Tuesday, May 26, 2015

1960: The views of the two Governments remain as far apart as before

Nehru, Zhou Enlai, Chen Yi, Swaran Singh (April 1960)
During the annual K.F. Rustamji lecture, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, (who is also Special Representative for the border talks with China), affirmed that while India's relations with China ‘were looking up’, but there was a need to remain at a ‘very very high alert’.
Speaking on 'Challenges of Securing India’s Borders: Strategising the Response’, Doval admitted: "We might have to see China border in a different way once the boundary is settled.”
According to PTI, he explained: “We have got a very long border, we have got 3,488-km [?] long border, a very difficult and mountainous terrain snow-clad... now for the bilateral relations with China, border is the critical and vital issue.”
After he affirmed that ‘advancement made in the relationship with China are centred around the settlement of the border’, he touched upon Arunachal Pradesh: “We are particularly concerned about the Eastern sector where the claims have been made on Tawang (in Arunachal Pradesh) which is totally in contravention of accepted principles."
Doval refers here to ‘Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question’ signed on April 11, 2005.
Article VI says: “The boundary should be along well-defined and easily identifiable natural geographical features to be mutually agreed upon between the two sides.”
And even more importantly, Article VII speaks of the ‘settled population’: “In reaching a boundary settlement, the two sides shall safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas.”
Doval rightly said: “The fact is there is settled population in these areas particularly in Tawang and other areas which have been participating in the national mainstream all through.”
Apparently, Beijing has forgotten about the 2005 Guidelines!
It is a serious issue, because if an agreement is reached after a lot of efforts and time and soon after, Beijing become affected by Alzheimer disease, it is a problem.
Doval mentioned another point: he was surprised that while McMahon line was agreed till Burma by China (in 1960), the same principle was not accepted in the case of India.
He concluded: “So, these are the ticklish issues. But these ticklish issues have to be talked about, deliberated and worked out …there was a need for working out a larger plan for tackling China.”
He also admitted that the Special Representative talks between India and China on the boundary issue had not made any headway so far: “There have been a series of Special Representative level talks, about 17 rounds and they haven't reached anywhere. But it is also true that for last 30 years we have not exchanged a single bullet. But, it is also true that the number of intrusions have gone up and down. Fortunately, in the last one year the intrusions have become much less and some of the intrusions which have been made were controlled."
Beijing was quick to react.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying declared:  “The Chinese side holds a consistent and clear position on the eastern section of the China-India boundary: Aunachal Pradesh is a part of Southern Tibet.”
She explained: “The Chinese government does not recognise the McMahon Line, which is illegal,” adding: “The Chinese side is ready to work with the Indian side to resolve the boundary question through friendly consultation at an early date and create more favourable conditions for the development of the bilateral relations."
Hua did not mentioned directly the McMahon Line and Burma, she just said: “it is not easy to resolve the China-India boundary question, as it is an issue left over from history. …During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to China, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question by pressing ahead with the process of the special representatives' meeting."
Minus the 2005 Guidelines!!!
It is interesting to look at China’s position 55 years ago, when Premier Zhou Enlai came to India with a large delegation to try to resolve the dispute.
As Subimal Dutt, the then Foreign Secretary wrote to the Indian Missions abroad: “The views of the two Governments remain as far apart as before.”
That was in April 1960.
The Foreign Secretary’s note makes interesting reading.
Nothing has changed 55 years later.
Will it change one day?
Subimal Dutt to Heads of Missions
Premier Chou En-lai and his party left Delhi 26th morning. The Premier had seven long talks with the Prime Minister. He and Foreign Minister Chen Yi had also separate talks with Vice-President and several senior Ministers. The views of the two Governments remain as far apart as before.

The Chinese took the following stand.

(1) The Sino-Indian boundary is not delimited and has to be settled by discussion between the two Governments.

(2) The Chinese will never accept the McMahon Line as a valid boundary. The NEFA area was traditionally part of Tibet and in many parts the Tibetans had been exercising jurisdiction. Indian control has extended there during the last 20 or 30 years. The Chinese however recognise that the area is now under full Indian control. This area has always been disputed between China and India.

(3) The Ladakh area has been historically and traditionally part of Sinkiang in China and western Tibet, and has never been disputed until India tried to extend her control during the last one or two years. The dispute in this area has therefore arisen because of attempted penetration by India. Chinese have always been in control of this area which has been shown as part of China in Chinese maps.

(4) Neither side should make a territorial claim as a precondition. China is not making any such claim to the NEFA and undertakes not to cross the line upto which Indian control has extended. Similarly, India should recognise that Chinese control extends upto the line shown in the Chinese maps and should not try to cross that line. The position in Ladakh and NEFA is exactly similar in that there is a line upto which Indian control extends in NEFA and there is a line upto which Chinese control extends in Ladakh. The Indian claim to Ladakh must be treated in exactly the same basis as the Chinese claim to the NEFA.

(5) A joint committee of officials should meet, examine the material in the possession of both sides and make recommendations for border adjustments.

2. We have disagreed with the Chinese stand on every single point. In regard to point (2) we have reiterated that the NEFA area south of the McMahon Line has always been part of India by custom, tradition and exercise of jurisdiction and there is no similarity between the Indian stand in respect of NEFA and the supposed Chinese stand in respect of Ladakh. We have also made it quite clear that officials cannot be entrusted with the task of making proposals involving the sovereignty of a country.
Top Secret
3. It is quite obvious that the Chinese aim is to make us accept their claim in Ladakh as a price for their recognition of our position in NEFA. Throughout the discussions they have invariably connected Ladakh with NEFA and stressed that the same principles of settling the boundary must govern both these areas. It was also obvious that if we accepted the line claimed by China in Ladakh they would accept the McMahon Line. There might be need for minor frontier rectifications, but that would not create much practical difficulty.

4. The only substantive agreement in the joint communique is that officers of both sides should examine the maps, documents etc. in each other's possession and send a joint report to the two Governments listing the points on which they agree and the points on which they either disagree or which, in their view, need further clarification. It is not known whether the Chinese will implement this agreement sincerely. Whatever be it, it leaves the way open for further consideration of the border problem by the two Prime Ministers. It would however be entirely incorrect to give the impression, that each side appreciates the other's point of view better or that prospect of reasonable settlement is even remotely in sight. The Chinese might try to give that impression to the world.

5. You should use the information contained in this telegram discreetly for rebutting any misleading Chinese propaganda and to give a correct appraisal of the Delhi talks. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

The PLA Digest - April 2015

U.S. Speculation on China’s ASAT Missile Exposed U.S. Combat System's Fatal Flaw
Source: People’s Daily
Date: March, 27, 2015
The People’s Daily reported a CCTV interview of Chinese military experts who commented on U.S. officials’ public statements on China’s anti-satellite missiles. The report said, “On March 25, U.S. media stated that there are two Chinese anti-satellite missiles that can hit satellites that are in high orbits. Cecil Haney, the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, said that, in future conflicts, the United States needs to be prepared for satellite attacks. The U.S. media also pointed out that with 12 Chinese anti-satellite missiles, there could be a severe limit to the U.S. military's long-range operations, such as its defense of Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.”
“Military expert Du Wenlong responded, during an interview with CCTV, that the U.S. amplifies the China threat, in order to find excuses to finance more funds to develop its strategic advantage in space. At the same time, the U.S.' remarks also exposed a fatal flaw in the American combat system. If the U.S. military reconnaissance and early warning system fails completely, its combat capabilities may return to the ‘Stone Age'."

China orders military to keep barracks simple, guard against excess
Source: South China Morning Post
Date: March, 31, 2015
China ordered its military to build barracks as simply and economically as possible and avoid using ostentatious or imported building materials, as part of a broader crackdown on graft and excess.
China’s armed forces, the world’s largest, have become a focus of President Xi Jinping’s campaign to root out deeply-ingrained graft including bribery, which often takes the form of lavish gifts to officials or extravagant spending of government funds.
The guidelines on construction were in line with demands for the military to be thrifty and 'guard against luxury', the Defence Ministry said in an update to building rules carried on its website.
Colours used should be sober, plain and uniform, and new barracks must be well-connected to the Internet and be energy efficient, it said.
“Materials used should be economical, last a long time, look good and be useable,” the ministry said. “High-end materials and luxurious construction is banned; put priority on using Chinese products, and high-end products from abroad are banned.”
The anti-graft drive in the military comes as Xi steps up efforts to modernise forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and
South China Seas, though China has not fought a war in decades.

Day-night drill conducted in Xinjiang
Source: Xinhua
Date: March 31, 2015
Photo taken on March 30, 2015 shows helicopters formation flying at night during a drill in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. An army aviation brigade under the Xinjiang Military area command of the Chinese PLA conducted a day-night drill under actual combat condition.

PLA Air Force conducts first training stint in West Pacific
Source: Global Times
Date: March 31, 2015
The PLAF conducted its first military training above the West Pacific Ocean.
"The training was held to promote the air force's combat capability," Shen Jinke, spokesman of the PLA Air Force, said in South China's Guangzhou Province.
Warplanes flew to the West Pacific on Monday for training through the Bashi Channel, an international waterway linking the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and returned the same day after completing the training and achieved their goal, according to Shen.
Shen added that the military training is part of the annual plan for the PLA Air Force and also a requirement of China's national defense development.

US ‘targeting China’ in seeking more active role for Japanese navy in Pacific
Source: South China Morning Post
Date April 2, 2015
The United States is hoping that Japan can quickly free up its navy to play a more active role in the Pacific, an appeal echoing its recent efforts to encourage the navies of Southeast Asian countries to unite and patrol the disputed South China Sea, where China has increasingly flexed its military muscle.
Vice-Admiral Robert Thomas, commander of the US Seventh Fleet, said that he expected revisions headed for approval in Japan's parliament would make it easier for the Japanese and US navies to cooperate more smoothly in the Indian and Pacific oceans and in "multilateral exercises across the region".
Japan, America's closest ally in Asia, has already shifted its defence priorities from its northern reaches near Russia to the East China Sea, where Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a dispute over a chain of uninhabited islands.
Analysts said China's military expansion in recent years, especially around sensitive waters in the South and East China seas, had not only unnerved Japan, but also the US, as was evident in a series of patrols and joint drills in those areas to warn Beijing against any military action.

China, France agree on boosting naval cooperation Source: China Military Online
Date: April 3, 2015
Senior Chinese and French military officials have reached a consensus in Beijing on enhancing cooperation in exchange of ship visits, joint drilling and countering terrorism at sea.
Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of general staff of the Chinese PLA, met with Admiral Bernard Rogel, chief of staff of the French Navy, in Beijing on April 3, 2015.
Gen. Fang made positive comments on the smooth development of the Sino-French military relations, saying that along with the healthy development of the bilateral ties, the relations between the Chinese and French militaries have showed the good momentum of development, especially the two navies have carried out communications of multi-professions in various forms by taking the opportunity of exchange of ship visits.
China is willing to strengthen cooperation with France in the fields of exchange of port calls by naval ships, joint drilling and training and anti-piracy actions, Gen. Fang said.
Admiral Bernard Rogel said the rapid development of Chinese Navy's armaments and the excellent personnel quality left a deep impression on him during his visit to China.

Pakistan likely to buy China’s Z10 helicopters
Source: The Nation (Pakistan)
Date: January 03, 2015
Pakistan’s closest friend China is expected to give another gift this year, in shape of their famous helicopter Z10. According to reports, three Z10 helicopters are expected to be included in Pakistan Army aviation fleet, which will be helpful in cleaning the terrorism in the county.
Pakistan showed interest in purchasing Z10 helicopters, sources said. The helicopter is capable of targeting the enemy with a range of 3 to 4 kilometers without coming in reader. It is also capable of targeting in the air as well as on ground from air.
With the induction of Z10, Pakistan Army’s capability of targeting the terrorists will increase. Pakistan is already using the helicopters effectively in the war against terrorism.

PLA's J-11 fighters carrying missiles in drill
Source: People's Daily Online
Date: April 02, 2015
In this photo taken on March 29, 2015, J-11 fighter jets carrying missiles join an actual combat drill conducted by a division under the Air Force of the Chengdu Military Area Command (MAC) of the Chinese PLA.

China, Pakistan to Sign Largest Military Contract: Reports
Source: CRI Online
Date: April 03, 2015
It's been reported that the Pakistan government has approved a deal concerning the purchase of 8 submarines worth around 5 billion US dollars from China, Financial Times reported.
It will be the largest military trade contract between the two countries and also China's largest arms exporting deal if successfully implemented.
These submarines will fill in a strategic gap for the Pakistan military, according to a former Pakistan high-profile navy commander.

Soldiers patrol the border line in snow
Source: People's Daily Online
Date: April 03, 2015
Soldiers patrol the China-Kazakhstan border line below the Tarbagatai Mountains, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, on April 1, 2015.
Heavy snow hit northern part of Xinjiang recently; soldiers braved the cold of minus 10 degrees Celsius in guarding the security of the border line.

PLA wants Party organs to help improve combat training
Source: Xinhua
Date:  April 03, 2015
The PLA asked Party departments to play a bigger role in improving combat capacity, a document published by the PLA General Political Department said.
CPC organs attached to the PLA have various missions ranging from ideological education, human resource management to discipline work.
They should work to 'forge the soul' of the armed forces and train "a new generation of servicemen with soul, skill, personality and integrity", said the document which was reported on Friday's edition of PLA Daily.
The promotion and assessment of officers and soldiers should also reflect that priority so that servicemen will be encouraged to improve their own skills and capable ones will be promoted, it said.

Navy to get 3 new nuclear subs
Source: China Daily
Date: April 3, 2015
Three cutting-edge nuclear-powered attack submarines have been manufactured and will soon be commissioned by the Chinese navy, according to media reports.
China Central Television showed a satellite picture earlier this week of three submarines anchored at an unidentified port, saying the vessels are China's most advanced Type-093G nuclear-powered attack submarines, just completed by a Chinese shipyard and a waiting delivery.
With a teardrop hull, the submarine is longer than its predecessor, the Type-093, and has a vertical launching system, the report said.
Another article carried by the PLA navy's website said the Type-093G's wing-shaped cross-section is designed to improve speed and mobility as well as reduce noise, and that the vertical launcher is capable of delivering the country's latest YJ-18 supersonic anti-ship missile.

PLA chief of general staff meets with Myanmar military delegation
Source: China Military Online
Date: April 3, 2015
General Fang Fenghui, chief of general staff of the Chinese PLA met with Lt-Gen. Aung Than Htut, chief of the Second Bureau of Special Operation (BSO2) of Myanmar Army, in Beijing on April 2, 2015. Aung Than Htut came to China together with Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, who is paying a visit to China as Myanmar President U Thein Sein's special envoy.
Appointed by Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar Defense Services Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing, Aung Than Htut is making a special trip to China to apologize to the Chinese military over a Myanmar warplane bombing that killed five Chinese in China's Yunnan Province on March 13.
Aung Than Htut will also hold consultations with the Chinese military on the disposal of following related issues of the bombing incident.
Fang Fenghui spoke highly of Aung Than Htut 's China visit by saying that it indicates that Myanmar side attaches importance to the bilateral state and military relations between the two countries and it also shows the sincerity of the Myanmar side to deal with the incident in a proper way.

Four more PLA weapons to worry the US Navy: report
Source: Want China Times
Date: April 7, 2015
The website of the US-based National Interest magazine published an article on April 4 laying out four more Chinese weapons that the US Navy should be concerned about, following a previous piece published in March detailing three weapons.
The three weapons listed in March were the DF-21D "carrier killer" anti-ship missile, combined missile strikes and sea mines.
The first weapon mentioned in the April piece, penned by freelance defense-aerospace reporter and consultant Dave Majumdar, was the J-20 fighter. The fighter, developed in Chengdu, is China's first attempt at building a fifth generation stealth fighter and could challenge US control over Pacific airspace, the article said. Although many details about this new fighter are unclear, the little that has been revealed so far may concern the US Navy, the piece stated.
Here are the 4 Chinese weapons
•    J-20 Stealth Fighter
•    YJ-12 Anti-ship Cruise Missile
•    HQ-9 Anti-aircraft Missile
•    Type 039A Diesel-electric Submarine

WeChat group chats of PLA soldiers and spouses infiltrated
Source: Want China Times
Date: April 7, 2015
The WeChat group chats used by Chinese soldiers and their wives have become the targets of spies seeking information on the PLA's operation and locations, reports Duowei News, a news outlet operated by overseas Chinese.
The group chats were created as a means for soldiers and their spouses to exchange information. Posts in the chat are usually about trivial things such as "I heard the army is going to XX for an exercise. The weather usually turns cold at this time of the year so I will pack some sweaters and thick pants for my husbands" and "It is about half a month before the peacekeeping team leaves. Have you packed for your husbands? Show us what you packed."
The posts however inadvertently reveal information regarding the military's conditions and times and locations of exercises.

China's peacekeeping troops leaves for South Sudan
Source: CRI Online
Date: April 8, 2015
An additional 130 Chinese peacekeeers are due to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan later on this Wednesday.
The troops from the Jinan Military Command Area in Shandong are set to join 570 of their colleagues who are already stationed there.
"On top of our regular small arms, we are also equipped with light machine guns. This weapon is not only light and portable, but it also has a clip which can carry 50 rounds. The weapon has a relatively fast rate of fire. This has filled the gap between pistols and rifles."
Among the new group of Chinese peace-keepers are 13 female soldiers, representing China's first female light infantry squad taking part in a peacekeeping mission abroad.

Howitzer troops in night training
Source: China Military Online
Date: April 8, 2015
A soldier of a howitzer battalion is preparing for a firing training. A howitzer battalion of an artillery regiment under the Tibet Military Command (MC) of the Chinese PLA organized its troops to conduct training on the late night of April 1, 2015.

PLA weaponry procurement costs "significantly" less
Source: Xinhua
Date: April 9, 2015
Five bidders, both military and civilian, won the first open tender for 2015 organized by the PLA for weaponry purchase.
The process was concluded, and the total purchase price was 'significantly below' the budgets in previous years, according to a statement by the PLA general armament department.
This is the first time that weain.mil.cn, the PLA military weapon procurement website, has been used for open, competitive bidding.
The items released for tender, valued at around 90 million yuan (14.5 million U.S. dollars), fell into eight categories including supply containers, protective masks, weapon kits and lighting equipment.

Birth of truly global Chinese navy
Source: China Daily
Date: April 10, 2105
It is not difficult to imagine the tremendous relief of the Chinese workers when they got on board the two Chinese frigates that rescued them from war-torn Yemen. The rescue was just a fresh example of the increasingly sophisticated operations of the PLAN in the Indian Ocean.
Apart from its primary mission of fighting pirates, Chinese ships have escorted vessels loaded with chemical weapons out of Syria and helped provide fresh water to people in the Maldives. A submarine joined the Chinese task force in September 2014, and the Chinese hospital ship Ark Peace sailed along the east coast of Africa to provide medical treatment to African people.
Thanks to concerted international efforts, piracy in the Gulf of Aden has been curbed. But it has not been eradicated. Besides, piracy in the Strait of Malacca, once curbed by the littoral states, is rising again.
The proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and China-Bangladesh-Myanmar-India Economic Corridor, two mega-projects of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, will be close to the rim of the Indian Ocean.
Chinese gas and oil pipelines pass through Myanmar's west coast to China's hinterland, and many Chinese nationals work in the littoral states.

Some Staff Visited Tibet Military History Museum
Source: VTIBET.com
Date: April 10, 2015
Staff members from Tibet National Defense Education Office and Tibet People’s Broadcasting Station visited Tibet Military History Museum on April 9.

Chinese defense minister meets with Indian defense secretary
Source: China Military Online
Date: April 10, 2015
Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan met with Indian Defense Secretary Shri R.K. Mathur, who came to China for attending the 7th China-India Defense and Security Consultation in Beijing on April 10.
China is committed to pushing forward the bilateral strategic partnership between the two countries and the Sino-Indian relations have basically remained a good momentum of development in recent years, Chang said.
The militaries of the two countries are expected to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, control divergence in a proper way, strengthen strategic mutual trust, deepen pragmatic cooperation and make contributions to safeguarding the regional and world peace and stability, Chang added.
Mathur said that good relations between India and China have great influence on the prosperity and development of the two nations and even the whole world. He pointed out that the bilateral ties between the two nations rest on the relations between the two militaries as well as the peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas.

Tibetan soldiers brave chill weather to guard border
Source: Xinhua
Date: April 11, 2015

Development of PLA's battlefield rations
Source: China Military Online
Date: April 10, 2015
During the [Korean] war, the officers and soldiers of the Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) mainly ate simple solid foods including fried rice, parched flour and fried bean.
After that, the logistic supply departments produced a batch of compressed biscuits so as to provide better food support for CPV's tactical operations, forming the earliest prototype of the PLA's standard military rations.
The PLA's first-generation military rations in the real sense appeared in 1970s.
At that time, the military rations consisted of three staple foods, namely the No. 761 compressed solid food, dehydrated steamed rice and dehydrated noodle, and three auxiliary foods, namely three kinds of canned foods.
The No. 761 compressed solid food was the PLA's first-generation standard personal combat rations. And the PLA soldiers depended on the 761 compressed solid food for energy supplement during a self-defense war in 1979.

China's army warns corrupt officials are 'keeping it in the family'
Source: South China Morning Post
Date: April 13, 2015
The Chinese military's newspaper has warned officials against enlisting family members in corrupt practices, amid heightening speculation a former top figure in the PLA has been caught up in the anti-graft drive.
A commentary in the PLA Daily said officials should not abuse their power to fulfill their family's needs, and urged them to teach their children proper moral values.
"It is reasonable for cadres and leaders to take care of their families and help their families, but family needs should not override moral principles," the commentary said.
It warned that those who violated moral principles would "lose all their political standing and reputation, and their family fortune".
It said that many family members of those officials already caught up in the anti-corruption drive had also been implicated in corrupt practices.
In March, the PLA announced investigations into 14 senior officials, including Guo's son Guo Zhenggang.

J-20 to sacrifice attacking power and range for stealth
Source: Want China Times
Date: April, 13, 2015
China's J-20 fifth-generation fighter will likely sacrifice its attacking power and range for added stealth capability, reports the website of China's state newswire Xinhua.
PLA Rear Admiral Yin Zhou said the J-20, currently being developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, will install its weapons on the inside of the aircraft to increase stealth, much like the US F-22.
The downside of this decision, Yin said, is that the length and diameter of the J-20's weapons could face restrictions, which could affect the range of its missiles.
However, Yin believes this is not a significant concern given that the main purpose of the J-20 is to seize control of airspace and protect other powerful but non-stealth attacking aircraft from the enemy.

China can fight modern war for 4 reasons
China Military Online
Date: April 13, 2015
Perhaps the biggest question about China’s rise is whether it will inevitably lead to a military conflict with other powers, particularly the existing superpower, the United States.
It is undoubtedly true that no one wants to see a general war between China and the U.S., though in reality both countries might be dragged into a war that they do not want to fight in areas like the East China Sea. If that happens, many analysts believe that the PLA does not stand a chance against the mighty U.S. military for a series of reasons, ranging from poor training to lack of war experience.
Such an estimate might be true, but it might also truly underestimate the fighting power of the PLA, thus contributing to misjudgment and poor policy-making overall. Thus, accurately assessing the power of the PLA is a critical part of any serious military planning by the U.S. and other countries.
•    First, equipment is essential.
•    Second, training is also important.
•    Third, military experience is overvalued.
•    Fourth, resolve is absolutely critical.
This factor has not been given adequate attention by military analysts when estimating the PLA’s ability to fight a war. If the PLA does enter a war, then it most likely will be a defensive war for China in areas near its borders. This is about defending China’s sovereignty and territories and this is fundamentally different from conquering others’ territories. Thus morale will be high. If history is any indication, the Korean War tells us that the weaker Chinese army could repel and defeat a stronger U.S. army. The fact that China then was fighting for its sovereign integrity is a key factor in explaining the defeat of the United States.

Chinese arms production to partially open to the market
Source: ECNS.CN
Date: April 13, 2015
The Chinese government will open part of its weapons research and manufacturing to the marketplace, including military technology transformation and industrialization development, to promote industry resource sharing, The Beijing Times reported.
The State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense has issued a document on the transformation of Chinese weapons manufacturing. It stipulates that authorities will encourage the transfer of intellectual property rights related to the science and technology of the national defense industry and promote scientific achievements.
Priority has also been given to the nuclear fuel cycle industry.

Snapshots of China-Sri Lanka Silk Road Cooperation-2015 joint drill
Source: China Military Online
Date: April 14, 2014
The Chinese PAPF and the Sri Lankan Army kicked off a joint drill codenamed "Silk Road Cooperation-2015" in a comprehensive military training base under the Guangdong Contingent of the Chinese APF on March 29, 2015. The contents of the joint drill mainly focus on anti-terrorist skills and tactical trainings.

Retired military officials lose undeserved benefits
Source: ECNS.CN
Date: April 14, 2014
The Beijing Military Area Command has taken back all undeserved housing and public cars used by retired former military officials, according to relevant rules, and also addressed overstaffing at regimental level, the PLA Daily reported on Monday.
The PLA and the PAPF are pushing ahead with the special cleanup campaign as required by military authorities.
Last July, officials published a notice with regard to undeserved housing and public car use by retired former military personnel, ordering a complete removal of such benefits.
For those who refuse to return their undeserved housing, a rent equitable to the highest market price for the same location will be collected by being withheld directly from their monthly pay and all services and benefits they enjoy will also be halted, according to the notice.

PLA commissar says lax discipline at top invites disaster
Source: South China Morning Post
Date: April 13, 2015
Failure to strictly discipline generals would bring 'endless disasters' to the army, a Communist Party newspaper quoted the political commissar of the Lanzhou military command as saying, amid renewed speculation over the fate of retired military chief Guo Boxiong.
Asked by People's Daily how the PLA's Lanzhou Military Area Command - Guo's former power base - had beefed up its discipline after recent graft cases, Lieutenant General Liu Lei said such cases had underscored a perception that some leading generals felt they were above the law.
"The key to governing a country is to manage its officials, just as the key to governing an army is to manage the generals. Being lax in administering officials would bring endless disasters," Liu told the newspaper, which is seen as a mouthpiece for the party.
"For a general to manage his men, he has to manage himself well first."
The comments are likely to fuel speculation over the fate of Guo, whose son Guo Zhenggang was among 16 major generals snared this year in President Xi Jinping's crackdown on corruption in the military.

Photos of 10-day-old infant in military uniform
Source: People's Daily Online
Date: April 15, 2015
A boarder guard officer in Tibet takes a series of photos for his newly born son before he goes back to the army. His son, just 10 days old, was dressed in the mini military uniforms, presenting the touching love between father and son

New generation of PLA soldiers in cartoons
Source: People's Daily Online
Date: April 15, 2015
A series of cartoons featuring the new generation of PLA soldiers are released recently by China Military Online.

New rules to shine PLA top brass
Source: Xinhua
Date: April 15, 2015
With new standards for recruiting Party members, China is trying to clean up its armed forces, following the exposure of corruption in the PLA.
The PLA general political department in earlier this week published new rules on recruiting CPC members, giving political standards top priority. The number of CPC members in the military will be kept under strict control and their personal qualities carefully scrutinized.
The image of Chinese army has been seriously damaged by corruption and many generals have fallen from grace. Earlier this year, it was revealed that 30 generals were being investigated or had been convicted.
Late last year, CMC Chairman Xi Jinping convened a meeting of top generals in an old revolutionary base in southeast China's Fujian Province, where the army's political system was formally established in 1929. The meeting laid out a new strategy for the political work of the PLA.
The more modernized and normalized the armed forces become, the more they must be institutionalized. As China experiments with the rule of law, governing the army with rules is imperative.

PLA to buy advanced missiles from Russia
Source: China Daily
Date: April 17, 2015
The deployment of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system will substantially improve China's air defense capability, military experts said as Russian media reported that China has bought the cutting-edge weapon.
"The S-400 is definitely one of the top anti-aircraft weapons in the world. It will greatly supplement the PLA's air defense system, which now has some loopholes in long-range, high-altitude defense of airplanes or ballistic missiles," said Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine.
"The system has multiple types of missiles with various ranges, enabling it to safeguard a very large area of airspace. Some of its missiles are even specifically designed to intercept ballistic missiles," Wang said. "Moreover, some of its launch tubes can store and launch several different missiles, which makes it very convenient and fast to use."
Russia has a long history of developing anti-aircraft and missile defense weapons, so the S-400 is a concentration of some of the most advanced missile technologies Russia has, such as an active electronically scanned array radar, according to Wang.

China stresses discipline for CPC members in military
Source: Xinhua
Date: April 16, 2015
The CMC issued a circular requiring efforts to strictly discipline CPC members in the army.
The document, which has been approved by Chinese President and CMC Chairman Xi Jinping.
The circular called on CPC members in the army to strictly follow the Party's instructions in their practices and maintain firm and correct political faith. "Political liberalism must be prevented and corrected and the organizational rules of the Party must be strictly observed," it said.
The document said problems with personnel affairs in the army should be redressed and discipline rules regarding financial matters must be abided by stringently.
The campaign to fight undesirable work styles should be carried forward, it said.

China 'decides to investigate' retired general Guo Boxiong
Source: South China Morning Post
Date: April 20, 2015
Beijing has decided to launch an investigation into retired military chief Guo Boxiong and has briefed serving top brass on the general's alleged problems, two independent sources close to senior military officials said.
Speculation over Guo intensified early last month after his son, Major General Guo Zhenggang, was detained in a graft probe, amid President Xi Jinping's high-profile crackdown on corruption in the PLA.
If pursued, Guo, formerly a vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, would be the second top officer from former president Hu Jintao's administration to fall.
One of the sources told the South China Morning Post that leaders of the PLA's seven key military area commands were ordered to attend an ideological workshop in Beijing on April 9, with an internal document saying the CMC and the army's anti-graft watchdog had decided to investigate Guo and his family.
"The large military area commands' two top leaders - commanders and political commissars - were requested to take part in the meeting," the source said.

PLA General Political Department to Develop Team of Cadres with Absolute Loyalty to the Party
Source: Xinhua
Date: April 19, 2015
Xinhua published an article which reported that Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, approved a notice that the PLA General Political Department issued on April 19. The title of the notice was, “Opinion to Develop a Political Team of Cadres That Will Demonstrate Absolute Loyalty to the Party, Has a Strong Capability to Fight in Wars, and Displays a Good Work Style and Image.”
According to Xinhua, the Opinion directed that all levels in the political department within the PLA should focus on “strengthening the ideology work to build a strong Party spirit; strictly abide by the political rules and requirements; display devotion to the Party; and ensure absolute obedience to the Party Central Committee's directions, to the PLA General Political Department, and to Chairman Xi.”

S-400 Strengthens China's Hand in the Skies
Source: Want China Times
Date: April 20, 2015
A deal between Russia and China for procurement of the new S-400 air defense system will serve as a force multiplier for Beijing in its quest to dominate the skies along its borders, experts said.
The 400-kilometer-range system will, for the first time, allow China to strike any aerial target on the island of Taiwan, in addition to reaching air targets as far as New Delhi, Calcutta, Hanoi and Seoul. The Yellow Sea and China's new air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea will also be protected. The system will permit China, if need be, to strike any air target within North Korea.
The S-400 will also allow China to extend, but not dominate, the air defense space closer to the disputed Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, said Vasiliy Kashin, a China defense specialist at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Moscow. China refers to the islands as the Diaoyu, and tensions between Beijing and Japan have been increasing for several years as China continues to claim the islands.

Changsha research team develops brain-controlled robot
Source: Want China Times
Date: April 20, 2015
A Chinese research team has developed a robot whose movements can be controlled by the human brain, reports the Chinese-language Changsha Evening News.
The award-winning team of researchers at the National University of Defense Technology in Changsha, the capital of south-central China's Hunan province, recently tested the self-made brain-controlled robot, which was able to move forward and backwards and make flexible turns with its body through brainwaves sent from an electrode cap worn by the controller.
According to Jiang Jun, a doctoral student on the team, the cap strengthens weak brainwaves before sending them back to their computers, which effectively reads the mind of the controller from the brainwave signals.
The experiment has been compared to the technology in the 2009 film Avatar, in which a paraplegic marine was able to control an alien avatar body with his brain.

China, Pakistan to deepen military cooperation
Source: Xinhua
Date: April 21, 2015
China and Pakistan should deepen and broaden military cooperation in such fields as joint exercise and training, so as to enrich the strategic cooperation between the two countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping said.
The visiting Chinese president made the remarks in his meeting with Pakistani Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Rashad Mahmood, and the chiefs of the army, navy and air forces of the South Asian country.
Hailing the important role the Pakistani military has played in the development of China-Pakistan relations, Xi said that the understanding and support of the Pakistani military is necessary for the two countries to forge a community of shared destiny.

Aviation regiment conducts air-to-ground live-fire drill
Source: China Military Online
Date: April 21, 2015
A fighter jet fires air-to-surface missiles at ground targets. An aviation regiment under the air force of the PLA Lanzhou MAC carried out an air-to-ground live-fire drill at a high-altitude firing range on April 17, aiming to enhance its pilots' combat skills.

Aviation troops conduct air-to-air confrontation drill
Source: China Military Online
Date: April 22, 2015
The crew member and pilot prepare for an air-to-air confrontation drill. Aviation troops from the air force of the PLA Chengdu MAC carried out a realistic air-to-air confrontation drill on April 21, 2015. During the drill, several J-10 and J-11 fighter jets conducted such air-to-air confrontation subjects as electromagnetic interference and dogfight, etc.

Beijing eyes bigger arms exports, experts say
Source: South China Morning Post
Date: April 26, 2015
Vows by China and Pakistan to deepen security and defence ties will reinforce Beijing's ambitions to increase its arms exports, which could create unease among some countries in the region, especially India, security experts say.
President Xi Jinping made his first state visit to Pakistan last week and met Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, with the sides agreeing to boost their partnership to 'all-weather levels'.
The two nations also decided to step up dialogue between their armed forces, and expand cooperation in defence technology and production.
Three weeks before Xi departed for the trip, Sharif approved a US$5 billion deal to buy eight submarines from China, Reuters reported, quoting an unnamed Pakistani government official as saying, but added the deal had not been finalised. It would be China's largest single sale of submarines, experts say.
The deal would likely encourage Beijing to expand arms exports, said Mathieu Duchatel, head of the China and Global Security Project at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks global military spending and arms sales.

Su-27 fighter jets in confrontation training
Source: China Military Online
Date: April 28, 2015
A Su-27 fighter jet takes off for confrontation training. An aviation regiment under the air force of the PLA Lanzhou Military Area Command organized its Su-27 fighter jets to conduct confrontation training at a military airport on the snow-covered plateau, April 26, aiming to enhance its pilots' combat capabilities under complex weather conditions.

China's rescue materials arrive in Nepal
Source: Xinhua
Source: April 28, 2015
Photo taken on April 28, 2015 shows a plane carrying members of Chinese PLA Air Force arrive in Nepal to provide aid following the recent earthquake, at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

Frontier soldiers repair communication equipment for emergency use
Source: People's Daily Online
Date: April 29, 2015
A frontier soldier dismantles satellite phone antenna for emergency communication use on the roof of a damaged building of the frontier inspection station of Gyirong County in Xigaze City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, April 27, 2015. A 7.9-magnitude quake shook Nepal at 2:11 p.m. (Beijing Time) killing at least 4,555 people. The quake also strongly affected Kyirong County in Shigatse City, adjacent to Nepal.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Using soft power to hardsell spirituality

My article Using soft power to hardsell spirituality appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer.

Here is the link...

Prime Minister Modi has been promoting a new term, ‘spiritual neighbourhood’. He used it during his trips to Sri Lanka and more recently to Mongolia to link up with Buddhism. It makes for good diplomacy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invented a new concept in diplomacy, ‘spiritual neighbourhood’. Addressing the Great Hural, the Mongolian Parliament, the Prime Minister affirmed, “I bring the greetings of your 1.25 billion spiritual neighbours. There is no higher form of a relationship; no bonds more sacred than this.”
Mr Modi added, “As in the life of a human being, in the life of a nation, too, few things are as precious as the gift of friendship.” He reminded his Mongolian hosts that “around two thousand years ago, monks from India crossed difficult terrain and long distance to spread the message of Lord Buddha in this enchanting land”.
After a successful visit to China, the Prime Minister could not mention that the spiritual bridge linking India and Mongolia was Tibet. During the 13th century, the Tibetan Lamas from Sakya converted the belligerent Mongol Khans to the pacifist doctrine of Gautama Buddha. Before changing the lives of the steppe men, the Dharma had travelled from the plains of Nalanda to the Roof of the World.
For centuries, Tibet was close to Mongolia (in 1913, both nations, then independent, signed a Treaty of Friendship). In 1932, a year before his death, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama prophetically warned the Tibetans in his testament: “Remember the fate that befell the Mongolian nation when Communists overran the country and where the Head Lama’s reincarnation was forbidden, where property was totally confiscated and where monasteries and religion were completely wiped out. These things have happened, are happening and will happen in the land which is the Centre of Buddhism (i.e. Tibet).”
We know what befell Tibet in 1950. It is a pity that the Prime Minister could not mention the case the Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, the head Lama of Mongolia who, in 1959 took refuge in India, where he spent most of his life revitalising the Jonang Buddhist tradition, prevalent in Mongolia. During the last years of his life, he returned to his native country, where he was reinstalled as ‘The Protector of Beings of the North and Leader of all the Buddhist Schools’; he eventually died in Ulaanbaatar in 2012.
The concept of ‘spiritual neighbours’ is exceedingly important for India’s soft power diplomacy. China might be far advanced as far as infrastructure or economy is concerned, but India is the only nation which can take the lead in spiritual matters. Buddhism and yoga are indeed good ambassadors of India’s sacred traditions, which have sustained for thousands of years.
It does not mean that China is not active, even in this field. Here too Beijing wants to be the leader. On October 27, 2014, The Buddhist Channel, a global news platform which provides news on Buddhism, reported that “China lays claims to leadership of the Buddhist World”. New agency Xinhua elaborated: “Hundreds of the world’s Buddhists gathered at an ancient temple in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province to open the World Fellowship of Buddhists’ 27th general conference. …more than 600 representatives from 30 nations and regions were in attendance.”
When it is convenient, communist China believes in the Buddha (and even in the re-incarnation of Buddhist masters). In 1957, on the occasion of the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha’s birth, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, a hardcore communist, brought to India relics of the Great Monk; this pleased Jawaharlal Nehru immensely.
The highlight of the Shaanxi conference (incidentally, it is where Mr Modi met President Xi Jinping, when he recently landed in China) was the speech of the Chinese-selected Panchen Lama, Gyalsten Norbu, who urged Buddhists worldwide to jointly strive for deepened exchange and cooperation. Norbu told the international gathering, “Buddhism has already integrated into the Chinese culture and it is recognised by the Chinese government. For over thousand years Tibetan Buddhism has become the precious gem of the Chinese nation.”
Well, the ‘real’ Panchen Lama, selected by the Dalai Lama 20 years ago, still languishes under house arrest somewhere in China. This is the other side of the coin: While Beijing promotes Buddhism for political reasons outside China, it is banned (or policed) for sections of society, like with the Tibetans. One can understand that, at a time the membership of the communist party is shrinking, hundred million Buddhists could be subversive for the regime in China. Can Buddha be more popular than Karl Marx?
The March trip of Mr Modi to Colombo should also be seen in the context of ‘spiritual neighbours’. While visiting Sri Lanka’s ancient capital Anuradhapura and offering prayers at the sacred Mahabodhi tree, the Prime Minister had noted, “Sri Lanka is where Buddhism has truly flourished.” During his official visit to Japan, the Prime Minister had reminded his hosts, “Buddhism from India has inspired Japan for over a millennium.”
All this is significant at a time when China is trying hard to take the leadership of the Buddhism movement in Asia; with Beijing having a lot of money to invest in ‘soft’ diplomacy, many are tempted. Remember, in November 2012, it was reported that Mr Pushpa Kamal Dahal, ‘Prachanda’, the Nepal Maoist leader, had signed a deal with a shadowy Chinese from Hong Kong, Xiao Wunan, for developing Lumbini, the Buddha’s birthplace. Xiao was to put three billion dollars in the venture. Finally, it did not materialise, but it showed that money was not a problem for the Chinese.
The Dalai Lama has never been able to visit Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka or Myanmar, where tens of millions of Buddhists live — just because Beijing opposes the trips. It was comforting that soon after Mr Modi’s return from Sri Lanka, the Tibetan leader met with a delegation of Sri Lankan Theros (senior monks), to discuss Vinaya, the Buddhist monastic discipline. It is a rather rare occurrence, as the followers of the Buddha rarely ‘exchange’ their views on their respective interpretations of the Buddha’s words. On the occasion, the Dalai Lama reminded his Sri Lankan colleagues: “We are all followers of the same Buddha.”
It was refreshing that New Delhi took the initiative to host a dialogue between Theravada and Tibetan/Himalayan monks of the Nalanda tradition. A long way since November 2011, when before the Global Buddhist Congregation organised by the Ashoka Mission in New Delhi (with an attendance of some 900 monks and nuns from over 40 countries), Beijing objected to the presence of the Dalai Lama at one of the functions. After China threatened to call off the 15th round of the border talks between the Special Representatives, the then Indian Government backed out; both the Prime Minister and President were suddenly too busy to attend. As far as Buddhism and Hinduism is concerned, India should take the lead. It will be a plus in Modi sarkar’s tally.
In Bhutan
In China
In Japan

In Sri Lanka
In Nepal

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Himalayan earthquakes

Hardcore Tibetan Communist Raidi with Chinese Panchen Lama
Once upon a time, Raidi was a powerful Tibetan Communist cadre. He was the leader of the Nagchu clique, ruling over the Tibetan plateau.
Now, he is honorifically titled, vice chairman of the 10th Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, but he is very old.
Nonetheless, he recently sent a letter to the Tibet Autonomous Region’s government to “express his sympathies for the victims of the recent earthquake, offer his condolences to the relatives of those injured or killed, and pay his respects to the relief workers.”
Raidi explains to his comrades in the Communist administration that Tibet being located in “an alpine area, the mountains are high, valleys are deep, and the geology is complex”.
Relief work is therefore very difficult: “In such a serious disaster, it is really not easy to have achieved such results in the phased earthquake relief efforts."
Nothing wrong. Raidi then speaks of the massive 8.6-magnitude earthquake on August 15, 1950, whose epicenter was located in Metok County (Dzong) and Zayul Dzong.
Raidi recalled that he was 12 years old at that time: “At the quake’s epicenter, there were landslides from the mountains and the ground opened up, and the Yarlung Tsangpo (Siang/Brahmaputra) was divided into four parts. Some villages were thrown on the opposite of the river and houses collapsed. Even places that were far from the epicenter, like Lhasa, Chamdo, and Nagchu, were also greatly affected. According to incomplete statistics from the time, more than 2,000 people were killed, countless people went missing, and the disaster area was covered in ruins.”
Now comes the ideological part of the letter: “Tibet was still ruled by the old Tibetan government. Led by the 14th Dalai Lama, not only did the government not care about the lives of common people, but they also increased several taxes.”
Raidi’s conclusion is: "There is a sharp contrast between the earthquake relief in Old Tibet and in New China. …this shows that only under the leadership of the CPC, in a socialist society can the Tibetan people have the confidence, courage, and ability to overcome any disaster and rebuild their homeland. Thus Tibet, especially those areas affected by the recent earthquake, will achieve leapfrog development and long-term stability.”
There is no doubt that the infrastructure is very different today from what it was in 1950. In Nepal too, it is far easier to bring food, supplies, warm cloths to those affected by the tragedy. In 1950, Lhasa, without speaking of Metok or Zayul, located north of the McMahon Line, had never an ‘iron birds’, helicopters or planes.
But to compare the rescue operations during the recent tragedy and the ones, 65 years ago is unbecoming of a former senior Communist cadre. Mr. Raidi should have kept quiet. He probably does not realize that the progress in infrastructure, roads, airfields, transportation have been planetary and due to the Communist Party only.
By the way, the Chinese Panchen Lama (also a Nagchu native) has personally donated 200,000 yuan(32,300 US dollars), for the quake-affected areas, “to show his sympathy for the needy people.”
I am wondering how, under a Communist dispensation, Lamas can become rich, like their predecessors in Old Tibet.
How do they get richly-endowed labrangs (estates) like in the past?
Buddha too must be wondering: is what I thought my monks.

The 1959 Earthquake
To give an idea of the devastating 1950 Earthquake, known in India as the ‘Assam Earthquake’, I post the report of the famous British botanist Kingdon-Ward.

(AUGUST 15, 1950) 

A vividly-written account of an unforgettable experience.
The Author is a well-known Himalayan explorer, and describes how, while camping near the Tibetan frontier, he and his wife narrowly escaped with their lives from the havoc wrought by one of the most violent earthquakes on record.
Finishing an entry in my diary, I shut it and lay back in the deck chair near the entrance to our tent. On the camp table beside me the hurricane-lamp burnt dimly; my wife was already in her cot, half asleep. I told myself I must soon put out the light and turn in; we were due to start off again early the following morning, and a good night’s rest was essential. First of all, however, I wanted to lie back and relax for ten minutes, enjoying the comparatively cool night air. The date was August 15th, 1950, the time about 8 p.m. and the place the wilds of Upper Assam.
Everything seemed very quiet. Now and then a dog barked in the village of Rima, away behind us, and I could just detect the muffled echo of the river as it entered a narrow part of the deep gorge. Occasionally an owl shrieked somewhere close by.
Suddenly, as I reclined there in a semi-doze, the chair on which I sat, the table, and finally the tent itself began to shiver. Aroused, my wife sat up in her cot. A split second later the whole valley appeared to be convulsed, and the air was filled with a loud roaring. Involuntarily I sprang to my feet.
“What on earth’s that?” I asked, startled, and thrust my head out between the tent-flaps.
The high mountains were silhouetted against a riband of clear, star-flecked sky, but their outlines, instead of being sharp and hard, were strangely fuzzy. Meanwhile noise continued, becoming louder even as I stared about me in bewilderment. Then the dread truth dawned on both of us but it was my wife who put it into words.
An earthquake the cried, now thoroughly awake and forth with leaped from her bed. “Outside –quick!”
I seized the lantern, with some vague idea of a fire risk, and together we rushed out into the most awful pandemonium. The turmoil was terrifying. Mingled with the dreadful sound of the tearing and shearing of the earth’s crust came the roar of mountains that were apparently tumbling downing every direction. It appeared as though the very arch of heaven was falling.
Directly we left the tent a violent tremor threw us to the ground, and we felt the earth beneath us bucking and heaving madly. Every moment I expected it to split open and precipitate us into some yawning figure. Great rocks were crashing from the mountainsides; dust rose like the smoke of some vast conflagration, blotting out the stars. Meanwhile a rain of gigantic hammer-blows thundered on the ground below; it seemed that it must soon be pulverized into fragments.
Too frightened to move, we lay where we had fallen, with the familiar world around us breaking up bodily. For quite five minutes—minutes as long as years—mountains and valleys shook, shivered, and trembled to the accompaniment of ear-splitting sounds of destruction. It is impossible to convey an adequate idea of our sensations or the impression of overmastering terror and utter helplessness in the face of stupendous disaster.
At last, however, the earth-tremors began to die away. Then, quite suddenly, there came a series of five explosions high in the sky; they followed one another, loud and distinct, at equal intervals of a few seconds. The detonations reminded me of anti-aircraft shells bursting round enemy planes, but their effect was very different. Abruptly the shaking of the ground ceased, the last boulders rumbled down the mountains, the splintering trees stood firm. Even the river—which had roared like a wild beast in pain throughout the cataclysm—became quieter. There could be no doubt the earthquake was over.
What caused that extraordinary “gunfire” is a complete mystery. The explosions were heard on the plains of Assam, two hundred miles away, where the soft earth “wobbled like a jelly” during the worst phases of the quake.
We rose slowly to our feet, thanked to be alive and unhurt, but not yet quite sure that we were. Had we passed through some terrible nightmare, or had it all really happened? It seemed hard to believe it was an actual experience—but there was the dust which filled the air and now began to settle, silently and impalpably. It was in our eyes, our ears, our mouths; already it was lining our lungs and forming a grey film on our faces. For days thereafter we were eating dust as well as breathing it!
The quake was mercifully over, but its dread aftermath was only just beginning. From the village came no sound of barking dogs, no shouting of men. Had all those poor souls been killed? Fortunately, this was not the case, for presently there strolled into our camp the familiar figure of a villager of our acquaintance—and he had a broad grin on his face! I envied his stolidity, in the midst of this tremendous calamity he still contrived to remain cheerful! The sight of that simple Hillman put new life and confidence into us, and especially into our two Sherpa boys, who had been badly frightened.
Our friend told us that the village had been badly damaged, despite the fact that the houses—massively built of logs resting on solid stone foundations—were only one storey high. By great good luck, however, nobody had been killed.
“Let’s have some tea,” suggested my wife; there was no thought of going back to bed again after such an awakening. The wood fire was still burning, and we re-lit the lanterns. The stream from which we drew our water was only a dozen yards from the cook-house and boys’ tent, and one of the Sherpas took the kettle and went off. Next moment he gave a shout of dismay, and we all rushed towards him to see what had happened. The brook, which two hours previously had flowed swiftly along its bed, was now nothing but a trickle. Even as we watched it grew smaller and smaller.
    “Quick!” I shouted. “Bring buckets, saucepans—anything!”
We filled a couple of kettles and a pail, but only with difficulty, for the trickle soon died away to a mere thread and, finally, intermittent drops. Our water supply had vanished, and there was nothing we could do about it!
    We sat around sipping tea and talking for an hour. We still felt slightly dazed; it seemed incredible that these mighty mountains, rising ten or twelve thousand feet above our heads—the village in the gorge was itself 5000 feet above sea-level—should have been in the grip of a force which shook them as a terrier shakes a rat. The previous day they had looked as solid and immovable as the Rock of Gibraltar; now they were riven and shattered, their rocky slopes disintegrating like sand-dunes in a breeze.
Inside our tent, curiously enough, everything appeared exactly as it had done before the quake. Nothing was broken, nothing disarranged, even the aluminium tent-poles had not Shifted! The knoll on which our little camp was pitched had withstood the terrific shaking and battering unharmed, moreover-very fortunately for us—it had not been in the line of descent of the falling rocks. Thousands of huge boulders, dislodged from the mountainsides by the violent tremors, had leaped, bounced, and rolled down the steep slopes, snapping off stout trees like match-sticks. Any one of these flying masses could have demolished our tents and swept them away, leaving nothing but rags and shattered corpses to mark the site. Yet we had emerged scatheless!
Though the disturbance was over, there was as yet no reassuring restfulness about our surroundings. Those adjustments of the earth’s crust which inevitably follow a severe earthquake-especially in regions so notoriously unstable as the mountains on the Assam frontier—had still to come. We were blissfully unaware of the fact at the moment, but these minor movements were destined to continue for months! In our state of nervous tension, in the dust and darkness of that night of terror, it was enough for us that, practically every half-hour, the tortured ground gave a convulsive shudder. Each of these tremors—some of hall a minute’s duration—was accompanied by a roaring sound, like a great wind, and by fresh rock-falls close at hand, either on the opposite side of the big Lohit River or on our own bank, close to the village and camp.
Not knowing the ways of major earthquakes—indeed, we were ignorant as yet that it was a major earthquake—we feared a repetition of the major shock, and before venturing to lie down on our beds again we made careful preparations for a rapid get-out if necessary. There was no sleep for any of us during the remainder of the night, although I believe I dozed off once or twice for half an hour.
Meanwhile, in England, California, South Africa, and almost every modern city in the world, seismographs had been registering the greatest upheaval of the earth’s crust since these delicate instruments were invented. As a matter of fact, seismographs thousands of miles distant had been thrown off balance; they either ceased to record or the tremendous oscillations extended beyond the limits of the graph paper. Within a few hours scientists were hard at work trying to decide in what part of the globe this terrific cataclysm had occurred, and later the newspapers announced that there had been an earthquake of great intensity somewhere in north-east India. Not for several days was the real magnitude of the disaster realized.
Its “epicenter,” according to American physicists, was in the south-eastern corner of Tibet, about twenty-five miles from the frontier with Assam. The ‘quake shook the whole of Upper Assam, two hundred miles away, and must also have done the same with a large area in Tibet, but as this region is almost uninhabited no record of what happened there has come to hand.
Dawn arrived at last, and we got up and looked outside once more. Things appeared more or less normal. A bird was singing sweetly; in a nearby field a small boy was shouting to scare birds off the ripening crops. Presently, from the village, there emerged a file of old women and young girls plodding out to work, as they had done every morning for months. We felt very thankful; evidently the world was nor completely topsy-turvy!
Nevertheless, the sun rose on a scene very different from that on which it had set the previous evening. The flanks of the mountains were mutilated and torn asunder, the wounds gleaming white as snow against the prevailing green of summer. The broad terraces that led step by step down to the river—many of them cultivated—were now corrugated and fissured with deep cracks, sometimes raised, sometimes downwards. The high river-bank itself had slipped in a hundred places, piling up mounds of gravel. The village, in its bower of trees, appeared to be in ruins. It was true that the stout main timbers of the twelve or fifteen log houses still held firm, but every roof had gone, and flimsier erections lay flat. Many of the hapless cattle and pigs, shut up in pens that had collapsed, lay dead or dying—a sad loss to their owners. The monastery building lay on its side, hurried clean off its foundations, and a bottle-shaped chorten (religious memorial) had been stripped to its core.
The most amazing sight of all, perhaps, was the Lohit River, now a wildly-tossing sea of liquid mud which had suddenly risen several feet. On its turbulent bosom it carried innumerable great tree-trunks, plunging and tossing amidst huge waves, dancing madly in the swirling eddies, and rushing headlong through the gorge. Literally millions of big trees must have been uprooted or smashed; they passed in endless procession. The stench of the mud was horrible.
No less wonderful, though on a smaller scale was the spectacle presented by the minor tributary which swept swiftly down from the Burma border to join the Lohit at Rima. The previous afternoon it had been crystal-clear; carefully choosing the right place, one could easily have waded across it. Now, like the Lohit, it was just liquid mud—the colour of coffee—laced with froth, and considerably deeper. Three mills housed to timber cabins along its bank in ruins the primitive cantilever bridge that spanned it was in grave danger of collapse and shaking like a leaf. I shouldn’t have cared to essay a crossing.
We learned later that on the plains of Assam, two or three hundred miles from where we were, the earth had swayed sickeningly and sagged in many places. Over a wide area several buildings had fallen, railway lines had snapped, bridges had been shattered, and roads had sunk. On the whole, however, direct damage had been comparatively slight. But the damage had been comparatively slight. But the floods resulting from the damming of rivers far away back in the mountains, long after the earthquake was over, eventually caused the death of hundreds of people by drowning.
So much for external matters; I will now return to our own position. Once it was fully light we were able to get a better idea of the havoc the ‘quake had wrought, but we still had no idea of its extent and intensity. As the sun rose over the mountain ridge the air began to heat up, and the usual daily wind swept through the river gorge. Loosened rocks started to fall again, and soon the shaken mountains were disgorging avalanches of gravel and boulders, which swept down their slopes to the accompaniment to rise from these rock slides, spread far and wide by the wind until the sun was veiled and the mountains across the river, only a mile away, appeared dimly outlined through the choking fog.
Meanwhile, every hour or so, there was a terrifying subterranean rumble, after which the ground shook for several seconds. These earth-tremors felt—and sounded—exactly as though an enourmous train were rushing through a tunnel just beneath our feet.
You will already have gathered that when all this happened my wife and I were far away from anything representing civilization. It was three weeks before we were able to cross the flooded river and start our difficult homeward journey. This was because the rope bridge across the impassable Lohit had been destroyed and—with the stream in gigantic flood—it proved impossible to replace it. Even then it was nearly three months, after a series of adventures, before we succeeded in getting out of the mountains and safely back to the plains. Here we discovered that our friends had been exceedingly anxious as to our fate; even the Home newspapers had indulged in speculation as to what had happened to us. We learned also, for the first time, that we had been at the very heart of one of the greatest earthquakes on record—and, luckily, survived uninjured to tell our story!
From the strictly scientific point of view, however, all that occurred was the sudden collapse of a relatively small block of the earth’s crust a few miles down. Possibly the fracture was several miles long, and one half of it slipped downwards, thus creating a geological “fault.” On the other hand, the roof of some vast subterranean cavern may have given way, thereby jarring the upper crust. Nobody knows for certain; it is just a matter of theory. At all events, whatever its cause, the displacement produced the awe-inspiring phenomenon I have endeavoured to describe, and which my wife and I will never forget.

Monday, May 18, 2015

China visit and after – Undoing Nehru’s folly

My article China visit and after – Undoing Nehru’s folly appeared in NitiCentral.

Here is the link...

A few months ago, a European diplomat confidentially told me, ‘in fact, the job of Modi is just to undo the knots in which the UPA tied up India in the past’. He was probably thinking of the complex Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) put in place by A.K. Antony, the UPA’s Defence Minister, who made the DPP so complicated that it became impossible for India to arm itself or even ‘make arms in India.’ This is the sad story of the Rafale deal; finally, during his recent visit to France, Prime Minister Modi had cut the MMRCA ‘bind’ and buy a few airplanes ‘off-the-shelf’.
Unfortunately, it is not only in defence issues that the previous governments have entangled India into insolvable predicaments.
The case of a seat in the United Nations’ Security Council is a stark one.
After Modi’s meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, I was curious to see what the Joint Statement would say on this issue and if China’s position had moved. I thought that if Beijing is truly keen to enhance the trust between India and China, it should make a gesture and sponsor India’s candidature to the Security Council. Unfortunately, it did not happen.
The Joint Statement says: “The two sides support a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including recognizing the imperative of increased participation of developing countries in UN’s affairs and governance structures, so as to bring more effectiveness to the UN. China attaches great importance to India’s status in international affairs as a large developing country, and understands and supports India’s aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations including in the Security Council.”
It does not say that India should have a permanent seat with veto power, like China has. This is really ingratitude from China’s side.
One remembers the 1955 Soviet offer to sponsor India’s case for a permanent seat.
Sarvepalli Gopal wrote in his 3-volume biography of Nehru: “He [Jawaharlal Nehru] rejected the Soviet offer to propose India as the sixth permanent member of the Security Council and insisted that priority be given to China’s admission to the United Nations.”
Now some ‘experts’, like A.G. Noorani have argued that Nehru did the right thing as ‘the offer was unlikely to materialize’.
Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin had told the Indian Prime Minister: “We propose suggesting at a later stage India’s inclusion as the sixth member of the Security Council”; Nehru had replied: “This is to create trouble between us and China. We are, of course, wholly opposed to it. Further, we are opposed to pushing ourselves forward to occupy certain positions because that may itself create difficulties and India might itself become a subject to controversy.”
In another letter, Nehru elaborated about India’s position and the reasons to reject the ‘proposals’: “We have, therefore, made it clear to those who suggested this that we cannot agree to this suggestion. We have even gone a little further and said that India is not anxious to enter the Security Council at this stage, even though as a great country she ought to be there. The first step to be taken is for China to take her rightful place and then the question of India might be considered separately.”
But there is more. Recently, a young scholar, Anton Harder, working on his PhD at the London School of Economics, went through the Vijayalakshmi Pandit Papers kept at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library in Delhi.
Harder found that in August 1950, Mrs. Pandit, then posted as Ambassador to the US, wrote to her brother: “One matter that is being cooked up in the State Department should be known to you. This is the unseating of [Nationalist] China as a Permanent Member in the Security Council and of India being put in her place. …Last week I had interviews with [John Foster] Dulles and [Philip] Jessup, reports of which I have sent to Bajpai. Both brought up this question and Dulles seemed particularly anxious that a move in this direction should be started.”
Five years before the Soviet offer, Washington was ready to sponsor India for a seat in the Security. A few days later, Nehru answered to Pandit: “You mention that the State Department is trying to unseat China as a Permanent Member of the Security Council and to put India in her place. So far as we are concerned, we are not going to countenance it. That would be bad from every point of view. It would be a clear affront to China and it would mean some kind of a break between us and China.”
The Indian Prime Minister added: “We shall go on pressing for [Communist] China’s admission in the UN and the Security Council. …The people’s government of China is sending a full delegation there. If they fail to get in there will be trouble which might even result in the USSR and some other countries finally quitting the UN.”
Thus whole background is all the more shocking as at that particular time, China was preparing to invade Tibet; a position in the UN would have helped India’s prestige and influence. K.M. Panikkar, India’s Ambassador to China knew about the communists’ intention: on August 15, 1950, it had been reported from Hong Kong that Chinese troops had begun advancing towards Tibet’s borders. Nehru too was aware of the impending ‘liberation’: “This invasion of Tibet might well upset the present unstable equilibrium and let loose dangerous forces. Some of our border States will be affected. But I am more concerned with the larger issues which this involves,” he wrote.
What were the larger issues? One of them was the Chinese admission to the UN!
On October 25, when the news of the Chinese invasion became known, Nehru was unhappy, he frankly told Panikkar: “Our views regarding [the] threatening invasion of Tibet and its probable repercussion should have been communicated to them clearly and unequivocally. This has evidently not been done.”
One can still regret India’s inaction even today and though Modi can’t officially admit it, India has been suffering due to this ‘lapse’ for the past 65 years. But in October 1950, for the then Prime Minister: “The Chinese Government's action has jeopardised our persistent efforts to secure the recognition of China in the interests of world peace have suffered a serious setback.”
What to say? The rest is history, sad history.
As Prime Minister Modi arrived in Xi'an, the first leg of his high profile visit to China, I was wondering if he would speak with the Chinese leadership about Tibet. Apparently, he has not!
The ‘T’ word appears only once in the Joint Statement, when the Kailash yatra is mentioned: “The Indian side appreciated the support and cooperation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the local government of Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China to Indian pilgrims for the Kailash Manasarover Yatra …the Chinese side would launch the route for the Yatra through Nathu La Pass in 2015.”
Note that Beijing always speaks of ‘Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China’! Delhi never speaks of ‘Tamil Nadu of the Republic of India’ or ‘West Bengal of India’. Perhaps it shows that Beijing is still unsure about the legal ground of its ‘presence’ in Tibet.
Apart from this reference, nothing on 'T'.
The fact remains that in the years to come. Narendra Modi will have a lot of work to untie the many knots left by Jawaharlal Nehru and his advisors like K.M. Panikar and V.K. Krishna Menon.
As for the Chinese, the least that one can say is that they have shown little gratitude towards India; Indian leaders should know that till today, Beijing has been unable to appreciate kindness and generosity.