The Communist state is aiming to turn the clock back. Blinded by becoming both a major military and economic power in a world where America’s long held super power status is under threat, China is not willing to stop till it has regained the lost glory of the China of 800 years ago. Beijing seeks to regain all the territories that were supposedly taken away by force from it during the rules of its various dynasties, from around 1200 to the 19th century….writes Alvin Fernandez
After bullying most of the nations around it into forced silence by threats of its military might and some coaxing with its money power, China has become extremely frustrated that India refuses to yield to its diktats, ignoring the power of its money and muscles. Thus India has become an impediment to its dream of becoming an undisputed regional hegemon and an unchallenged super power. India has been served notice that it should be ready for China using the ‘military way’ if it does not settle the bilateral boundary dispute on Chinese terms, as has been done by many of its smaller nations.
If the extremity of its bellicose rhetoric is to be believed, it may not be very long when Chinese artillery and tanks start rolling down Indian territories to re-enact the 1962 scenario on a magnified scale. The response will undoubtedly be stronger than what it was in 1962 when the Chinese had fought a virtually one-sided war with India in the Northeast.
The war mania that the Chinese have built in their country appears to be an enterprise taken up in tandem with their ‘all weather friend’, Pakistan. But Pakistan discovered some years ago that instead of a conventional military confrontation with India it can hope to achieve most of its goals in a proxy war outsourced to ISI- trained jihadi militants, who in the Pak lexicon are known as ‘non-state actors’.
The Chinese have hinted that they too might adopt the Pakistani tactics by sending in saboteurs and guerillas into India’s Border States in the Northeast and Sikkim. Even though there is no boundary dispute between India and China on Sikkim, the bullying Chinese have now threatened to ‘liberate’ Sikkim. This will be their way of responding to what they perceive as India’s help to the Tibetans fighting against the Chinese oppression for over five decades. On behalf of Pakistan, this will be a befitting riposte against India’s ‘meddling’ in the restive Pakistani province of Balochistan.
Blinded by becoming both a major military and economic power in a world where America’s long held super power status is under threat, China is not willing to stop till it has regained the lost glory of the China of 800 years ago. Beijing seeks to regain all the territories that were supposedly taken away by force from it during the rules of its various dynasties, from around 1200 to the 19th century.
China has established its influence over Nepal and Myanmar as part of its policy to encircle India but it has not forgotten that certain portions of land in both countries were once said to be part of Tibet or China. With Nepal, China had fought a five-year war in the 18th century. The claims over Myanmar land goes back to the Yuan dynasty (1217-1368)
North Korea is among the rogue states that receive generous Chinese patronage. But the boyish – maverick dictator of North Korea needs to remember that the Chinese claim that all of the country was part of the Yuan dynasty. Since there was only one Korea at the time, the Chinese claim extends over South Korea too. Countries like Laos and Cambodia have been described as once being part of medieval Chinese dynasties.
The Chinese claim over South China Sea is even more bizarre. The islands the Chinese have claimed are described as once belonging to an ‘independent’ kingdom which was a ‘vassal’ of China. Central Asian countries like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were forcibly annexed by the Russians depriving China of its rights over these countries. In the boundary dispute with India, China supports its stand by playing the victim card, of having been presented a fait accompli by the then imperial power of Britain when China itself had been subjugated by imperial powers.
The absurd manner in which the Chinese lay claim to foreign territories reflects how intoxicated they have become with their military strength and economic clout. What the Chinese cannot see is that becoming a superpower and a global hegemon will remain a dream never to be fulfilled if they continue with their arrogant and aggressive ways. A rising world power cannot begin by presenting an obnoxious face, threatening to swallow land and maritime territories over which it has no valid claim.
An immediate cause for the current Chinese hostility is India’s refusal to be part of its Belt Road Initiative, also known by many other names. China is mistaken if it assumes that India will end its resistance to BRI out of fear of the Dragon spewing fire with great ferocity. For a country that is so sensitive about its sovereignty it is strange that China refuses to see that India has a similar concern because a part of the BRI will pass through a territory of Jammu and Kashmir that the Chinese themselves say is ‘disputed’. How BRI will benefit India, given the hostility of not only China but Pakistan also, is not clear.
In the near future, the Chinese appear closer to overtaking the US in economic terms rather than military. But that will happen if China is able to continuously expand its trade with the rest of the world, uninterrupted by war and border skirmishes. A Chinese attack on India will surely disrupt the Chinese plans of using Pakistan as the main conduit of its goods to West and Central Asia.
The Chinese have pinned great hopes on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed free trade agreement between 10 members of the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) and a group of other countries that include, apart from China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. Trade in this bloc will account for 40 per cent of the world trade.
Most of these countries have some reservations about China even though they have strong economic ties with it. But RCEP agreement is yet to be finalized; it may be by the year end. Right now not many will expect India to sign on the dotted lines, as proposed by China. If there are changes in the documents to be signed by all members, it will surely fall short of Chinese expectations if the Chinese continue with their abrasive ways. Another blow to the Chinese superpower dreams.