Admiral Dennis C. Blair: India, Japan & US should maintain military balance to negate China in Indian Ocean (Exclusive)
New Delhi, 08 February 2017
Terming the movements of Chinese submarine in Indian Ocean not just a peacetime movement, Admiral Dennis C. Blair, Chairman & CEO, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, USA emphasized for the military balancing to negate Chinese influence in Indian Ocean Region. Adm Blair, who was speaking at VIF in New Delhi during discussions on ‘Security in The Indian Ocean Region’, said, “These are not peacetime military movements, what matters, is the military balance that come into play should the crisis turn into maritime and air conflict”. “If there is maritime military balance against China than it doesn’t matter how many ships, aircraft or submarine they deploy during peacetime making forays through and forth in a particular region”.
Movement of Chinese submarines is not concern to India or Japan so much directly. Admiral Dennis Blair gave an example to clarify his point, If the conflict breaks out over Taiwan where the United States has a conditional security guarantee to Taiwan and Taiwan has a responsibility for defending itself. The current balance of force is that China could not taken hold Taiwan against the defences of Taiwan itself with support by the US, which may come in case of Chinese attack. Chinese know that therefore seek other ways to extend their influence and power in that sub-region of East asia and the diplomacy made in peacetime e.g. transit of their new carrier through the Taiwan strait are really symbolic not decisive”.
Nobuo Tanaka, Chairman, Sasakawa Peace Foundation also pointed out at the risk of China. “We felt that risk in South China Sea, East China Sea and we are very sure that this strategic alliance with United States is basically preparing for that risk”.
“So as long as the maritime conflict military balance in a particular region is against China then we can deal with individual deployment with confidence; we can counter them, we can discount them, we can trail them, we can protest them”, elaborated Adm Blair.
“We can separate them from sort of economic cooperation which can result in win- win solutions. If we mix up every single Chinese deployment with a barometer of overall relations which will benefit economics and commercial interest and so on, we find ourselves in a situation which we can really make kind of cooperative prowess as well which we need to. Ï believe the military balance in the Indian ocean on specific issues is not favorable to China e.g. a crisis which involve Pakistan or any of the lesser flash points that we talk about in this region”.
Nobuo Tanaka said despite being aware of the insecurity in the middle east, Japan has ignored the concern for long. “Instability in middle-east is certainly a crucial security issue for Japan as Japan is heavily depended on our crude oil. But Japan ignored the security despite the concerns for long”. “One Belt One Road Strategy of China reminds us about the importance of this region and we have to think not only just ourselves but our colleagues- India, Australia and United States because we know that only one single country can not deal with these challenges by itself”.
“China is continuing to develop its forces. China is continuing to put large increase in PLA’s budget. This will result into Chinese armed forces overall ability to perform in case of conflict. So it is important for India, Japan and the United States to modernize our own maritime, air and whenever necessary ground capabilities in order to maintain and with technology and with smart investments to improve that military balance in our favour and continue to make it negative for China”. “And make it a high risk for China to undertake military aggression and therefore for China to turn to other alternatives where it can make more progress”. “We need to spend our analytical, planning and our acquisition and our training, coalition in a real war time military balance so that we maintain that favourable military balance of power for those of us believe for most of us do the Indian Ocean should be ocean of peace and security, not an ocean of competition and conflict”, said Admiral Dennis.
“Collective security is a key word for Japan. Collective energy security is also a very important notion that for Europe sharing the risk for transportation of energy, the pipelines at work, powergrid network is built but it helps also sustainability”. “So energy security needs collective action. Can we do that in South Asia, can we do that in East Asia. Connectivity is an issue here. We have to prepare for preparedness for facing that risk as such. In military sense, we have to prepare by modernizing our defence forces. For economic security, or energy security, the collective action of preparedness is very important”, deliberated Nobuo Tanaka.
General NC Vij, former Chief of Army Staff summed up the discussions on “Security In The Indian Ocean Region” with 6 key important points namely, 1. Importance of Indian Ocean has only increased because of the continued dependence of Sea lanes of Communication.
2. Indian Ocean can’t be separated from the Pacific.
3. Freedom of navigation and securing sea lanes of communication is important.
4 4. India’s vision is the security and growth for all in the region.
5 5. Risk of China’s economic and military power and their ambition to become the foremost power in times to come 5 years or 10 years down the line.
6 6. Supply of submrines to various counntrie is also cause of concern.
“They (Chinese) are the elephant in the room. They are the one who causing concern because of the way they are developing their network of ports. Indian ocean is littered with the ports they are developing”, remarked General NC Vij. “CPEC is another concern. Entire area (IOR) is very important for the economic growth but also have problem like it being most weaponised with maximum military presence in the area”, he added.
He emphasized on the counter balancing and noted the importance of “Pivot of Asia and rebalancing” policy of USA but emphasized that future of the US policy need to be clarified, sooner the better.
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Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.