Edit & Opinion

Mounting Sino-US tensions over South China Sea

The ongoing row between the US and China over South China Sea is becoming bad to worse with both sides earnestly pursuing their respective military exercises in the disputed waters of South China Sea. While China has threatened to use DF-21D and DF-26 missiles to destroy the two aircraft carriers, USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan that the US has deployed in this region, Washington has responded with greater firmness as being undeterred and all prepared to engender a befitting reply to China’s any misadventure. Further China is also deploying J-12 Fighter Jets to threaten America. In fact, the mounting belligerence between the two with each passing day evidently poses ominous portents for the peace and security of not only these two opponents or littoral states in Indo-Pacific but for the whole world.

The reason is clear that both the US and China are today the mighty military powers and are equipped with nuclear weapons and many other advanced lethal weapons. While the US is still having the exceptionally largest pool of such deadly weapons and highly trained military personnel that make it the most powerful military power in the world, China is having the largest army with huge accumulation of various kinds of modern and dangerous armaments. Again both these US’ aircraft carriers are nuclear powered having nuclear weapons on board to strike at the opponent.

Further the US is the leader of the NATO alliance of 30 western powers, besides support of Japan, Australia, South Korea themselves major military powers, and is obviously backed by their cumulative support of weaponry and army personnel in the event of any armed clash with China. Because the logic of alliance provides that attack on any member of the NATO will be considered to be the attack on all partners of the alliance and therefore they will launch a collective front against the aggressor. Again the US has its military bases in almost all over the world and that enable it to conveniently monitor the activities of its opponents and provide continuous logistics support to its army in the battle field.

Similarly, the American air power is unique on many counts with B52 bombers and various other state of the art precision missiles are having no parallels in the world. Also, its defence system is rare of its kind as invincible in the world. Also, the US is having the all-powerful satellite based monitoring system which can find out any one anywhere in the world even under tunnels and can be attacked to perish. The examples of Saddam Huessain, Osama bin-Laden, Abu bakr Baghdadi and Iran’s top military commander Quassim Sulemani are quite pertinent here to elucidate.

As against the US, China stands considerably below despite having support of North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and few smaller countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Surinam. Unfortunately, Beijing has worsened its bilateral relations with Russia by claiming a Russian city Vladivostok as its territory which otherwise would have cast a second thought to support China with a view to regain it lost glory as USSR prior to its disintegration in the closing years of eighties in the previous century.

While China’s aggressive imperialist and militarist policies in all over the world is a cause of grave concern for all peace-loving nations, the US led major powers alliance against China will obviously be a potential deterrent to it. Though there is no other option but to tame the dragon, this kind of power game by an external sole super power led alliance is also not good for regional homogeneity and cohesiveness. Because it may open door to greater mutual bickering among regional partners as happened in West Asia which still continues to be a boiling pot due to the continuing super power rivalry.

Thus all these superior and advanced technical features of the US military can definitely alter the territorial status-quo in the South China Sea though that may result into third-World War. Obviously, that must not happen as war is not a permanent solution of any crisis as many examples galore in the world history. Instead, peaceful and diplomatic solutions may be pursued to result into an institutional build up wherein economic sanctions will be quite effective, besides few other measures.

To begin with the recognition granted to China by different states must be withdrawn and its permanent membership in the Security Council including the United Nations be also revoked. But both these actions against China can’t be materialized without revising the concerned provisions of the International Law and that of the UN Charter. Again, China’s membership in all regional and global forums, including prominent groupings like NSG, FMCT, BRICS, must be repealed. Also, these states must collaborate themselves to balance China’s commercial trade-off in their own favour because their trade relations with Beijing continue to be very deep-founded and highly diversified. In fact, China has already penetrated profoundly into the national economies of these countries. Nonetheless, these states have to consider the price they are paying to Beijing in lieu of cultivating their trade relations. Also, Chinese lethal weapons including nuclear weapons must be also put under the UN supervision.

These besides, Chinese communist system is the root cause of all these evils which has been manipulated by President Xi Jinping to serve his vested interests as well as that of the ruling communist party. In fact, this excessive power concentration into one hand, as evolved since the very beginning, is indeed a grave threat to popular aspirations in China. That Lord Acton underscored that, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Evidently, such a dictatorial political set up in China must be thrown out and instead a liberal-social-economic and democratic political establishment must be promoted.

Thus the legal sanctity of South China Sea as per the judgement of the International Court of Arbitration in 2016 must be implemented and any interventionist stance by external powers should be discouraged. That needs increasing cooperation among the regional member-states which must evolve a powerful regional bulwark to contain the bullying and hegemonic- aggressive policies of China. Further, Beijing must honour the aforesaid Court directions in this regard and must also respect the territorial sanctity of all other sovereign states according to the spirit of Panchsheel. Failing which, it will have to face the collective global wrath being reflected under the US leadership that may prove to be disastrous for China.

 

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About the author

Sudhanshu Tripathi

A featured weekly contributor with The Dispatch, Sudhanshu Tripathi is a Professor in Political Science and Director at School of Social Sciences in Uttar Pradesh Rajarshi Tandon Open University, Prayagraj (UP), India. He is author India’s Foreign Policy: Dilemma over Non Alignment 2.0 (2020), NAM and India (2012) and a co-authored book in Hindi Rajnitik Avadharnayein (2001) and have 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 Shikshak Mahasangh in the district unit of Pratapgarh during almost the same period.