- - Wednesday, October 19, 2011


India’s government recently approved the deployment of a short-range cruise missile regiment in the area just south of the China border. The missiles will be capable of targeting southern Tibet, where Chinese medium-range missiles within reach of much of North India are deployed.

The Indian missiles are in response to China’s large-scale missile deployment in Tibet and the recent military buildup along the disputed Chinese-Indian border in the Himalayan region,

Known as Brahmos, the Indian missiles have a range of 180 miles. Though small in scale compared to the Chinese military deployments in the region, the action marks India’s first offensive tactical missile deployment against China, according to the India Express newspaper that first disclosed the missile movement.

The missile deployment is heightening tensions and comes as White House National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon leaves on Friday for a visit to China and India.

A White House announcement stated the trip is designed to underscore “this administration’s commitment to growing U.S. leadership in Asia, and our work with emerging powers, such as China and India, as a core component of this commitment.”

China increasingly views India as its chief rival in the Indo-Pacific region. A whole set of regional security and geopolitical calculations factor into this escalation of mutual hostility. Pakistan’s souring of relations with the United States over the recent Osama bin Laden and Haqqani affairs prompted China to quickly seize the opportunity to cozy up to Islamabad, something that deeply displeases India.

In return, India’s joint - albeit limited - naval and energy cooperation with Vietnam in the South China Sea upset Beijing. China accused India of “interfering” with China’s domestic affairs by jointly exploring South China Sea oil resources without the Beijing Politburo’s approval.

With increased tensions, historical territorial issues between China and India are resurfacing as major points of contention in both Chinese and India media.

The new Brahmos missiles will be fielded in India’s Arunachal province, an area which China claims is mainly its, referring to the region as “South Tibet.”


The current visit by Japan’s foreign minister to three Southeast Asia nations prompted China to loudly condemn any multilateral approach to solving disputes over South China Sea maritime claims.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Monday that the proposal announced by Japanese foreign minister Koichiro Gemba for establishing a multilateral framework was unacceptable to China.

Instead, Mr. Liu said China wants to negotiate with other nations in the region that are challenging China’s sweeping territorial claim in the South China Sea.

Tensions have risen in the region in recent years after China built up its navy presence and reiterated its claim to key island groups and bodies of water in the vast South China Sea that are also claimed by five other nations.

Of the five challengers to Chinese claims, the Philippines is the most active proponent of a multilateral approach to solving the issues. Manila took the initiative a few weeks ago to solidify support for that stance within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states.

After Japan echoed the Philippines proposal, China’s government angrily denounced multilateralism as a heresy in solving international disputes like this one.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at mmilesyu@gmail.com.

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