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World War I

At the start of World War I, opposing armies were equipped to varied degrees with contemporary signal communication systems, but they had little understanding of the enormous burden that signal systems had to carry in order to keep control of the massive forces that had been set in motion. Armies differed tremendously in terms of structure and efficiency. At one end of the scale, Great Britain had a tiny but well-developed signal service, while Russia had a signal service that was inferior to the Union Army’s at the end of the American Civil War.

Both the Allies and the Central Powers quickly realised that commanders could not control, coordinate, or guide large modern armies without effective signal communication. Despite spending years focusing on the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans failed to ensure appropriate communication between higher headquarters and the right-wing armies pushing through Belgium and northern France. As a result of the lack of coordination between these armies, the strategy was foiled, and the army was forced to evacuate north of the Marne.

As the war proceeded, there was a growing understanding of the need for enhanced electrical communications with considerably more capacity for larger units, as well as the necessity for electrical communications inside regiments, which had previously been considered unnecessary and impossible. On either side, a complex telephone system with thousands of kilometres of wire arose quickly. In the rear of the opposing armies, pole lines with multiple crossarms and circuits arose, and buried cables and wires were placed in the elaborate trench systems leading to the forwardmost outposts.

As a result, there grew an enormous gridwork of deep-buried cables, with underground junction boxes and test points every few hundred yards, particularly on the German side and in the British sections of the Allied side. To some extent, the French used buried wire, but they chose to string their telephone lines on wooden supports set against the walls of deep open trenches. Despite efforts to protect the wire wires, the intensive artillery fire regularly cut them at vital periods. As a result, all belligerents developed and used radio (wireless) as a secondary mode of communication.

The ease of enemy interception, the necessity for cryptography or encoding messages, and the inherent instability of these early systems prompted them to be viewed as strictly auxiliary to the wire system and intended for emergency usage when the wire lines were cut.

The employment of electric signal lamps brought visual signalling back to the battlefield in World War I. Pyrotechnics, rockets, Very pistols, and flares were all commonly used to send pre-programmed signals. Messenger services expanded to the point where they were used on motorcycles, bicycles, and automobiles. Homing pigeons and dog messengers were widely utilised and proved to be quite effective.

The aeroplane, which was introduced in World War I as a new element in warfare, posed an urgent communication difficulty. Communication between the ground and the air was difficult and primitive during most of the battle. Between the planes and ground headquarters, extensive attempts were made to use radiotelegraph and radiotelephone. Many planes were equipped with radios in the latter months of the war, but the service was never satisfactory or reliable, and thus had little impact on military operations.

Wireless telegraph transmission was widely used by international navies during World War I and had a significant impact on the nature of naval warfare. Wireless communication over vast distances was made possible by high-powered shore and ship stations.

Post World War I

The pressing necessity for scientific study and the development of military equipment and procedures was one of the war lessons acquired by most of the major nations. Although the amount of money spent on military development from World War I through World War II was relatively tiny, the small sums helped to forge a link between industry, research, and the armed forces of the main powers.

Pioneering in the use of very high frequencies by amateurs, industry, and science was crucial in postwar radio communication. Armed forces now have access to portable short-range equipment for mobile and tactical usage by armies, navies, and air forces as a result of these breakthroughs. Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States all engaged in active military effort in these domains. Germany had designed and manufactured a complete line of portable and transportable radio equipment for its army and air force as early as 1938.

The printing telegraph, also known as the teleprinter or teletypewriter machine, entered civilian usage between World Wars I and II and was incorporated into military wire-communication systems, but military networks were not substantial. Military radio teleprinter circuits did not exist prior to World War II.

Frequency-modulated (FM) radio was another key communication advancement that arose and grew rapidly between World Wars I and II. This new method of modulation, developed by Edwin H. Armstrong, an inventor and a major in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War I, offered a previously unattainable reduction of the effect of ignition and other noises encountered in radios used in vehicles during the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was originally adapted for military usage by the United States Army, which had tank, vehicle, and man-pack frequency-modulated radio transmitters and receivers under development prior to World War II.

The world’s navies entered World War II with highly developed radio communication systems, both telegraph and telephone, and several electronic navigational aids in the works. Signalling with blinker lights was still in use. On navy boats, the usage of telephone systems and loud-speaking voice amplifiers had become commonplace. Air forces used wire and radio transmission to connect their bases and landing fields, and built airborne long-, medium-, and short-range radio equipment for air-to-ground and air-to-air communication.

World War II and After

In some ways, World War II was comparable to World War I in terms of communications electronics: the most extravagant prewar projections of military requirements quickly proved to be only a fraction of the real demand. The demand for various types of communication equipment, as well as enhanced communication quality and quantity, grew beyond the industry’s immediate capabilities. Manufacturing facility expansion became critical, and research and development in the communications–electronics industry reached new heights. 

The evolution of the air, infantry, artillery, and armoured teams necessitated increased radio communication needs for all members. Portable radio sets were distributed all the way down to the platoon level in the military. There was at least one radio in every tank, and some command tanks had as many as three.

Wire communications were provided by multiconductor cables, which could be reeled out quickly and carried up to four conversations at the same time using carrier telephony. The Germans were the first to employ this form of military long-range cable, and both British and American forces quickly followed suit.

At the division and regimental level, high-powered mobile radio sets were commonplace. Telegraph communication may be carried out with these sets at distances of more than 100 miles (160 kilometres) with automobiles in typical traffic on the road. Significantly larger telephone switchboards were required. The greatest communication development of World War II was radio relay, which was created out of the need for mobility. Sets that used frequency modulation and carrier techniques, as well as radio relay sets that used radar pulse transmission and reception techniques and multiplex time-division methods to get several voice channels from a single radio carrier, were created and used.

The necessity for improved long-range overseas communication networks arose from the requirement for communication between homelands and several far-flung theatres of battle. A radioteletypewriter relaying system was designed, allowing a radioteletypewriter operator in Washington, London, or other capitals to transmit immediately to the commander in any theatre of battle via teleprinter. A system of torn-tape relay centres was also devised so that tributaries may send messages through the major centres and retransmit them swiftly by shifting a perforated tape message from the receiving to the sending positions.

During the final years of the war, new and improved communication and electrical equipment emerged in ever-increasing numbers from research and development. Short-range navigational devices, known as shoran, and a new long-range electronic navigation gadget, known as loran, were created for both navy vessels and aeroplanes.

The landing of aircraft in zero visibility was perfected using a combination of radar and communications. The GCA, or ground-controlled approach system, was one such system. For ground control of intercept aircraft, a system called GCI was created using a combination of radio direction-finding, radar, and communications devices (ground-controlled intercept). The radio-controlled guiding of falling bombs allowed a bomber operator to lead a bomb to its intended target. Electronic countermeasures such as jamming transmitters for radio channels, radar, navigation, and other military electronics first appeared in the form of jamming transmitters.

Conclusion

The armed services learned the value of scientific research and development in all sectors, including communications electronics, from their combat experiences. Advances in the communication capacity of wire and radio relay systems, as well as enhanced electronic navigation aids, were produced. The main powers’ armies, navies, and air forces continued to emphasise measures to offer more comprehensive and reliable communication and electronic technology.

As a result, after the mid-century, military activities in all aspects of signal transmission continued to ramp up almost as aggressively as they had during World War II. As a result, signal communication, which combines the capabilities of photography, television, radar, and other instruments that use the electromagnetic radiation spectrum, has moved into new areas of military electronics, such as battle area surveillance and electronic warfare devices to jam enemy transmitters.

In the United States, Surveillance of the fighting area by the army greatly supplemented traditional reconnaissance measures. Using optical, sonic, photographic, infrared, and radar equipment, an electronically controlled target acquisition system was being designed to detect enemy troops or cargo on the ground or in the air. The data collected by these sensors across a large enemy front can be electronically compiled and shown at headquarters, allowing the battle commander to quickly assess the situation and make tactical decisions.

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Defence

“Let people eat cake” says Pakistan Navy

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In 1789 during yet another famine in France, the princess Marie Antoinette upon being told that the peasants had no bread, is said to have replied with frivolous disregard for the starving peasants with the words “Let them eat cake”. Today, the condition of the Pakistani citizens is quite similar to the French peasants of 1789.

The desperate economic conditions in Pakistan and the impact of floods has led the Finance Ministry to issue directives for implementing strict austerity measures for year 2022 – 2023. These measures aim to curtail operating expenditure and reduce the economic burden of the people.

However, it seems that these directives never reached their Navy.

Very recently, Pakistan Navy Ships Shamsheer and Nasr visited Yokosuka Port in Japan with an aim to participate in the International Fleet Review. In much contrast to the government verdict of “no unnecessary expenditure”, the visit was neither mandatory nor of importance. However much to the citizen’s dismay, neither the empty coffers nor the grave economic situation of the people seemed to deter the Navy from going on a tourism cum shopping spree.

Pakistan Navy Ships visit Yokosuka Port in Japan

In economically stable conditions, a Naval ship’s visit to a foreign port would have been welcomed by the citizens. However the economic burden posed by  these activities have quadrupled the fear of a complete breakdown of society. While the cost of fuel for such a long voyage is in itself a huge deterrent, the fact that the ships will be stopping at almost five to seven countries during the futile passage, has made matters worse.

Monetary Implications of this cruise

Let’s look at the basic requirement of a naval voyage. The mandatory requirements include buying stores, fuel/lubricants, undertaking necessary repairs, paying the crew in international currency etc. But is this all? Definitely not. Each stop at a foreign port will require a mandatory interaction with the diplomats, exchange of gifts, parties with great pomp and show to announce the naval ships’ arrival, preparation of native cuisines etc.…The expenditure is definitely mind boggling.

Who is paying for this?

All this is paid through already depleting foreign reserves. Therefore understandably, if news of such frivolous expenditure, especially in these trying times were to reach the general public there would be a furore, and a well justified one. But Pakistan’s Navy has been clever, or at least it thinks it has been.

Where normally, all port visits are turned to a media circus by the Navy, this time not a single press release is available on the open media. Why? Because of a stringent gag order on issuing media bites by the government. The Navy has warned cruising ships to conduct events without the presence of press. The aim apparently is to prevent citizens from becoming aware of this trip to Japan. Pakistan’s naval commanders seem to be relying on their belief (definitely flawed and misguided) that – ordinary Pakistani citizen are like the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in the sand – what it cannot see, does not exist!

In today’s world where information travels faster than light – there are enough people who monitor everything. Which is why hiding the journey of two huge warships was definitely worthless. As soon as a local net-hawker identified the movement of the naval ships – the world and entire Pakistan was made aware of the secret journey.  The Maverick could not outfox these people.

Frivolous Spending in Desperate Times

While one may still be able to find an excuse for Navy’s foreign visits, but what about the inflating expenditure on the procurement and projects, which are of no immediate importance? As pointed out by social media users a few days earlier, the Pakistan navy has been planning to procure four Frigates (each from Turkey and China), four to eight Corvettes (from the Netherlands), eight submarines (from China) and almost ten new aircraft for its maritime fleet.

Which brings a very interesting scenario to light – the huge lack of communication between the Pakistan’s government and its navy. On one hand the government has been insisting on cutting down operating costs and even travel/fuel usage by every ministry and service, but on the other, the Armed Forces are on a shopping spree. And whose money are these forces using?  The question that the citizens of Pakistan need to ask is despite the mushrooming economic crisis, why is there a need to undertake such frivolous expenditure/cruises? And if they are really necessary, why the extra effort to hide it?

Many Pakistanis have already started asking such questions, a mass outcry is not far. And while the Pak armed forces especially its navy may pretend to be blissfully unaware of their countrymen’s plight, they must realize that secret voyages will not help the deplorable situation of their country and their fellow countrymen.

 

This article has been contributed by Commander Abhishek Rathi (Retd), Indian Naval Officer

Commander Abhishek Rathi (Retd) is a retired executive officer and holds an experience of commanding two naval warships. He has a keen interest in maritime history and technology. The officer is also an avid nature photographer and likes traveling all across India for it.

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Defence

History Created: In a First, Two CRPF Women Officers Promoted to IG Rank

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two women officers promoted to IG rank

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was established on July 27, 1939, as the Crown Representative’s Police. On December 28, 1949, the CRPF Act was passed, transforming it into the Central Reserve Police Force. It belongs to the group of Central Armed Police Forces. The primary responsibility of the CRPF is to support state and union territory police forces with consistent efforts to uphold the rule of law and check on the insurgency. Roughly 81 years after its establishment for the first time in its history, two CRPF women officers promoted to IG rank (Inspector Generals), 35 years after the first time women joined CRPF as officers in 1987. The appointment of women officers as IG has been made in the specialised anti-riots unit Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the Bihar Sector. 

Previously, there have been female Indian Police Service (IPS) officers in charge of CRPF formations, and currently, the force has at least three such officials. According to officials, Annie Abraham has been designated as the IG of the Rapid Action Force (RAF), and Seema Dhundia has been placed as the IG of the Bihar Sector as part of a recent transfer order issued by the force headquarters. This is the first time a woman IG will be in charge of the RAF. The CRPF’s sectoral leader is an IG. 

It is interesting to note that these officers were among the highly decorated officers and the first female officers to join CRPF in 1987. They have also led an all-woman Indian police contingent at the UN.

The 15-battalion RAF is called upon to support state police forces for significant events where large crowds are anticipated and for VIP visits. It is deployed for anti-riot, counter-protest, and in a situation where sensitive law and order duties are to be taken care of in various parts of the country. In 1986, the CRPF became the first branch of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to enlist women for warfare. At present, there are more than 6,000 female constables working in six of these battalions.

This news arrived when the UN Security Council commemorated the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the first in a series of 10 resolutions since 2000. This resolution focuses on important places women must occupy during peace and security dialogues and policy-making efforts. The premise of the passing of the resolution has been a recognition that women and children are affected disproportionately in conflict situations. The efforts towards peacebuilding and peacekeeping are half-hearted until women are put at the centre of these dialogues. This is more popularly known as the Women, Peace and Security agenda (WPS agenda).

CRPF Women Officers Promoted to IG Rank is not the end….

India has a long list of efforts to boast about the participation of women in peace and security even though it has not ratified 1325 and has in official statements mentioned that it has no intention of taking this ahead, too, something that has been debated and questioned for a long time.

The long list of positive efforts towards women’s participation in peace and security from India’s side has been in the direction of WPS despite the non-ratification of the international policy document until now. Some of these are – the increased number of uniformed women in peacekeeping missions. According to the data available from the UN, of around 95,000 peacekeepers in 2020, women comprised 4.8% of military contingents and 10.9% of formed police units. Meanwhile, approximately 34% of personnel in peacekeeping missions were women. It does not bifurcate the number of women from each nation deployed in these peacekeeping missions. The recognition of India’s efforts towards the importance of women’s participation in peacebuilding networks is evident.

India was the first nation to send an all-female troop on a UN peacekeeping operation in 2007. In order to strengthen the capabilities of the Liberian police, the Formed Police Unit was deployed throughout Liberia for round-the-clock security and carried out night patrols in the nation’s capital, Monrovia.

When UNSCR 2242 was adopted in 2015, Indian officials emphasised their nation’s role as a troop-contributing nation, reaffirmed the importance of UNSCR 1325, and pledged to effectively implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The first all-female peacekeeping team that India sent to Liberia in 2007 has been hailed as a success by the international community.

India continued to be the most significant cumulative contributor of UN Peacekeeping troops, having provided around 2,53,000 since the 1950s. As of October 31 2020, India is the fifth-largest contributor, with 5,353 personnel deployed in 8 peacekeeping missions. India made deployments of medical personnel to Goma (DRC) and Juba (South Sudan).

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Know All About India’s New CDS  General Anil Chauhan

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India's new cds general anil chauhan

The post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) which had been vacant for nine months after the tragic death of India’s first CDS General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash last December, has got a new appointment as Lieutenant General (Lt. Gen.) Anil Chauhan (retd.) on 30 September. As CDS, Gen. Chauhan will also function as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on all tri-service matters as well as head the Department of Military Affairs as Secretary. In addition to these, he will be the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).

Born on 18 May 1961, Lt. Gen. Anil Chauhan was commissioned into the 11th Gorkha Rifles, the same regiment that the former CDS was part of.

The selection took four months after the government amended the Army, Navy, and Air Force rules in early June to widen the eligibility criteria for fulfilling the top post; new rules allowed retired three-star officers to be eligible for the prestigious post.

It is for the first time in the history of the Indian Army that a three-star officer has been brought back from retirement to take charge of a four-star rank.

Who is General Anil Chauhan?

As an alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, a 1981 alumnus of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun, Chauhan was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the 6th Battalion of the 11th Gorkha Rifles (6/11 GR) based in Lucknow. Gen. Chauhan, in his career spanning over four decades, has held several commands, and has had invaluable experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East India.

As part of his duty as Major General, he commanded an infantry division in the Baramulla sector in Jammu and Kashmir and the Dimapur-based 3 corps as the Corps Commander. Later as Lieutenant General, he commanded a Corps in the North-Eastern India and subsequently became the Eastern Army Commander in September 2019. In this duty he ensured that the army’s focus shifted from counter-insurgency to conventional tasks along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as Operation Snow Leopard was underway in Eastern Ladakh. In this operation, the Indian Army dedicated three months entirely for planning before it executed the operation to control key heights along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. The role of Gen. Chauhan was crucial in this operation which is still in progress. He held charge of the Eastern Army Commander until he retired from service on May 31, 2021.

cds anil chauhan

In addition to these command appointments, Gen. Chauhan has also served as Director General of Military Operations (DGMO). As the DGMO he was in charge of ‘Operation Sunrise’, which consisted of coordinated operations undertaken jointly by Indian and Myanmar armies on insurgent groups taking shelter across the border. The operation was particularly important in eradicating North-East India’s insurgencies and it turned out to be highly successful. He had also contributed to the Naga talks in consultation with the then-Governor of Nagaland.

In fulfilling his duty as DGMO at the Army Headquarters from January 30, 2018 to August 31, 2019 when Gen. Rawat was the Army Chief, he was closely involved in India’s response to the Pulwama terror attack. The assault which involved India’s north-western neighbour resulted in the death of 40 Indian security personnel. It was avenged in the form of Balakot air strike on February 26, in which Gen. Chauhan had a role to play.

Post retirement, Gen. Chauhan took charge as the Military Adviser in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), where he was working closely with National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval.

Personal Life 

cds anil chauhan family members

Having immense experience in resolving border issues, Gen. Chauhan has shared his understanding of his life’s journey in his two books – ‘Aftermath of a Nuclear Attack’, and ‘Military and Geography of India’s Northern Borders’. As per sources close to him, he is known to be a consistent golf player and a passionate collector of masks.

Challenges That Lie Ahead 

The post of CDS is still evolving; the groundwork was done by the former CDS, and Gen. Chauhan has to take forward from where he left off. The priority will be to reorganise the armed forces into theatre commands meant to bring in synergy and optimise resources. Secondly, being an expert in Indo-Chinese affairs, his experience will help his country in resolving border issues with China. Thirdly, he will take care of modernisation of forces as the vintage weapons need replacements. Lastly, one of his key responsibilities is to stop cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. Citizens of the country are hopeful that the new CDS will usher in new possibilities and a new perspective of functioning in the three wings of defence.

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Defence

India US Military Exercise Amidst China’s Taiwan Conflict

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India US military exercise

Indian and American military forces will conduct the periodic ‘Yudh Abhyas’ or ‘War Practice’ from October 14 to 31, 2022 at Auli in Uttarakhand, which is 95 km away from the Line of Actual Control. The India US military exercise is undertaken to enhance the interoperability between the two armies, and the joint exercise will carry out maneuvers to exploit the full scope of high-altitude warfare.

The occurrence of 18th edition is happening at a very crucial moment as both countries have strife relations with China. The Indian side will showcase its high-altitude warfare strategies and US forces will complement them by exposing various technologies that can be used in challenging scenarios.

This edition will witness the participation of the Indian Air Force in the effective utilization of aerial and ground assets. Also, the India America Military Exercise develops the social relationship with country.

More About India America Yudh Abhyas in Uttarakhand

India US Military Exercise in Uttarakhand

Yudh Abhyas is the largest running joint India US military exercise and defence cooperation between the countries. The program was started in 2004 under the US Army Pacific Partnership Program.

It is hosted alternately between both countries. The 17th edition was held in Alaska in October 2021. The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation, and interoperability between the two armies.

Also, the moto of India America military exercise is successfully achieved in Auli Uttarakhand. Also, the impact of this social training is shown on different countries, and various controversies has been made.

Why India-China Standoff? Facts & Statements

India China Stand Off

In the last two years, there has been a constant rise in tensions between India and China, as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) made an effort to unilaterally change the status of LAC. Also, the good relationship of India with powerful countries, terrify the China government, and such social activities such as joint India US military exercise, helps to more strong relations.

The Indian army struck back and thwarted the Chinese attempts. The External Affairs Minister while describing New Delhi’s efforts had said, “We’ve been resolute when challenged in border areas. 2 years ago, in the middle of COVID, we had China move forces in violation of an agreement. But we stood our ground and have been working it out without making concessions. The world recognizes that a country is capable of defending its interests”.

As per the latest news reported on 13 September 2022, the armies of both countries have confirmed their return from PP-15 (Patrolling Point) in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh, and Indian officials are hopeful for further negotiations on more crucial face-offs of Depsang Plains and Demchok.

US-China Tussle

Following the controversial Taiwan visit of the Speaker of the United States’ House of Representatives Ms. Nancy Pelosi, and the support extended by China to Russia in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the US-China relationship has also deteriorated further. The two economic superpowers are generally also involved in a cold war in the

China’s Reaction on India US Military Exercise

China's Reaction on India US Military Drills

Chinese officials strongly opposed the military exercise, referring to it as a violation of past agreements between New Delhi and Beijing, and following conversation has been made:

“We firmly oppose any third party to meddle in the China-India border issue in any form”, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, spokesperson for the Chinese defence ministry said. “In light of the relevant agreements signed by China and India in 1993 and 1996, neither side is allowed to conduct military exercise against the other in areas near the LAC”, Tan said.

He further added, “It is hoped that the Indian side will strictly abide by the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and the relevant agreements, uphold its commitment to resolving border issues through bilateral channels, and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area with practical actions”.

New Delhi’s Reply to China’s Allegations

Delhi Gov

In response to China’s allegations, “I do not understand the reference to third party interference. The India US military exercise is something completely different and I do not know what color has been given that it is targeted there or it is violating any existing agreement”, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

“The two sides should stick to the agreements (signed) in the past and obviously that did not happen”, Bagchi said, referring to China violating the agreements which led to the face-off in eastern Ladakh.

After the coming together of like-minded countries for informal dialogue, namely Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), China’s apprehension has increased and it has levelled the grouping as an ‘Indo-Pacific NATO’.

“The Indo-Pacific strategy cooked up by the United States, in the name of ‘freedom and openness,’ is keen on forming cliques”, Foreign minister of China, Wang Yi had said. He further criticized the grouping as ‘it claims that it intends to change China’s surrounding environment, but its purpose is to contain China and make Asia-Pacific countries serve as pawns of US hegemony’.

All the members of Quad had cleared their agenda and said they are committed to cooperation with partners in the region who share the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. India being an essential part of the grouping has always put its best efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.

India’s Prospective with All Countries

India has always called for peace and co-operation in the region, that’s why the concept for India US military exercise has been conducted. Being a member of SCO, the two Asian giants have resolved their misunderstandings.

New Delhi has always asked countries to respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and international agreements. In the coming years, one can hope for a free and open Indo-Pacific region which will be beneficial for all the countries situated in this region.

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Defence

Is China’s Global Security Initiative a future security hazard?

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In April this year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) laid out a new vision to re-establish the primacy of the Middle Kingdom (or zhong guo, 中国) by adapting the ancient concept of Tianxia (天下) which literally means “all under heaven”. In typical Beijing-style misdirection, this plan was disguised under the moniker ‘China’s Global Security Initiative’. When he announced the Initiative, at the Boao Forum on April 21, Xi Jinping asserted that this effort was based on dialogue, partnerships and win-win situations – or is this initiative just another case of standard CCP hypocrisy lexicon?

 

But before we discuss the Chinese proposal for GSI, lets glimpse into the other major decisions of Chairman Xi and the underlying factors which have necessitated Beijing’s new gambit:

1. Xi’s win-win developmental myth aka Belt and Road Initiative – As the CCP prepares to mark its 101st anniversary, global opinion and trust in China is reaching record low levels. With each passing week countries which bought into the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), all face crippling loan repayments. Notably, China’s banks are never willing to re-negotiate payments, and almost always have a ‘debt-for-ownership’ deal on hand – take for example the situation of Sri Lanka and Pakistan! So, even the CCP’s friends are getting wary of making any new deals… which is casting a deep shadow over Xi’s legacy. 

2. Zero-Covid Mismanagement – The loss of faith in Beijing has been exacerbated by Xi’s refusal to recalibrate response to COVID in multiple Chinese cities. Extended lockdowns and mass quarantines have impacted global supply chains, with less developed countries facing the brunt of the economic hardship. Moreover, the complete failure of the much-touted Chinese model in containing COVID for over two months, even as the rest of the world regains a modicum of normalcy, has raised several questions about governance with CCP characteristics. Such doubts among political circles, where the CCP sought to expand influence, is deeply troubling for Xi and his party men.

3. China’s assistance to Russia’s Ukraine war – China has not been able to establish itself as a neutral player in the ongoing Russo-Ukraine conflict. Perceived by the West as supporting Russia, Beijing has faced strong headwinds across capitals in Europe. Moreover, coordinated Russia-China provocative military manoeuvres during the Quad Summit in Japan have reinforced the Western belief that Beijing and Moscow are cooperating militarily in the ongoing conflict. As a result, widespread resistance is being faced by Chinese commercial and political entities across Europe and America.

 

4. Rise of QUAD and Failure of Chinese Diplomacy – The deepening of the relationships among the Quad nations, as well as the declaration of multiple Quad projects and initiatives has impacted the CCP’s self-belief. Beijing was so confident of its ‘sea foam’ narrative of the Quad, that it seemingly ignored the positive effect its own provocations were having in binding together like-minded countries of the region. The Quad, today, is an accepted, welcomed and respected arrangement, which has both the capacity and capability to ensure the requisite degree of security across the Indo-Pacific, needed for inclusive growth and shared prosperity. The rise of a credible alternative, in an area which Beijing had assumed was its own backyard, has significantly undermined the CCP’s claims to absolute pre-eminence in the region.

China’s Global Security Initiative – overlook

Aimed at building an Asian Security Framework (with Chinese characteristics), the GSI is being touted as an alternative to confrontational alliances which seek zero-sum outcomes. The “six commitments” promised under this initiative as issued by Chinese Ambassador to Somalia, Ambassador Fei Shengchao, are staying committed to – 

  1. the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security
  2. respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries
  3. abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter
  4. taking seriously the legitimate security concerns of all countries
  5. peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation
  6. maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains 

Packaged as a utopian, inclusive construct which promises to better serve Asian interests (than Quad/ AUKUS) the GSI makes a wonderful read… as a work of fiction.  Some issues included in the GSI which jump out at the reader, particularly considering China’s recent track record in these areas, are – trust deficit due to irresponsible actions of nations, cold-war mentality, (dis)respect for territorial & maritime integrity, rising extremism and lastly zero-respect for international law!

To put this hypocrisy in perspective, consider the following 

  • China’s all-weather friendship with Pakistan, including political support for proscribed terrorists, is the best example of a confrontational alliance anywhere in the world! Even today, extensive Chinese support to Pakistan’s deep state is resulting in extremist attacks across India, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

 

  • China’s undeclared launch of a missile by a submarine (which almost hit a passenger plane), dangerous manoeuvres and tactics by Chinese jets over international airspace which could have collided with an Australian warplane, and clear records of essential commodity hoarding (wheat, oils, etc) by Chinese businessmen (while countries across the world grapple with supply shortages) – these are some of the recent examples of how China is among the biggest contributors to the global trust deficit. 

 

  • China’s blatant violation of international laws, manipulating markets and supply chains, disrupting legal economic activities outside its jurisdiction, etc – Beijing has forced a gathering of like-minded countries, which share concerns and agree on the manner these illegal actions must be countered. Moreover, the calls of war from Chinese ‘hawks’ have become far more explicit, frequent and extreme, espcially since Xi Jinping has taken over the command of CCP. 

 

  • China’s claims of respecting territorial integrity are possibly the most ludicrous of them all. From South China Sea to Tibet, and Taiwan, Beijing’s insatiable greed for territorial acquisition and disregard for opposing perspectives is well established. It is, therefore, laughable to see this point being championed by Xi, in his idea of GSI.

 

  • China was the first country to engage with the Taliban post the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and it continues to shelter Pakistan’s booming terror industry. Significant proof has also come to light about Chinese support to extremists in Myanmar, Maldives and Northeast India. It would consequently be appropriate to say that China’s concern of rising extremism is another hypocritical feint by the CCP.

Will the world accept China’s Global Security Model? 

Despite the obvious hypocrisy in the GSI proposal, Beijing does have a fair chance of success in areas where the US’ influence is resented. Some countries in South America, in particular, will welcome it as a medium to hedge their bets, thereby extracting more from the West. Closer to China, however, nations would do well to be more circumspect. 

Alternatively, the GSI could be a way to distract the Chinese people from the widespread failures of the CCP in recent years, as well as China’s declining influence in multiple regions. A big, grandstanding announcement, notwithstanding limited capabilities to ensure success, would provide enough short-term political gains for Xi and his men to retain a favourable narrative during the CCP’s 101st birthday party. This may well be the true motive behind the GSI. 

Any security framework with CCP characteristics would ultimately have a hierarchical architecture, with Xi enthroned at its summit. The GSI’s concept of an Asian Security Framework would yield an Asian order where Beijing commands the loyalty of all regional countries, and peace prevails at the pleasure of the CCP’s top leadership. With Chairman Xi all but certain to stake a claim to the ‘CCP Chairman for Life’ position during the upcoming Congress, he would ultimately become the ‘de facto’ emperor of the new Tianxia… the true goal of the CCP, particularly since Xi’s ascension in 2013-14.

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