Beijing, April 24 (IANS) India should focus more on its economy rather than building its aircraft carriers to check China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean, an influential daily said on Monday.
An editorial in Global Times said India was “too impatient” to develop an aircraft carrier despite not being well-equipped — financially as well as technologically.
The newspaper said both India and China need not engage in an “arms race”, especially when Beijing was on the verge of launching its home-grown aircraft carrier.
The article came in the wake of Indian media reports about China’s indigenous aircraft carrier posing a threat to India.
China is likely to launch its first domestically-built aircraft carrier by the end of April, which will add up to its growing naval might.
Till now, the Liaoning is China’s only aircraft carrier in operation. It was refitted based on an unfinished carrier from the former Soviet Union.
“With concerns expressed by Indian media outlets about the rise of China’s military strength, the two countries need to avert an arms race, especially at a time when China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier is being prepared for launch in late April,” the editorial said.
“New Delhi should perhaps be less eager to speed up the process of building aircraft carriers in order to counter China’s growing sway in the Indian Ocean, and focus more on its economy.”
It said China’s naval build-up was in sync with its economic wherewithal and being the world’s second-largest economy, Beijing was “capable of building a strong navy to safeguard the security of strategic maritime channels.”
On the contrary, the newspaper said, “India could be taken as a negative example for building up aircraft carriers”.
“India’s first aircraft carrier was purchased from the UK in 1957, but the vessel was not adequate for modern strategic requirements, forcing India to develop its own aircraft carrier.”
India’s first aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, was decommissioned in 1997. The second carrier, INS Viraat, also purchased from the UK in 1986, was formally decomissioned earlier this year. India currently operates only one carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which entered service in 2013 after an extensive refit following its purchase from Russia in 2004. The country’s first indegenous carrier, also named INS Vikrant, is currently being constructed at Kochi and there are plans for at least one more such vessel.
“The country unveiled its first domestically built aircraft carrier in 2015, but the Wall Street Journal said in 2016 that top US naval engineers discovered it wouldn’t be operational for up to a decade. New Delhi is perhaps too impatient to develop an aircraft carrier.”
“The country is still in its initial stage of industrialisation, and there will be many technical obstacles that stand in the way of a build-up of aircraft carriers.”
Beijing is increasingly becoming assertive in seas and engaged in a rapid build-up of its navy. Besides claiming almost the entire South China Sea, its influence is increasing in the Indian Ocean.
Beijing in the past has told India not consider the Indian Ocean its “own backyard.”
The second-most powerful navy after the US, China has some 65 submarines whereas India has 14. In comparison to China’s 48 frigates, India has 14.
Experts say that China’s Yuan-class diesel-electric submarine models are quieter than US’ nuclear ones.
“Aircraft carriers are seen as symbols of a nation’s military might, but the construction of them consumes huge amounts of resources, thus requiring developing countries to learn how to keep their military ambitions in check,” the editorial said.
“China had no aircraft carriers until 2012 when its first one, the Liaoning, was commissioned, adding to the evidence that China’s pursuit of military development has been in synch with its overall economic expansion.”
“China’s construction of its first aircraft carrier is a result of economic development. The country would have finished work on it several years ago if Beijing had simply wanted to engage in an arms race to have more influence in the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions.”
“In the past few decades, India and China have taken different paths in terms of aircraft carriers, but the different results achieved by the two countries point to the underlying importance of economic development.”