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  • China’s Strategic Relationship with the Myanmar Junta; By Dhanya D.

    Image Courtesy: Global Times Article: 39/2022 China shares a border of 2204 kilometres and a complicated history with Myanmar. The relationship between China and the junta has been rocky because of the Chinese funding and supplying arms to Myanmar’s rebel groups (KLA). The cordial relationship it shares with the Tatmadaw now is solely to take advantage of the political instability and make use of the geostrategic placement of Myanmar which grants China direct access to the Indian Ocean. The Military Coup When the Myanmar military staged a coup on February 1, 2021, many countries including the US and India expressed their concerns about the military dictatorship taking over the already delicate democracy. In the meanwhile, Chinese media has termed the coup as a "major cabinet reshuffle"[i]. China has also declined to condemn the development in Myanmar. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visiting Myanmar in July 2021, indirectly extended political recognition to the junta which it has already been seeking.[ii] After the junta took over Myanmar residents protested against China for supporting the military dictatorship. Source:Swarajya- Anti-China protests in Myanmar Several protesters blamed that, China was the reason behind the coup which took place a few days after a meeting between Wang Yi and Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief and current head of the military government. China’s policy of “no interference”[iii] in the internal affairs of another country is becoming hard to defend when it supplies arms and surveillance technology to the military leadership, which is used by the junta to kill innocent civilians and peaceful protesters. China’s Interest in Myanmar China is Myanmar’s largest trading partner with bilateral trade worth around 12 billion dollars; its investment is nearly USD 21 billion, making up 26% of its FDI and 33% of Myanmar’s foreign trade.[iv] China views Myanmar as the key player in its Belt and Road Initiative. China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) is invested in achieving connectivity between China’s southwestern province of Yunnan and the eastern Indian Ocean. Source: The Economist Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and a deep-sea port at Kyaukpyu are two important strategic interests of China since it gives it access to the Indian Ocean. The ports being developed in Gwadar as part of the CPEC and Kyaukpyu will lower China’s dependence on the Malacca straits which is the vital trade link between India and the Pacific oceans. It also helps China in strategically containing India by blocking its access to both west and the east. India becomes the main target in many ways than one, the proposal to build roads from the Yunnan province to Myanmar from Kunming to Kyaukpyu through railway lines makes it just one step easier for Chinese troops to land in the backyard of India. The Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone (KPSEZ) and the deep-sea port also pose a threat to India because of their proximity, it is situated to the Sittwe Port and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[v] Myanmar’s Future The condemning and sanctions issued by countries against Myanmar’s junta are only benefitting China. It has a subtle dominance over Myanmar making the country dependent on it for economic, political and strategic support. Myanmar not being able to repay China is not very far in the future since most of the projects are Chinese funded and Chinese owned. Myanmar can face the same fate as Sri Lanka and there is a strong possibility of Hambantota repeating itself in the form of Kyaukpyu.[vi] The junta has always had a suspicion when it comes to China because of its history of funding rebel groups,[vii] but its mistrust towards China is downplayed or conveniently ignored for the time being because the junta’s source of recognition and any form of aid comes from China. (Ms. Dhanya D is a Research Officer at C3S. The views expressed are those of the author and does not reflect the views of C3S.) References: [i] Myanmar coup just a “cabinet reshuffle”: Chinese state media. (2021, February 2). The Times of India. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from [ii] Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s Myanmar visit lent credibility to military regime. ANI News. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from [iii] China and Myanmar: No interference? (2021, March 23). The Irrawaddy. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from [iv] Sumanthi. (2021, April 26). Understanding the relations between Myanmar and China. ORF. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from [v] Gravitas: China using Myanmar to spy on India? (2022, July 13). [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from [vi] Sumanthi. (2021, April 26). Understanding the relations between Myanmar and China. ORF. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from [vii] Jennings, R. (2019, December 25). Myanmar, Though Suspicious of China, Edges Closer to Beijing for Safety. VOA. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from

  • C3S Conversation on "India at SCO" with Ambassador P.S. Raghavan

    Ambassador P. S. Raghavan, Chairman, National Security Advisory Board in conversation with Mr. Balasubramanian C. Senior Research Officer, C3S Questions posed to Ambassador P.S Raghavan 1. Ambassador may I begin by asking you on the significance of the SCO to India. This is the 5th Anniversary of our membership in the SCO. We have a principled, strategic partnership with the Russian Federation. At the same time, we have a strategic partnership based on shared values with the USA. And then, there is the China factor. How does India’s membership of Quad square up with our presence at the SCO and how are the perceived terminological differences of the Indo-Pacific and Asia-Pacific overcome within the SCO? Do these points gain significance with India taking over the SCO Presidency and that of the G20 later this year. [1:20] 2. Ambassador, the just concluded Summit of the SCO was taking place against the background of some major developments of concern in the political, economic and socio-health fields. The impact of Covid 19, the fallout of the war in Ukraine, the economic and food crisis, the continuing menace of terrorism were some of the issues which concentrated the minds of many of the participating leaders. With these developments casting a long shadow on the Samarkand Summit, how successful was the meeting between the leaders of the SCO? How does the Samarkand Communique reflect these diverse issues? [14:30] 3. The SCO was formed in 2001 as a partnership of choice between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China with the addition of three Central Asian States. With the addition of the three members thereafter and Iran joining in at the recent Summit to make it a nine and perhaps with the coming in of Turkey and others in the not-too-distant future, would Russia and China see some sort of dilution in their grip in the setting of the SCO agenda? How would this impact India’s membership in the SCO? Our Prime Minister remarked on the centrality of Central Asia in the SCO. [20:00] 4. In his statement, our Prime Minister had noted that SCO must make efforts to develop reliable, resilient and diversified supply chains in our region requiring better connectivity, as well as grant of full right to transit to members. We do have significant hurdles in this regard from Pakistan and maybe even from China. Would our active participation in the International North-South Corridor and our involvement in Chahbahar allow us to mitigate the negative effect of the denial of transit rights? [23:31] 5. SCO members expressed their deep concern over the security threat posed by terrorism, separatism, and extremism. However, two of the SCO members seem to be oblivious to this very thought by deliberately ignoring India’s sustained campaign in the fight against the global menace of terrorism. How can we overcome this conundrum which does reflect on the non-seriousness of some of the members on the fight against terrorism. And India would be hosting the RATS meeting and the UNSC meetings on terrorism shortly. [26:25] 6. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with President Putin reinforced the strength of India-Russia relations. The West has made much noise of the Prime Minister’s “era of war” remark. However, the response of the Russian leader saw an understanding. Going forward, how do you see India-Russia relations developing with the various churning processes going on in the global geostrategic environment. [30:12] 7. There was some mention of the possibility of a Modi-Xi meeting following in what our External Affairs Minister saw as the removal of one point from the difficulties in India-China relations. I refer to the PP15 disengagement Expectedly, the meeting did not take place. From your experience both as a diplomat and as someone who had accompanied a former Prime Minister to various meetings, would there have the possibility of some exchange of pleasantries and even more between the two leaders behind doors? And where does this leave India-China relations? President Xi did mention China’s support and cooperation to India’s Presidency of the SCO. [37:18] 8. Speaking of Russia – China relations has there been some dent in the ‘no limits’ partnership? Would Beijing be setting those limits? How can India ensure its interests are preserved in this competing and competing interests esp. in the matrix of Sino-Russian ties? [41:44]

  • Role of Small Satellites in Indian Military Infrastructure ; By Subhadip Mondal

    Image Courtesy : FoxPictures/ Article : 38/2022 On August 9 2022, India launched its first Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) with a payload of 135kg. The launch also marked 75 years of India’s Independence. The vehicle was carrying EOS-2 which falls under the category of Small Satellites (SS). The launch of EOS-2 places New Delhi to achieve expertise in SS. This paper seeks to analyze the scope and opportunity that is associated with the SS, especially in terms of national security. To carry out and forge geopolitically important strategies, satellites are crucial. 1 The satellites form an indispensable part of Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Command Control Communications & Computers (C4) and Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR). These activities fall within the domain of military strategy. During Gulf Wars, the US demonstrated effectively the use of Satellite Technologies (ST) to navigate its allied troops, which resulted in saving human lives. A developing country like India which faces threats from China in the North and its ‘iron brother’ in the west needs to expand its space infrastructure to meet the military requirements, especially for C4ISR and ELINT strategy A developing country like India which faces threats from China in the North and its ‘iron brother’ in the west needs to expand its space infrastructure to meet the military requirements, especially for C4ISR and ELINT strategy. Prof. S. Chandrashekhar, an eminent space scientist from NIAS estimates the requirement of the number of satellites and launches to meet the benchmark in different spectrums of capabilities, as follows. C4 capabilities require four Geostationary Orbit (GSO) satellites, forty Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites for internet communications, three constellations with three satellites each for ELINT, twelve Electro-Optical (EO) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites in an appropriate Sun Synchronous Orbits (SSO) and along with twenty-four SS as standby to meet the ISR needs at the time of emergency. 2 The report was published in the year 2015, a substantial time has passed since then. This opens up the scope for this article, to look into the present capabilities of India in the Space domain, especially from the National Security perspective. This analysis will help to identify gaps which still exist and thereby, how those can be plugged in using SS. In 2019, India launched the Electromagnetic Intelligence-gathering Satellite (EMISAT), which is a part of the “Project Kautilya” of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). 3 EMISAT is India’s first ELINT category satellite, which is placed in the Sun Synchronous Polar Orbit (SSPO). The lift-off weight of the satellite was 436kg and was launched along with 28 international customer satellites using a PSLV. 4 India entered the field of Radar Imaging satellites in 2009 with its RISAT series. 1 The series has so far witnessed four instalments; the last variant was put in space in 2019. Two of these satellites are placed in SSPO and the rest two are in LEO. 5 The SSPO satellites have a time of revisit around 24hrs but, but LEO can bring it down to 5 minutes depending upon the altitude. 6 The small satellites weigh up to 500kg. In this category, since 2010 India successfully launched three satellites. Among those only, the EOS-01 is placed in the LEO. 7 EOS-01 is an earth observatory satellite which was used in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support. 8 Whereas the EOS-02 is a Microsat series satellite with advanced optical remote sensing operating in the infrared band with high spatial resolution. 9 Keeping all this in context, many of the areas still remain elusive. This gap can be plugged by any category of satellites. But, in terms of cost-to-effective ratio, SS stands out from the rest of the satellite categories. SS has the potential to fulfil all the military communication requirements and these categories of satellites have more redundancy, so it would provide more options for backup. This effectively meets the military standard for C4ISR. In case of a direct threat from Kinetic Energy Weapons (KEWs) and Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) having redundancy is a lifeline. Chinese Yaogan clusters and its US counterpart National Ocean Surveillance System (NOSS) fall under the ELINT category and, both the clusters have deployed SS. 10 For the launch of SS, SSLVs can be deployed. This would bring down the cost of the mission. For instance, the Government of India (GoI) had sanctioned ₹169 crores for three development flights (SSLV-D1, SSLV-D2 & SSLV-D3), 11 whereas in the 2021 budget GoI allocated 700 crore INR to New Space India Limited (NSIL - a Central Public Sector Enterprise under Department of Space) which executed the launch of PSLV-CS51. 12 Conclusion SS are an area that both military and commercial players are looking forward to capitalising. Indian companies are also trying to actively engage in the sphere of satellite internet communication. Since ISRO takes care of both military and commercial launches, India needs to have a comprehensive vision which would bring both army and private players into one well-coordinated platform. A similar platform is being provided by Antrix (GoI company which comes under the Department of Space and the commercial arm of ISRO) and NSIL. Between 2016 and 2019 Antrix earned a review of 6289 crore INR, 13 and NSIL between 2019 and 2021 earned foreign exchange revenue of about $35 million and €10 million. 14 To keep this effort perennial, India needs to encourage indigenous players. For this New Delhi shall have a strong policy with the vision of military-private collaboration in space technologies. Keywords: Small Satellite, SSLV, PSLV, National Security. (Mr. Subhadip Mondal is a research officer at C3S. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the views of C3S.) References: 1 Chandrashekar, S. “Executive Summary.” Essay. In Space, War & Security– a Strategy for India, 1–5. Bengaluru, Karnataka: NIAS, 2015. Accessed on September 12, 2022 22 Ibid 3 “ISRO Successfully Places EMISAT, 28 Other International Satellites in Orbit in Triply-Special PSLV-C45 Mission.” Firstpost. Firstpost, April 1, 2019. . Accessed on September 14, 2022 4 “Launch Kit.” ISRO. Accessed on September 14 2022. 5 Ibid No. iv. 6 Wang, Kan, and Xuhai Yang. “Visibility of LEO Satellites Under Different Ground Network Distribution.” Institute of Navigation.,to%205%20to%2020%20min . Accessed on September 20, 2022. 7 Ibid No iv. 8 “EOS-01.” ISRO. . Accessed September 20, 2022 9 “SSLV-D1/EOS-02 Mission.” ISRO. . Accessed September 20, 2022. 10 Bommakanti, Kartik. “Strengthening the C4ISR Capabilities of India's Armed Forces: The Role of Small Satellites.” ORF, November 10, 2021. . Accessed on September 14, 2022 11 Science, FE. “ISRO to Launch SSLV-D1 on August 7; Here’s How You Can Watch It up-Close.” The Financial Express Stories, August 2, 2022. . Accessed on September 20, 2022 12 PTI. “Department of Space Allocated Rs 13,949 Crore in Budget, Rs 4,449 Crore More than Fiscal 2020-21.” News18, February 1, 2021. . Accessed on September 14, 2022 13 Narasimhan, T E. “ISRO's Commercial Arm Antrix Corp Clocked Rs 6,289 Cr in Last Three Years.” Business Standard News. Business-Standard, November 27, 2019. . Accessed on September 2022 14 Sharma, Neetu Chandra. “NSIL Earned Foreign Exchange of $35 Mn, €10 MN in 3 Yrs from Satellite Launches: Govt.” Business Today, March 30, 2022. Accessed on September 20, 2022

  • C3S - NMF | Panel Discussion on "Security Challenges to Island Nations in the Indo- Pacific"

    Operational and Think Tank experts from Palau, India and Tonga discuss lessons learned from the increasing complex and potentially destabilizing security challenges for island countries across the Indo-Pacific Distinguished Panelists NSC Jennifer Anson, National Security Coordinator, Republic of Palau Commodore R.S Vasan IN (Retd), Director General, Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) & Regional Director, National Maritime Foundation (TN) Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, PVSM, AVSM, NM & Bar, ADC, former Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff & Commanding-in-Chief of Western Naval Command Mr. Tevita Motulalo, Senior Researcher, Royal Oceania Institute (Tonga) Moderator: Ms. Cleo Paskal, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (U.S.); International Advisory Council, Global Counter-Terrorism Council (India) SHOW LESS

  • C3S Conversation on the book "Dying for an iPhone" with Shri M.R.Sivaraman IAS (Retd)

    Our expert Shri M.R.Sivaraman IAS (Retd) in conversation with Ms. Swetha Ratnasabhapathi

  • C3S Interview on "Indian Navy and Strategic Compass" with Commodore V Venugopal IN (Retd)

    Our Expert Commodore V Venugopal IN (Retd.), Distinguished Memeber, C3S in a conversation with Mr. Balasubramanian C. Senior Research Officer, C3S

  • G-20 in Jammu and Kashmir - Implications and Challenges for India; By Swetha Ratnasabhapathi

    Image courtesy: Daily Excelsior Article 37/2022 India, a prominent member of the G-20 since its inception and the incoming president, is all set to host the G-20 summit in 2023 . India will hold around 200 meetings in over 55 cities and Union Territories across the country. However, the most conspicuous is the choice of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as one of the venues. As per a communique from the MEA a five member committee of bureaucrats under the Principle Secretary of Housing and; Urban Development Dheeraj Gupta, has been constituted to this effort [1]. Hosting the G-20 summit for the first time, the choice of Jammu and Kashmir as one of the venues is nothing short of a bold diplomatic move from India which has the potential to offer rich dividends. A congregation of leaders from the most consequential of countries in the International order, India should avail this opportunity to give the leaders a positive first hand feel and information of the region post the abrogation of Article 370 [2]. This will set the ball rolling in framing the narrative on India’s terms, away from the negative discourse built by Pakistan. In light of the disputed contentions with Pakistan and China, the ability of India to successfully administer the summit under the prevailing circumstances will cement India’s legitimacy and claim to the region, conveying a message loud and clear to both the nations and to the world. In light of the disputed contentions with Pakistan and China, the ability of India to successfully administer the summit under the prevailing circumstances will cement India’s legitimacy and claim to the region, conveying a message loud and clear to both the nations and to the world. The G-20 summit will be the first such International event to happen in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of its special status, and the first such in the past three decades. This offers the important first step towards integrating the Kashmiri population into the Indian mainstream, giving them a sense of normalcy. Since the assigning of the status of Union Territory the law and order situation and tourist footfall in the region has improved to an all time high of 7 lakhs in the first half of 2022, the highest in the last 10 years [3] . The Indian Government can exert its soft power and leverage the beauty of the Kashmir valley and its improved security situation to project Jammu and Kashmir as a vibrant tourist destination to the international community. The major challenge for India with regards to holding the G-20 Summit in Jammu and Kashmir is the opposition it has garnered as expected from Pakistan, and its all weather friend, China [4]. Both the nations condemn this move by India, in the guise of unilaterally altering the situation in the region and contentions to its sovereignty. Though Pakistan is not a member of G-20, it can try to thwart the proceedings by its stronger proxy China. Pakistan has also reportedly approached Turkey and Saudi Arabia to boycott the meeting [5]. If Pakistan, a non G-20 member, manages to get these G-20 members to boycott the meetings in Jammu and Kashmir, it may serve as a loss of face for India. As a first time host to the G-20, India will be in a better position to avoid such circumstances. Constructively a boycott by Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries seems unlikely. The Overseas Investment Summit that happened in March 2022 in Jammu and Kashmir saw business delegates from UAE, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong keen on investing in Kashmir [6]. Saudi Arabia is also looking to invest 100 billion US dollars in India [7]. These economic prospects will definitely deter the country from making any rash moves at the behest of Pakistan. Security is another major challenge for India. As the region will see the congregation of the most important leaders of the world India should ensure the maximum security for all the leaders. Any small untoward incident will be held as a huge trump card by Pakistan and China against India. Though there are a number of challenges, the spinoffs that India can gain from this effort offsets the rest. The G-20 is a huge opportunity for India to set its agenda for the world, while at the same time gaining a diplomatic victory with regards to its policy in Jammu and Kashmir. A win-win on both fronts. (Ms. Swetha Ratnasabhapathi is a research officer at C3S. The views expressed are those of the author and does not reflect the views of C3S.) References: [1] 5-member panel to coordinate G-20 meetings in J&K. (2022). Retrieved from [2] Wani, F. (2022). G20 Summit 2023 in Kashmir? ‘Any objection By China, Pakistan needs to bestrongly contested’ | The Financial Express. Retrieved from [3] Muzamil, P. (2022). After a slump of three years, tourism in Kashmir sees a massive jump highest in a decade. Retrieved from [4] Feng, Q. (2022). India unjustified to host G20 in Kashmir; plan driven by domestic politics - Global Times. Retrieved from [5] Majid, Z. (2022). Holding G20 summit in J&K can be a major diplomatic victory for India. Retrieved from [6] Asiq, P. (2022). Huge potential for investments in Jammu & Kashmir: Gulf delegation. Retrieved from [7] Saudi Arabia To Invest USD 100 Billion In India. (2022). Retrieved from

  • Book Review: Dying For an iPhone ; By Swetha Ratnasabhapathi

    Image Courtesy: Dying for an iPhone Article 36/2022 Watch C3S Conversation on the book "Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn & the lives of China's Workers" with Shri. M R Sivaraman IAS (Retd) by Ms. Swetha Ratnasabhapathi Jenny Chan, Mark Selden, and Ngai Pun, Dying for an iPhone, (Haymarket Books), ISBN-13 ‏: ‎978-1642591248 There is a right way to make products, It starts with the rights of the people who make them. -Apple Supplier Responsibility (2016) The book ‘Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn, and the Lives of China’s Workers’ written by Jenny Chan, Mark Selden and Pun Ngai is a sweeping account of the inhumane working conditions in the Chinese factory floors of Foxconn. A Taiwanese based company with a cartel of clientele, Apple is Foxconn’s largest customer by far. A mammoth corporation with over a million workforce in China alone, during the early 2010s, Foxconn is the largest assembler of iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macs, TVS, Xboxes etc, working on high pressure to meet the demands of the market. The book, grounded on research on Foxconn, Apple and the Chinese state is aimed to inform and create consciousness about the labour issues, creating a transnational activism to oppose oppression of labour wherever it is found. The very title of the book ‘Dying for an iPhone’ reflects a double entendre. On the one hand workers are struggling to meet the corporate requirements of high speed and precision of manufacturing pushing them to commit suicide; literally dying to make an iPhone, and on the other hand are the global consumers dying to buy the latest model of an iPhone. It is this dichotomy that is reflected in the book where the lives of the Foxconn workers are not just constrained by management policies of Foxconn but are also shaped by the brands whose products are being produced. The book is a result of a nine year long research from the period of 2010 to 2019, with the authors touring different locations of Foxconn around China. The book is structured as a series of first hand interviews of the frontline workers, line leaders, Foxconn managers, student interns, teachers supervising internship programmes, local government officials and non governmental labour rights groups in China, giving the reader a vivid and thorough picture of the whole issue. The book is divided into twelve chapters touching upon all aspects encompassing the life of a Foxconn worker right from to his plights at the assembly line to its effect on his personal and social life, and their responses by way of strikes and protests. Each chapter is well researched and filled with facts and anecdotes, albeit the interviews creating a sense of monotony. The authors’ probe started with the series of suicides that hapened at Foxconn facilities in China in 2010, with 18 workers having committed suicide by the end of the year. Undercover research was carried out in all nine of Foxconn’s facilities spread around nine cities in China, bringing to light all the discriminatory practices in the factories. From withholding of wages, to poor living conditions and forcing student interns to work in the plant, the authors manage to expose how Foxconn has failed to live up to its obligations. The book does not only bring out the inhumane production practices of Foxconn but also assess the extent to which the Chinese state and global corporations try to extend their responsibility in upholding worker rights. The book lucidly describes with illustrations the brutal working and living conditions that the labourers had to undergo. With Foxconn striving to dominate the global electronics manufacturing and advanced technology, this aspiration of the company aligns with China’s goal to become the world’s economic and technological superpower. With Foxconn striving to dominate the global electronics manufacturing and advanced technology, this aspiration of the company aligns with China’s goal to become the world’s economic and technological superpower. This aim is reflected in the quintessential nexus between Foxconn and the Chinese local Government which has been unmasked in the book. Going a step further the authors not only focus on the human cost but also the social, and environmental impact of the production practices. The impact of this working environment on the personal and social lives of the labourers reduces them to mere machines. An entire chapter is dedicated to the impact of the company on the environment. The book in a pursuit to bring about the predicament of the Chinese workers has not focussed much on the Apple-Foxconn nexus in bringing about the degrading conditions of the workers. Apple’s measures with respect to the issue though mentioned in some places could have been given much focus. The interconnectedness if pondered further could have broken the monotony of the book which reads as a document of interviews. On the larger picture the book is a work exposing the fallacy of global capitalism. The authors’ bring out the profit dynamics between Apple and Foxconn with Foxconn only receiving a margin of the profit and the workers in turn incurring only a pittance, reflecting the global division of labour. With these it is hard to miss out as a reader how all aspects of Marxism be it surplus value theory or theory of alienation unfolding in the case of Foxconn. The case does not stop here, with Foxconn’s foray into other countries the story albeit with the company adapting to the labour laws and practices, is still ongoing. (Ms. Swetha Ratnasabhapathi is a research officer at C3S. The views expressed in this book review are those of the author and does not reflect the views of C3S.)

  • The Chip War: US Restrictions, China’s Ambitions and the Semiconductor Industry

    By Sapna Elsa Abraham Image Courtesy: Nikkei Asia Article Courtesy: The Rise Article 36/2022 Semiconductor chips form a very crucial part of the technological and strategic competition between the US and China. The disruptions in the supply and value chain due to the pandemic and trade tensions with China have brought out the significance of semiconductor chips. These are crucial for technological progress and responsible for the country’s growth as an economic power. The present article looks at the present US-China tensions and the implications of such spillover on the semiconductor ecosystem. Semiconductors have become the most essential tool for a country’s growth as an economic power in the present world. They have become a critical technology enabler across the world as these cutting-edge chips are the foundation of paradigm-shifting technologies like Artificial intelligence. Semiconductors form a very crucial part of the technological and strategic competition between the USA and China. From the year 2018, the USA has been imposing export restrictions on the transfer of advanced semiconductors and the inputs required to produce them. The restrictions on transferring semiconductor technologies from the USA to Chinese companies like Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) and Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. began in 2020. The disruptions in the supply and value chain due to the pandemic and trade tensions have led China and the US to start the process of decoupling their technology dependence. This process won’t be easy. Thanks to globalization, the chip-making process is interconnected and relies on the global supply chain concentrated in different parts of the world. The USA is the market leader in design and technology, and the European nations, especially the Netherlands, concentrate on the manufacturing of the machinery required for production. The manufacturing and assembly are carried out in Asian countries mainly, Taiwan, South Korea, and China. The USA used to dominate 40 percent of the world supply in chip making over the years but these numbers have dropped to a rate of 12 percent. This alarming situation has led the US to focus more on domestically produced chips. China mainly manufactures semiconductors with the help of foreign tools and software. They lack a domestic ecosystem, which is seen as a vulnerable side. China has been increasing its domestic production of semiconductors as part of the self-sufficiency dream, “Made in China 2025”. The country has come a long way in the production of these chips. Researchers at TechInsights reported that China’s national champion Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) had acquired the ability to produce a 7-nanometre (nm) chip. This is considered a breakthrough in Chinese chip production. The US is tightening exports of technology and equipment to restrict the growth of the Chinese chip-making industry. The US is tightening exports of technology and equipment to restrict the growth of the Chinese chip-making industry. The restrictions also extend to acquiring chips produced in China that form a part of the military equipment and to Chinese firms acquiring stakes in US firms. This is part of the US plan to ensure China does not receive the critical technology that is required to produce advanced semiconductor chips. They are also doing so by restraining other chip-making allies like South Korea, and the Netherlands from sharing and transferring the equipment needed. US sanctions on China are “list-based controls” and “end-use and end-user controls”. Such sanctions will play a role in promoting its home-grown industries and making use of its advantage in technology design. On the same coin, they can keep a check on China’s ambitions. Reports suggest that the USA is planning to increase curbs on US shipments to China. The Commerce Department intends to publish new regulations based on restrictions communicated in letters earlier this year to three U.S. companies KLA Corp, Lam Research Corp, and Applied Materials Inc, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Over the years, the USA has brought sanctions on advanced graphic processor units (GPUs), extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines, and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), partly covering central processing units (CPUs). As part of the US resolve to form domestic self-reliance for chip manufacturing, a proposal to form a forum of all the major chip-making Asian partners has been proposed. The forum consisting of South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan could be a useful measure to restrict China’s ambition of becoming a leading chip manufacturer. In the early stages, these restrictions were concentrated on the advanced chips being transferred. Now the restrictions are on technology and tool transfer which are essential for chip making. China is heavily dependent on electronic design automation (EDA) tools and semiconductor manufacturing equipment (SME) which are imported from foreign firms. As part of the ‘chip war’, a new area has emerged with restrictions on the transfer of Electronic Design Automation (EDA) to China. This was started with the announcement of restrictions on certain EDA tools to be transferred to China and other non-US allied 150 countries.. The implications of increasing restrictions on the export of chips to China will have implications in different fields. China is heavily dependent on technology from the West, especially the US, to produce advanced chips. The US placing restrictions would mean China’s dream of self-reliance will take years to fulfil. This would increasingly cripple the Chinese plan of “Made in China 2025”. This is the major aim of the USA, to ensure that China’s semiconductor industry does not get the push. If they succeed in creating advanced chips with the raw materials and the assembly units, China will take over the USA. The USA and China heavily rely upon each other for semiconductor devices. Private companies will not be happy about the restrictions being placed as this would reduce their profit margins. These sanctions invariably affect the production and competitiveness of the semiconductor industry. This might result in the innovation and supply of these semiconductors. Unilateral restrictions imposed raise concerns among private and public actors about the impact of the action. With these restrictions, companies will end up evaluating production models and investments, and suppliers to circumvent the economic policies of the US. China can leverage its economic influence through trade restrictions and even launch non-conventional attacks to obtain intellectual property from the companies. Taiwan is a major contesting point between the USA and China. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the world’s leading manufacturer of semiconductors. China can leverage its economic influence through trade restrictions and even launch non-conventional attacks to obtain intellectual property from the companies. China can opt for such measures if the need arises with the increased restrictions from the US. Semiconductors have become an important part of China’s and the US national security strategy. China is a net importer of semiconductors and is heavily dependent on imports from foreign sources, especially the US, as they lack access to semiconductor manufacturing equipment and software. Even though China has come a long way in chip manufacturing, they still lag behind its competitors who are the global leaders in manufacturing, having the ability to carry out high production in the 5-nanometre processing node. With such curbs being applied on the firms from exporting these to China, they will face increased shortages in their manufacturing of semiconductors. The world will be looking at the ways in which China will overcome these restrictions placed by the US. The US also needs to find a way to impose restrictions on China without impacting the global supply and value chain in a major way. (Ms. Sapna Elsa Abraham is a research officer at C3S. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and does not reflect the views of C3S.) References America takes on China with a giant microchips bill. (2022, July 29). The Economist. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from Dwivedi, S., & Wischer, G. D. (2022, April 27). Not All Semiconductors Are Created Equal. The National Interest. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from Freifeld, K., & Alper, A. (2022, September 12). Exclusive: Biden to hit China with broader curbs on U.S. chip and tool exports. Reuters. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from Khan, S. M. (n.d.). U.S. Semiconductor Exports to China: Current Policies and Trends. Center for Security and Emerging Technology. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from McBride, J., Chatzky, A., & Kurlantzick, J. (n.d.). Is ‘Made in China 2025’ a Threat to Global Trade? Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from Semiconductors and the U.S.-China Innovation Race. (2021, February 16). Foreign Policy. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from Solutions for resilient semiconductor supply chains. (2022, January 7). Chatham House. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from Theresa, D. (2022, August 30). China’s top chipmaker SMIC just achieved an Intel-like breakthrough. Interesting Engineering. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from U.S. Sanctions Are Supercharging China’s Chipmaking Industry. (2022, June 21). TIME. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from

  • SSLV-D1 Pioneer: A Walk to the Future? ; By Subhadip Mondal

    Image Courtesy : IANS Article 35/2022 Introduction The SSLV-D1 pioneer of the small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV) was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, on August 07, 2022. The concerned vehicle was carrying the payload of an Earth Observatory Satellite (EOS) and AzaadiSAT. The EOS-02 is a Microsat 2A version of satellite, and it is based on its predecessor Microsat-TD 1. Microsat 2A have a payload of Mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) and Long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) with 6 m ground resolution and a life span of 10 months. Despite the launch being unable to fulfil its mandate, it has still changed the course of the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) trajectory. The layout of the new track can be analysed from two contexts: one from the perspective of the utility of a small satellite and the other from the prospect of the vehicle. Small Satellite As the course of modern warfare is changing, the importance of space technologies is increasing. The satellite has assumed the role of boasting the Command, Control, Computers Communications, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities of the army. Depending upon the weight, satellites whose weight lies between 0.001 to 180 kg are referred to as small satellites 2. From 2500 to 5400kg, satellites fall in the medium to extremely heavy category. The small satellites (SmSAT) can be used for specific purposes, whereas medium or heavy category satellites carry multiple payloads. This difference has its proclivities. Two or three Tracking and Data Relay Satellites in Geostationary Orbit located suitably over a country provide a way to extend the coverage ofISR assets over a large part of the earth 3. But, this has its shortcomings. First, the revisit time for the stationary orbit satellites is the same as that of the earth’s rotation period. But the places that are strategically important from the military perspective require a revisit time with minimal lapse. Second, since the number of satellites is limited and the altitude of these satellites is high, latency remains on the higher edge 4. This could have an important repercussion, especially during military operations. Third, countries have developed their anti-satellite system (ASAT), so their state-of-the-art space devices are under constant intimidation. These gaps can be plugged in using small satellites. SmSAT carries target-specific payloads, bringing down the cost of production of such satellites. This can be passed on in the form of mass production of such satellites, which make it conducive to perish and replacement. Small satellites are placed in the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO); this reduces the temporal resolution. SmSAT can utilise a single band frequency, like the X-band. The army uses the concerned band for its surveillance purpose. So, a constellation of X-band-based SmSAT is helpful for the military to continue surveillance over a ‘Region of Interest’ (RoI) with less latency and a revisit time of a few hours. So far, India doesn’t have a satellite with a similar frequency capability, so having such capacity will be crucial for Indian military services. India has dedicated military use satellites, i.e. GSAT-7 (Rukmini used by Navy) and GSAT-7A (Angry Bird operated by Airforce). If it is complemented with the constellation of specific use SmSAT, then it would be a game changer in regions like the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Even though China has ASAT, this will not have a more significant impact on the constellation of SmSAT, primarily for two reasons. First, none of the SmSAT wouldn’t be a primary satellite, and none would be a cost-driven satellite, so they can quickly be replenished. Second, the ASAT can target a single target at one time, so it wouldn’t be able to perish the work of the whole constellation in one go. In other words, the result of the constellation will remain conducive even under active threat. Launch Vehicle After multiple successful trials, the pioneer of the SSLV series, i.e. SSLV-D1, was plunged into space with an actual payload. This project incepted the coalesce of many path-breaking acts. First, the project laid the foundation for incorporating private players into space infrastructure. Second, SSLV helped India achieve the capacity of placing small loads in the LEO cost-effectively. Before SSLV, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and GSLV Mk III have the LEO capacity. The LEO payload capacity of these vehicles is around 5,000 kg & 8,000 kg, respectively 5. Comparing GSLV with PSLV, the latter has a higher success rate while the other remains a challenge. So, before the SSLV, the Polar vehicle was the option to place satellites in the LEO. PLSV provides the opportunity of either placing multiple satellites in one go or piggybacking small satellites along with the primary satellite. As it has exhibited during the launch of PSLV-C37 which placed 104 satellites belonging to seven nations including India 6. In the present instance, despite India proving itself to be a promising uprising, it is far from achieving the global benchmark. The SSLV-D1 was based on solid propulsion and had three stages, i.e. 87 tonnes, 7.7 tonnes and 4.5 tonnes. All these stages achieved their target using a heterogeneous propellant-based thruster. This success story has opened the doors that would attract more private players to India’s space market, which intern will be able to generate billions of revenues. To put a number on the market share which India can tap into through similar initiatives, as per data from MarketsandMarkets the global small satellite market size is projected to grow to 7.1 billion USD by 2025 7. Conclusion India has deployed Heron drones in the LAC region. The drones connected with satellite helps fly those beyond visual range. A constellation of SmSAT will assist in deploying multiple drone missions simultaneously. This will be both cost-effective and withstanding fewer perished human lives. The use of the SmSAT constellation for the IOR will not only corroborate the work of Rukmini and Angry Bird but would also buttress the efforts of the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR). Besides this, the GSAT-7 has extended its planned mission duration, so it is high time to install a constellation. Besides catering to the needs of National Security, India must also aid in capacity building of ISRO to attract private players, especially those who are in the business of providing satellite internet service. This is a booming market. In this context, SSLV stands more appealing than PSLV, as for SSLV the Government of India (GoI) had sanctioned ₹169 crores, 8 whereas in the 2021 budget GoI allocated 700 crore INR to New Space India Limited (NSIL) which executed the launch of PSLV-CS51 9. The need of the hour for India is to formulate a “Space Doctrine” on similar lines of the US which would be a step in the right direction. This doctrine shall include provisions for collaboration between government agencies and private players. Such a vision will also help to lay the foundation, which allows earmarking a particular portion of the annual budget for this purpose. The recent launch established the foundation of a journey which could make India a dominant player in space, but it is the time which will decide whether New Delhi will be able to achieve it or not. Keywords – National Security, SSLV, GSAT, SmSAT (Mr. Subhadip Mondal is a research officer at C3S. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of C3S.) References 1 “Microsat-TD (Microsat 1).” Gunter's Space Page. Accessed August 16, 2022. 2 Bommakanti, Kartik. “Introduction.” Essay. In Strengthening the C4ISR Capabilities of India's Armed Forces: The Role of Small Satellites, 1–8. Delhi, Delhi: ORF, 2020. 3 Chandrashekar, S. “Capacities, Capabilities & Gaps - Space Based Support Services for C4ISR.” Essay. In Space, War & Security– a Strategy for India, 6167. Bengaluru, Karnataka: NIAS, 2015. 4 Ibid no ii; p – 5. 5 “Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (Gslv).” ISRO. ISRO. Accessed August 16, 2022. 6 “PSLV-C37 Successfully Launches 104 Satellites in a Single Flight.” ISRO. Accessed September 1, 2022. 7 Admin. “Admin.” SID, July 7, 2021. 8 “ISRO Developing a SSLV with Private Participation, to Be Launched in Q1 of 2022.” mint, December 16, 2021. 9 Pti. “Department of Space Allocated Rs 13,949 Crore in Budget, Rs 4,449 Crore More than Fiscal 2020-21.” News18, February 1,2021.