China wants War with India (Part 9)
Mirror mirror on the wall, Who is the most fearsome of all.
The Chinese army has disengaged from Tibet-Ladakh border and the process will continue from both ends, and de-escalation between Indo-China armies may also start soon. Meanwhile two of USA’s Aircraft Carriers are exercising in South-China Sea. Have you ever wondered what is the issue there? Even more interesting is the reason how it is connected to India?
South China Sea Dispute
China has many maritime neighbours like Japan, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and many others and not to forget Taiwan which it claims as part of it’s own territory. Every country has right over it’s land and12 nautical miles into the sea from where it’s sea shore, ends. It is more complicated than that and read here for complicated version. Beyond that, the water is common to all for navigation. In 2013 China started to build/expand Spratly Islands and the Parcel Islands in this area called South China sea. Thereby it sought to extend its 12 nautical miles limit to be counted from the islands, rather than it’s sea shore. That is the shortest version of the South China Sea dispute. Needless to add that no country in the region agrees with this interpretation. But first we need to delve into history of India for a while.
Partition of India in 1947 and before
When British left in 1947, handing the power to their favourite freedom fighters, they saw to it that they leave behind a crippled, uneconomical and weak country under the leadership of a nincompoop like Nehru. For those who disagree, I clarify that Jawaharlal Nehru was as mature a statesman and intelligent person as his descendent Rahul Gandhi. Except that Nehru was most charming politician, India ever had.
So the British cut out Rice bowl of India i.e. Bengal and made it East Pakistan. The cut out Wheat Bowl of India and made it West Pakistan. They cut out thousand year international trade route and made it Pak Occupied Kahmir or Gilgit/Baltistan. The last one connects India with Central Asia. According to the plan, these changes would produce a crippled country. It did. But all this planning failed because the technology changed the world. An entire book can be written on British lack of foresight but that is not the point here.
Azad Hind Captured Andaman Nicobar.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands or archilipo situated in the Bay of Bengal at about 1,250 km from Kolkata, 1,200 km from Chennai and 190 km from Cape Nargis in Burma. Until 1938 the British government used them as a penal colony for Indian and African political prisoners, who were mainly put in the notorious Cellular Jail in Port Blair, the biggest town on the islands. In 1942 Japanese Captured the island as British retreated their army from the island. On December 29, 1943, political control of the islands was passed to the Azad Hind government of Subhas Chandra Bose who raised the tricolour flag of the Indian National Army and freed political prisoners. Since it was the first area of India, which gained freedom and also because it was the prison for most of freedom fighters, British could not cut it away on some pretext as they did with other though Nehru did gift some island away but that is not relevant here. Andaman and all these islands are not part of Union Territory which was the first to have unified tri-service command theatre. This archipelago extends India’s maritime boundary by thousands of kilometres and almost touches the mouth of Malacca Strait.
Nine Degree Channel
Across the mainland India, in the West there is another archipelago called the Laccadive. Between the Islands of Kalpeni and Suheli Par, and Maliku Atoll there is a Channel approximately 200 km wide with a depth of 2597 metres. The deep draft oil-liners need this channel to navigate through the region. This channel sees the passage of nearly all merchant shipping between Europe, the Middle-East and Western Asia with South-East Asia and the Far-East. See:
Do you see the connection of South China Sea and Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea?
China has dependence on sea routes not only for it’s export trade and import of oil but also for food. China is not independent in agriculture produce. It has to depend on food grain import from Australia, USA and Africa. China did not close it’s port ever unlike India shut down arrival/departure of ships during first phase of the Lock down 2020.
China hates to sea this dependence of the world to sail though the back ally of India. Nearly 100% traffic pass through these channels. It is another matter that India has never claimed any special privilege associated with this passage. But war is another matter. What if a country proclaims war of India and then it’s ships seeking right of passage through these back waters of India?
Should India not board the ship and capture it under International law? In the time recent skirmish with China, why India did not stop the Cargo ships of China for inspection, to check that it did not carry contraband, can not be denied by International Law. Why it was not done? Perhaps the situation was not that escalated.