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Is China Encircling India?

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On August 10th the Times of India reported that the Chinese military was participating in joint war games with Pakistan 25 km from the border of India's western Rajasthan region. Now the same publication has claimed that the Chinese are working on India's eastern border by supplying the ULFA with T-81 riffles and IED's.

The ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) is a separatist group that seeks to make a sovereign nation of India's Asom region, though the group asserts that it's not a secessionist organization, saying that Asom was never a part of India because the Treaty of Yandaboo-- in which Burma ceded the region to the British in the First Anglo-Burmese War-- is illegitimate. (They say the Burmese were muscled by the British military into accepting Britain's terms without discussion.)

In 1990 the Indian government classified the group as a terrorist organization, launching numerous military operations against it over the following years. The group has allegedly been responsible for several targeted assassinations, bombings (which have killed scores of civilians), and bank robberies.

China has been accused in the past of supporting the ULFA, something the chairman of the organization-- Arabinda Rajkhowa -- recently denied, saying (in general, not specifically about the latest Times of India report), "There are reports about China helping us. If such a big powerful country was helping us, then we would have made Asom Independent long time back".

As the United States has turned up the pressure on Pakistan, having already created a lasting presence in Afghanistan, China has begun to assert itself for its own strategic interests. After the alleged "bin Laden kill" and the U.S.'s threatening PR campaign against Pakistan afterward, China backed Pakistan by supplying the nation 50 fighter jets and warning the United States that an attack on the nation would be considered an attack on China. On Wednesday China unveiled its first aircraft carrier, moving its navy (according to the Wall Street Journal) from the level of pure "sea denial" (submarines, mines) to one that aims for control of the sea, seeking to join an elite club that currently consists of the United States, Great Britain, and Japan. China has also used a renewed crackdown againtthe ETIM in the aftermath of recent attacks in its Xinjiang region to pressure Pakistan to allow China to establish military bases there "similar to the American presence in the country".

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Andrew Steele is the editor of America 20xy-- an independent news service that highlights articles from around the web focusing on international and economic policy, and human rights abuses. The mission statement for the page is a quote from Thomas (more...)
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