People's Republic of China should be taking cognizance of the global reaction to its belligerent and expansionist territorial claims including its maritime claims in the East and South China seas.
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
On August 2, the Indian Navy (IN) announced that a Task Force from the Navy’s Eastern Fleet would begin an “Overseas Deployment to South East Asia, the South China Sea and Western Pacific from early August 2021 for over two months." The Navy’s statement said, “The deployment of the Indian Navy ships seeks to underscore the operational reach, peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain and to strengthen existing bonds between India and countries of the Indo Pacific."
Indian naval ships will participate in Exercise MALABAR-21, scheduled to be conducted in Western Pacific by Quad nations
The Task Force of the IN includes a guided-missile destroyer, a guided-missile frigate, an anti-submarine corvette and a guided-missile corvette. Our naval ships are to participate in bilateral exercises with navies of Vietnamese, Philippines, Singapore (Exercise SIMBEX), Indonesian (Exercise Samudra Shakti) and Australia (Exercise AUS-INDEX).
In addition to the above bilateral exercises, Exercise MALABAR-21 is scheduled to be conducted in Western Pacific by Quad nations. The IN has stated that the Task Force “would also participate in multilateral exercise MALABAR-21 alongside the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy in Western Pacific."
The IN statement also reads, “These maritime initiatives enhance synergy and coordination between the Indian Navy and friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and commitment towards Freedom of Navigation at sea. Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies, to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations."
With China becoming overtly aggressive and threatening Taiwan as also breaching Indonesian waters, the Western Pacific is attracting more and more global attention, including the Quad nations and the West who are for a free and open Indo-Pacific. The British aircraft carrier strike group led by the aircraft carrier HMS ‘Queen Elizabeth’ recently exercised with the Indian Navy and later went to South China Sea (SCS) for an exercise with the US Navy and also exercised with the Singapore Navy.
The British aircraft carrier strike group led by the aircraft carrier HMS ‘Queen Elizabeth’ recently exercised with the Indian Navy and later went to South China Sea (SCS) for an exercise with the US Navy and also exercised with the Singapore Navy.
As the US Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighter jets, involved in operations off the British Type 45 destroyer, flew above the SCS, the PLA went on combat alert despite UK and Germany clarifying that the combat vessels did not enter contested waters for 'military confrontation'. Pentagon spokesperson Ned Price congratulated Britain for its “commitment to an interconnected network of allies and partners, who mutually cooperate and support freedom of navigation and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.”
It is customary for China to monitor all foreign vessels in the Western Pacific especially foreign exercises both bilateral and multilateral. Quad exercises are always tailed and monitored by Chinese vessels from a distance. As China monitored HMS Queen Elizabeth’s movement in SCS, it accused Britain of ‘still living in its colonial days’. British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hailed the bilateral exercise with Singapore Navy and reminded China of the ‘freedom of navigation’ exercise through the SCS.
The French Navy too conducted a recent patrol in the SCS. French nuclear attack submarine SNA ‘Emeraude’ along with another ship sailed into the Pacific and patrolled the SCS. French Defence Minister Florence Parly took to the Twitter to say, “This extraordinary patrol has just completed a passage in the South China Sea. A striking proof of our French Navy's capacity to deploy far away and for a long time together with our Australian, American and Japanese strategic partners."
The French Navy too conducted a recent patrol in the South China Sea
Interestingly on August 3, Chinese state media and leading newspapers ran headlines saying, “Why is Germany sending a frigate through the South China Sea?” This was after German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered the German Navy to divert the Brandenburg-class frigate ‘Bayern’ warship into the SCS. This is the first time a German vessel is being deployed in the SCS in two decades in a show of solidarity with India, Japan, Australia, UK and the US.
People’s Republic of China should be taking cognizance of the global reaction to its belligerent and expansionist territorial claims including its maritime claims in the East and South China seas. China appears confident it has saved itself from the blame of biologically bombing the world with the Wuhan Virus causing millions of deaths and ruining economies of multiple countries. But can President Xi Jinping fulfill his dream of dominating the world leaving the US behind by taking on cudgels against the whole world. Having easily militarised the SCS without much opposition, China wants to do the same in the Indian Ocean.
This is the first time a German vessel is being deployed in the SCS in two decades in a show of solidarity with India, Japan, Australia, UK and the US
China is on a high with its economic and military might and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) runs a highly repressive regime stitched together on the plank of communist ideology. It has used its economic power to debt trap developing nations for strategic gains plus its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to draw nations into its strategic sphere. The BRI also gives employment for Chinese companies, most of which are PLA owned or PLA-affiliated. But they also are akin to intestines hanging out of the body. Should China get more belligerent and the world subjects these BRI projects to unconventional threats, China could find itself in a very difficult position.
It is about time the world starts pressurising China beyond mere signaling through bilaterally and multilateral exercises in the Indo-Pacific. Ideally, the world should aim to balkanize China or work towards its implosion.