Jaishankar India’s External Affairs Minister in an interaction with Australia’s Lowy Institute made a statement containing four dimensions on India’s relations with China. First, the bilateral relationship between India and China has been significantly damaged this year. Second, China has no intention of withdrawing as it has brought tens of thousands of soldiers right up to the LAC in Ladakh that has ‘profoundly disturbed the relationship’. Third, the peace and tranquillity at the border is central for rest of the relations to progress. Jaishankar also underlined that since the 15th June incident, sentiments in India have completely changed towards China and it is unrealistic to think of repairing ties during the standoff. Fourth, China has given ‘five different explanations’ for the violation of agreements at the border. This reflects its nervousness on the issue.
While the Chinese wolf warrior diplomat again blamed India for the standoff, India explained that this was the result of the unilateral Chinese decision to change the status of LAC and asked China to abide by the agreements between the two countries.
Hence, an objective assessment on the issue of responsibility for the incident is relevant. There is no doubt that the PLA moved forward in accordance with the Xi’s expansionist policy to extend LAC. This is what Dragon has been doing since a long time along the entire border to grab territories through the salami tactics. This is also the general pattern in all its periphery- East China Sea, South China Sea and along the Tibetan-Indian border. How stealthily the PLA moved in the garb of an exercise is well known.
Though the Chinese advance in the Galwan Valley was not unexpected, yet violence was unexpected in view of the fact that the border had not witnessed violence in the last 45 years. The cause of this has been explained by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission-the Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe had given directions two weeks before the incident to “use fighting to promote stability”. Did he act on his own? Given the total control of Xi on the Chinese Communist party (CCP) and his position as the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), this order could not have come without his specific approval.
Xi, since his taking over as the President, has been pursuing an expansionist policy. He is keeping the domestic population on a diet of nationalism and justifies his expansionist policy on the basis of irredentism. He is using CCP as a tool to execute his plans for expansion and to keep him in power. The CCP uses brutality and ruthlessness to hold on to that power. He has transformed the CCP into a group that worships him and there is none to oppose him. Over the years he has purged all such members, who could oppose him. These included top military officers including two Vice Chairmen of the CMC.
Xi is an exceptionally ambitious leader. While after Mao, China had encouraged the image of a “collective Presidency” over the importance of individual leaders, Xi has revised that approach, and his party, using old and new tools, has enlarged his image. His media coverage is twice of his predecessors. His name and philosophy were added to the party constitution in 2017, and the following year he successfully pushed for the abolition of presidential term limits.
Cai Xia, a life-long member of the CCP and a frontline cadre of the party has revealed how a personality cult has been developed around Xi Jinping and China under him has further transformed into a repressive regime that has been the author of countless tragedies over the years. She also states that the ideology being promoted by CCP is just propaganda meant to keep the party in power.
Today Xi Jinping is the most powerful leader in China with CCP in his pocket. He is the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Chair of the Military Commission and President of the People’s Republic of China. He has installed himself as the head of new bodies overseeing the Internet, government restructuring, national security, and military reform, and has effectively taken over the courts, the police, and the secret police/intelligence. This reminds how Hitler had combined the positions of Chancellor and the President to create a new position of “Fuehrer und Reichskanzler” for himself.
Zhou Fengsuo, the President of Humanitarian China and an exiled Chinese student leader who had led the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest, compared Xi with the Nazi Party’s Hitler, and pointed out that the characteristics of the two leaders are remarkably similar. Some experts also point out similarities between Xi and Hitler. The aspects of expansionism, absolute control over the party, removal of all opponents from the party, maltreatment to minorities, superiority of their races and scant regard for international laws are common traits.
Xi’s objective deserves attention-Xi is trying to design a new world order centred around the Chinese power and governed by the Chinese made rules with scant regard for the international laws and norms. In comparison Xi is more ambitious than Hitler: the former is trying to dominate the entire globe, the latter’s area was smaller.
Xi’s actions have pushed the International Community to react to preserve the order. The formation of Quad, the demand for free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, ASEAN’s demand for Code of Conduct, the demand of its neighbours for the implementation of PCA Ruling and the increasing anti-Chinese sentiments are mainly the products of Xi’s expansionist moves. China’s changing statements on the origins of the Covid-19 have strengthened the suspicion over its complicity at least in concealing the information, though there are statements from the Chinese scientists that it was produced in the Wuhan lab.
While it is difficult to predict the outcome, it appears that Xi is misreading the efforts to ‘engage with China’ as the supine stance of democracies like the appeasement approach of 1930s. The efforts to have a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific based on international law would seriously challenge the Chinese BRI plan, which is already running into difficulties with growing perception that this is a ‘debt trap’. More countries are now supporting the Indo-Pacific plan. Several manufacturing firms are moving out of China and Japan has promise funds to such firms.
Alternative supply lines not dominated by China are being planned. China’s recent efforts to woo Canada has ended in a fiasco. More nations are now considering to discard the concept of ‘one China’ and support to Taiwan is increasing. US has enhanced its deployment in the SCS. The new law of in Hong Kong is being severely criticised by other countries.
The recent decision on Tibet to construct an “ironclad shield to safeguard stability" against “separatists and hostile foreign interests by sinicizing Tibetan Buddhism, stepping up ideological education, manufacturing a favourable historical narrative, strengthening border defence and deepening surveillance”, has received adverse attention of the International Community. The treatment of Uighur Muslims and people in Inner Mongolia are receiving greater attention than ever before.
The challenge posed by Xi’s ambition to dominate the world is creating strong responses against China. The decoupling with China has started in trade, which was considered impossible or highly unlikely till recently and the process is accelerating. While it would hurt others as well, China would suffer maximum. Unless Xi changes his approach, China’s marginalisation would continue that does not portend well for China. The internal issues may also push the country towards disintegration.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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