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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

China moves Towards 'Star Wars'

By Allabaksh - Syndicate Features

As a gesture that checks a further rise in global temperature, already heightened by the failing ‘war’ on terror and the endless Middle East conundrum, the Indian silence and the muted reaction in the US and other Western capitals to the Chinese testing of anti-satellite weapon may be welcome. But the lay Indian, if not the Westerner, would perhaps like to be reassured that the ballistic missile fired by China into the space to destroy one of its ageing weather satellites was a very pacifist activity.

The signals emerging from that test do not point in that direction. The US and Russia have tested anti-satellite missiles but they shelved the future plans in the face of global criticism. China has a history of pursuing its goal of constantly sharpening its military teeth unmindful of protests from the rest of the world. More than a decade ago, China test fired missiles off the coast of Taiwan as a provocative gesture. It has not ruled out a military take over of that tiny island nation. It has surreptitiously supplied nuclear know-how and material to certain nations while professing to adhere to its NPT obligations.

Defence analysts maintain that the anti-satellite ballistic missile technology that China used is nearly two decade old. But that does not make it less lethal. The dated technology is good enough to enable the Chinese to shoot down any satellite in space whether owned by India, the US or any other country. The satellites in space serve multiple purposes, including communication, intelligence and strategic. Much of the warfare by the US draws support from inputs from one of its satellites in the space. The ‘spy’ satellites play an important role even during peacetime.

An interesting bit about the dated anti-satellite technology is that the US has been using it for nearly a decade, spending up to $10 billion a year. But the outcry against space war has restricted the US plans to improve its skills in that direction under the aegis of ‘star war’. China may be a forcing a rethink in the US, though there seems to be no immediate hint of that.

The rise of China’s military might by leaps and bound has already caused anxiety in Japan and South Korea. A country geographically so far removed from China as Australia is also worried. The mood in Japan is believed to be moving away from the policy against developing nuclear weapon, though largely because of the recent nuclear test by North Korea, a China client.

Indian officials may talk of a healthy ‘competition’ with China in the economic and trade fields but they would not like to see Beijing far outstrip New Delhi militarily. Not as long as China continues to insist that much of the Indian Northeast is its territory. Not as long as it continues to supply, overtly or covertly, its superior arms and equipment, not to mention nuclear and missile know-how, to India’s western neighbour that tries to camouflages its aggressive designs by talking of ‘peace’ that is conditional upon the resolution of a ‘dispute’ on its own terms.

Few outside China would disagree that Beijing is hell bent on proving itself to be a superpower on par with the US--the sooner the better. The Chinese space test is clearly aimed at telling the whole world that it is fast catching up with the US to establish itself as the latter’s superpower rival.

China is out to end the exclusive supremacy enjoyed by the US in all the fields—military, political and economic. The rise of the next superpower from the East may please those who do not see the US as a benign power—maybe that is the majority of the world today. But barring the Indian Comrades, frozen in time, and their fellow travellers, how many people in the world, including wider sections of Indians, are convinced that China has absolutely harmless, peaceful intentions?

China has become an economic giant which has already zoomed in its national wealth. It has wooed most of the third world with magnanimity unknown in international diplomacy. Cheap Chinese goods have flooded the streets of Africa. It has reached out to the American ‘backyard’ in South America. ‘Sensitive’ equipment is available for countries that are on the US blacklist. China is a global power that yields as much, if not more, power as the US, the traditional ‘monopolist’ in that position.

Beijing also has an opaque military bureaucracy that answers to none but the country’s president, Hu Jintao, who heads both the army as well as the Communist Party. China’s armed forces have a rapid modernisation plan that will make it as much potent, if not more, as the US military. Now and then the Chinese army threatens to flex its muscles by straying into territories of its neighbours, India and Bhutan among them, even while talking of peace and cooperation.

It may be futile for India to enter into a ballistic missile race with China. And with its studied policy of ignoring protests against its military modernisation programme it may be wishful thinking to stop China’s further march on way to ‘star war’. All that can be made to look less menacing if China can be persuaded to demonstrate a more transparent and genuine desire to remain peaceful in intent. It is inexplicable why or how the world accepts China as a key global player yet remains hesitant to assign it a more responsible role for dousing the many fires that are raging in the world.

China sees itself as a crucial player in the Middle East yet it is more prone to provoke some of the actors in that theatre by its policies and actions, including arms export, rather than take initiatives for ending the troubles. China has played hardly any constructive role in resolving the crisis over the Iranian nuclear ambition other than to block efforts that seek to isolate Iran.

China has today more influence in much of the troubled parts of Africa, yet it is more keen to sell more and more of its consumer goods in those parts and outbid all rivals looking to exploit new oil fields in that continent. A China that is seen to be bringing peace in troubled regions of the world will look a more agreeable country—or superpower--than a country that is forever improving and expanding its considerably huge war machine.

- Syndicate Features -

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