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Combating China: TIME FOR FRESH THINKING, By Dr D.K. Giri, 6 January 2023 Print E-mail

Round The World

New Delhi, 6 January 2023

Combating China


By Dr D.K. Giri

(Prof International Relations, JIMMC) 

There are several theories and interpretations on China’s phenomenal growth in the last three decades. Experts and observers, while unanimous in their admiration of China’s exceptional growth, are concerned about the current and future actions of Beijing. Martin Jacques, a British author and a commentator says, “When China Rules the World: (there will be) The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order”. This interestingly is the title of his latest book. A former diplomat from Singapore, Kishore Mehboobani, in his book, “Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy” suggests that China will rule the 21st century and will replacethe United States of America.

An American author John Mearsheimer warns that China’s rise will not be peaceful; it will try to change the world order which will be detrimental to the international peace and security. The Indian scholar Samir Sharan in his book, Pax Sinica: Implications for the Indian Dawn traces the trajectory of Chinese growth and its implications for India’s security, development and role in the world.

It is not unusual that authors and observers will have multiple perspectives on any issue. It is for the leadership of the country to decipher such analyses, observations and interpretations and accordingly, formulate their strategies in their national interest. It is also important, particularly in case of China, that Indian leadership understands and foresees China’s intentions in world politics.

Evidently, China is not a status-quo power but a revisionist one. It seeks to dominate the world, either alongside the US in a G-2 framework or supplanting the US as a superpower. The present supreme leader of China Xi Jinping, who is also characterised as the new emperor of China, has this irrepressible ambition of being the sole power of the world.

Be that as it may, it is noticeable that China wants to become a regional hegemon, it wants to be the dominant power in Asia, change the status quo in South China Sea and East China Sea, seeks to change the borders with Taiwan and India, will try to build the blue-water navy to move into the Indian Ocean and harass India. In doing so, according to Samir Sharan, Beijing is using a 3M framework: a middle kingdom identity which signifies that China is the centre of the world and no one is going to stop them.

The second M refers to modern tools meant to capture the global platforms, to spy on others, steal data, build a modernised army to invade and plunder. The third M is a medieval mindset shaped by the concepts of total state control, tributary system (It involves multiple relationships of trade, military force, diplomacy and ritual) which is expressed in the latest initiative called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In all this, what should worry New Delhi is that, in Xi’s neo-imperial plan 2049, India is perceived as a mere irritant, an uncomfortable and discordant neighbour. Xi is peeved that New Delhi did not sign the BRI and showed tenacity in Doklam, Galwan and recently in Tawang. Xi will not brook any insubordination in the neighbourhood. In economic terms, which are the main drivers for Xi Jinping to flex his muscles, Beijing does not need the 3 trillion Indian market, nor does it require the ASEAN market. What it needs is the 20-trillion European Union market. Xi Jinping will harass and humiliate India at multiple points, systematically and gradually challenge the United States, the only stumbling block in his imperial design.

How does India and USA react to Chinese ambitions? There are two schools of thought on this. One, the future belongs to Asia and the geo-political contest is between the US and Europe on the one hand and Asia on the other. It is possible and advisable for India and China to live in peace and grow together. The border skirmishes can be dialled down with diplomacy and dialogue. This perhaps continues to be the dominant thinking in the South Block.

The other school of thought contends that China has pushed India beyond the boundary of non-alignment and is almost compelling her to seek allies, in particular, the United States. It is also clear that the relationship between China and US will define the contemporary world order. Likewise, the China-India relation will be the second most important one in the world politics. The recent clashes between Indian and Chinese forces including the deaths in Galwan are indeed tragic and ominous, but things are going to get worse if the Chinese mood of domination and penchant for expansion continue unabated. For the sake of peace and security, India will have to guard herself against Chinese hostile designs.

It is a fallacy to assume that China and India can carry on with their economic partnership. It is not possible to do business with those who are pointing the gun to your head. The Chinese actions on the border and internationally vis-à-vis India does not point to a beneficial partnership but towards a Himalayan conflict. Beijing’s actions, both diplomatic and military, will compel the 540 million young Indians to perceive China as an enemy for foreseeable future.

The United States, having made the mistake of feeding the rise of China, making it more powerful than it as ever was, is trying to contain it. They have seen and recognised the danger. The US has faced bigger competitors in the 20th century- imperial Germany, Nazi Germany, Japan in the Second World War and Soviet Union in the post war era. US will go to enormous length to prevent China from changing the world order. It is a fundamentally competitive relationship between US and China.

For both India and the US, China is now a common threat. USA is looking out for potential allies like Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan. India should reciprocate fully sooner than later. There is again a school of thought that each country including India should be self-reliant to maintain their development and security, preserve their strategic autonomy and so on. But in real world, it is not possible for each country to be able to match another. Taiwan could not match China nor Ukraine could equal Russia, but the latter has stood up to Russia in a war for about a year. Ukraine could do so on the basis of tangible support from the West, mainly the US.

Obviously, therefore, in view of the forgoing, each country needs strategic ally as per the context – for security, economy, for knowledge exchange and so on. It is in mutual interest of the US and India to come together to contain and counter China. This alliance could be expanded by including Australia, Japan, Vietnam and other European countries for the sake of rule of law, human rights, open seas and peaceful co-existence. ---INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

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