Tue, May 31, 2011 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: China eyes ‘extraterritoriality’ through use of UAVs

MULTIPURPOSE:Though UAVs were promoted at a recent exhibition as a tool against terrorism, China could use them in future operations against ‘separatist’ entities

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff Reporter

Beyond Taiwan, the Tibetan government-in-exile could present an opportunity for UAV use by the PLA, especially if the context were to change following the recent change of leadership there.

Should newly elected Tibetan government-in-exile Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay adopt, as some predict, a more “reactionary” policy vis-a-vis the Chinese occupation of Tibet, it is very possible that at some point in the future China could deploy drones in areas along the Tibetan Plateau bordering Dharamsala, India, where the government-in-exile has been based since the Dalai Lama’s exile. During the election earlier this year, Sangay said he would move from Boston, Massachusetts, to Dharamsala if he were elected.

As China gains strength and self-confidence, it can be expected to begin exercising certain “rights” that for the past two decades have been principally a US prerogative as a result of its military supremacy. As that balance shifts, China will be the likeliest challenger of that right and by virtue of the relatively low cost and “acceptability” of deployment, UAVs could be the first expression of that challenge.

“The possible threat is not only to Taiwan, but to those forces operating along the Western Pacific,” Huang said.

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