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China trying to encircle India: US

China trying to encircle India: US legislator

>From Asian Age Newspaper (New Delhi)
By Ashish Kumar Sen

San Francisco, April 7: An influential Congressman has charged that
China, while continuing its suppression of Tibet, is increasing its
presence on India's northeastern border as part of an attempt to
encircle its neighbor.

While the tensions between India and Pakistan may have resulted in
President Clinton labeling the regime "the most dangerous place in the
world", it is China's invasion of Tibet that is the source of a
potentially devastating nuclear war in the region.

Speaking at a full committee hearing on the status of negotiations
between China and Tibet, in Washington D.C on Thursday, Congressman
Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the House international relations
committee, said: "Now that Beijing shares a long border with India, it
attempts to keep India off balanced by transferring nuclear weapons to
Pakistan. While Pakistan causes problems on India's western border,
China has been currying favour with the Burmese military government on
India's eastern border by selling them nearly $ 2 billion of arms".

Pointing out that during the Second World War, Burma was called "the
back door to India" by both the British and the Japanese, Mr. Gilman
said: "For the past three decades, China has steadily increased its
political, military and economic influence in Burma?And on the southern
tip of India, China overwhelmingly remains Sri Lanka's main supplier of

In a recently-published book, War at the Top of the World, author Eric
Margolis points out: "Most worrisome to India, though, is the steady
increase of Chinese military power on the Tibetan plateau, which
confronts India with the specter of simultaneously facing serious
strategic threats on its western, northern and eastern borders. This
fear has led Indian strategists and politicians to warn that India was
being 'surrounded' by a hostile coalition of forces directed and armed
by China."

By the early 1990s, China had deployed 500,000 soldiers, a quarter of
its standing army, on the Tibetan plateau, half of them based on the
border between India and Tibet, half in central Tibet.

A new road system now allows China to move large military formation
swiftly along the entire length of the Indian border, affording Chinese
generals the ability to concentrate mutually supporting armies almost
anywhere along the frontier.

'A chain of permanent bases, many with huge underground storage sites
and heavy fixed fortifications, linked to rear echelons by good roads,
has been extended like a Great Wall along the length of the border with
India,' Mr. Gilman said, quoting from the book. The militarization of
Tibet presented India with serious strategic and tactical problems.
China quite literally commands the high ground from the 4,267-metre
Tibetan Plateau.

Pointing out that the PLA's forward positions are located "at the very
crest of the plateau; Indian positions are located, in many cases, below
them," Margolis writes: "In the event of war, Indian troops must advance
uphill to attack Chinese positions firing down on them. This serious
tactical disadvantage is compounded by the chain of
intelligence-gathering stations established by China along the Plateau's
southern edges, which allow China to monitor Indian airspace, electronic
communications and troops movements south of the Himalayas."

He points out that China has constructed 14 major air bases on the
Tibetan Plateau, and a score of tactical airstrips. These bases give the
Chinese Air Force unquestioned domination of Tibet's air space, the
forward edge of battle in the event of war, and the capability, for the
first time, to fly sustain combat operations over India's north and
strike all India's northern cities, including New Delhi, Mumbai and

"But of all China's military emplacements on the Plateau, by far the
most alarming to India is an extensive series of missile bases and
nuclear installations. At least 25 medium-ranged ballistic missiles are
based in Tibet, as well as a sizeable number of short-ranged tactical
missiles, all carrying nuclear warheads. India's heartland and many of
its major cities are now in range of Chinese missiles," Margolis writes.

"China's dangerous expansion in Tibet and meddling in South Asia has
brought the region to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe," Mr. Gilman
told the committee.

He said State Department and the administration had failed to understand
the dynamics behind all this tension and continued to focus on Kashmir
as if it were a localized and isolated phenomenon between Pakistan and

"It refuses to sanction China for violating the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty by transferring nuclear material to Pakistan
and instead asks India to forgo nuclear arms," Mr. Gilman said.

The Congressman added that the IHRC had seen "no indication by the
administration policy makers that they understand the significance of
China's occupation of Tibet and how a resolution of that problem could
defuse the serious tensions in the region."