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Silent Chinese invasion down under

Australia has seen the worst form of Chinese invasion. The Dragon has conquered Australian landmass through silent invasion, without firing a single bullet.

Shreedharan Raman

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If there’s one country that is subverted the most through democratic ways and processes, it is Australia. Using free speech and through power, Australian system was undermined. This is not even an understatement.

When Federal Government of Australia said “no” to Belt & Road Initiative, China was hurt and considered it an insult. So, China made its moves to teach Australia a lesson. It made an infrastructure funding offer to Premier of a Province of Australia that one can’t refuse. All it needs to do is, override Australian Federal Government policy and join BRI. And it happened. In 2018, premier Daniel Andrews signed Memorandum of Understanding with China. Premier was even boasting about it. As per TheGuardian.com news report, Premier said, “In four years we have more than tripled Victoria’s share of Chinese investment in Australia and nearly doubled our exports to China. We said we’d reboot our relationship with China and we’re getting it done.”

Mind you, in Australia, Premier is like a Chief Minister of India. Final authority on Foreign policy is Federal Government, like our Union Government. So, this invited problems, for the Premier. Coalition partners raised concerns. While nobody is against investments that would come into the Province, Premier was asked just one question. That is, “Why is only Victoria overriding Federal Government’s Foreign Policy?” PM Scott Morrison had warned Premier Daniel Andrews, “Victoria was stepping into federal government policy territory.” There is no closure to this issue, just yet.

It all started few years before Premier Andrews with former Premier John Brumby of Labor Party in Victoria. On 27th July 2007, quite dramatically, the then Premier Steve Bracks announced his retirement from politics, citing family reasons. Quite dramatic. Few hours later, Deputy Premier John Thwaites also announced his resignation. Three days later, he was elected unopposed as leader.

Thus, Premier John Brumby. Three years later, he resigned from Parliament. Fast forward by 3 years. What is interesting is that the former Premier took up an assignment at a University. While Premier Andrews took care of the party. Making groundwork for his Premiership few years later. Post-resignation former Premier Brumby took up some very interesting assignments. Apart from openly advocating and professing a pro-China stand, he also took up key assignments in Universities that got huge amounts of Chinese funding. Especially, Monash University & University of Melbourne. University of Melbourne received donations under Australia – China Science Research Fund (ACSRF). The same ACSRF was announced by no less than Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2017 during his visit. Former Premier Brumby later became President of Australia – China Business Council (ACBC). And, icing on the cake, became a Director of Huawei. Until recently, Brumby was batting for Huawei 5G in Victoria. Until PM Scott Morrison unleashed his federal powers after US Secretary of State Pompeo warned about using Huawei in any networks of Australia which would invite all the communications channels with US to close. After futile efforts, Brumby resigned from Huawei in February 2019.

News reports of May & June suggest that Victoria has also been accused of undermining Federal Government’s response to Wuhan virus pandemic. As recent as 1st August 2020, there are reports that Premier Daniel Andrews is busy fighting controversy over irregularities in hotel quarantine during the pandemic. Some recent media reports in The Age suggest that the Government of Victoria under Premier Andrews might face unintended consequences due to this. That would be one more step towards cleaning Chinese influence in Victoria.

Darwin Port

The 99-year lease of the most strategic port of Darwin in Norther Territory turned controversial. The aftermath of the bid was messy. While it is now known that the Shandong Landbridge Group’s subsidiary in Australia Landbridge Group’s bid value is A$506Mn, not much is known about the competitors – European & American bidders. China ultimately won the bid. So, how did China pull this off? A loophole based on spirit of democracy. Per Senate Committee of 2016, Federal Investment Review Board (FIRB) for review. But, it was never formally investigated. Because, law doesn’t require formal review when a State or Territory is involved with a private company. This was a simple rule in the spirit of trust exploited by China. Thanks to PM Scott Morrison, Australia changed this exemption in 2016. In the recently concluded AUSMIN talks last week, it has been decided that there’d be a US funded military fuel storage facility in Darwin Harbor, as Darwin port is leased to Chinese company. It’s up to Chinese if they want to still stay there for next nine decades.

Subversion of free speech

All the above, this all happened through completely democratic process. Then comes the curious case of Chinese students. Just like in the US, Chinese students when in Australian Universities, are used as diplomatic weapon by local Chinese diplomats. Here they have a different role. Like, pushing CCP’s narrative on political matters like Taiwan, Uyghurs & others. For example, in 2017, an Indian Professor of Sydney University, had to apologise for showing map of India. Why? Because Chinese students disputed that some of the regions are of China’s. So much so, that on 70th Independence Day Chinese students in Sydney drove luxury cars across popular places in the city.

In May 2020, Mr Drew Pavlou was suspended from University of Queensland for two years following a disciplinary hearing that examined allegations of misconduct linked to his oncampus activism. What activism? He supported Hong Kong protests and criticized Chinese Communist Party. It only ended up scrutinizing more UQ’s record. From funding of top executives of the University to leaking controversial course materials online. UQ ended up doing more damage to itself, than it tried to prevent for Beijing. As per News.com.au reports, the involvement of Confucius Institute – CCP’s propaganda arm – in funding & designing courses is significant. While it helped Beijing narrative to be peddled through University of Queensland, it didn’t last. Australian High Commissioner to UK George Brandis replied to British MP Andrew Rosindell on this matter expressing that events in UQ “greatly saddens” as it is also his alumnus. Of course, there were online outrage too. To this day.

To think of using students & Universities as a pawn to further your political agenda is something no civilized country would do. But, CCP should think twice before doing such things. Do remember, even in democratic countries, we can treat such acts by ‘students’ as waging war against sovereign nations. If say, a significant number of them are taken in for questioning and subversive acts, how long would it take before it creates uproar in Weibo? Would the single kid parents be able to take the hit? Would the friends of those who are being taken in be affected and would turn against CCP for not helping? This is surely going to backfire in near future.

There have been some elements in Australian media as well which pally around with Communist Party. Take for example the media coverage went full on anti-PM Scott Morrison when the bushfires were happening, look at the coverage. Thanks to tycoons like Andrew Forrest who tried to pull a fast one for CCP, at the cost of embarrassing Australian Health Minister by helping Chinese Counsel General gatecrash a press conference that the Minister was supposed to address. A Chinese diplomat gate-crashing. When Federal Government said that Google & Facebook must pay media houses for sharing their content on their platforms, they are right. This is only language that tech companies understand and stop giving free leverage to Confucius thoughts in democratic societies.

Strategic response by Australia

Strategically, the Chinese communist party threat has brought Australia closer to its other neighbours. Taking all the security objectives into account, PM Scott Morrison started working on “2016 Australian Defense Whitepaper” & more importantly also made it a point to back it up with funds. Four years & a Pandemic later, “Australia Defence Strategic Update 2020” was released recently. With a huge hike from the earlier announced budget boost of A$270Bn for investments over next 10 years. Apart from weapons, what interests is the transformation outlined for Australian Army – to a more US Marines kind of role for the future.

Australian Defence Minister recently announced, “I am open to exploring the trilateral cooperation with India, Indonesia & other countries in our region.” This is significant and adds more teeth to Indo-Pacific alliance. It is worth noting two points here. A) Indonesia said recently that it wants to buy Austria’s entire Typhoon fighter fleet. B) Times of India reported last week that India might be interested to sell Brahmos to Indonesia. Meanwhile, Philippines & Vietnam are already in talks with India for the same. In due course, Australia would indeed be part of QUAD participating in Military Exercises. To take it further Solomon Yue, Vice Chairman & CEO at Republicans Overseas, RNC, in his interview to Epoch Times answering a question about threat of China in Australia said that, India & Japan might be invited to join the Five Eyes (FVEY) alliance. To make it Seven Eyes. He didn’t give a timeline for this though. Not sure if India is interested in this either.

Australia has additional responsibility of taking care of Pacific Islands & prevent them from falling into debt trap of China. It is here, that India can help diplomatically, via Fiji. India can play a crucial role here in alliance with Australia. Meanwhile, US is contemplating about opening training facilities at Guam for Air Forces of India, Australia & Japan. If it happens it’ll send an important message to Australia’s partners in South East Asia & Pacific regions. It is to keep a close eye on dynamic scenarios emerging in South Pacific Islands too. It is in the above context that PM Scott Morrison spoke specifically about capabilities in areas such as long-range strike weapons, cyber capabilities and area-denial systems to maintain regional peace & stability. PM Scott Morrison is a blessing for Australia and is a great ally for India against China and beyond in the region.

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Defence

ASSAM RIFLES FELICITATES COVID-19 WARRIORS

Ashish Singh

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The Covid warriors worked hand in hand in spreading the awareness and fighting the deadly pandemic. These warriors have worked selflessly to save the humanity. With nationwide rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination drive, these warriors are reaching out to all sections of the society to spread the message about vaccination and its effects.

In its efforts to reach out to the society along with these warriors, 44 Assam Rifles under the aegis of 22 Sect Assam Rifles (AR)/ Inspector General Assam Rifles (IGAR)-EAST in a unique way felicitated these Covid warriors at Tamenglong. Since 16 January Covid-19 vaccination drive has been launched in the state of Manipur. Its prerequisite for the doctors, nursing and other medical staff to be thoroughly aware of the procedures and peculiarities of this vaccination drive. On the sidelines of this function the District Health Society, Tamenglong organised a training session for the medical staff of 44 Assam Rifles in Tamenglong.

The soldiers, being front line workers, are required to be vaccinated timely so that they can discharge their duty well without any risk to their health as well as the without endangering the lives of local populace, especially children and the elders of the society. The interactive and practice session conducted by Dr Sunil Kamei, DIO Tamenglong and his team of four doctors enabled the para medical staff of the unit to conduct vaccination at the unit hospital as well as at the remote outposts.

The CMO and medical team of 44 Assam Rifles felt much more confident in handling and carrying out of vaccination drive for the unit in times to come. Speaking on this occasion the Commandant 44 Assam Rifles thanked Dr Chambo Gonmei, CMO Tamenglong and his medical team for the enriching session and assured them to work hand in hand with them to battle the deadly pandemic till the time it is not fully eradicated from society. He also highlighted various awareness campaigns being undertaken by unit troops in various parts of the district. The troops through posters, banners, plays, interactive sessions, consultive meetings and medical camps are engaged in awareness against Covid-19.

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Navy appoints new FOMA & FOCWF

Ashish Singh

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Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar took over as the Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet (FOCWF) from Rear Admiral Krishna Swaminathan, at a formal ceremony held onboard the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on Wednesday.

Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, a specialist in Gunnery and Missile Warfare, was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 1 July 1988. In a career spanning 32 years, he has commanded five warships on both the Western and Eastern seaboard including the aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya.

On promotion to the Flag Rank, he assumed charge as Assistant Controller of Carrier Projects & Assistant Controller of Warships Production & Acquisition overseeing all aspects related to construction and acquisition of warships for the Indian Navy both from Indian as well as foreign shipyards including the indigenous aircraft carrier.

Rear Admiral Atul Anand has assumed the office of Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra Naval Area earlier this week. The formal handing/ taking over ceremony was held at INS Kunjali, where Rear Admiral Atul Anand was presented a guard of honour at a ceremonial parade. The Flag Officer Maharashtra Area, or FOMA, is responsible for administration, coastal security and other maritime operations of the Maharashtra Naval Area. On behalf of the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy, the FOMA liaises with the State Administration as well as the Army and the Air Force in the state of Maharashtra on a regular basis across a wide spectrum of issues.

Rear Admiral Atul Anand was commissioned on 01 Jan 1988, in the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, the Defence Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur, Bangladesh and the National Defence College, New Delhi. He has also attended the prestigious Advance Security Cooperation Course at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Hawaii, USA. His educational qualifications include an M Phil, M Sc (Defence and Strategic Studies), Masters in Defence Studies and a B.Sc degree. A recipient of the Vishisht Seva Medal, the Admiral has held several key command appointments in his naval career including the command of Torpedo Recovery Vessel IN TRV A72, Missile Boat INS Chatak, Corvette INS Khukri and the Destroyer INS Mumbai.

He has also served as the Navigating Officer of IN Ships Sharda, Ranvijay and Jyoti. In addition, he was the Direction Officer of the Sea Harrier Squadron INAS 300 and Executive Officer of the destroyer INS Delhi. His important Staff appointments include Joint Director Staff Requirements, Directing Staff at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Director Naval Operations and Director Naval Intelligence (Ops). He has also served as the Principal Director Naval Operations and the Principal Director Strategy, Concepts and Transformation at Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy). As a Flag Officer, he has served as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence) at IHQ MoD (N) and Deputy Commandant & Chief Instructor at the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla.

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Skynet 6A successfully passes Preliminary Design Review

Ashish Singh

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Airbus has successfully completed the first key phase of the Skynet 6A project with the achievement of the Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The project now has permission to move into the next phase leading to the Critical Design Review (CDR).

Airbus was awarded the Skynet 6A contract in July 2020 and teams across its sites in Stevenage, Portsmouth and Hawthorn have been working on the programme to achieve this key milestone. Meetings with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) were held virtually enabling the review board to take place in October and the PDR being achieved in November.

Richard Franklin, Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space UK said “This is excellent news and demonstrates our joint commitment to work in partnership to achieve the programme schedule. The progress we are making in building the UK MOD’s next generation military satellite and getting to this stage, despite current restrictions, really highlights the flexible and strong working relationship we have built with the Defence Digital team. Skynet 6A, to be built entirely in the UK, will significantly enhance the UK’s milsatcoms capability, building on the heritage of the four Skynet 5 satellites which were also built by Airbus, and which are all still operating perfectly in orbit.”

Teams from across the space and ground segments in Airbus worked closely with their MOD counterparts to keep the programme on track.

Skynet 6A will extend and enhance the Skynet fleet. The contract signed with the UK MoD in July 2020 involves the development, manufacture, cyber protection, assembly, integration, test and launch, of a military communications satellite, Skynet 6A, planned for launch in 2025.

The contract also covers technology development programmes, new secure telemetry, tracking and command systems, launch, in-orbit testing and ground segment updates to the current Skynet 5 system. The value of the contract is more than £500 million. The Skynet 5 programme, provided by Airbus as a full service outsource contract, has provided the UK MoD with a suite of highly robust, reliable and secure military communications services, supporting global operations since 2003.

Airbus has been involved in all Skynet phases since 1974 and this phase builds on a strong UK commitment to space manufacturing in the UK. The programme commenced by using the legacy Skynet 4 satellites and then augmenting them with a fully refurbished ground network before launching the Skynet 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D satellites between 2007 and 2012. The Skynet 5 programme has reduced or removed many of the technical and service risks for the MOD, whilst ensuring unrivalled secure satcoms and innovation to UK forces. Through the many years of delivering an exceptionally reliable Skynet service the Airbus teams have managed to significantly extend the lifespan of the Skynet satellites many years beyond their design life, offering significant additional value for money and capability to the UK.

The Skynet 6A satellite is based on Airbus’ Eurostar Neo telecommunications satellite platform. It will utilise more of the radio frequency spectrum available for satellite communications and the latest digital processing to provide both more capacity and greater versatility than Skynet 5 satellites. The satellite will feature electric orbit raising propulsion as well as electric station keeping systems for maximum cost effectiveness. Complete satellite integration will take place at Airbus facilities in the UK followed by testing using RAL Space testing facilities at Harwell in Oxfordshire supporting the UK Space Agency initiative for sovereign UK end-to-end satellite production and support.

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Defence

INS PRALAYA REACHES ABU DHABI TO PARTICIPATE IN NAVDEX 21 AND IDEX 21

Participation of an Indian Navy ship in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21 also highlights close relations between India and UAE.

Ashish Singh

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Indian Naval Ship Pralaya arrived at Abu Dhabi, UAE, on 19 February to participate in the NAVDEX 21 (Naval Defence Exhibition) and IDEX 21 (International Defence Exhibition), scheduled from 20 to 25 February 2021. Participation of an Indian Navy ship in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21 also highlights close relations between India and UAE.

Vice Admiral D.K. Tripathi, the Director General Naval Operations (DGNO), Indian Navy, speaking on the subject of ‘A holistic view on Cyber Security Resiliency during the era of Digital Transformation’ at a conference held on the sidelines of IDEX & NAVDEX 2021, emphasised the need for Cyber Resilience aimed at building layers of risk management, disaster recovery, business continuity & cyber insurance. “We need to address mind-sets that formulate policies and strategies, as also look at technologies which provide us with tools for cyber resilience,” said Vice Admiral D.K. Tripathi.

Some of the measures he spoke of included:

– Identification of critical assets, systems and data.

– Protecting critical infrastructure services

– Detection of malicious events & suspected data breaches or data leaks in time.

– Having a proactive response capability, as against a reactive ability.

– Readiness to recover and restore the affected infrastructure, capabilities or services.

Further elaborating on the subject, Vice Admiral DK Tripathi highlighted, “The Cyber Landscape’ is both dynamic and borderless. This forces us to address this challenge in terms of technology, international cooperation and educating the general population”.

Deployment of Indian Navy ships to Abu Dhabi, UAE underscores deep rooted friendly ties and multi-faceted cooperation between India and UAE, and will further strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries. Defence relations between India and UAE have been steadily growing since the upgradation of bilateral relations to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ during the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in January 2017 as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. Towards enhancing interactions between the two navies, inaugural edition of Indian Navy-UAE Navy bilateral exercise GULF STAR-1 was conducted in March 2018. The next edition of the exercise is likely to be conducted in 2021. In addition, Indian Navy ships have been making regular port calls at the UAE for promoting maritime cooperation. INS Mysore, an indigenously built guided missile destroyer, mission deployed in the region, is also making a port call at Abu Dhabi, UAE from 19-22 February 2021.

Participation of INS Pralaya in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21, one of the leading international naval and defence exhibitions of the region, is aimed at showcasing the strengths of India’s indigenous ship building, in line with Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. INS Pralaya, the second ship of the indigenously built Prabal Class Missile Vessels, was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 18 December 2002. The 56 m long ship, displacing about 560 T is capable of speeds in excess of 35 knots and is fitted with an impressive array of weapons and sensors. These include a 76.2 mm medium range gun, 30 mm close range guns, chaff launchers and long-range surface to surface missiles. The ship, built indigenously at Goa Shipyard Limited, bears testimony to capabilities of the Indian ship building industry and is a versatile platform capable of performing a wide variety of surface warfare missions.

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Defence Acquisition Council approves proposals worth Rs 13,700 crore

Ashish Singh

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Delhi: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, has approved capital acquisition proposals of various weapons/ platforms/ equipment/ systems required by the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force, in New Delhi on 23 February. Three Acceptance of Necessities (AoNs) for an overall cost of Rs 13,700 crore were accorded. All these AoNs are in the highest priority category of Defence Acquisition viz ‘Buy [Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)].

All these acquisition proposals will be indigenously designed, developed and manufactured. These will include inter-alia platforms and systems designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). To meet the Aatmanirbhar Bharat goals of the Government on time-bound defence procurement process and faster decision making and to systematically work towards reducing the time taken for capital acquisition, the DAC also approved that all capital acquisition contracts (delegated and non-delegated) other than D&D cases shall be concluded in two years. The ministry, in consultation with the Services and all stakeholders, will come up with detailed plan of action for achieving the same.

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Defence

TARUN SOBTI TAKES OVER THE COMMAND OF EASTERN FLEET

Ashish Singh

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Rear Admiral Tarun Sobti took over the Command of the Eastern Fleet, the Sword Arm of the Eastern Naval Command, from Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan on Tuesday. The change of guard took place at an impressive ceremony held on 23 February in Naval Base, Visakhapatnam.

Rear Admiral Tarun Sobti was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 01 July 1988 and is a specialist in Navigation and Direction. The Flag Officer is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Collège Interarmées de Défense, Paris, France and College of Naval Warfare, Mumbai.

During his illustrious career spanning 32 years, he served as Navigating Officer of INS Kirpan, commissioning Navigating Officer of INS Mysore, Direction Officer on INS Viraat and Executive Officer of missile destroyer INS Delhi. His sea commands include those of missile vessel INS Nishank, missile corvette INS Kora and missile destroyer INS Kolkata of which he was the commissioning Commanding Officer. His prestigious staff and operational appointments include those as Joint Director of Staff Requirements and Joint Director of Personnel at Naval Headquarters and Captain Work-Up at Local Work-Up Team (East).

He also served as the Naval Attaché at Embassy of India, Moscow. Prior assuming command of the Eastern Fleet, the Flag Officer was Deputy Commandant and Chief Instructor of Indian Navy’s premier officer training establishment Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala.

Over the past 12 months, the Eastern Fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan has maintained high level of combat readiness and undertaken various operational missions including Operation Samudra Setu towards repatriation of Indian citizens, Mission SAGAR providing Humanitarian Assistance to friendly foreign countries and Malabar 20. His tenure also saw the commissioning of INS Kavaratti, the indigenously built P28 class ASW corvette. He would be taking over as the Deputy Commandant of the prestigious tri-services institution National Defence Academy at Khadakvasla, Pune, shortly.

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