India’s MTCR entry may be worrying China

Vietnam and China are at loggerheads over the South China Sea.

India’s entry into the elite club of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) may pose a challenge to China, strategists say.

That’s because it would open the door to legally sell or transfer its sophisticated missiles to others, particularly to countries in Asia.

“MTCR would legitimise and speed up the process of selling missiles, especially the BrahMos to Vietnam which had already shown interest in buying it, and Hanoi would not hesitate in hitting a Chinese ship,” Bharat Karnad, research professor at Centre for Policy Research and a national security expert, told IANS.

He added that if India speeds up the process of sale of BrahMos to Vietnam, it could pose a threat to China’s “Fourth Fleet, or the ‘Ghost Fleet’, that is eyeing dominance in the Indian Ocean, India’s backyard.

The Chinese Navy has three fleet commands — one each in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea. In late 2014, reports came about a fourth fleet that is being deployed in the Indian Ocean Region, a point of concern for India.

“BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile. It doesn’t give a chance to the ships to defend themselves. One shot means one kill,” Karnad said, explaining why the BrahMos is the most sought after weapon.

“India is a soft country. Vietnam has a stomach to fight, they are not risk averse as India. Chinese can’t take risks with Vietnam, which will respond vigorously,” Karnad said, adding “This will create a very difficult situation for Chinese. They will be worried.”

Vietnam and China are at loggerheads over the South China Sea, with Beijing laying claim to most of the mineral-rich sea. China has also protested over Vietnam and India entering into agreements on oil exploration cooperation in the sea. Raising of a Fourth Fleet was Beijing’s response to the New Delhi-Hanoi cooperation.

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