News


DATE=5/21/98
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-40448
TITLE=CHINA-BURMA-INDIA INTELLIGENCE
BYLINE=DOUGLAS BAKSHIAN
DATELINE=NEW DELHI
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  INDIAN DEFENSE ANALYSTS SAY CHINA IS DEVELOPING A 
PRESENCE ON ISLANDS OFF BURMA FOR ACCESS TO THE INDIAN OCEAN AND 
WHAT WILL BE A VITAL TRADE ROUTE IN THE 21ST CENTURY.  NEW DELHI 
CORRESPONDENT DOUGLAS BAKSHIAN TALKS WITH INDIAN DEFENSE EXPERTS 
ABOUT THE MATTER.

TEXT:  EARLIER THIS MONTH, INDIAN DEFENSE MINISTER GEORGE 
FERNANDES SAID A MASSIVE ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE ESTABLISHMENT TO
MONITOR INDIA HAS BEEN BUILT BY CHINA ON BURMA'S COCO ISLANDS.  
HE TOLD A PRIVATE INDIAN TELEVISION CHANNEL THERE ARE MOVES TO 
CONVERT THAT FACILITY INTO A MAJOR NAVAL BASE.  

IN RESPONSE TO THE DEFENSE MINISTER'S STATEMENTS, CHINA DENIED 
INVOLVEMENT IN OTHER COUNTRIES -- BUT IT DID NOT SPECIFICALLY 
NAME BURMA. 

DESPITE THE CHINESE DENIAL, A SENIOR INDIAN DEFENSE ANALYST SAYS 
THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE OF CHINESE ACTIVITY IN THE COCO 
ISLANDS.  THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF NEW DELHI'S INSTITUTE FOR 
DEFENSE STUDIES AND ANALYSIS, COMMODORE UDAY BHASKAR, SAYS 
CHINESE INVOLVEMENT HAS BEEN UNDERWAY FOR SOME TIME.

                        // BHASKAR ACT //

         SPECIFIC TO THE COCOS ISLANDS THERE HAS BEEN A FAIR 
         AMOUNT OF EVIDENCE BOTH HUMAN, SIGINT (ELECTRONIC) AND 
         OTHERWISE WHICH SUGGESTED THAT THEY WERE SETTING UP 
         CERTAIN MONITORING FACILITIES AS PART OF CHINA'S LARGER 
         SIGINT INTELLIGENCE.  SIGINT, AS YOU KNOW, IS SIGNAL 
         INTELLIGENCE (ELECTRONIC).  SO THAT IS WHERE IT IS AT 
         THE MOMENT, WHICH IS THAT THERE HAS BEEN EVIDENCE, 
         FAIRLY IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE, BOTH OF CHINESE NAVAL AND 
         MILITARY PRESENCE, PERSONNEL, AND A CERTAIN DEGREE OF 
         INFRASTRUCTURE IN HYANGYI (PORT), AND IN THE COCOS 
         ISLANDS, APART FROM THE OVERALL CHINESE PRESENCE IN 
         MYANMAR.  

                         //  END ACT //

MEANWHILE, INDIA'S RESPECTED "PIONEER" NEWSPAPER RECENTLY RAN A 
DETAILED ARTICLE SAYING CHINESE NAVAL OFFICIALS ARE WORKING ON A 
NUMBER OF BURMESE NAVAL BASES.  THE PAPER, QUOTING SENIOR INDIAN 
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, SAYS CHINESE VESSELS ARE ALSO VISITING 
CERTAIN ISLANDS CLOSE TO THE INDIAN COAST TO MONITOR 
COMMUNICATIONS.  

THERE ARE DIFFERING VIEWS OF THE ARTICLE.  P-R CHARI OF NEW 
DELHI'S INSTITUTE OF PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES, SAYS THE 
"PIONEER" STORY IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED AND LINKED WITH INDIA'S 
RECENT NUCLEAR TESTS.

                         // CHARI ACT //

         THIS PIONEER REPORT, CAME OUT, AS I HEARD YOU, ON THE 
         10TH OF MAY, THE NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS TOOK PLACE A DAY 
         LATER, AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THESE REPORTS AS PART OF 
         A CONCERTED EFFORT WHICH WAS BEING MADE BY THE 
         GOVERNMENT OF INDIA TO PLAY UP THE CHINESE THREAT.

                          // END ACT //

INDIA HAS MENTIONED SECURITY CONCERNS OVER CHINA AS ONE OF THE 
REASONS CONTRIBUTING TO THE DECISION TO TEST NUCLEAR DEVICES.  
INDIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS WOULD  NOT  CONFIRM OR DENY THE 
"PIONEER" STORY, BUT OTHER SOURCES LINKED TO THE INDIAN DEFENSE 
ESTABLISHMENT SAY THE ACCOUNT IS ACCURATE.  

MEANWHILE, CHINA IS PLAYING DOWN THE ARTICLE.  A SPOKESMAN FOR 
THE CHINESE EMBASSY IN NEW DELHI SAYS THE STORY IS NOTHING BUT 
RUMORS.

                       // SPOKESMAN ACT //

         ALL THE RUMORS CREATED BY THE INDIAN MEDIA SAYING CHINA 
         HAS GOT TROOPS IN BURMA, THAT IS TOTAL RUMOR.

                          // END ACT //

PUTTING RECENT EVENTS ASIDE, BOTH MR. CHARI AND COMMODORE BHASKER
SAY THE CHINESE, STARTING IN THE LATE 1980'S, DEVELOPED AN 
INTEREST IN THE WATERS OFF BURMA AS THEY EXPANDED THEIR GLOBAL 
INFLUENCE.

COMMODORE BHASKAR, WHO IS AN INDIAN NAVAL OFFICER ON ASSIGNMENT 
TO THE DEFENSE INSTITUTE, SAYS THE CHINESE ACTIONS ARE NOT AIMED 
AT INDIA ALONE, BUT ARE PART OF A REGIONAL STRATEGY.  HE SAYS 
CHINA WANTS ACCESS TO THE INDIAN OCEAN AND SURROUNDING WATERS 
BECAUSE THE REGION PROVIDES A KEY OIL SUPPLY ROUTE TO EAST ASIA 
-- AN AREA THAT IS BOOMING ECONOMICALLY AND WILL PLAY A KEY ROLE 
IN THE 21ST CENTURY.

                       //  BHASKAR ACT //

         CHINA HAS, WHAT TO MY MIND IS AN OVERALL STRATEGIC GAME 
         PLAN, WHICH IS TO ENHANCE CHINESE PRESENCE, QUOTE 
         UNQUOTE, IN AREAS THAT IT DEEMS TO BE OF STRATEGIC 
         IMPORTANCE.  AND TODAY IF YOU LOOK, CHINA LOOKING AT THE
         WORLD FROM BEIJING, THERE ARE TWO AREAS THAT ARE OF 
         ENORMOUS STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE IN THE POST COLD-WAR 
         SCENARIO.  ONE IS THE PERSIAN GULF BECAUSE OF ITS ENERGY
         RESOURCES AND THE OTHER IS THE MALACCA STRAIGHTS (BY 
         MALAYSIA) BECAUSE THEY PROVIDE THE MARITIME CONDUIT FOR 
         ENERGY SUPPLIES TO COME OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND 
         TRAVEL THE STRAIGHTS OF MALACCA AND GET INTO EAST ASIA. 

                         //  END ACT //

COMMODORE BHASKAR SAYS WHATEVER THE REASONS FOR THE CHINESE 
PRESENCE IN THE AREA, THE DEVELOPMENT STILL HEIGHTENS INDIAN 
CONCERNS.  WHILE INDIA AND CHINA HAVE BEEN ON PEACEFUL TERMS IN 
RECENT YEARS, THEY FOUGHT A BRIEF BORDER WAR IN 1962 IN WHICH 
INDIA WAS BADLY DEFEATED.  ANALYSTS SAY THE CONFLICT REMAINS 
ETCHED IN THE INDIAN MEMORY AND FEARS OF CHINESE MILITARY MIGHT 
PERSIST.   (SIGNED)

NEB/DB/CB/RAE

21-May-98 8:38 AM EDT (1238 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.