Economy

India gets ready to scuttle Chinese investments in neighbouring nations

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on March 18, 2013

Worried over increased Chinese participation in communication satellite projects in neighbouring countries, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives, Indian security agencies are preparing a blueprint to counter this through a mix of investments and diplomatic negotiations.

A discussion paper floated for a secret inter-ministerial meeting under the chairmanship of the Deputy National Security Advisor, to be held on March 25, lists out a number of measures, including offering Indian know-how for building and operating the satellites and discouraging these countries from giving their orbital slots to Chinese companies.

Over the past two years, companies such asChina Satellite Communications Co Ltd (China Satcom) and the State-owned China Great Wall Industry Corporation have been investing heavily in communication projects in India’s neighbouring countries.

Take, for example, Sri Lanka’s move to launch a telecom satellite in 2015 at a cost of $320 million in partnership with China Great Wall.

An agreement has also been signed with China Satcom to set up a space academy-cum-ground station in Kandy.

According to comments given by the Indian Space Research Organisation to the security agencies, with these satellites, Sri Lanka would be able to broadcast itschannels deep inside Indian territory.

ISRO has found out that some of the orbital locations on the Sri Lankan satellites are registered under the name of Chinese administration which makes it technically possible for China to operate it.

In the case of the Maldives, it is understood that the Defence Minister of that country has initiated discussions with the Chinese for cooperation in the area of satellite manufacturing and launching.

Maldivian tender

In December, the Maldivian communication authority issued a tender to form a joint venture for this purpose.

According to top Government officials, India’s Antrix Corporation could bid for this project to scuttle any possible venture with the Chinese.

“ISRO may consider sending a delegation to Maldives to explore the possibility of cooperation in space technology. Maldives could be sensitised to India’s security concerns with regard to the presence of third countries in areas close to its borders,” a Government official said.

>thomas.thomas@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 18, 2013

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