Authors: Wang Li & Kripendra Amatya
In modern history, the great powers of the West rarely discussed Chinese military favorably, because although it was an ancient civilization that had produced significant strategists like Sun Zi and Zhuge, it was the country which was at the mercy of the great powers of Europe and Japan for one century from 1842 to 1943.
Given this, when General MacArthur was asked if he would be worried about Chinese military challenges in 1950 while he ordered his soldiers approaching the borders on China and North Korea, he confided to his boss President Truman that “well, have you heard of Chinese capable of fighting. Sure, they had cooked brilliantly, but never fought decently.” This sort of arrogance later led to the humiliating retreat of American soldiers driven by Chinese troops who were equipped much badly. Chinese capability was further recognized by the world in 1962 in which the Chinese soldiers overwhelmed the Indian troops in a series of flanking maneuvers during the quick border conflict. Yet, even though the impressive progresses were made by China since 1950, the overall capacity of the Chinese army, literally People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has been regarded far behind the US, its allies and Russia as well. In the 1990s, Robert Ross still argued that “despite its sheer size, economic vitality, and drive to update its military forces, China remains a vulnerable power, whose most pressing security problems are powerful rivals at its own borders.”
To certain extent, it is true that Chinese military modernization has come from a very low level, yet the leaders of China have persistently dedicated their efforts to catch up with the world-class military strength. The latest milestone is the military parade on July 30 commemorating Chinese military anniversary of its 90th birthday. President Xi Jin-ping, who is also the Chairman of the Central Military Commission of China, took the occasion to reaffirm that China needs a strong military more than ever, urging building the PLA into world-class armed forces and committing itself to the world peace. Now the question arises how China will be able to accomplish its mission of “taking its place in the 21st century as one of the greatest powers of the world, by the means of peace or force”?
Politically speaking, China and its PLA are now governed by the fifth generation of leaders since the revolution of the 1920s. Each previous leader distilled his era’s particular vision of China’s needs. The Xi Jin-ping leadership has obviously sought to build on these legacies by undertaking a massive reform program of the Deng’s era. Belonging to the post-revolution generation after 1949, he has had several unique features as the supreme leader of China, which is the largest and economically most dynamic emerging power in the world. First he served in the military three decades ago; second he was well-educated in social science rather than as a technocracy. Third, he was on the field-study in the United States when he was a junior official in the 1980s. The composition of the current Chinese leadership does reflect China’s evolution toward participating in—and even shaping—global affairs. In the earlier 1980s, not a single member of the Politburo had a college degree. By the early 2000, all of them are college-educated, and a significant number have advanced degrees. Given that a college degree in China is based on a Western-style curriculum, not a legacy of the old mandarin system, this represents a sharp break with China’s tradition, and contemporary Chinese leaders are more influenced by their knowledge globally and domestically as well.
During his review of the military parade on July 30, Xi laid down three key words as the core tenets of China’s strong military doctrine.
First is confidence that refers to the strong legacies of serving the needs of the country and the people’s as well. For Chinese army is named as people’s army rather than national army, it is committed to taking the relief tasks in terms of natural disaster and humanitarian rescue. As the PLA officers and soldiers must firmly adhere to the fundamental goal of serving the people with no hesitation, Chinese military services have enjoyed the ordinary people’s confidence and support.
Second is competence which refers to the fighting capabilities of Chinese army. Since he took power in 2013, President Xi has called for unremitting efforts to make the PLA a world-class army, including the launch of Chinese aircraft carrier groups, more advanced fighter jets, drones and missiles, and more live-fire drills conducting with Chinese first professional “opposing forces” brigade to test their combatants’ skills and spirits. In order to achieve successfully the national goal as a great power, President Xi has urged the PLA to focus on war preparedness to forge an elite and powerful force that is required to be “ready for the fight, capable of combat and sure to win.”
Third, as China is both a rising power and a developing country as well, it is necessary to assure the world that China’s modern armed forces remain committed to peace. Diplomatically, Chinese servicemen are actively involved in international peace-keeping missions. The country has sent about 35,000 military personnel, the most among permanent members of the UN Security Council, to at least 24 UN peace-keeping missions. Given that the world is not all at peace, and peace must be safeguarded, Chinese soldiers intend to accept more UN—designed responsibilities regionally and globally.
Summarily, it is self-evident that since President Xi Jinping took power in 2013, the fundamental changes have taken place gradually in China’s armed forces with sweeping reforms. For instance, the top command bureaucracy was streamlined, military services balanced, the joint command system reshaped, equipment upgraded and the previous goose-stepping in a parade abandoned. As an emerging great power of the world, the PLA is urged to uphold combat effectiveness as the “sole and core” standard for its services. To that end, Xi once again argues that it takes first-class military talent, doctrine and science and technology to build up the PLA into a world- leading military, and science and technology are the core fighting capacity. Compared to Mao’s motto that political power grows out of the use of force; and Deng’s that a strong economy fosters a strong army, Xi’s military doctrine is evidently built on soldiers’ confidence, competence and their commitments to China’s greatness and the world peace.
(*) Kripendra Amatya is a post-graduate student majored in International Relations, SIPA, Jilin University
Pakistan’s Nuclear Safety and Security
Wyn Bowen and Matthew Cottee discuss in their research entitled “Nuclear Security Briefing Book” that nuclear terrorism involves the acquisition and detonation of an intact nuclear weapon from a state arsenal. The world has not experienced any act of nuclear terrorism but terrorists expressed their desires to gain nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has observed many incidents of lost, theft and unauthorized control of nuclear material. The increased use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes has intensified the threat that terrorist can target these places for acquiring nuclear materials. They cannot build a nuclear weapon because production of a nuclear weapon would require a technological infrastructure. Thus, it is the most difficult task that is nearly impossible because the required infrastructure and technological skills are very high which even a strong terrorist group could not bear easily, but they can build a dirty bomb.
A dirty bomb is not like a nuclear bomb. A nuclear bomb spreads radiation over hundreds of square miles while nuclear bomb could cause destruction only over a few square miles. A dirty bomb would not kill any more people than an ordinary bomb but it would create psychological terror. There is no viable security system for the prevention of nuclear terrorism, but the only possible solution is that there should be a stringent nuclear security system which can halt terrorists from obtaining nuclear materials.
The UN Security Council and the IAEA introduced multilateral nuclear security initiatives. Pakistan actively contributed in all international nuclear security efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism. For example, United States President Barak Obama introduced the process of Nuclear Security Summit (NSS)in 2009 to mitigate the threat of nuclear terrorism. The objective of NSS was to secure the material throughout the world in four years.
Pakistan welcomed it and not only made commitments in NSS but also fulfilled it. Pakistan also established a Centre of Excellence (COEs) on nuclear security and hosted workshops on nuclear security. In addition to all this, Pakistan is a signatory of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 and affirms its strong support to the resolution. It has submitted regular reports to 1540 Committee which explain various measures taken by Pakistan on radiological security and control of sensitive materials and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) transfer. Pakistan is the first country which submitted a report to the UN establishing the fact that it is fulfilling its responsibilities. Pakistan ratified Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) in 2016. It is also the member of Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT). It can be rightly inferred that Pakistan is not only contributing in all the international nuclear security instruments but has also taken multiple effective measures at the national level.
Pakistan created National Command Authority (NCA) to manage and safeguard nuclear assets and related infrastructures. The Strategic Plan Division (SPD) is playing a very important role in managing Pakistan’s nuclear assets by collaborating with all strategic organizations. Establishment of Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA)in 2001 is another development in this regard. The PNRA works under the IAEA advisory group on nuclear security and it is constantly improving and re-evaluating nuclear security architecture. National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS) was established under PNRA in 2014. Pakistan has also adopted the Export Control Act to strengthen its nuclear export control system. It deals with the rules and regulations for nuclear export and licensing. The SPD has also formulated a standard functioning procedure to regulate the conduct of strategic organizations. Christopher Clary discusses in his research “Thinking about Pakistan’s Nuclear Security in Peacetime” that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals are equipped with Permissive Action Links (PALs) for its stringent security. According to Pakistan’s former nuclear scientist Samar Mubarakmand, every Pakistani nuclear arsenal is now fitted with a code-lock device which needs a proper code to enable the arsenal to explode.
Nonetheless the nuclear terrorism is a global concern and reality because terrorist organizations can target civilian nuclear facility in order to steal nuclear material. The best way to eradicate the root of nuclear terrorism is to have a stringent nuclear security system.
Western media and outsiders often propagate that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals can go into the wrong hands i.e. terrorists, but they do not highlight the efforts of Pakistan in nuclear security at the national and international level. The fact is that Pakistan has contributed more in international nuclear security efforts than India and it has stringent nuclear security system in place.
India’s Probable Move toward Space Weaponization
The term Space Weaponization tends to raise alarm as it implies deployment of weapons in the outer space or on heavenly bodies like Sun and Moon or sending weapon from earth to the outer space to destroy satellite capabilities of other states. Thus, space weaponization refers to the actions taken by a state to use outer space as an actual battlefield.
Space militarization on the other hand is a rather less offensive term which stands for utilization of space for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance missions through satellites to support forces on ground in the battle field. Space militarization is already in practice by many states. In South Asia, India is utilizing its upper hand in space technology for space militarization. However, recent concern in this regard is India’s attempts to weaponize space, which offers a bleak situation for regional peace and stability. Moreover, if India went further with this ambitiousness when Pakistan is also sending its own satellites in space, security situation will only deteriorate due to existing security dilemma between both regional counterparts.
Threats of space weaponization arise from the Indian side owing to its rapid developments in Ballistic Missile Defenses (BMDs) and Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). Both of these technologies, BMDs and ICBMs, hand in hand, could be used to destroy space based assets. In theory, after slight changes in algorithms, BMDs are capable of detecting, tracking and homing in on a satellite and ICBM could be used to target the satellites for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Many international scholars agree on the point that BMD systems have not yet acquired sophistication to give hundred percent results in destroying all the incoming ballistic missile, but they sure have the capability to work as anti-satellite systems. The reason behind the BMD being an effective anti-sat system is that it is easier to locate, track and target the satellites because they are not convoyed with decoys unlike missiles which create confusions for the locating and tracking systems.
India possesses both of the above-mentioned technologies and its Defense Research and Development Organization has shown the intention to build anti-satellite weaponry. In 2012, India’s then head of DRDO categorically said that India needs an arsenal in its system that could track the movement of enemy’s satellite before destroying it, thus what India is aiming at is the credible deterrence capability.
One thing that comes in lime light after analyzing the statement is that India is in fact aiming for weaponizing the space. With the recent launch of its indigenous satellites through its own launch vehicle not only for domestic use but also for commercial use, India is becoming confident enough in its capabilities of space program. This confidence is also making India more ambitious in space program. It is true that treaties regarding outer space only stop states from putting weapons of mass destruction in outer space. But, destruction of satellites will create debris in outer space that could cause destruction for other satellites in the outer space.
On top of it all the reality cannot be ignored that both Pakistan and India cannot turn every other arena into battlefield. Rivalry between both states has already turned glaciers and ocean into war zones, resultantly affecting the natural habitat of the region. By going for ballistic missile defences and intercontinental ballistic missiles India has not only developed missile technology but also has made significant contribution in anti-sat weaponry, which is alarming, as due to security dilemma, Pakistan will now be ever more compelled to develop capabilities for the security of its satellites. So far both states are confined till space militarization to enhance the capabilities of their forces, but if that force multiplier in space goes under threat, Pakistan will resort to capability to counter Indian aggression in space as well, which will be the classic action-reaction paradigm. Thus, it is pertinent that India as front runner in space technology develop policy of restrain to control the new arms race in the region which has potential to change the skies and space as we know them.
Pakistan’s Nuclear Policy: Impact on Strategic Stability in South Asia
Most significant incident happened when India tested its nuclear device on18 May, 1974.After India’s nuclear test, Pakistan obtained the nuclear technology, expertise and pursued a nuclear program to counter India which has more conventional force than Pakistan. Pakistan obtained nuclear program because of India, it has not done anything independently but followed India. Pakistan just wanted to secure its borders and deter Indian aggression. It was not and is not interested in any arms race in the region. It is not signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT). Pakistan has not signed NPT and CTBT because India has not signed it. Since acquiring the nuclear weapons, it has rejected to declare No First Use (NFU) in case of war to counter India’s conventional supremacy.
The basic purpose of its nuclear weapons is to deter any aggression against its territorial integrity. Riffat Hussain while discussing Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine argues that it cannot disobey the policy of NFU due to Indian superiority in conventional force and it makes India enable to fight conventional war with full impunity. Pakistan’s nuclear posture is based on minimum credible nuclear deterrence which means that its nuclear weapons have no other role except to counter the aggression from its adversary. It is evident that Pakistan’s nuclear program is Indiacentric.. Owing to the Indian superiority in conventional forces Pakistan nuclear weapons balance the conventional force power percentage between the two states. In November 1999, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar stated that ‘more is unnecessary while little is enough’.
The National Command Authority (NCA), comprising the Employment Control Committee, Development Control Committee and Strategic Plans Division, is the center point of all decision-making regarding the nuclear issue.According to the security experts first use option involves many serious challenges because it needs robust military intelligence and very effective early warning system. However, Pakistan’s nuclear establishment is concerned about nuclear security of weapons for which it has laid out stringent nuclear security system. Pakistan made a rational decision by conducting five nuclear tests in 1998 to restore the strategic stability in South Asia, otherwise it was not able to counter the threat of India’s superior conventional force.
The NCA of Pakistan (nuclear program policy making body) announced on September 9, 2015 the nation’s resolve to maintain a full spectrum deterrence capability in line with the dictates of ‘credible minimum deterrence’ to deter all forms of aggression, adhering to the policy of avoiding an arms race.”It was the response of Indian offensive Cold Start Doctrine which is about the movement of Indian military forces closer to Pakistan’s border with all vehicles. Pakistan wants to maintain strategic stability in the region and its seeks conflict resolution and peace, but India’s hawkish policies towards Pakistan force it to take more steps to secure its border. Pakistan’s nuclear establishment is very vigorously implementing rational countermeasures to respond to India’s aggression by transforming its nuclear doctrine. It has developed tactical nuclear weapons (short range nuclear missiles) that can be used in the battle field.
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in 2013 that Pakistan would continue to obey the policy of minimum credible nuclear deterrence to avoid the arms race in the region. However, it would not remain unaware of the changing security situation in the region and would maintain the capability of full spectrum nuclear deterrence to counter any aggression in the region. Dr. Zafar Jaspal argues in his research that Full credible deterrence does not imply it is a quantitative change in Pakistan’s minimum credible nuclear deterrence, but it is a qualitative response to emerging challenges posed in the region. This proves that Islamabad is not interested in the arms race in the region, but India’s constant military buildup forces Pakistan to convert its nuclear doctrine from minimum to full credible nuclear deterrence.
India’s offensive policies alarm the strategic stability of the region and international community considers that Pakistan’s transformation in nuclear policies would be risky for international security. They have recommended a few suggestions to Pakistan’s nuclear policy making body, but the NCA rejected those mainly because Pakistan is confronting dangerous threats from India and its offensive policies such as the cold start doctrine. Hence no suggestion conflicting with this purpose is acceptable to Pakistan. This is to be made clear at the all national, regional and international platforms that Pakistan is striving hard to maintain the strategic stability while India is only contributing toward instigating the regional arms race.
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