It has been a much needed change in India’s diplomatic manoeuvres. The world’s largest democracy has finally broken the shackles of misplaced notions to emerge as a powerful voice in geopolitics.

And this change, if has surprised an arrogant and power blind China for its resilience, has completely decimated Pakistani propaganda in international circles, especially at multilateral platforms like the United Nations or the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

Pakistan has, for its own peril, made an anti-India stand its lifeline and has been trying to destabilize India ever since it came into existence in 1947 and what has been ironical that its propaganda even succeeded in outperforming India when it came to diplomacy and PR.

India was never outspoken in promoting its viewpoint and always lacked a sense of communication finesse to counter the Pakistani propaganda. If we go through the speeches delivered by India at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on occasions like the Kargil War or 2010 Kashmir unrest or the situation in Kashmir now, we can see this change.

To continue..




According to Daily Mail, China has taken its crackdown on the ethnic Muslims of its border province of Xinjiang to a whole new level, targeting now even the personal religious space in the intimacy of their houses. The Xinjiang region, China’s westernmost province that borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, is home to some 11 million Uighur Muslims and other small groups of ethnic Muslims among Tajik, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Mongolian communities.

The Chinese authorities of the province are forcing the Muslims to handover the copies of Quran, Islam’s central religious text, and any other related religious symbol the Daily Mail report says.

What is more disturbing is the fact that the order also includes to surrender even the prayer mats that are used to offer Namaaz (prayer). The warnings are being issued in neighbourhoods, in mosques and through social media platforms like WeChat and non-compliance means harsh punishment.

Chinese authorities of the region earlier this year started a campaign ‘Three Illegals and One Item’ to confiscate illegal religious items. Quran copies more than five year old were being seized as authorities blamed them of having extremist content. And now this new order means a blanket ban on all Koran copies.

“Officials at village, township and county level are confiscating all Quran and the special mats used for Namaaz”, the Radio Free Asia (RFA) wrote on which the Daily Mail report based.

Dilxat Raxit, World Uighur Congress’ spokesman, told RFA that “reports have emerged from Kashgar, Hotan and other regions of similar practices starting last week that every single ethnic Uighur must hand in to authorities any Islam-related items from their own home, including Qurans, prayer mats and anything else bearing the symbols of religion otherwise there will be harsh punishment.”

China has already banned its civil servants in the region from taking part in religious activities, even if it means fasting during Ramadan, a ban that was extended to students as well. Muslim attire like veils and religious symbols like keeping beard are already banned and authorities regularly come up with lists of overly religious and splittist Muslim names for newborns to be banned.

In April this year, authorities came up with a “List of Banned Ethnic Minority Names” that asked the Muslim parents to desist from choosing names like Muhammad, Medina, Mecca, Islam, Quran, Imam, Hajj, Jihad, Arafat and Mujahid. The directive banned over two dozen such names which could be used to fan religious and divisive agenda.

The list further expanded the one notified in 2015 which banned names like Saddam, Hussein, Laden, Fatima, Amanet, Muslime among others. The directive didn’t stop at naming the newborns only. It further said, “If your family has circumstances like this, you should change your child’s name.”

The authorities at that time had issued a warning that the Muslim families not complying with this directive would not get ‘hukou’, the registration of their households that gives them access to state benefits of childcare, health, education and employment.

Xinjiang, China’s North-western province, that is also known as Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, borders eight countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. It came on the radar of the Chinese authorities, especially after the widespread riots in its capital city Urumqi in July 2009 between the Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese that saw around 200 dead and some 2000 injured. Ethnic Han Chinese are around 40 percent of Xinxiang’s population.

China considers Islamic terrorism emanating from Xinjiang destructive enough to become a full blown separatist movement and does all to curb its spread, especially after reports that the Islamic State (ISIS) is eyeing the region to recruit fighters and expand its base.

According to Amnesty International, mass arrests, arbitrary detentions, disappearances, shooting and torture followed the Urumqi riots. China maintains a strong vigil in the region with large rallies of security forces to intimidate the minds who dare to think otherwise.



Like it had done after its first ever intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last month, that was surprisingly successful, North Korea organized a public event to celebrate its hydrogen bomb detonation on September 3 as well. Both the events were equally massive on scale, the available visuals show.

The hydrogen bomb test was North Korea’s sixth and till date most powerful nuclear test and like it had done after the ICBM launch, this time too, it didn’t forget to taunt the US and the world community by saying that more “gift packages to the US” were on the way.

Timing its first ICBM launch event with the American Independence Day on July 4 and the 45th anniversary of the July 4 statement, the first official communiqué on agreement between North Korea and South Korea on Korean reunification, North Korea then had said that North Korean ICBM was a gift to the US on its Independence Day. It had also warned the US and South Korea of heavy blows in the days to come.

North Korea’s official and only broadcaster Korean Central Television (KCTV) has released footage of the public event to celebrate the hydrogen bomb detonation, like it had done after the ICBM launch celebration, like it always do to push the North Korean propaganda.

We can see people lined up on both sides of roads waving and cheering a convoy of vehicles passing through a road and later gathered at the Kim Il Sung Square as part of the mass celebration event that also included song and dance by groups.

Here is one such footage available on the Twitter handle of the China Global Television Network (CGTN).

The video shows a jubilant North Korean anchor announcing that the “intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) mounting usage hydrogen bomb test was a perfect success” with a file footage of the possible hydrogen bomb detonation from the Korean Central Television (KCTV).

Another video footage here shows the song and dance sequence, huge public gathering the Kil Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.

And like it had done after the ICBM launch, North Korea felicitated the scientists involved in the hydrogen bomb detonation that produced shockwaves measuring 6.3 on Richter Scale, who, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea, vowed to attain the final goal of perfecting a North Korean nuclear force.

“The scientists visited the statues of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill to make a report about their success and vow to successfully conclude their research and development campaign to attain the final-phase goals for perfecting the state nuclear force advanced at the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (in May 2016), true to the guidance of respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un”, the KCNA release said.

In spite of facing stiff sanctions that have crippled its economy, North Korea has been moving ahead with its missile and nuclear programme. But the world community is a divided lot when it comes to action against North Korea on its latest advances missile and nuclear advances.

China, Russia and even South Korea, North Korea’s traditional rival and the US’s traditional ally, are not in favour of military action and are instead focusing on talks and sanctions. Russia has warned that the military hysteria around North Korea could lead to a global catastrophe. And even the emergency UN Security Council meeting held after North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test remained divided and failed to reach to a conclusion on a decisive action against the rogue nation.



The article originally appeared on India Today on August 22.

The Taliban has dismissed the US policy change on Afghanistan saying it was nothing news and has dared the world’s only superpower that it will turn Afghanistan into a graveyard for the US troops.

“If America doesn´t withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, soon Afghanistan will become another graveyard for this superpower in the 21st century”, an AFP report said quoting Zabiullah Mujahid, an Afghan Taliban spokesperson.

US President Donald Trump, in his much awaited Afghanistan policy review, made a clear departure from his earlier stand that US had to withdraw from Afghanistan. He, in fact, said that after deliberations he had reached to a conclusion that the US could not leave Afghanistan in a state that would make it a breeding ground for terror outfits quoting the Iraq example where a US withdrawal seen emergence of the Islamic State.

Showing a conviction to increase number of US troops in Afghanistan and giving them a free hand in their ground operations, Trump said, “One way or another, these problems will be solved — I’m a problem solver — and, in the end, we will win.”

Reacting on it, the Taliban spokesperson said there was nothing new in the speech and Trump was just wasting American soldiers. “As long as there is one US soldier in our land, and they continue to impose war on us, we, with a high morale will continue our jihad”, he added.

The US launched war in Afghanistan in 2001 to overthrow the Taliban government there after the 9/11 attacks which was planned by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan under the Taliban protection. But what began as an operation to overthrow a government has become the longest foreign war in the US history, now in its 16th years, and has cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars with around 2400 dead US soldiers and over 20,000 injured.

Afghanistan has been witnessing terror resurgence. Last year, the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John F. Campbell had described the Haqqani Network as the most capable threat to the US and coalition forces. Also, Taliban is seeing a new surge. According to different analyses, it now controls 10 per cent of the Afghan territory and 30 per cent of its people.



The article originally appeared on India Today on August 22.

As expected, US President Donald Trump has called for a greater Indian role in Afghanistan. During his address to the nation on US’ Afghanistan policy review, during which Trump made several departures from his established stand to withdraw the US from the war-torn South Asian nation like increasing the number of US troops there and giving the forces free hand to handle insurgents and not micro-managing then from the Washington, he clearly said that developing a strategic partnership with India was a critical part of US’ South Asia strategy.

His policy statement that the “India, the world’s largest democracy is a key security and economic partner of the US and it appreciates India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan and wants India to help the US more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development” is an extension to a last month report by the powerful US Senate Armed Services Committee report that advocated a trilateral arrangement between India, Afghanistan and the US. “The committee believes that the US needs to recommit to the fight in Afghanistan and that India, as a major defence partner of the US and a contributor to regional security, has a critical role to play in this effort”, the report said.

In fact, a greater Indian role in Afghanistan where it is already playing a big part in its reconstruction, will not only give India strategic advantage over its traditional rivals like Pakistan and China, but would also mean greater access to the oil and mineral rich Central Asian nations and opportunity for its industry to gain a larger share in the whole Afghanistan rebuilding business.

And this is coupled with the fact that the US review on Afghanistan has been extremely harsh on Pakistan with Trump describing Pakistan again as safe haven for terror groups. He warned that the US will no longer remain silent about it and pressed that it had to change immediately. Now that has huge implications for an increased Indian role in Afghanistan as it has been primarily Pakistan’s objection, a US ally in war on terror, that sees India’s rise in Afghanistan inimical to its interests. How frustrated the US is with Pakistan’s double-dealings becomes clear once again with Trump’s remarks that “the US has been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that US is fighting.”


In July 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a historic visit of five Central Asian nations, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan and the main objective was ensuring India’s future energy security. For India, Afghanistan is the gateway to Central Asia and a stable Afghanistan with greater access will go a long way in fulfilling India’s objective.


A wider presence in Afghanistan will give India greater leverage in dealing with the terror groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State which are trying to establish their Indian footprint. There groups are currently using restive regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan as their gateway opportunity to the Indian Subcontinent.


India has played an important role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction in post Taliban era spending around $2 Billion since 2002 on development projects including its parliament building and committed another $1 Billion last year. The Indian aid basically has been in infrastructure development, health services and military equipments like bullet proof jackets and convoy vehicles. But breaking the tradition of not giving lethal military equipments in aid, it gave Afghanistan four attack helicopters last year and is also training its soldiers.

Now with the US policy change, seeking an enhanced Indian role, coupled with the fact it seeks to limit the Pakistan’s presence there, Indian companies have an opportunity to invest more in Afghanistan, especially when the US wants to win the war on terror, its longest foreign war that is on for the past 16 years, at any cost. A drastic change in the US policy to crack down on Afghan terrorists with a free hand to security forces can effectively take care of the terror menace. How big the opportunity is can be gauged from the fact that the US has spent over $100 Billion of Afghanistan reconstruction yet it is just far from producing any tangible outcome and now that Trump has made it clear that there will be no more ‘blank check’ from the US, the door is wide open.

Also, Afghanistan in future can emerge as a big push for Make in India initiative for India’s nascent defence industry as the country would need a sustained military supply to handle not only its internal terror threats but also to secure its contentious borders with Pakistan, a terror exporter that has been destabilizing Afghanistan for the past four decades.


If Pakistan has used Afghanistan as its junkyard to push terrorists there to maintain its hegemony and export them to India at the same time, China, too, has been trying to increase its influence there owing to Afghanistan’s geographical advantage but so far has failed. A stable Afghanistan, which is fiercely against Pakistan, can in fact give India strategic advantage by providing a valuable military base in future, overlooking both Pakistan and China. It is important for India as reports indicate that China is going to establish its military base in Pakistan, most probably at the Gwadar port in India’s backyard.



The article originally appeared on India Today on 9 August.

US President Donald Trump has warned North Korea that “if it escalates nuclear threat, it will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”, the US media has said. A tough response from him was expected after it was revealed earlier in the day that North Korea had produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be fitted inside its missiles. The revelation was based on the assessment of the US intelligence agencies.

Terming Trump’s threat extraordinary, a CNN report quoted him as saying, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen.”

On Monday, North Korea ‘vowed’ to teach US a severe lesson. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said if the US used military force, North Korea would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons.


Earlier, on Saturday, the United Nations Security Council slapped even harsher sanctions on North Korea, in an aim to reduce its exports by one-third.

Hitting back, North Korea said “it would make the US pay dearly for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country.”

Experts are divided on whether imposing more sanctions on North Korea will be of any help – because even though China, its biggest trading partner, has announced to support the sanctions, its track record says it has never implemented such international agreements in past and they merely remained on paper.


North Korea has been rapidly revving up its nuclear and missile programme after it successfully test fired its first inter-continental ballistic missile last month which according to experts was a new type unlike the previous North Korean missile tests and with a range of over 8,000 km. Such a missile can easily reach the American mainland.

North Korea’s ICBM had left the major world powers divided. A Russia-China joint statement was soft and put the onus of North Korea’s missile launch on annual US-South Korea military drills in the region and the deployment of the US anti-ballistic missile defence system THAAD in South Korea.
Trump, who had said earlier he would not allow North Korea to have an ICBM, had reacted strongly. He then said the US was drawing plans for its “pretty severe” response.

The US, with South Korea, held a military drill in response to North Korea’s ICBM and the US allies held an emergency UN Security Council meeting where the US’ UN Ambassador Nikki Haley asserted that the US could use “considerable military forces” if situation demanded.



Now we don’t need to wait for controversies to tail US President Donald Trump when most of them are his own creation. And they are aplenty – even if it is just six months for Trump in the White House – he brought presidential order to block people from Muslim majority countries in the US; he withdrew the US from global trade and climate deals, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Paris Climate Deal; he has tried hard but has failed so far in repealing his predecessor Barack Obama’s healthcare act; he has cracked down on immigrants and introduced an immigration bill this week to slash down the number of legal immigrants; and his campaign pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it.

The 45th US President is writing the newest chapters of the book on few controversial US Presidents so far. A CNN analysis few days back, in fact, had found a term to describe Trump – The Most Un-presidential President. Ever since Trump’s inauguration, his popularity has been rapidly coming down and new survey has found 61 per cent of registered American voters disapproving his way of governance.

Now another major US publication, The Washington Post, that has already done its series of revelations and expose on Trump’s misadventures and has been in Trump’s firing line of his vitriolic wit and tweets, has come out with another bombshell. The Post has released leaked transcripts of Trump’s phone conversations with his Mexican and Australian counterparts. And like said, they are so un-presidential that the White House did not release them in first place.

When we go through the entire transcript, we can easily look into the mind of Donald Trump, that why he is so – someone who believes he is the greatest person on the earth and then goes on to boast it.

There is no denying to this established fact that the US President is the most powerful person on the earth – but he is certainly not the greatest one. That is a human virtue that doesn’t need the power corridors of the White House. By virtue of being the US President, Donald Trump, indeed could have been the most powerful person in the world. But the irony is, he is not even the most powerful one in America, owing to the spate of controversies around him and his family. The robust system of checks and balances in the US administration cannot allow him to be so. What can be a better testimony to this than his failed attempts to repeal Barack Obama’s healthcare act that he so vehemently detests or wide criticism in the US that his travel ban plan from Muslim majority nations attracted.

The transcript shows him fighting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull like some small time, factional politician and not the President of the United States of America, an office that is most powerful in the world and is also supposed to be the most dignified one. But how can it be dignified when its inhabitants are not.

This one ‘I am the greatest person on the earth’ is a perfect example of it. While discussing with his Australian counterpart an already agreed deal to take in Nauru and Manus islands refugees who were trying to enter Australian through sea route but were caught and imprisoned, he can be seen using un-parliamentary words not just for human lives but also for his predecessor Barack Obama who had signed the deal with Australia. Trump declares the deals signed by Obama stupid and rotten.

Portions of this Trump-Turnbull conversation were leaked earlier which had created tension between the US and Australia. Reportedly, after the 20-minute conversation had ended, Trump had described Turnbull, who is considered a moderate, a brawler and not a shrinking poppy, something that Trump had expected before the call.

But what shocks is the utter disregard for human lives that Trump has. During the course of conversation with Turnbull on January 28, Trump says, “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.”

Even if Turnbull assures that they are not bad people but economic refugees and Australia has full knowledge of their backgrounds, Trump keeps on repeating his scorn for the refugees as if he is not hearing what Turnbull is saying, “I am taking 2,000 people from Australia who are in prison and the day before I signed an Executive Order saying that we are not taking anybody in. We are not taking anybody in, those days are over.”



The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has confirmed that slain Al Qaeda commander Abu Dujana al Pasha was the main driving force behind formation of Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

According to the transcript of al-Zawahiri’s new video message, released by As Sahab, Al Qaeda’s propaganda arm and available on social media platforms and Twitter handles of some terror monitors, al Pasha “united several jihadi groups belonging to the Indian Subcontinent”.

Abu Dujana al Pasha, who was also known as Abu Dujana al Basha, was son-in-law of Zawahiri and played key role in Al Qaeda’s terror operations. Reports say he was known as the “hidden commander” in Al Qaeda, because though relatively unknown to the outside world, he worked hard to establish AQIS. The US had declared him a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2009.

Zawahiri had announced formation of AQIS in a video message in September 2014. Though it was widely reported that al Pasha was killed in a US drone strike before a month, in August 2014, Al Qaeda had never accepted it.

But this message from Al Qaeda chief himself has now confirmed it. Calling al Pasha a martyr, Zawahiri’s long message slams Pakistan, its rulers and its military; takes on ISIS and urges Syrian jihadis and believers across the world to unite; and describes formation of AQIS as one of the most important works.

“Allah guided him to avail his old relationships that had been formed with the Mujahideen of the Subcontinent in training camps and fronts. Allah had given him popularity amongst them, so he directed his efforts to unite these different groups in a single organization, and thus, with the blessing and favour of Allah, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent was formed, under the banner of the Islamic Emirate,” Zawahiri says.‏ @Terror_Monitor
#AlQaeda Leader Ayman Al-#Zawahiri Urges #Jihad|ists Unity In #SYRIA, Eulogies Slain Cmdrs In #Waziristan, Praises #AQIS Role In New Video.
3:47 PM – 3 Aug 2017‏ @Terror_Monitor
#AlQaeda Leader Ayman Al-#Zawahiri Urges #Jihad|ists Unity In #SYRIA, Praises #AQIS Role In New Video. #TerrorMonitor
3:44 PM – 3 Aug 2017

AQIS is trying to make its present felt in India that has virtually been non-existent so far. It recently named former Hizbul terrorist Zikar Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa chief of its India unit Ansar Ghawzat-Ul-Hind. Before that, in June, AQIS had released a new code of conduct for its members and other terrorists, who wanted to show allegiance to Al Qaeda, to follow.


This latest video message by Zawahiri also confirms another important development, acceptance of establishment of an Islamic Emirate in Al Qaeda’s core ideology. Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda founder, was against the idea of establishing Islamic Emirate. But with rapid rise of ISIS, an Al Qaeda offshoot that was denounced by its parent for being too cruel or extremist, as Zawahiri says here, and its declaration of an Islamic Caliphate, Al Qaeda had to change its strategy, it seems.

Last year, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), currently considered the most dangerous Al Qaeda faction, had announced to establish an Islamic Emirate in eastern Yemen, a war torn country that has become battleground for Iran and Saudi Arab to establish their regional supremacy.

ISIS is on its way out. It has been driven out of its Iraqi stronghold Mosul and its headquarters in Syria’s Raqqa is expected to fall soon as international forces are rapidly marching ahead. Though US Defence Secretary James Mattis has doubted ISIS leader Ab Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death, the Iraqi and Arabian media has declared him dead. It is only natural then for Al Qaeda to reclaim its position at top of the pyramid as the most preferred outfit of terrorists from across the world with the fall of ISIS. ISIS rise had seen terror outfits the world over shifting their allegiance from Al Qaeda to ISIS.



The article originally appeared on India Today.

China has an edge over the United States’s military presence in the South China Sea and anywhere near China’s coastal waters, and is far more powerful than the India’s overall military strength that is restrained by limited resources, an editorial in Global Times, a hawkish state-run newspaper in China, says.

China also has an ability to upgrade its military capabilities that is unparalleled among other countries, the Global Times editorial goes on to say. China has worked on its core strategic areas in such a streamlined fashion that it can augment the country’s comprehensive military capability faster than others, in fact every few years, the editorial points out.

The editorial comes as China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s largest military force with a strength of around 2.3 million troops, celebrates its 90th anniversary and as the India-China standoff at the Doklam plateau enters its second month.

The article is the latest in a string of India-baiting editorial that have been published by the Global Times, which sometimes is known to take extreme positions not always held by Beijing. The hawkish newspaper has run a number of anti-India editorials laden with rhetoric ever since soldiers from the Indian Army and the PLA first faced off on the Doklam plataue last month.

This time, however, the Global Times seems to have brought out the big guns. The newspaper’s Twitter handle today posted a video in which its editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, a former war correspondent, can be seen aggrandizing China’s military strength vis-a-vis India, drawing parallels like ‘if China and India engage in military conflict, the PLA has an overwhelming advantage’ and ‘if China and the US have a standoff in the nearby waters, the PLA will not lose’.

The editorial runs on similar lines, saying that ‘underestimating the PLA’s strength could lead to a major mistake’. The editorial also boasts of PLA’s ‘all around development’ built on high-tech research and development in military hardware including submarines, aircraft carriers and navigation systems and highlights China’s defence budget of $151.4 billion, three times of India’s $52 billion allocation for its defence sector.

China is rapidly enhancing its strategic capabilities and in fact, has created an advanced weapons research agency, the Scientific Research Steering Committee, modelled on the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the mother of most innovative defence research in the world giving us technologies like internet, GPS, stealth fighters, precision weapons and electromagnetic cannons.

In March this year, China inducted J-20, its first stealth fighter jet, into active service. The same month, it announced to develop a breakthrough, an electric propulsion technology, that it claimed would make its submarines quieter than US submarines. In April, the country launched its first home-built aircraft carrier in open waters. In June, it launched its home-built guided missile destroyer that it claimed was most advanced in Asia and the world second most powerful.

And as it is the season of army parades in China, the Global Times editorial takes the liberty of issuing warning even to the world on PLA’s behalf it seems. It says as “China’s national interests expand, the PLA will take on greater responsibilities. Other countries need to get used to the presence of Chinese forces outside China’s coastal waters, whether they like it or not.”

Last month, China sent its troops to Djibouti, its first overseas military base. China has entered into an agreement with Djibouti which allows it to station its 10,000 troops in the country till 2026, much higher than 4000 US soldiers stationed at Camp Lemonnier, also in Djibouti, America’s largest permanent base in Africa. And experts say its second overseas naval base is going to come up in India’s backyard, at Pakistan’s Gwadar Port in the Arabian Sea.



The article originally appeared on India Today.

It seems that after India, Britain has now come in the firing line of the hawkish Chinese state media. The reason is another territorial dispute – the South China Sea – where China is flexing its muscles, like it’s trying to do with India in the Doklam dispute.

Britain has announced it will send its two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth – the largest in the British fleet – and HMS Prince of Wales to the South China Sea. It does so in solidarity with the international community’s pledge to ensure freedom in navigation operations in international waters, and to counter China’s attempts to dominate the area by building artificial islands and militarising it with warships and fighter jets.

An editorial in the official Chinese publication Global Times, which regularly threatens India of war over the India-China Doklam plateau border standoff, has warned Britain that sending warships to the South China Sea would be a provocation that would force China to take retaliatory measures.
Questioning the British motive behind the move, the editorial says “it is no longer 1840 and there are no longer any British colonies in East Asia” and that Britain has wrongly taken this decision under Australian and American influence. It describes the “US as a police officer, Australia as its assistant and the UK as its accomplice.”


The editorial says in a patronizing tone that Britain needs to maintain its self-esteem and should not allow itself to “be stupidly dragged back to Asia,” which will only disgrace and humiliate it.

Brexit has been ill-quoted as an example of Britain’s waning influence by the editorial here to justify its arguments. “Brexit is weakening Britain’s influence, and it appears that the country needs to do something to assert its sense of identity.”

The editorial continues to berate Britain as a much weaker country that cannot afford a “new Opium War with China off the China coast,” while aggrandising China’s military prowess that it says has changed the balance of power around the globe.


Blaming Australia for lobbying hard to instigate Britain, the editorial says Australia “can only bark” and if Britain follows suit, its stature will reduced to “being an accomplice or a dupe.” Canberra has traditionally maintained that China mustn’t build artificial islands in the South China Sea or militarise it.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson revealed his country’s plans to send warships to the South China Sea during his meeting with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop on Thursday. Bishop was recently in India, where she reiterated the traditional Australian stand on the South China Sea dispute.

Australia has indicated that it may join British efforts directed towards ensuring freedom of navigation patrol in the international waters of the South China Sea – a vital trade route for many countries, and the global economy.

In May, during his Australia visit, US Senator John McCain urged Australia and other nations to conduct naval exercises in the South China Sea, to challenge China – which was acting like a bully.


The territorial dispute in the South China Sea involves seven countries – China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. A busy trade route passes through it and all other countries except China are in favour of keeping its status as free, international waters.

China wants to control it as it imports most of its oil through this trade route and has built artificial islands in the sea. Doing so would enable China to establish hegemony in East and Southeast Asia. As well, it would keep foreign military forces like the US away from the region.

The US Navy has a sizeable presence in the South China Sea and it routinely carries out patrols in the area to deter the Chinese efforts, maintaining that the South China Sea waters must remain free for international navigation. China doesn’t recognize these claims – including the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) which has invalidated the Chinese claims on the South China Sea – and says China has controlled these areas since ancient times and if there’s any dispute, it should be resolved by the concerned nations through bilateral discussions.