New Delhi: Wolf-warrior diplomacy is being hard-wired into China’s foreign policy as is evident in the recent centenary celebrations of the Chinese Communist Party that took place on 1 July, according to former National Security Advisor (NSA) and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.
Discussing his newly-released book, India and Asian Geopolitics: The Past, Present, Menon, who was also India’s envoy to Beijing, said that despite tensions at the border, China remained India’s largest trading partner in 2020.
According to data from India’s commerce ministry, the two-way trade between India and China stood at $77.7 billion last year.
He added that India and China are “hedging” the border situation in Ladakh. “Neither government has taken irreversible measures or steps which would set the relationship on a much more adversarial trajectory…but there’s also very few signs of a real conversation between them. The leaders haven’t spoken…” Menon, currently a visiting professor at Ashoka University, said addressing a webinar hosted by Carnegie India.
The last time Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met was during an informal summit in Mamallapuram in October 2019.
Despite several rounds of talks on disengagement at the border, India redirected at least 50,000 additional troops to its border with China last week.
‘China wants to dethrone liberalism’s pretensions’
Asked if the India-China crisis is about ideology, Ashley Tellis, co-panellist and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: “This is not necessarily about ideologies…The Chinese want simply to dethrone liberalism’s hegemonic pretensions. They want to communicate to the world that liberalism cannot be the end point of history and there must be space made for alternatives.”
He added that Beijing sees a hierarchy in Asia where they expect India to “know its place”.
Meanwhile, Menon argued that the US and China are engaged in a “demarcated” and “limited” competition. “I don’t think today we’re in another Cold War. It’s not just a bipolar situation between China and the US…The US and China have common interests,” he said. They are joined at the hip economically and work together in other fields, making for “a much more complex situation” for the rest of the world, he added.
Menon said he is more “pessimistic” about the future of Asia due to Beijing’s growing ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’.
“I’ve actually got a little more pessimistic about Asia’s future. I must say, we saw the first signs of wolf warrior diplomacy but we thought that maybe that’s a response to internal developments in China and that will pass once things settle down. But there’s no sign of that. If anything, from everything we see with the centenary celebrations, this is now becoming hard-wired into China’s foreign policy in various ways,” he said.
He suggested India focus on partnerships with other countries, given that it has already “taken a bet on a multipolar world” by exiting the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in November 2019.