Amidst the borders of the vast Taklamakan Desert in Sinkiang (alternatively known as XinJiang Province of China), lies in the North of Siachen Glacier, also lies an Unlikely Oasis, and nestled with in the oasis is a newly built manufacturing facility that is going to alter the dimensions of the Geostrategic equations between the US, China and India. This factory is soon going to become one of the world’s largest plants to manufacture Polysilicon, a substance that is an intermediate product in the manufacturing process of silicon wafres that are then transformed into an innumerable range of microchips for multiple applications.
The world is powered by microchips that run everything from pacemakers to mobile phones to geostationary satellites. There is an emerging cold war between US and China which is going to rapidly divide the world between those that have access to advanced microchip technology and those that donot.The US is positioning itself to weaponise the Innovation,technology and intellectual property ecosystem in microchips, just as Chinese leveraged their size and economic assistance for the Belt Road Initiative. The US is now advocating and telling its friends to stop using Chinese giant Huawei’s telecom products that use microchips made by its subsidiaries.
How it started – Revealing Chinese Cards :
On November 21st, 2016, the US navy’s US $4.4 Bn guided missile destroyer USS Zumwalt, while traversing Panama canal, suffered a catastrophic propulsion failure, just 02 days later on 23rd November, the British royal Navy’s US $ 1.2 Bnhitech destroyer HMS Duncan suffered a catastrophic propulsion failure while on NATO manoeuvres. The reason identified behind all this was Chinese Chip Destroyer, which are a type of microchip manufactured by the Chinese PLA that the US Navy was forced to buy by tens of thousands as a cost cutting exercise.
When forensic technicians were deployed they found that all of the microchips received from a particular manufacturer had same flaw, Instead of being laser etched with Milspec equivalent of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), these had civilian wiring equivalent to a 3-amp fuse. In general, electronic component are connected together like a Daisy chain. Even 10 hardened microchips soldered in a series survive a short burst of electromagnetic energy called EMP – This never happens – that component will fail. And if it happens during war or conflict, there will be no replacements easily available. All spares warehoused on a ship or ashore will also get roasted by the same invisible pulse or EMP. There are so many embedded semiconductors wired on a Nanoscale that to rectify them, each one would have to be inspected and Recertified at Test centres equipped with specialised equipment, which is an Impossibility.In fact it has been proven that in these 02 ships Chinese Microchips reportedly also have backdoors installed for easy hacking. Subsequently, Trump in 2018 banned all such Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE and others by bringing in National Defence Authorisation Act.
What it requires to make a Microchip
Microchips require two critical raw materials, Sand & freshwater. A 30 cm silicon wafer requires almost 10000 litres of fresh water for its manufacture. All of China’s major rivers like The Yangtze, The Yellow river and the Mekong are already choked with effluents. The Taklamakan desert provides sand in abundance and there is a huge reserve of water stored in the lakes, rivers, glaciers in Himalyan and Karakoram mountain ranges. Leading Chinese polysilicon wafer producer, GCL-Poly Energy Holdings, is completing a 130,000 MT polysilicon plant outside Kashgar in Sinkiang (Xinjiang) when completed would be world’s leading Low cost, high quality polysilicon production base for modified siemens method polysilicon manufacturing.
Is it what makes China more Thirsty for Waters :
Is this quest for water one of the driving forces behind China’s Belt and Road Initiative (CPEC) in Pakistan. Way back in 1954, China encroached into Indian territory in Aksai Chin, which is an extension of Taklamkan desert and occupied the whole Aksai Chin ostensibly to build a road linking Sinkiang and Tibet, both of which were annexed during same time. But even that farsighted Chinese strategists were interested in the Shaksgam valley, which is home to 242 glaciers and considered to be the most heavily glaciated region in the world outside of two poles, Aksai Chin provide alternate access to Shaksgam valley. The Shaksgam valley fell into Pakistan’s lap in 1947 as a consequence of British perfidy in Orchestrating the Gilgit rebellion during partition. The Chinese and Pakistanis were in secret negotiations in 1962 when China invaded India. Their border deal and the transfer of Shaksgam valley to China took place in early 1963 and before this deal China had already surveyed plans of transportation corridor stretching from the Chinese border to Pakistan’s deep water ports on Arabian Sea. It was in this connection Pakistan purchased Gwadar from Oman in 1958. In fact, Oman had first offered to India but Nehru turned it down with No wisdom applied as usual.
After purchase of Gwadar, the Chinese started construction of Karakoram Highway in 1959. Warning bells should have been sounded in India but Nobody seemed worried, Infact India signed Water treaty in 1960, giving Pakistan’s a Lion’s share of the waters from the major 06 rivers of North India. India was allowedto tap in 19.48 percent of the run of the river waters of the Indus, Jhelum and Cheenab, but not exploited even that legal share.
Now question arises, Was the Chinese incursion into Aksai Chin in 1954, Pakistan Purchase of Gwadar port in 1958, the commencement of the construction of Karkoram highway in 1959, Indus water treaty, 1962 war and Sino- Pakistan deal on Shaksgam valley in 1963, all Interconnected milestones in a far reaching conspiracy to steal India’s waters.
The 1300 Kms long Karkoram Highway, whose survey work started in 1959, took 20 years to complete. Delay in China was primarily because of failure of Great Leap forward and Cultural revolution in 1960 and 1966 – 1971 respectively. When it started actually in late 1966, Pakistan initially suggested routing it through the Mintaka Pass but then made through Khunjerab pass as earlier was more susceptible to Air Strikes as per China’s. The Highway started from Kashgar in Sinkiang, ending at HasanAbdal in Punjab, Pakistan.
In the meanwhile, 1984, the physical control of Siachen by India created a new edge by shifting the presumed India Pakistan China Trijunction from Karkoram pass to almost 100 kms to the west, near Indira Col. The waters from Indira col drain in the south to the Siachin Glacier and to Nubra and Shyok rivers, to finally merge with the Indus.
The China’s quest for water originating in the karkoram – Himalayan region has resulted in Chinese acquiring Aksai Chin in Ladakh by force and Sakahagam valley in Gilgit – Hunza by an illegal treaty with Pakistan. This farsighted Chinese planning has resulted in a windfall gain for them today. The only CATCH in the pack is India’s right to exploit the unexploited 19.48% of river waters of 03 rivers flowing through the state of Jammu and Kashmir. India has not exploited any of the waters of the Indus cascade and partially exploited Chenab and Jhelum. Government of India is sitting on very potent weapon whose deterrent capacity is enormous. It could curtail the enormous consumer surplus (even out of 19.48% of Legal India’s share) being enjoyed by Pakistan in terms of excess water that it has been using for last 59 years.
The Truth behind Kishenganga river (Neelum river in POK) :
Taking advantage of the peace on the borders, in 2007, NHPC and HCC started construction of US $ 864 Mn Hydroelectric project on Kishenganga in Gurez valley, Bandipore district, located in the line of sight of LOC, work on the project got halted in 2011 as Pakistan took India to the world court at Hague and contested that India Dam on river will consume 33% of the water resources while India’s claim was 10% only. Pakistan to fight India started a Hydro electric project over Neelum river in 2008 by giving contract to China.
In the meanwhile, it is now clearly evident that year 2008,2010,violent protests in Kashmir were all linked to Pakistan to sabotage and delay execution of Kishen ganga project as it went again to World court, praying to halt work on Kishen Ganga project, however, World court ruled in favour of India in 2013 and permitted to restart the work but again Pakistan engineered protests in Bandipore alleging that project violated environmental laws but it did not last long and fourth attempt to sabotage the project has failed. China’s continuous intrusions during this period till 2013 especially in Demchok, Koyul, Chushul, Burthe near Daulat Beg Oldie in Ladakh was basically focussed to Defocus India on Kishen Ganga Project.Finally on May 19th,2018, Kishen Ganga Project was formally inaugurated by the PM Narendra Modi to allow India to assert its control over Kashmir’s natural resources.
China’s water vision was revealed when CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) expanded in 2017 to include construction of 05 Dams forming the North Indus river cascade that China has promised to finance & build in Pakistan and in POK. The first dam would be built at Bunji near Skardu, and would have 22 kms of long reservoir. The 2nd dam, the DiamerBhasha dam would have a live storage of 6.4 million acre feets of water. The Third dam would be Dasu dam with 74 kms of reservoir which will stretch upto BashaDiamer dam. The 4th dam would be at Patan with 35 km reservoir leading up to Dasu dam. The 5th dam would be little down stream – the 4000 MW ThakotHydroproject.
Crux of the story is that Money alone will not be able to win you war but harnessing of natural resources shall play a pivotal role in creating a new warfare platform to counter the world.