January 11, 2012

China and Quadrilateral Strategic Concerns

1st Published Wednesday, November 12, 2008


China's Type 093 "Shang" Class nuclear attack submarine - capable of laying mines, firing torpedoes and launching cruise missiles on coastal cities.
Nerpa Accident Sets Back Indian Submarine Program :

"The thing I was trying to understand, China is an important partner of Australia(trade).

I wanted to know the strategic value of joint exercises recently concluded in Bay of Bengal, conducted by navies of Japan, US, India, Australia, Singapore. Its no secret it was directed towards China. I understand that US, India, Japan have direct security implications.

But I don't understand how Chinese Navy(or China) bothers Australia and Singapore since they aren't directly bothered and neither within reach(at least Australia).

Also what implications it has for Aussies? The possible reasons I was able to mine is to limit their entry in Indian ocean and Australia being US ally.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008".

My response is:your questions touch on several broad matters:
Any multinational naval exercise has diplomatic, combat coordination and efficiency objectives.
The joint exercise that you are probably referring to was Malabar 2007 (see my
article in News Weekly
). While I understand Malabar 2008 was only India and US (?).
Malabar 2007 was an alliance strengthening demonstration with a logical geographical focus on China's projection of power into the Indian Ocean via Burma. Focus was also on the navies working together to combat piracy/terrorism and state based naval activity that would threaten the oil trade transiting the Indian Ocean.

Under Australia's Rudd government and two(?) subsequent changes of Japanese government the quadrilateral understanding has weakened. Trade with China seems more important.

China has a growing blue water naval capability (especially submarines) that initially will influence countries in the Pacific basin (eg Japan, Australia and Singapore) and later in the Indian Ocean (India, Australia).

Issues include:

- threats to Australia from Chinese submarine launched missiles (cruise and ballistic),

- trade sea-lane threats (especially over oil),

- blockade (which includes use of mines).

- Chinese power projection close to Australia is a longer term concern through potential Chinese bases in East Timor, PNG, Solomons and other micro-states who can be bought.

The US has many and varied interests and goals:

- maintaining its dominant naval position against Chinese naval competition in the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

- maintaining its economic interests vis a vis of its allies (Australia, Japan and Singapore) through protecting them with its nuclear and blue water conventional umbrella.

- US benefiting from the combined defence support of junior allies (Australia, Japan, Singapore) while tilting independent India slightly more in the US direction. Moving India away from perceived Russian orbit.

The main US/Australian strategy would be to contain China and Russia, keep India onside and protect the oil trade (with major choke points being the Strait of Malacca and Strait of Hormuz).
Helper Tip

India today conducted test of a new state-of-the-art canisterised surface-to-surface missile ‘SHOURYA’ with a range of 600 kms. The DRDO has termed as “successful” the flight-test of the ‘Shourya’ missile system from the Interim Test Range (ITR) at Balasore in Orissa at 1125 hours. This developmental flight trial of ‘Shourya’ missile system is a part of the ongoing technology development work undertaken by the DRDO.

The missile has a unique feature of simplicity of operation and maintenance. It can be easily handled, transported and stored within the canister for longer shelf life. The high manoeuvrability of the missile makes it less vulnerable to available anti-missile defence systems. 

I suspect this is the K-15 SLBM or a variant of it