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Expansionist China's regional belligerence and how India is balancing the equation

China stands as the embodiment of everything that is wrong with communism and it would be in the interest of all the Asian countries to bring a halt to its pursuits in the South China Sea and the world over

Mridani Pandey

India happens to be a nation that has transcended the generalizations that are often associated with the Orient. India has the ability to contest the subaltern notion attached with most of the nations that constitute the Eastern World. It has carved out an identity so peculiar that no nation in the world can ideologically challenge. It is only from the neighbourhood that India encounters provocation in the form of China.

According to Kautilya’s Mandal Theory, ‘A neighbour is a natural enemy.’ Going by his conviction, India and China are destined to be foes. They are physiographically designed to be competitors and one’s advancement would forever be a matter of concern for the other. This factor always comes in the way of their cooperation as enshrined in the wishful slogan of ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai.’ Even after completing 70 years of their diplomatic relationship, India-China relations are marred with conflicts and dissensions.

Many issues surround and have constructed Indo-China relations in recent times. The June 15 border skirmish was one of the biggest blows to this association in the history of time. Apart from that, there are a number of issues that plague the relationship at the bilateral as well as international level. There are a plethora of developments on the part of China, primarily, that have precipitated into a frigid relationship between the two. China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea which led to standoffs with Vietnam and Malaysia; The National Security Law in Hong Kong that treats various actions and expressions as sedition and shatters the One Country Two Systems Model; China’s In-Your-Face diplomacy in Asia Pacific and with United States that can be considered an outgrowth of its bandaging spree after the Corona virus Pandemic for which it is yet to submit accountability; China’s attempt to play up investment and sponsorship of developmental programs in Asia and Africa and its veiled debt-trap maneuver with more vulnerable economies. The India-China Relations in the 21st century are a natural corollary of these malevolent foreign policy exercises on the part of China.

At the bilateral level, the undemarcated border is one of the chief drivers that sketches their liaison. The Indo-China Border can be divided into three sectors- Western, Eastern and Middle. The recent Chinese belligerence came from the Western Sector. The ostensible reason that surfaced among the experts was the aggrandizement in infrastructural activities on the Indian side of the border, more specifically the Darbuk-Shyok-DBO Road Project in Ladakh, close to the LAC. The skirmish that took place in the Galwan Valley on June 15 resulted in the martyrdom of 20 Indian soldiers. Complete disengagement and restoration of status-quo-ante still remains to be achieved. The fact that this situation could have been averted, if the Chinese Authorities would have acted in restraint reveals much about their acumen that is overplayed by economic chauvinism and defiance towards the integrity of other nations. This can be underlined by the lack of factuality in its territorial claims in the 14 countries sharing border with it. In India itself, China lays claim over the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, parts of Ladakh, etc. while Aksai Chin is already under the illegal occupation of China.

Chinese jingoism is now being labelled by the whole world as it goes on to compass its most enterprising project till date – The Belt and Road Initiative. India has been wary of this arrangement since its inception and pronounced to opt out of it. India’s concerns regarding the CPEC, which is an important aspect of the BRI are momentous and cannot be passed over. Since its independence, India has always walked up to the pedestal whenever its interests are jeopardised. In its recent decision to pull out of the RCEP, it addressed the challenges posed by countries like China with which India runs a large trade deficit. The domestic industry in India has often protested against the imports of Chinese products that are advertently aimed to pervade the Indian market resulting in massive losses for the former. In order to cope with this, the Indian government has heralded a renewed emphasis on the use of Swadeshi Products. Chinese imports are subjected to excessive checks at Indian custom. The clamour associated with the boycott of Chinese products is gaining pace with continued public expression. This resentment towards Chinese misadventures are not reserved for the economic domain. On June 29, the Ministry of Education put the Confucius Institutes (CI) and Chinese Language Training Centres under scrutiny. The juxtaposition of trade and diplomatic relations leaves little room for China to act.

China is also cautious of India’s diplomatic engagement in the Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world. The whole narrative of Indo-Pacific has put China on guard. Arrangements such as the Quad, Malabar Exercise, India-Japan-Australia Trilateral, etc. have a bearing on the Chinese interest in East Asia and beyond. So as to contain the Indian influence, China involves in multilateral frictions with India. It stands in the way of India’s inclusion in the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) and NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group). Chinese attempts to include the issue of J&K in UNSC is testament to its insecurities regarding India.

It is important to assess China in the present context and bring home the fact that China’s hegemonic ventures need to be checked by the international community. China stands as the embodiment of everything that is wrong with communism and it would be in the interest of all the Asian countries to bring a halt to its pursuits in the South China Sea and the world over. Every claim made by China around the world is a geopolitical idiocy and in order to deconstruct its economic potence, the world needs to come together. The recent blacklisting of Huawei by the US and UK administration underscores the need and ways to smash the Chinese economy that is already faltering under the pandemic.

Chinese incursion into the democratic construction of Hong Kong and Taiwan and the pertinent movements that have followed in the areas depict a characteristic situation that demands for freedom may be quelled but the idea of freedom cannot be crushed. The archaic endeavours on the part of China to gag the voice of the populace would not bear fruit at the cosmopolitan level as the world now is characterised by accountability and rules-based order, principles alien to the Communist Party of China. The rise of China coincides with the rise of predatory and expansionist proclivity. The world order should never shift from being multipolar and the Chinese imperialistic vision should never materialise. In this situation, the onus lies with India to save the world from the onslaughts of neo-colonialism that imperils the augmentation of The Asian Century.

(The author is an intern with Academics4Nation. She is also a Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, University of Allahabad.)



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