The policy of aggressive nationalism, adopted by China’s hyper-ambitious leader President Xi Jinping, will probably not work out well for his country in the long-run. Until a few weeks ago, many countries including Canada, England, New Zealand, and Germany were interested in strengthening ties with China. But the situation has changed rapidly.
Its internal repression, aggressive nationalism, and belligerent foreign policy have alienated many countries. The world has become suspicious of Beijing after the repression of Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the lack of transparency on the Covid-19 outbreak, and its predator maritime policy. (AP)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently made a statement in his parliament against China and expressed solidarity with the agitating citizens of Hong Kong. He even proposed giving British citizenship to the three million people of Hong Kong.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He recently increased defence spending for the next decade by 40%, with a statement that the world is moving towards the situation which existed in 1930.
The US House of Representatives unanimously passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act to impose heavy fines and sanctions on banks and individuals involved in the suppression of democracy supporters in Hong Kong. US President Donald Trump wants to continue with this policy of shutting China out as much as possible. Joe Biden, who is most likely to challenge him in the next election, is also of the same view.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had already warned Beijing.
France and Japan have also expressed support for India after the Galwan incident.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is considered a supporter of Beijing, but public sentiment in his country has turned against this.
Regional cooperation, to achieve peace and development, has emerged as the most important aspect of contemporary international relations. Instead of being a grand global narrative, politics is increasingly becoming regionalised leading to significant changes in the power dynamics at both regional and global levels.
While China has announced ambitious projects like the ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ and ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) to promote greater connectivity and expand its economic ties with distant regions, India also has been striving hard to enhance its presence in the Indian Ocean region and beyond. The Modi government is making great efforts to revitalise India’s relations not only with its immediate neighbours but with countries in the extended neighbourhood, to expand its sphere of influence.
India’s growing ties with Japan, the defence agreement with Vietnam which includes the sale of advanced helicopters and spares for MiG fighters, and the move towards developing a close military relationship with Singapore reflect a dynamic shift in India’s approach towards the power politics in the Asia-Pacific region. India no longer wants to remain a passive player but is instead moving to become one of the ‘principal’ actors in the region by aggressively pursuing its political, economic and security interest vis-à-vis China.
As both countries pursue their respective agendas for regional cooperation through innovative policy initiatives and pronouncements, there is a view that competition between the two powers will grow in the near future.
In the past week officials in France, Britain and nearly two dozen African nations have rebuked actions or statements by the Chinese government.
“After weeks of a concerted government effort to downplay the Himalayan border confrontation and obscure China’s encroachments, Modi’s visit to Ladakh helped shine a spotlight on the war-like situation India confronts,” the strategic affairs expert said.
Without naming China, Modi delivered a clear message to the country and this was apparent from Beijing’s reaction to the prime minister’s speech. China’s troops on Monday, July 6, withdrew up to 1.5 km from key friction points in eastern Ladakh.
“Xi’s ambition, coupled with the concentration camps he has set up and the cult of personality around him, has led some to compare him with other expansionist despots of modern history. US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien recently said that ‘Xi sees himself as Joseph Stalin’s successor’,” Chellaney said.
“Some critics, however, have compared Xi with Adolf Hitler. Like Hitler’s expansionism, Xi has opened multiple fronts. And, what Xi’s regime is doing to the Muslims of Xinjiang appears to be a reprise of what the Nazis did to the Jews. In fact, Xi has earned the social-media nickname of ‘Xitler’,” Author Brahma Chellaney said.