Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sriparna Pathak, a Scholar at the Centre, comments on Beijing singal to setting up Foreign Military bases, including one in Pakistan

The Cold War ended in 1991 with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. However, it has been often argued that the Cold War dynamics live on - in the fact that there still are two Koreas, and that American troops are still positioned in Japan. China, which till now has no military bases outside its territory has often been vocal in criticizing the American moves for operating such bases.
However, a recent article published on the Chinese government site signalled setting up foreign military bases, including one in Pakistan. “Setting up overseas military bases is not an idea we have to shun; on the contrary, it is our right…it is baseless to say that we will not set up any military bases in future because we have never sent troops abroad,” said the report .
This article has caused some restlessness within India. According to certain news reports this is a move to keep India under pressure. The realist streak in the handling of international relations is clearly visible in this Chinese move. According to the Chinese report, "...we should be able to conduct the retaliatory attack within the country or at the neighbouring area of our potential enemies. We should also be able to put pressure on the potential enemies' overseas interests. With further development, China will be in great demand of the military protection,"
However, the fact remains that a Chinese military base has not yet been set up in Pakistan, and assuming that such a base has already been set up would be tantamount to discounting Pakistan’s sovereign right to take decisions keeping its own national interests in mind. The article mentions that if the base troops can maintain regional stability, it will probably be welcomed by all countries in the region. This may be seen as an indication of Chinese motives to keep a watch on the Uyghur separatists. However, Xinjiang borders the North West Frontier of Pakistan- this means embroiling players such as Afghanistan and the U. S. in this issue. In any case the article clearly mentions probability in getting acceptance from the major players in the region. The mere publication of the report has caused great stir within India, gaining acceptance is still far away. Realist considerations in attaining acceptance does not seem to be the best way out, and a more liberal approach to what has been traditionally thought of as hard politics needs to be undertaken by China.

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