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15/5/98.AAP:BURMESE ARMY'S NON-NEUT
AAP NEWS: BURMESE ARMY'S NON-NEUTRAL STANCE WITH CHINA CONTRIBUTES
GREATER SECURITY CONCERNS IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA.
03/05/98:AFP--CHINA BIGGER THREAT TO INDIA THAN PAKISTAN: MINISTER
06/05/98:AFP--INDIAN DEFENCE MINISTER IN DEEP OVER CHINA
10/05/98:AFP--CHINA STEPPING UP DEFENCE PRESENCE NEAR INDIAN COAST
12/05/98:REUTERS--CHINA STAYS SILENT ON INDIA NUCLEAR TESTS
15/05/98:AFP--IF WE'RE ATTACKED WE'LL USE NUCLEAR BOMB - INDIAN PM
ASIA: CHINA BIGGER THREAT TO INDIA THAN PAKISTAN: MINISTER
NEW DELHI, May 3 AFP - India's Defence Minister George Fernandes
said today the country faced a bigger threat from China than from
Pakistan and New Delhi would make nuclear weapons if it ran out of
"China is potential threat number one," the defence minister
told the private Home TV network.
"The potential threat from China is greater than that from
Pakistan and any person who is concerned about India's security
must agree with that fact," it quoted Fernandes as saying.
His statement came hard on the heels of the first-ever visit to
India by a chief of the Chinese army, General Fu Quanyou.
India exploded a nuclear device in 1974. It fought a brief but
bitter border war with China in 1962 which led to a 14-year
India has also fought three wars with Pakistan since 1947.
Replying to questions about a supposed build-up of Chinese
military around India, Fernandes said Beijing had deployed its
nuclear missiles in Tibet.
"China has its nuclear weapons stockpiled in Tibet right along
India's borders ... "
Fernandes also said Chinese military airfields in Tibet had been
extended in the last six months.
He said there was "a lot of naval activity" off the coast of
Burma, including the construction of harbours on islands owned by
Burma where Chinese ships could be berthed.
"And their (China's) senior officials have said that the Indian
Ocean is not India's ocean. There is no doubt in my mind that
China's fast-expanding navy, which will be the biggest in this part
of the world, will be getting into the Indian Ocean fairly soon."
Fernandes, a firebrand socialist in India's new coalition
government, also said China was training Burma's army and it had
set up a "massive electronic surveillance establishment" on Burma's
Coco Islands on the northern tip of India's Andaman and Nicobar
"These are Burmese territory. China has taken them on loan.
Already there is massive electronic surveillance establishment
which the Chinese have installed and which is monitoring everything
"There are moves to convert that into a major naval base which
would be a direct threat to us," he said.
Sino-Indian tensions have eased following a series of high-level
visits which began in 1988 but disputes over their border persist.
India says China still holds 40,000 square kilometres of its
territory at Aksai Chin in Kashmir. China lays claim to a swathe of
Indian territory in the far eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Fernandes, speaking about India's policy on China, said: "I
think there is a reluctance to face the reality that China's
intentions need to be questioned.
"This is where our country has made mistakes in the past. We
made those mistakes in the early 1950s. We paid the price in the
1960s. And I think things have not changed."
Later, talking to reporters in New Delhi Fernandes said talks
with China and Pakistan should be carried on to reach a "decisive
stage" to resolve contentious issues and establish peace in the
"India is against war and believes in peace. Discussing
confidence building measures with our immediate neighbours are not
"We want negotiations to be carried on to a decisive stage while
discussing these measures."
On India's nuclear policy he told the television network that
India "is taking the inevitable next step. We have come to a point
where we believe we need to make a review of the defence policy."
Fernandes, however, added India would build nuclear weapons only
after a strategic review.
"If those threat perceptions are as one visualises them to be
following the defence review, then you have no option," he said of
India's claims of military threats from Pakistan and China.
"If the review leads us to a point where it becomes obvious it
is time now to exercise the nuclear option, then we will exercise
India refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, describing them as
discriminatory between the nuclear haves and have-nots.
ASIA: INDIAN DEFENCE MINISTER IN DEEP OVER CHINA
INDIA FERNANDES (NEWS ANALYSIS)
By Pratap Chakravarty
NEW DELHI, May 6 AFP - Two decades after winning his greatest
battle - booting Coca Cola out of India - George Fernandes has
turned more rebellious as the country's new and outspoken defence
The 68-year-old veteran socialist finds himself even at odds
with the ruling Hindu nationalists with explosive comments that
China, India's giant northern neighbour, is New Delhi's "number one
The remark has evoked strong protests from China's foreign
ministry as well as across a wide political spectrum in India.
Indian opposition parties have accused Fernandes of endangering
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who also holds the
external affairs portfolio, is likely to contest Fernandes's
anti-Chinese salvo, analysts said.
"These comments cannot be taken as the government's opinion but
are a product of a rebellious mind," said an analyst from the
Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA).
Former Indian prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral yesterday
described Fernandes as "temperamentally an adventurist" and warned
that his "utterances and chauvinism" were straining India's foreign
The maverick Fernandes, however, remains unfazed.
He told a television network on Sunday that "the potential
threat from China is greater than that from Pakistan and any person
concerned about India's security must agree with that fact".
He said Beijing had stockpiled nuclear weapons and extended
military airfields in Tibet on India's northern border during the
past six months. He said China was also training neighbouring
Last month, he claimed China had built a military airstrip in
Indian territory, a statement Vajpayee was publicly forced to
refute as incorrect.
Fernandes, a Christian who studied philosophy and became a
politician although his father wanted him to be a priest, is a
long-standing critic of China and the most vocal Indian supporter
of Tibetan independence.
He has also supported the movement for democracy in Burma and
the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka.
Last year, he defied an Indian government ban and organised a
meeting at his house that was attended by prominent Indian
supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is
outlawed in India.
When he was named India's defence minister in March, many were
worried that Fernandes may incorporate his anti-China agenda in his
official pronouncements - a fear which has come true.
The IDSA analyst said Fernandes's anti-Beijing statements -
never aired by any Indian minister since the 1962 Sino-Indian
border war - stemmed from his belief that communist China was evil.
Fernandes started his political career as a trade unionist in
his southern home state of Karnataka, before assuming control of
major transport unions in Bombay in the 1960s and 1970s.
One of the leading lights of the Indian socialist movement, he
remained a strong critic of Marxism and Indian communist parties.
He was first elected to parliament in 1967. In 1977, as the
country's industry minister he kicked out US giant Coca Cola from
India after the firm refused to make public its secret formula.
Fernandes was among the thousands of opposition activists jailed
during an "emergency" regime in 1975-77. He was elected to
parliament by a large margin in the 1977 polls even while he was in
In 1974, he organised a crippling railway strike in India.
His Samata (Equality) Party tied up with Hindu nationalists
during the 1996 elections, but the alliance held power for only 13
days. This time, its 12 members of parliament are crucial to the
ASIA: CHINA STEPPING UP DEFENCE PRESENCE NEAR INDIAN COAST
INDIA DEFENCE (CARRIED EARLIER)
NEW DELHI, May 10 AFP - India has "crucial evidence" of a strong
Chinese naval presence in Burma and Chinese vessels are visiting
islands near the Indian coast to monitor signals traffic, a daily
newspaper said today.
The Pioneer newspaper quoted unidentified Indian officials as
saying they had proof that at least 42 Chinese naval engineers and
operations officers had been deployed to seven Burmese naval bases
in the Bay of Bengal.
They said the bases, including the Coco islands, the Hainggyi
islands and the Ayeryarwady naval base, were off India's east
"Senior officials said the Chinese have been building up the
pressure by sending vessels to intercept Indian signals
communications," the Pioneer said, the latest siting occured in
India's new Defence Minister George Fernandes has sparked a
storm by terming China as India's number one threat. He has accused
it of building up naval bases in Burmese territory and of helping
Pakistan develop a surface-to-surface missile.
China has denied being a threat to India. Fernandes toned down
his remarks but said there could be no "let-up" of troops deployed
on the Indo-Chinese border.
Fernandes also accused Beijing of stockpiling nuclear weapons
and extending military airfields in Tibet to India's north during
the past six months, adding that China was also training Burma's
India and China fought a brief border war in 1962, leading to a
virtual freeze in ties for 14 years. Relations have been on the
mend and several high-level visits exchanged. Last month the
People's Liberation Army chief General Fu Quanyou went to India for
India says China still holds 40,000 square kilometres of its
territory in Kashmir. China lays claim to a swathe of Indian
territory in the far eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Fernandes is a long-standing critic of China and of the military
junta in Burma and one of the most vocal Indian supporters of
ASIA: CHINA STAYS SILENT ON INDIA NUCLEAR TESTS
INDIA NUCLEAR CHINA
BEIJING, May 12 Reuters - China stayed silent today on India's
announcement that it had conducted three underground nuclear tests.
The spokesman's office at the Chinese foreign ministry had no
immediate comment. "I have taken down your question," a spokesman
said. A foreign ministry spokesman is scheduled to hold a news
briefing at 2.45 pm (1645 AEST).
India's ambassador to China, Vijay Kunhianandan Nambiar, said he
had not heard from the Chinese.
"I'm not aware that they have any plans. I don't know. They have
not summoned me," Nambiar said when asked if the Chinese foreign
ministry had contacted him.
China's official news agency Xinhua reported the tests but did
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced yesterday
that three underground nuclear tests were conducted in the western
state of Rajasthan.
The announcement stunned the world and triggered widespread
China -- the last declared nuclear power after Britain, the
United States, Russia and France to announce a halt to testing --
had been the target of world criticism itself until 1996.
On July 29, 1996, China conducted what it said would be its last
nuclear test before a self-imposed moratorium that took effect the
In September 1996, China signed the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty at the United Nations and imposed a moratorium on future
India's nuclear tests come two weeks after a visit by China's
military chief Fu Quanyou. Official Indian statements after Fu's
meetings were peppered with sober and conciliatory language.
China fought a brief border war with India in 1962, but
relations have warmed in recent years.
But Sino-Indian ties were shaken this month when Indian Defence
Minister George Fernandes said India had long focused on the threat
from Pakistan while ignoring the equal danger posed by China.
Fernandes said China had built a sophisticated electronic
surveillance base in Burma's Coco Islands. Burma denied the
He also said China was beefing up airfields in Tibet to take
supersonic fighters capable of striking at India's borders.
China expressed "utmost regret and resentment" at Fernandes'
comments and warned they could sabotage friendly relations.
In April, Fernandes accused China of providing missile
technology TO Pakistan after Islamabad announced it had tested its
longest-range missile capable of striking targets deep inside
Beijing, which has long enjoyed a close military relationship
with Pakistan, denied the allegation.
ASIA: IF WE'RE ATTACKED WE'LL USE NUCLEAR BOMB - INDIAN PM
NEW DELHI, May 15 AFP - Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee warned today that India would not hesitate to use nuclear
weapons if it was attacked.
The premier told some 500 Hindu supporters, "We won't utilise
our nuclear weapons against others.
"But if we are attacked, we will not hesitate in using them for
Vajpayee also appealed to Western countries not to impose
sanctions against India.
"Before taking such a step I hope those people will re-think."
The UN Security Council yesterday strongly deplored India's
nuclear tests and urged maximum restraint by all states to avert a
dangerous arms race in Asia.
In a statement adopted by consensus among the 15 members, the
council said it "strongly deplored" India's triple underground
explosions on Monday, followed by two more on Wednesday, "despite
overwhelming international concern and protests".
The council pointed out that the tests flew in the face of a de
facto moratorium in place since the 1996 adoption of the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and urged India and other states to
sign the pact.