritual leader, ending a centuries-old religious tradition from his Himalayan homeland. In conversation with Niti Central, Claude Arpi explains why Dalai Lama doesn’t want a successor:
Panchen Lama is the highest ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama. China asserts it is Gyancain Norbu, while the 14th Dalai Lama asserted it was Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. So, there are two Panchen Lama in Tibet. Dalai Lama is worried that China might do the same with the spiritual post of Dalai Lama and use it for their political interest in Tibet. So Dalai Lama wants to abdicate this tradition and instead wants democracy for the people of Tibet. This is a wise decision and it might put Chinese Government in a difficult situation because China doesn’t believe in democracy.
While China sees Dalai Lama as a separatist seeking an independent Tibet, the Dalai Lama says he only seeks more autonomy for Tibet.

Here is the article Xi Jinping must engage Dalai Lama on Tibet

Beijing is not ready to recognise the basic historical fact that Tibet was independent before its so-called liberation.

President Xi Jinping of China will land on Wednesday in Ahmedabad, the first leg of his stay in India. Both India and China take the visit seriously. The Modi Sarkar did its homework by sending India’s National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval to Beijing.
Designated ‘Special Envoy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’, Doval briefly met the Chinese President who told him: “Our cooperation not only helps each other’s development but also benefits Asia and the world at large.”
A larger issue however remains unsolved between China and India — Tibet. Let us not forget that Tibet represents nearly 25 per cent of the land mass of the People’s Republic of China. For centuries, the Roof of the World has been a physical and political buffer between India and China.
It changed when Tibet was invaded (‘liberated’ according to Mao) in the Fall of 1950. India lost a good peaceful neighbour and thereafter has had to deal with an aggressive and ‘expansionist’ one — Communist China.
Over the years, Marxist dogmatism has slowly disappeared from the Middle Kingdom, though Beijing continues to be allergic to what it terms ‘Western values’, such as democracy or rule of law. But even in the new situation, Tibet remains a tangibly prickly issue between the two giant Asian nations.
It is visible when one looks at a map of the Himalayas: China still claims more than 80,000 square kilometres of Indian Territory in the North-East alone. Why this claim? Just because Beijing refuses to acknowledge the McMahon line which separates India and Tibet, and this, simply because the 1914 Agreement delineating the border was signed by the then Government of independent Tibet with India’s Foreign Secretary (Sir Henry McMahon). Beijing is not ready to recognise the basic historical fact that Tibet was independent before its so-called liberation.
Last month, a group of SAARC journalists, invited to Tibet, came back pleading Beijing’s cause. They argued that Beijing had started negotiating with the Dalai Lama for his future status. This was immediately denied by the Dalai Lama’s exiled administration, which clarified that the Tibetan leader was not interested to talk about his personal status, but was only preoccupied by the fate of 6 million of his countrymen.
Today, the situation in Tibet is very serious.
Wu Yingjie, the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s Deputy Secretary who received the Indian journalists in Lhasa, spent several months in Nagchu prefecture last year for a mass-line campaign, a scheme dear to Xi Jinping. ‘Mass-line’ means that senior cadres should spend months with the ‘masses’ and convince them of the greatness of the Party and its deep love for the masses.
Wu was however unable to convert the Tibetans.
Radio Free Asia (RFA), quoting a local source, recently reported:
“Chinese police have doubled the number of checkpoints on a road leading to Tibet’s restive Driru county—where residents have resisted forced displays of loyalty to Beijing for about a year—and are beating travelers who show annoyance at being stopped and searched.”
One of the measures put in place after Wu’s stay in Driru was an increase in the number of checkpoints (to 8) on the 270-km stretch between Driru town and Nagchu, the headquarters of prefecture.
RFA’s source said that this has slowed travel time and added to other hardships endured by local people:
“In the past, this distance could be covered in about four hours. Now it takes about seven hours to cover the same distance.”
So much for the mass-line!
At the same time, Orwellian ‘nets in the sky and traps on the ground’ have been set up in the TAR. All phone calls and Internet traffic are closely monitored.
Even more tragic, a few weeks ago, Chinese police opened fire to disperse hundreds of Tibetans protesting the detention of a respected village leader in Sichuan province, seriously wounding nearly a dozen people and killing five.
The New York Times reported:
“The accounts described a flaring of tensions in a mountainous area of Sichuan Province that has long been in turmoil over the Chinese government’s rule.”
On the ground, the Tibetan issue is far from settled.
With the presence in India of the Dalai Lama and more than one lakh of his followers, as well as the unresolved border dispute, Tibet reminds the major ‘unsettled’ bilateral issue. And this is not new.
At the time of the Colombo Conference in January 1950, Harishwar Dayal, the Political Officer in Sikkim responsible for Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan was asked by Nehru to give his opinion on the future relations between India and Tibet. His memorandum was in response to a note prepared by the Indian Ambassador in China, KM Panikkar’s (unfortunately for India, during the following years, a blind Nehru followed an even blinder Panikkar).
Panikkar stated:
i. China will invade Tibet. Invasion is not difficult. Tibet has no chance of successful resistance and will be overrun.
ii. We have no legal right to intervene.
iii. Political intervention would also be futile. To incite the Tibetans to resist would serve no useful purpose.
iv. The wisest course for us to take is to … be strictly neutral when the war comes and to resume diplomatic relations with China as soon as possible.
Harishwar Dayal did not agree with this position. The ICS officer explained the legal position:
“India has acted as if Tibet were a sovereign State to the extent of being capable of making treaties and entering into relations with other powers.”
He logically added:
“If, therefore, China is the unconditional suzerain of Tibet, then it follows that Tibet had no right to make treaties with India, at least without Chinese participation or consent and accordingly all our agreements with Tibet, including the Simla convention of 1914 which defined the boundary (the Mac Mahon line) are invalid.”
Dayal also explained that if there were no legal obligation on the part of India to defend Tibet, if Tibet was attacked, as there was no treaty of mutual defence, there is a moral angle to the issue.
Panikkar had also argued that India should cease to regard Tibet as a buffer State; to this, Dayal answered:
“A country is most secure when no other country can easily invade it. … But the advantages of insularity have been largely neutralized by the development of air power. The next most effective guarantee of safety is to have a belt of friendly small States between a country and its most powerful neighbours.”
His conclusion, written 10 months before the invasion of Tibet:
“The absorption of Tibet into Communist China is not, therefore, a matter which we can contemplate with indifference or even equanimity.”
Sixty-four years later, the situation remains the same. India can’t contemplate with indifference what is happening in Tibet. If the Tibet issue is not solved to the satisfaction of all, it is doubtful if the India-China relations can one day be normal.
One solution could be that a senior trusted member of Xi’s entourage meets the Dalai Lama and starts earnest negotiations for a genuine autonomy of the Roof of the World.
Can Narendra Modi suggest this approach to President Xi Jinping?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Was the local Chinese local Commander behind the Depsang incident?

Last year, when I wrote that the Depsang incident of April 2013 was perhaps due to the initiatives of some PLA's local commanders, I was told that "it can't be. the PLA's generals  are a disciplined lot and Chairman Xi is their Supreme Commander".
I later thought I might be wrong, if everybody thinks it is a foolish idea.
Yesterday, I was amused to read in The Business Standard that Shrikant Kondapalli, the JNU professor and expert on China affairs, expressed "his concern about the fresh Chinese incursion into Indian territory". He claimed that "this could be a message given by the Chinese troops to its President, Xi Jinping, that no fruitful discussion on the boundary issue be held with the Indian leadership during his official trip."
It clearly means that some very senior PLA generals were not happy about the thaw between India and China.
Kondapalli told ANI: "It is not clear exactly what is happening in the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) areas. If the reports about 5000 [500, not 5000, my comment] troops are correct then I think that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police Force are sending signal to the civilian leadership not to have any fruitful discussions on the border dispute while President Xi Jinping is speaking to Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi".
Kondapalli is also absolutely right when he says that the claim to Chumur was unheard of till a few years ago.
Chumur, located north of Himachal Pradesh, has never been historically  claimed by Tibet (and consequently, later by China). It is totally new claim with no historical basis.
Some other areas have been 'historically disputed' (these areas were discussed in detail, during the 5 months border talks in 1960), but Chumur is pure land grabbing by the People's Republic of China; 'expansionism' as Prime Minister Modi had put it during the legislative election campaign.
But, if my theory (and Kondapalli's) is true, it is a very serious issue as it means that Xi Jinping, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission does not fully control his generals.
Is the sacking of Ambassador Wei Wei linked to this issue?
It is too early to say.
The solution for the 'intrusions' has been enunciated by the Indian Prime Minister; he stated yesterday:
I raised our serious concern over repeated incidents along the border. We agreed that peace and tranquility in the border region constitutes an essential foundation for mutual trust and confidence and for realizing the full potential of our relationship. This is an important understanding, which should be strictly observed. While our border related agreements and confidence building measures have worked well, I also suggested that clarification of Line of Actual Control would greatly contribute to our efforts to maintain peace and tranquility and requested President Xi to resume the stalled process of clarifying the LAC. We should also seek an early settlement of the boundary question.
In military jargon: 'let us exchange these bloody maps of the LAC'.

My post of November 4, 2013 

In May, in an article in Rediff.com, I had suggested that some Chinese PLA generals posted in Lanzhou Military Area Command were possibly responsible for the Depsang Plain incident; the PLA had then planted their tents between the Chinese and Indian 'perceived' LACs, creating a lot of tensions between India and China.
Many thought that this was far-fetched.
The sacking of General Peng Yong, reported by Reuters (see article below), seems to confirm my theory.
But who is General Peng Yong?
According to his biography, Peng Yong is a Han, born in 1954 in Lulong County, Hebei Province. In 1970, he entered the Party's work force; a year later, he joined the CCP; later graduated from Shijiazhuang Army Academy Long-Distance Education Program with a Bachelor Degree in 1998. 
From 2004 to 2011, he was Group Army (Corps) Commander of 47th Group Army of PLA. 
From 2011 till recently, he commanded the Xinjiang Military Region. In November 2012, he was promoted as a member of the CCP's Central Committee. 
Let us remember that the Xinjiang Military Region of the Lanzhou Military Area looks after the Indian border in Ladakh as well as Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
General Peng Yong
Reuters says that he had been 'booted off' for the attack, presumably by Uygyur militants, on the Tiananmen Square.
Why should the PLA Xinjiang Commander (and Central Committee) be responsible for a problem of law and order (Tiananmen incident).
The PLA's job is the defence of China's borders and is concerned with external threats from abroad (in this case, India).
The internal threats are dealt with the People's Armed Police (PAP) and State
Security apparatus (Public Security Bureau or PSB).

If a head had to roll for the embarrassing (for Beijing) incident which happened in the heart of the Chinese capital, the Party Secretary (and Politburo member) Zhang Chunxian should have lost his job.
PAP and PSB should have also been sacked.
They did not. It means that Peng Yong was shown the door for other reasons, the Depsang incident is a strong probability.
Let us see what happens next.

Chinese Military Boss Booted Off Ruling Council Following Attack 
Jason Lee
BEIJING
Reuters
China's ruling Communist Party announced on Sunday the removal of the military chief of restive Xinjiang from the region's governing council, following a car crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square blamed on Islamist militants from Xinjiang.

The official Xinjiang Daily said in a brief front page report that Peng Yong had been sacked as a member of Xinjiang's Communist Party Standing Committee, and would be replaced by Liu Lei, an army veteran with more than a decade's experience in the region.
The newspaper gave no reason for the move, but the party frequently removes top officials following such incidents as it seeks to apportion blame. The incident was especially embarrassing for the stability-obsessed party given the billions of dollars it spends every year on domestic security, not only in Xinjiang but across the country, and that the crash happened in the heart of Beijing.
Peng was appointed commander of the Xinjiang military region in July 2011. It is likely that he will also be relieved of his military duties.
Real power in China lies with party bodies rather than government ones, as that is where the key decisions are made.
The government has blamed Islamist extremists plotting holy war after a vehicle police said was laden with gasoline ploughed into bystanders outside the front entrance of the Forbidden City, on the north of Tiananmen Square.
The three people in the car died, as did two tourists. More than 40 were injured. Police have also detained five suspected accomplices. Security has been stepped up in Beijing and Xinjiang following the incident. Beijing party chief Guo Jinlong has urged the police to improve their capacity to collect intelligence and take precautions against further attacks, the city government-run Beijing Daily said on Sunday. Guo urged police and security forces to "look for vulnerable links" and "learn the lessons" from the incident, the report said.
Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur minority, many of whom chafe at China's restrictions on their religion, culture and language, though the government says they are granted broad freedoms.
Xinjiang has been wracked by unrest in recent years, blamed by the government on the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement which Beijing believes was also responsible for last week's incident.
Rights groups, exiles and some experts say, though, that there is little evidence of a cohesive extremist movement operating in Xinjiang.
In 2009, some 200 people died in Xinjiang's regional capital Urumqi during riots which pitted Uighurs against the majority Han Chinese.

(Reporting By Dominique Patton and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A statement of Zhou Enlai: sixty-four years ago

After several days of extensive talks between the Prime Minister of India (Jawaharlal Nehru) and the Premier of the State Council of China (Zhou Enlai), the latter held a press conference on April 15, 1960 at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Before the beginning of the press conference, Zhou Enlai read the following statement.
Sixty four years later, very little seems to have changed in the Sino-Indian relations.
I presume that President Xi Jinping could read a very similar statement on Friday evening before leaving for Beijing.
The scoop of the present visit of Presidnet Xi Jinping is the sudden transfer of the Chinese Ambassador to India (Mr. Wei Wei). A day before the arrival of his supreme boss, he has been replaced by Le Yucheng, earlier posted as Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Le Yucheng also served as Director-General of the Policy Planning Department for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Minister to the Embassy of PRC in the Russian Federation, and Counselor to Permanent Mission of the PRC to the United Nations.
To change an ambassador the day before a Head of a State arrives in a country, is really a first in diplomatic annals.

What is behind this sudden move?

Premier Chou En-lai’s written statement

At the invitation of Prime Minister Nehru, I have paid a friendly visit in India from April 19 to 25, 1960. I am pleased to have this opportunity to visit once again the great Republic of India and extend greetings to the great Indian people. During the visit, we have been accorded a cordial welcome and hospitality by the Indian Government and Prime Minister Nehru. For this, Vice-Premier Chen Yi and I, as well as my other colleagues, wish to express our hearty thanks.
The Chinese and Indian peoples are two great nations of Asia. From the remote past, there have always existed between the two peoples mutual friendship and mutual sympathy, but never mutual antagonism or aggression against each other. Since our two countries successively achieved independence, particularly since we jointly initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the profound friendship between the two peoples has undergone further development on a new basis. There is no basic conflict of interests between our two countries. Our two countries have every reason to remain friendly to each other for thousands and tens of thousands of years to come. During the past one year or two, although disputes have arisen between the two countries on the boundary question left over by history, our two peoples have nonetheless consistently cherished the desire to be friendly to each other. We are convinced that it is entirely possible to achieve, through peaceful consultations, a fair and reasonable settlement of the boundary question between the two countries. It is precisely with this conviction that we have come here.
During the visit, Prime Minister Nehru and I have held many long discussions on matters of common interest, particularly the Sino-Indian boundary question. Our two sides expounded our respective stands and viewpoints on the boundary question as well as our respective propositions for a settlement of this question. I am of the opinion that such discussions are conducive to the enhancing of mutual understanding. Vice-Premier Chen Yi, Vice-Minister Chang Han-fu and. I have also met and held frank discussions separately with a number of cabinet ministers of the Indian Government. After seven days of talks, although, unlike what we expected, no agreement has been reached for the settlement of the boundary question, the two sides have unanimously agreed that the officers of the two sides should meet and examine, check and study the factual material relevant to the boundary question and submit report to the Governments of the two countries. Both sides have also agreed that while the officials of the two countries are holding meetings, all efforts should be made to avoid friction and clashes in the border areas. These agreements have been set forth in the Joint Communique of the two Prime Ministers. We hold that these agreements have a bearing on the maintenance of tranquility on the border and on the continued search for avenues to a reasonable settlement of the boundary question.
Through a frank exchange of views between us two Prime Ministers, I have found that the two sides not only share the common desire to maintain friendly relations between the two countries, but that, on the boundary question, too, it is not impossible for the two sides to find common points or points of proximity, which, in my view, can be broadly summarized into the following six points:
  1. There exist disputes with regard to the boundary between the two sides,
  2. There exists between the two countries a line of actual control up to which each side exercises administrative jurisdiction.
  3. In determining the boundary between the two countries, certain geographical principles, such as watersheds, river valleys and mountain passes, should be equally applicable to all sectors of the boundary.
  4. A settlement of the boundary question between the two countries should take into account the national feelings of the two peoples towards the Himalayas and the Karakoram Mountains.
  5. Pending a settlement of the boundary question between the two countries through discussions, both sides should keep to the line of actual control and should not put forward territorial claims as pre-conditions, but individual adjustments may be made.
  6. In order to ensure tranquility on the border so as to facilitate the discussions, both sides should continue to refrain from patrolling along all sectors of the boundary.
Yhere is now still a certain distance between us and the Indian Government with regard to the above six points.
However, I am of the opinion that as long as both sides continue consultations, it will not be difficult to narrow down and eliminate this distance. Once these common points are found, the two sides undoubtedly will have taken a big stride forward towards the reasonable settlement of the Sino-Indian boundary question.
The Chinese Government has consistently maintained that since the Sino-Indian boundary has never been formally delimited, both the Chinese and Indian sides should seek a reasonable settlement of the boundary question between the two countries through peaceful and friendly consultations, taking into consideration the historical background and the present actualities, acting on the Five Principles jointly initiated by the two countries and adopting an attitude of mutual understanding and mutual accommodation. Pending this, both sides should maintain the present state of the boundary and not change it by unilateral action, let alone by force. Regarding some of the disputes, provisional agreements can be reached through negotiations. The Chinese Government holds that Sino-Indian friendship is of extremely great significance both to the 1,000 million people of the two countries and to Asian and world peace. This friendship should not be, nor can it be jeopardized because of the temporary lack of a settlement of the Sino-Indian boundary question.
Tomorrow, we shall bid farewell to the state leaders of India and the great Indian People. On the eve of departure, I would like to state once again that the Chinese Government has unshakable confidence in a settlement of the Sino-Indian boundary question and the strengthening of the friendship between the two countries, and that it will exert unremitting efforts to this end.
In order to provide the Prime Ministers of the two countries with another opportunity for talks, in order to promote friendly relations between the two countries and reciprocate Prime Minister Nehru's kind hospitality, have invited Prime Minister Nehru to visit China at a time convenient to him.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A New Airport In Lhasa ...and one in Amdo

Haixi Huatugou Airport in Amdo (Qinghai)
On August 30, I quoted Xinhua, announcing that Sichuan Province will soon have its fourth high-altitude airfield, “which local officials hope will boost tourism in the heavily Tibetan-populated region.”
The new Hongyuan Airport is located in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture at an altitude of 3,535 meters. The Prefecture is situated in northwestern Sichuan, at the border of Gansu and Qinghai provinces.
Less than two weeks later, Xinhua now reports that Qinghai Province 'located on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau' will be home to another airport.
The Huatugou aviation airport, presently under-construction, is being built in the Mongolian-Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Haixi.
The Qinghai Airport Company said the airport will cover an area of 180 hectares and it will cost 114 million U.S. dollars.
It is a big investment for a Prefecture which, according the 2010 census, has 489,338 inhabitants only.
The airport will have a 3,600 meters runway and a terminal covering an area of some 3,000 square meters, which is relatively small.
The airport is expected to be completed within a year.
Why an airport in this area?
Xinhua gives one of rationales: "the airport is located in China's major production base for petroleum and potash fertilizer. It is expected to support local development."
Probably, the ‘local development’ with Chinese characteristics, in other words, 'Chinese economy at large'!
In 2011, a Chinese article gave a hint of the Chinese intentions: "The region is an important base for the production of crude oil; the surrounding is rich in oil, asbestos, potash and other scarce resources. The asbestos reserves rank first in the country; reserves of petroleum prospects are estimated at 1.1 billion tons. Though Qinghai is an important base for the production of crude oil, due to the remoteness, the limited transport conditions, the growth of the local economic and social development is restricted."
With connections to Xining, Delinkha, Golmud, Dunhuang, Gansu and Xinjiang, the new airport is expected to have an annual turn-over of 90,000 passengers and 100 tons of goods by 2020.
One understands better why it is a worthwhile investment.
Hongyuan Airport under construction

Further, the new airport is located close to the Xining-Golmund-Lhasa railway line and the China National Highway 315 (G315) which runs from Xining, the capital of Qinghai to Kashgar in Xinjiang. The 3,063 kilometres long highway passed in Delinkha. The new infrastructure will be used to link the restive province of Xinjiang with the Tibetan plateau. It can be useful in case of ‘disturbances’.
But there is more.
In 2010, I mentioned on this blog that DF-21C missiles were deployed in the same area. After The Times of India had ‘broken the news’ that Chinese missiles were deployed near the Indian border, Hans M. Kristensen of the FAS Strategic Security Blog had clarified: “The latest Pentagon report on Chinese military forces recently triggered sensational headlines in the Indian news media that China had deployed new nuclear missiles close to the Indian border. The news reports got it wrong, but new commercial satellite images reveal that launch units for the new DF-21C missile have deployed to central-western China.”
The area mentioned by the US report is not far from the new Hongyuan ‘civil’ airport.
In the meantime, in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, the authorities are actively planning to open a second airport for Lhasa.
On September 7, it was reported that the Lhasa Party’s Secretary Qizha La (or Choedrak in Tibetan) went for an inspection tour on the site of the new airport.
The Tibet Daily said that preliminary planning and design work were carried out. Choedrak asked the people to fully understand the practical significance of the construction of this new airport.
The Township of Lhasa attaches “great importance to further strengthening the organization by building a first-class international airport,” he said.
The objective of his visit was to accelerate the planning, design and other preparatory work for the project which should be implemented as soon as possible, according to the mouthpiece of the Party.

Choedrak, mayor of Lhasa on the site
Choedrak gave the usual speech: “the construction of the new airport in Lhasa will promote leapfrog development and long-term stability; it will strengthen national defense modernization; and will give full play to the role of Lhasa, the capital city [of Tibet]”.
It will also accelerate the overall well-being of the society: “All relevant departments should fully understand the important practical significance and far-reaching historical significance of the construction of a new airport in Lhasa; they should unify their thinking, attention, and effectively do all the pre-planning study for the new airport.”
On the long-term, the authorities want to "build a first-class international airport". For the purpose, “it is necessary to scientifically research, to keep high standards in the construction for this first-class airport in Tibet”, said Choedrak, a Tibetan cadre who added that builders should focus on all aspects of the construction of the new airport, i.e. water, electricity, road networks and other works in order to promote economic and social development.
Though Choedrak used the usual Communist jargon, the fact remains that Lhasa will have soon a second ‘first-class international’.
What does it mean for the Tibetan culture?
Probably something like the Reservations in the West of the United States!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tibet had a Dream too

54th Mechanized Brigade near Lhasa
President Xi Jinping's China seems to be doing efforts at transparency.
Of course, this remains relative, though last week, Xinhua reported that the foreign military attaches based in Beijing, had been invited for a group visit to Tibet: "China's Ministry of National Defense has invited foreign military attache couples for a tour of Tibet."
As you can see, spouses are also in the party.
The official news agency says: "A total of 96 military attaches and their spouses from 46 countries are taking the trip and will visit the cities of Xining, Lhasa and Chongqing. The visitors will be briefed about military construction in Tibet and shown around a military brigade with the Tibet Military command and the Logistical Engineering University of the PLA."
Further, according to the Chinese ministry, the attaches will visit a Tibetan pharmaceutical factory, the homes of Tibetans and local scenic spots.
The objective of the arranged tour was "to enhance the attaches' knowledge and understanding of the lives of the people of Tibet and promote cooperation between Chinese and foreign militaries."
Around the same time, a Joint Tactical Battlegroup drill was organized somewhere on the Tibetan Plateau (in Tibet Military District of Chengdu Military Area Command) with the participation of the 2nd armor battalion of the 54th Mechanized Brigade.
Some 20 tanks and dozens of Armored Fighting Vehicles took part in the maneuvers 'against fixed fortifications'.
The Military Attaches will certainly not be invited to watch these exercises.

While President Xi promotes his Dream of a rejuvenated China, Tibet too had a Dream. 
On September 21, 1987, the Dalai Lama proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan.
This peace plan contains five parts:
  1. Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace;
  2. Abandonment of China's population transfer policy which threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a people;
  3. Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms;
  4. Restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste;
  5. Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. 
Twenty seven years later, this is still a Dream, a far-away Dream.
At that time the Dalai Lama explained:
I propose that the whole of Tibet, including the eastern provinces of Kham and Amdo, be transformed into a zone of 'Ahimsa', a Hindi term used to mean a state of peace and non-violence.
The establishment of such a peace zone would be in keeping with Tibet's historical role as a peaceful and neutral Buddhist nation and buffer state separating the continent's great powers.  It would also be in keeping with Nepal's proposal to proclaim Nepal a peace zone and with China's declared support for such a proclamation.  The peace zone proposed by Nepal would have a much greater impact if it were to include Tibet and neighbouring areas.
The establishment of a peace zone in Tibet would require withdrawal of Chinese troops and military installations from the country, which would enable India also to withdraw troops and military installations from the Himalayan regions bordering Tibet.  This would be achieved under an international agreement which would satisfy China's legitimate security needs and build trust among the Tibetan, Indian, Chinese and other peoples of the region. 
This is in everyone's best interest, particularly that of China and India, as it would enhance their security, while reducing the economic burden of maintaining high troop concentrations on the disputed Himalayan border.
Historically, relations between China and India were never strained.  It was only when Chinese armies marched into Tibet, creating for the first time a common border, that tensions arose between these two powers, ultimately leading to the 1962 war.  Since then numerous dangerous incidents have continued to occur.  A restoration of good relations between the world's two most populous countries would be greatly facilitated if they were separated - as they were throughout history - by a large and friendly buffer region.
To improve relations between the Tibetan people and the Chinese, the first requirement is the creation of trust.  After the holocaust of the last decades in which over one million Tibetans - one sixth of the population - lost their lives and at least as many lingered in prison camps because of their religious beliefs and love of freedom, only a withdrawal of Chinese troops could start a genuine process of reconcilitation.  The vast occupation force in Tibet is a daily reminder to the Tibetans of the oppression and suffering they have all experienced.  A troop withdrawal would be an essential signal that in future a meaningful relationship might be established with the Chinese, based on friendship and trust.  
Like Xi Jinping like to tell the World of the Chinese Dream, but the World should not forget that Tibet too has a Dream.
 
Pictures of the military exercises on the plateau:
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Confusing our frenemy with a genuine friend

The top Communist leadership in Tibet visited India in July 2006
to 'inaugurate' the Nathu-la border post
Beijing is again betting on Nathu-la
My article Confusing our frenemy with a genuine friend appeared on Thursday in the Edit page of The Pioneer.


Here is the link...

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plans to open the Nathu la route for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is hardly a goodwill gesture. It offers few benefits to Indian pilgrims and only furthers Beijing’s expansionist plans

New Delhi is getting ready to receive Chinese President Xi Jinping on his maiden trip to India. It will, no doubt, be a significant visit, especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi journeyed to Japan and met with old friend Shinzo Abe. Many looked at the Tokyo trip as a preparation for the Chinese President’s Delhi visit. The Global Times even threatened that India was getting close to Japan “at its own peril”. But ultimately, both India and China, keeping their own interests in mind, will probably find a consensus on economic and other issues, while some confidence building measures may be taken by the two neighbours.
The Press Trust of India has already reported about a ‘political gesture’ from Beijing. It said that the Chinese President may announce the opening of a new route, via Nathu la in Sikkim, for Indian pilgrims to go on the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. The question is: Will this be a boon or a bane for India? According to PTI, the proposal has been under serious consideration in Beijing since Mr Modi, during his first meeting with President Xi in Brazil in July, asked Beijing to propose an alternative to the Lipulekh pass (in Pittoragarh district of Uttarakhand) for the yatra. Either Demchok in Ladakh or Shipki-la in Himachal Pradesh was expected to be the new port. It made sense in terms of access and comfort.
The present Ministry of External Affairs’ yatra through the Lipulekh-Purang route, also one of the traditional trade routes to Tibet, is often damaged by floods and subsequently the pilgrimage has to be canceled. Depending on the weather, every year the scheme accommodates a maximum of 1,000 pilgrims in 18 batches (selected through a lottery system); the pilgrimage involves a 22-day arduous journey. It appears that the Chinese have now decided to open Nathu la border point in Sikkim. PTI says: “The new route, though longer, takes pilgrims from Nathu La to Shigatse… [and] from there the pilgrims could comfortably travel to Mansarovar and Kailash using well laid out highway.”
It is obviously Beijing’s rationale, not New Delhi’s interest, though PTI adds: “It would be part of the big gesture of friendship not only to strike chord with Mr Modi but also the people at large, specially the Hindus and Buddhists considering its religious importance.” But is it a gesture of friendship or a decision driven by self-interest?
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that lodging and boarding facilities for pilgrims have been improved with new hotels and additional beds with additional investments; Beijing further asserts: “Indians pilgrimage to Tibet is an important content of bilateral relations.” There is no doubt that China is interested in Sikkim (and Nathu-la), though despite the great hopes generated in 2006, when Nathu la was opened to petty trade between Yatung and Gangtok, business has been stagnating (partly due to the restricted list of items allowed to be traded).
More recently, on the occasion of the opening of the new railway sector Lhasa-Shigatse, Mr Yang Yulin, deputy director of Tibet’s railway office, announced that during the 13th Five Year Plan (2016 to 2020), the construction of a railway connecting Shigatse with Kyirong in northern Nepal and with Yatung, in the Chumbi Valley (near Nathu la) will start. Kyirong is obviously the logical extension of the line as China has extensively invested in this landport to make it the main link between Tibet and Kathmandu, (and economically invade Nepal). But why Yatung, near the Nathu la pass? Has Beijing consulted New Delhi on this or is it a unilateral decision? China is now going a step further. It is ready to let the yatris use Nathu la, as a second port of entry into Tibet.
A few months ago, Mr Wang Chunhuan, a professor at the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences in Lhasa told The Global Times that the railway network in Tibet will play the role of a continental bridge in South Asia and promote economic and cultural exchanges with the subcontinent. For China, the Yatung-Nathu la-Gangtok route could become a trade gate to South Asia. But why should pilgrims take this extremely long route to visit the holy sites of western Tibet? One has just to look at a map to see it does not make much sense.
But there is more to the new railway development; the train has indeed another purpose. Beijing hopes that it will boost President Xi’s pet project, the New Silk Road, which he is bound to bring on the table with Mr Modi.
In September 2013 already, during a visit to Kazakhstan, the Chinese President spoke of the New Silk Road. A month later, during the Association of South East Asian Nations meet, he added a 21st century Maritime Silk Road plan. For Beijing, there are various ideological and economic reasons for re-opening these terrestrial and maritime routes. According to Xinhua, President Xi’s proposal of ‘one belt and one road’ brought “a new connotation for the old Silk Road, and new vibrancy for the cooperation among pan-Asia, Asia and Europe.” Beijing believes that the new strategy will help reproduce the spirit of the old route while promoting economic cooperation, cultural exchanges and friendly relationships. It may not be fully true, though it will certainly boost China’s energy prospects in Central Asia.
In New Delhi, Mr Xi is bound to play on India’s cultural fibre: Ages ago, Buddhism transited through this route. But while Beijing speaks of a link between the New Silk Road and South Asia, the Chinese leadership has systematically refused to re-open the old Tibet trade routes, such as Demchok in Ladakh, Kibithoo and Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh and the Mana pass in Uttarakhand. During Mr Modi’s recent visit to Jammu & Kashmir, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council presented a memorandum to him, requesting the re-opening of the Demchok road as an alternative route to the Kailash  Mansarovar: “Demchok in Ladakh provides the easiest and the safest access to Kailash Mansarovar. From here, pilgrims can approach the holy mountain and the sacred lake in two days. This would also give the much needed fillip to the local economy.”
But it appears that Beijing has once again vetoed the project. Why then try to entice India into a New Silk Road project, when all the passes to Tibet and Xinjiang (the main traditional pass was the Karakoram pass, near the disputed Depsang plains) remain closed?
The logical step should be to progressively re-open the Himalayan passes to trade and human exchanges (and, why not to tourism?). Once the Himalayan belt has recovered its vitality, India may think of participating in projects such as the New Silk Road. For the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, opening Shipki-la (already opened for petty trade) or Demchok will be a much shorter route and the pilgrims will travel in far greater comfort.