Edit & Opinion

Beijing-Islamabad axis poses threat to India

As of now, it is clear that China has indeed done enough homework to encircle India from all directions. In fact, with the active assistance of Pakistan in the west, Nepal in the north and Sri Lanka in the south, Beijing has thrown its gauntlet around India to compel it to accept the emerging China dominant international order. It has already encircled India through its earlier String of Pearls scheme with the active support of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other littoral countries around the Indian Ocean. Further, Beijing has captured an area in the Indian Ocean and has also established its air-strip in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), as reported by the satellite images.

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In the same vein, Beijing is stepping up the ante along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by deliberately indulging into skirmishes with Indian soldiers at Galwan valley thereby engendering escalation of tensions between both, like that in Doklam a few years back. In fact, both countries have consolidated their forward posts by sending additional troops earlier this month when a confrontation between both sides began in Sikkim and eastern Ladakh. Further, China’s recent attempts to intrude into India’s air-space have further alarmed New Delhi. In fact, China continues to browbeat India on the disputed international border; this time what ostensibly spurred Beijing appears to be New Delhi extending its claim over PoK, by including the climate details thereon into its national weather-reports, and further moving ahead to claim the whole Ladakh including Aksai Chin as well. But analysts are of the view that China is facing numerous internal challenges and popular unrest due to various reasons like reverse Corona attack and consequent economic recession, government’s inability to address popular aspirations and instead resorting to repression and suppression of minority Uiaghar Muslims etc.. These altogether pose a serious threat of likely regime change in China and that prompts President Xi Jinping to divert popular attention from his own inabilities and failures to focus on the thorny border issue with India.

Similarly, China’s ambitious OBOR or Silk Road Grand Strategy, ostensibly for economic trade across continents, is indeed a covert scheme for increasing its clout and establishing its supremacy in all over the world. Carrying forward its imperialist and aggressive foreign policy Beijing has already captured the entire South China Sea despite losing this claim in the International Court of Arbitration just few years back, which had led to angry reactions by the US and consequent mounting of tensions between the two mighty powers. Apart from South China Sea, the ‘One China Policy’ over Taiwan and ‘One Country, Two Systems’ approach as regards Hong Kong and disrobing the autonomy of Tibet as well, are the other potent areas of persisting confrontation between China and America, besides their vexatious trade issues and Beijing’s clandestine support to Pyongyang for its arms buildup, including nuclear missiles. In fact, Tibet had been an independent state all through past ages enjoying a distinct and royal religio-cultural heritage prior to delineating of McMahon line under Shimla Agreement of 1914, defining international border between India and Tibetan region of China. But China disapproved this Agreement by rejecting Tibet’s autonomous statehood and that led to surfacing of several disputes wherein Beijing derived mileage by forcibly swallowing Lhasa in 1959, as Tibet is a very small and peace-loving religious community vis-a-vis the imperialist dragon. In fact, China’s aggressive and militarist assertions in almost all over the world have worried all maritime powers in the Indo-Pacific including Japan, South Korea and Australia and other global and major powers as well. In fact, many of them have already concluded some kind of security arrangements with great powers like the US, Russia and Australia etc., with a view to defend themselves from Beijing’s imperialist aggression.

Today, while the whole world is painfully suffering the mounting Corona pandemic, China is instead engaged in maintaining fierce standoff with India over LAC for the whole past month, besides working hard to expand its sphere-of-influence in Indian Ocean, PoK and South China Sea etc., to name a few. While China’s ongoing highhandedness against Taiwan, as Beijing continues to oppose Taiwan’s participation in the WHO, and against Hong Kong, by devising a national security law to undo its autonomy, are quite contrary to the international norms as well as International Law, so are its unjustified muscle-flexing over Sino-Indian borders. This is obviously with a view to disturb not only peace and security of India but also to extract its support in favour of China on all international forums and also to ensure New Delhi following the evolving Sino-centric international order, because Beijing has been isolated by the global community. Taking advantage of the volatile situation between China and India, Pakistan has also jumped into the fray against its bête-noire India, and Nepal may possibly side with China due to maintaining differences with New Delhi over Lipulekh Pass to which Kathmandu has raised its own sovereign claims. If China moves forward its army against India on LAC, Pakistan will definitely follow the suit and that will inevitably threaten stability and security of New Delhi due to Beijing-Islamabad axis.

While witnessing the mounting of tensions between India and China over border dispute, the US’ President Trump has offered to mediate between the two but that has been rejected by the both sides. Because that may, instead, complicate the vexed border issue between them as both China and the US are already at loggerheads over most of their unresolved issues and are preparing to face each other into a possible confrontation due to Beijing’s unrelenting attitude over the South China Sea. As China has raised its aggressive and assertive military activities around this disputed Sea with a view to consolidate its illegal claim over there, the US has, consequently placed its air power including lethal B-52 bombers on alert mode, besides re-stationing the naval warship USS Roosevelt into the Asia-Pacific in addition to the one already stationed there to challenge the Chinese ongoing misadventures.

Besides these, the US has also initiated strategic moves to pressurize China over its dubious role in producing the Coronavirus into its Wuhan Lab of Virology which has indeed created an untold catastrophe in America thereby engendering the worst human disaster with massive loss to its economy too. In fact, the individual loss to the US is much greater than that of any of the western powers which has, so far, infected nearly 18 lacks innocent people and killed more than one lac so-affected patients therein. With this view in hand, the US has just put forward a bill in the Congress to grant independent statehood to Tibet. The next American step may possibly be to grant the same status to Hong Kong as the US appears all prepared to emphatically support the freedom of Hong Kong. To further pressurize China, the US may also think to support Taiwan and that will evidently instigate China to react against the US. Continuing with this spirit, Washington has stopped its funding to the WHO, thereby highlighting its utter failure in managing the global Corona menace perhaps due to actively colluding with China to suppress the truth. In fact, China did not share its Corona related facts with the world and both Beijing and WHO probably led the virus to spread in all over the world.

Against this scenario, the Beijing-Islamabad axis against India may become a cause of grave concern to India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty yet both China and India should come across discussion table to sort out their mutual differences over the vexed border issue. Fortunately, both Nepal and China have expressed a bit conciliatory gestures except Pakistan, which has to simply pursue its anti-India tirade as the sole concern, as Kathmandu has withdrawn its disputed territorial map to be presented into the National Assembly and Beijing has stressed over its border dispute with New Delhi as a bi-lateral issue, besides extending peace proposals. Despite that, China is amassing its army and armaments in Ladakh along disputed border, perhaps to create psychological pressure or propaganda war, manifesting strategic ascendance over India. What is very pertinent here is to underscore that today’s India is far ahead in terms of all components of the national power and enjoys a distinct and unparalleled image under competent and powerful leadership of PM Narendra Modi in all over the world, and both these facts together will definitely compel China to think hundred times over, should it decide to initiate war against India. While China is a very unpredictable mighty power and maintains strict silence lest the world may guess its future steps or probable intentions – as it surprised the world by attacking over Tibet, India and South China Sea and this time perhaps secretly releasing the Corona virus into the world – India has to remain very cautious over the LAC to ensure its territorial unity and integrity. How China may react or what steps it may take in retaliation is beyond one’s perception? Similarly, Pakistan too can’t be trusted in anyway and here unfortunately both Beijing and Islamabad are actively colluding against India for the long past. Though Sri Lanka and Nepal are not in favour of India due to different reasons but they may not go far ahead against India’s national interests due to their own strategic limitations.

While facing ongoing isolation in the world, Beijing may devise such strategies to influence or prevail over Nepal, Sri Lanka and other neighbours of India nurturing anti-Indian feelings – including littoral countries around India Ocean – to evolve a joint front against New Delhi. This may help-derive the legitimacy of China’s imperialist and expansionist policies against India, on the one hand, and castigate New Delhi as an expansionist hegemonic power in South Asia, threatening security of the region, on the other. Supporting China’s above strategy, Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan is acting as Beijing’s mouth piece against India. In the earlier Sino-Indian war in 1962, though the US had helped India in the last minutes but that forced China to run back from India’s territory to declare unilateral truce with New Delhi. In 1967, China had to eat a slice of humble pie on its own misadventure against India due to fierce repulsive attacks by the Indian Army. This time, if China dares to impose undesired war over India which New Delhi will never initiate itself until and unless the dire need arises – because India always longs for peace and prosperity of the whole world – Beijing may have to face the US led united global front in favour of India and that may prove to be disastrous for China. While the best option for both sides is to resume dialogues, and here America may help-prepare genuine grounds for feasible constructive discussions wherein China may not succeed in transgressing its limits in any way, India must take lead to evolve a regional security architecture with the association of like-minded countries in Indo-Pacific, including Japan, South Korea, Australia and also America, so as to counter China’s militarist aggression against itself and other regional partners as well. This may happen as nothing is beyond human endeavour.

 

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About the author

Prof. Sudhanshu Tripathi

Sudhanshu Tripathi is a Professor in Political Science and Director (In-charge) at School of Social Sciences in Uttar Pradesh RajarshiTandon Open University, Prayagraj (UP), India. His book India’s Foreign Policy: Dilemma over Non Alignment 2.0 (2020), NAM and India (2012) and a co-authored book in Hindi RajnitikAvadharnayein (2001) have been published besides numerous articles and research papers. He was awarded with the SaraswatSamman by Pt. S. R. Institute of Education and Technology (PG College), Pratapgarh (UP), on “Shikshak Divas” (Teacher’s Day) in 2016 and was also honouredthe same in 2019 by Lion’s Club Allahabad Central at UPRTOU, Prayagaraj. He is also on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Third Concept journal. The author actively participates in social activities as well. He organized a mass awareness rally in 2011, in the wake of Anna Hazare’s ongoing fast unto death against corruption in New Delhi. He was the President of the Teacher’s Association in MDPG College, Pratapgarh, (UP), during 2013–2017 and was also the Vice-President of the ShikshakMahasangh in the district unit of Pratapgarh during almost the same period.