The hostilities between India and China over a remote area of contested border 3,488 kms long, have now included a number of fatalities. Additional Indian military personnel have been drafted into the contested areas, along the Line of Actual Control. (1) The Indian government has also put its entire armed forces on high alert following incidents in recent weeks.
The diplomatic stand-off occurred following moves by Indian military personnel to construct a 255 kms all-weather road to the remote Daulat Beg Oldie air-base in an area controlled by India, from Leh, the capital of Ladakh province. The road construction is now thought to be near completion, enhancing Indian military access to sensitive border areas.
China considered that the moves were also connected to increased restrictions being imposed on their only land-based access to Tibet at Aksai Chin. For decades US-led forces have attempted to ferment rebellion inside Tibet. During the recent border hostilities with India, China has, therefore, increased its presence in Tibet.
Tensions surround the air-base assisting India in the area near the Nubra Valley, regarded as a supply-line and strategic point of reference for Indian military forces with their decades-old stand-off with neighbouring Pakistan.
India and Australia serving US attempts to contain China
The diplomatic stand-off between India and China has now also included increased Indian Naval presence in the Indian Ocean near to the sensitive and congested Malacca Strait shipping-lanes. (2) The shipping-lanes through the Indonesian archipelago connecting the South China Seas with the Indian Ocean, are regarded by China as vital supply-lines for their merchant fleet and imports and exports.
The vast Indian Ocean has long been regarded as sensitive for US-led military and security provision and the strategically-placed island of Diego Garcia was chosen to host intelligence facilities in the early 1970s, linked to Pine Gap in central Australia. The Diego Garcia installations were then also linked to other intelligence facilities in South Africa, linked in turn to Argentina to provide a Southern Ocean Defence Plan for joint US-led coverage of the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean. (3)
During recent high-level diplomatic talks between Australia and India the two countries signed a defence accord specifically designed to counter China. (4) Despite other parts of the talks receiving extensive mainstream media coverage, the defence accord was not mentioned in any meaningful detail. Reliable coverage elsewhere, however, has provided a chilling picture of Australian connivance with US-led regional military planning and India.
The idea of military co-operation between Australia and India was floated in December last year. It was subsequently elevated to the status of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) with the recent talks which drew heavily upon the earlier 'Quad', linking India into the already existing triangular diplomatic relations with the US, Australia and Japan. (5) The US-led and planned 'Quad' was eventually never fully implemented over a decade ago, as it was regarded as an inappropriate manner in which to treat China, which is the biggest trading partner not only of Australia but numerous other countries across the region.
A notable feature of the CSP has been military inter-operability; another has been the use of P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft operational from both Australian and Indian air-bases. The P-8 intelligence facilities already use the Butterworth military base in Malaysia for regional operations.
Australia, therefore, has now become a part player in the border stand-off between India and China and increased Indian naval activity in the Indian Ocean.
The establishment of the CSP has also taken place immediately prior to three US-led regional military exercises planned for later this year: the RIMPAC drills in August near Hawaii, the headquarters of the US Indo-Pacific Command; the Malabar naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal which India already has stated direct involvement; a further exercise near to the US Pacific Islands of Guam. (6)
As the US-led regional hostilities and waves of militarism toward China have intensified, Australia has effectively been drawn into ever closer threats of real-war scenarios for the defence and security of 'US interests'.
We need an independent foreign policy!
1. Indian military on high alert in mountains, Australian, 19 June 2020.
2. Indian Navy's Challenges, The Financial Express, 6 June 2020.
3. P.M. Vorster opened Silvermine near Cape Town, Front-page, The Star (South Africa), 10 March 1973; and, Security in the mountain, The Star (South Africa), 17 March 1973; and, Not in Europe Alone, John Biggs-Davidson M.P., Brassey's Annual, Defence and the Armed Forces, (London, 1972), pp. 78-87.
4. Australia, India, The Asia Times, 10 June 2020.
6. Editorial: Beijing's virus deceit and bullying must be resisted, Australian, 19 June 2020.