Wednesday, April 25, 2012

China plans to develop astronomical observatory in Aksai Chin, threat to Indian borders


Source: News Bharati    

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Itanagar, April 23: China has planned to establish astronomical observatory into Aksai Chin province of Jammu and Kashmir. According to reports, China is trying to push South Korea, Japan and Taiwan for the proposed project. China’s proposed project has created new concerns for India’s border security.   

The East Asia Core Observatories Association (EACOA) with China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan as its members has identified Aksai Chin for the observatory after surveying several areas in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Pamirs Plateau in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Ali in Tibet's Ngari Prefecture that falls within Aksai Chin is the proposed site for the observatory.

According to China, the observatory will carry out research on planetary science, star formation, gamma-ray bursts and other astronomical projects. It will conduct around-the-clock observations of certain celestial bodies. The planned observatory will enable scientists from China, Japan and South Korea to build large-scale telescopes and carry out joint research programmes.  

Though China has clarified that the proposed project will be initiated for research only but in real sense China is trying to straighten its power in Aksai province collaborating with the neighbouring nations. If China moves forward with proposed plan; it will be an alarm for India’s border security. Also the move, if successful, it will legitimize China's claim over the Aksai Chin and make it difficult for India to establish its rights over it.

However, Indian Security Agencies seems be quite reluctant about China’s dangerous moves. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has downplayed any threat emanating from the moves to the national security. 

“We are aware of China’s defense spending and modernization plans and its latest move in the Aksai Chin region. It poses no significant threat to the country,” a statement released by the MoD revealed. 

Chief of Army Staff, General V.K. Singh has also downplayed reports that China has again dared India by trying to legitimize its claim and control over Aksai Chin in Ladakh, saying the place is quite far from the Siachin Glacier.

However, Defense analysts see the Chinese proposal for the observatory as an attempt to complicate the Aksai Chin dispute by drawing in Japan and South Korea who are members of the Japan-based EACOA.
China’s infiltration into Indian Territory is not new. Even after clear cut demarcation of boundaries after Indo- Sino War in 1962, China is trying to legitimize its claim on the Aksai Chin province.

Taking advantage of ignorance on part of Indian government towards border areas China has done huge investment in infrastructural development and has constructed huge roads directly touching Indian boundaries. It has constructed around 6,000 km of roads along the Indian border. China can quickly mobilize its troops and equipment on the strategic border. China is constructing ambitious hydro engineering project in eastern plateau of Tibet for which it has diverted Brahmaputra River in the upper reaches of Tibet.

China is also investing in the infrastructure sector of India’s neighboures. China has invested in Gwadar in Pakistan, and Humbantota in Sri Lanka where a spanking new commercial port and airport are ready for commissioning. China has funded pipelines, ports and roads in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Along with infrastructural development China is showcasing its military power by joining hands with Pakistan. China carried out joint training drill with Pakistan Army last year with the aim to pressurize India. China has expressed an interest in setting up military bases in Pakistan's volatile tribal area or the Northern Areas, close to the restive Chinese province of Xinjiang.

It is also alleged that China provides logistic support to insurgent groups in North east India. Assam’s extremist rebel group ULFA has openly accepted its ties with People’s Liberation Army of China.

India’s ignorance of National soil has a background of Nehruvian blunderbuss foreign diplomacy. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru invited criticism over his comment on Aksai Chin. Parliamentarian Mahveer Tyagi famously criticised Nehru's statement in the Indian Parliament in the prelude to the Sino-Indian War. Nehru commented that "Not a blade of grass grows in Aksai Chin", attempting to explain that Aksai Chin was a barren, inhospitable land and the nation had lost little by its occupation by China. Tyagi retorted cynically, pointing to his bald head, "Nothing grows here ...Should it be cut off or given away to somebody else?”

Defense analysts observe that Chinese proposal for the observatory as an attempt to complicate the Aksai Chin dispute by drawing in Japan and South Korea. Although Mod has ruled out any possible treat from China but taking note of China’s aggressive military expansion near border areas Indian security agencies need to be more vigilant and should closely monitor China’s movements.


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