The Chinese submarine base everyone knew about

Well, almost everyone

That a British newspaper should get its readers all excited about China’s ‘secret’ submarine in Sanya, Hainan is explicable, for this is the time when the Western world is purposefully discovering the Orwellian nature of the term “peaceful rise”.

Reports, satellite images, and analyses of China’s commissioning of Class 094 nuclear missile submarines (SSBNs) have been around in the blogosphere—also logged on this blog—for a few years now. [See Arms Control Wonk’s coverage, dating back to August 2004] The only thing new—but entirely predictable—is that China’s base in Sanya is probably already operational.

You would expect the intelligence communities in key capitals around the world—including India’s own—to know this. So, if media reports do not exaggerate, it should come as a surprise that the Indian cabinet needs to convene a special meeting to discuss the Sanya naval base, as if it were a fresh new revelation.

During a recent interview with Pragati, K Subrahmanyam pointed out that the political leadership only gets interested in intelligence briefings after the fact. From what we can tell, that’s perhaps the case with this one too.