Friday, 23 December 2011

China's rise gets a new dimension: Military bases abroad

Helicopters accompany the Chinese Jiangwei II naval frigate Mianyang during an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao, Shandong
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China realises that its maritime strength will give it the strategic leverage it needs to emerge as the regional hegemon and a potential superpower, says Harsh V Pant.

 Helicopters accompany the Chinese Jiangwei II naval frigate Mianyang during an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao, Shandong





. China will be setting up its first military base abroad in Seychelles to "seek supplies and recuperate" facilities for its Navy.
Seychelles has defended its decision by suggesting that it has invited China to set up a military base to tackle piracy off its coast and Beijing has played it down by underlining that it is standard global practice for naval fleets to re-supply at the closest port of a nearby state during long-distance missions. But there should be no ambiguity for the rest of the world: Chinese footprint in the Indian Ocean has got bigger and will continue to get bigger in the coming years.

China's foreign policy thinkers and political establishment have long been trying to convince the world that Beijing's rise is meant to be a peaceful one, that China has no expansionist intentions, that it will be a different kind of great power. Of course, the very nature of power makes this largely a charade, but more surprising is that western and Indian liberals have tended to take these assertions at face value. There is an entire industry in the West as well as in India that would have us believe that China is actually a different kind of a great power and that if the west could simply give China a stake in the established order, Beijing's rise would not create any complications.

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