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Don’t suffer alone — India and the world need to act against China’s intimidation tactics

Countries in the region are speaking against China’s aggressiveness. President of Philippines Rodrigo Duterte criticised its actions against Vietnam.

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China’s assertiveness is becoming increasingly brazen. This week, the Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye in Canberra threatened economic consequences if Australia continues to demand for an international investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 outbreak.  The Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne rejected the threat, calling it “economic coercion”, even as she reiterated Australia’s call for the investigation.

China’s tone-deaf behaviour in the middle of a global pandemic — one whose spread is clearly the consequence of, at the least, Chinese mismanagement — may be a blessing in disguise, as an Australian commentator noted, because it “unmasks the (Chinese) regime’s true face”.

Also Read: US state Missouri sues China for ‘campaign of deceit’ over extent of Covid outbreak

Aggression in South China Sea

China has been even more active in the South China Sea, sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat, setting up new administrative districts in the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands, intruding into Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and conducting aggressive military exercises near Taiwan. India is unlikely to be immune from China’s belligerence, making it imperative that the Narendra Modi government cooperates with others to push back against such tactics.

The growing push back is coming from both the region and from farther afield. In the region, not only has Vietnam protested against the sinking of its fishing vessels, it has also accused Beijing of ‘seriously violating’ its sovereignty in the South China Sea with its declaration of incorporating Paracel and Spratly islands into new districts.

Surprisingly, given their previous lack of unity on the issue, others in the region have also joined in. President of Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, who has tried hard to appease Beijing, has also criticized China’s actions in the South China Sea.

Globally, China is facing the wrath of both the US and Australia. The two countries have sent warships to the region to support Malaysia. Even Sweden, not the one known to pick fights, has closed down the Chinese government sponsored Confucius Institutes — the latest in a series of tit-for-tat actions between the two countries.

China’s behaviour after the coronavirus outbreak raises two issues.

Also Read: Pompeo says China responsible for Covid-19 outbreak, must detail origin of virus

Beijing’s ‘warm up’

One is the question of Beijing potentially miscalculating its way into a serious crisis with either the US or one of its neighbours.

In a provocative essay published last year, Derek Grossman, a senior researcher at RAND  — a leading US think-tank — had suggested that China might pick a fight with Vietnam as a “warm up”. Though the author suggests that India will not be a target for such a “warm up”, the Doklam experience still continues to rankle Beijing.

It was even referenced in the letter that Chinese dissident Xu Zhiyong wrote ridiculing President Xi.

China’s repeated miscalculations are a problem. While China’s power has grown tremendously, the prudence that marked China under Deng Xiaoping and his successors has withered under Xi Jinping. Wars often begin through miscalculations, and China’s apparent overconfidence portends danger ahead.

Also Read: After pandemic, Europe and China are set for a damaging diplomatic rift

Measures to control China

The second question is what measures can be taken by China’s neighbours and the rest of the world to manage the country’s aggression. There is some good news here because China’s relentless aggressiveness is uniting the region like never before.

Although, we are far from any form of a regional military alliance, China’s behaviour is beginning to create a common understanding about the threat that it poses, which is the necessary first step for united action against the country. Until now, countries in the region appeared confident that they could manage China on their own. This was because they were worried about the reaction they would receive, if they made any moves to oppose China. But it is increasingly becoming clear to these countries that China appears to be driven by its internal demons, therefore all the efforts to pacify it are going to fail.

Asia is unipolar: China’s power cannot be matched by any combination of regional powers, let alone by anyone on their own. This simple reality means that the US has to be a part of any effort to counter China’s reckless behaviour.

But even with US support, there is not yet any appetite for a military pushback against China. There might be no reason to do that either, at least not just yet. The growing number of minilateral groups of countries suggest that there are other options. These groups — including the Quad and now the Quad plus along with India-France-Australia group — can weave a web of like-minded countries that can push back against China’s intimidation. For example, they can act together to limit China’s efforts to control multilateral agencies, but even more importantly, against its use of economic coercion.

China has been able to employ such tactics against countries like South Korea or Norway only because other countries did not support them because they were fearful of risking their economic relations with China. Now that such Chinese intimidation tactics are spreading, it is in everybody’s interest not to become the next victim or to suffer alone.

India has not been immune from coercive threats, as in the case of Huawei 5G competition. The country will suffer even more if China’s intimidation tactics succeed. New Delhi needs to act, with others, to ensure that China doesn’t.

The author is a professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Views are personal.

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  1. All countries must take action against china, bcz china is making bio weapons, and encroaching other countries land, support terrorism with pak, grabb bhutan, making against to India with other countries, like Nepal, Srilanka, Pak, Bangladesh, china giving loans to india surrounding counties and taking their ports and lands as lease and using against india, making artificial islands in china to make army strong, bullshit china, one day china will be collapsed with their ideology, rouge and cunning policy

  2. India is a great country. Whatever China did with Indian Army yesterday, known by the entire world. At such stage, India should breakout all relations activities of business etc. with China and give an suitable reaction to China as an earliest.

  3. A lot of hot air in this article.
    India’s response now should focus on wooing companies planning to move out of China.
    Many countries are mere colonies of China now – read EU’ watered down communique condemning China’s role in letting Corona get out if control. The Aussies spoke up and got reprimanded by China and backed off.
    The best way to counter a China is to build str economy.

  4. One has to look at geo-political reality. China can be balanced singlehandedly by US alone. But US is slowly trying to dis engage as clear from it’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, as it does not want body bags. Under such condition only Alliance of India, Russia and Japan can balance China. So right policy of India would be to form un-official alliance with Russia & Japan. it appears that Trump understands such ideas and so he trying to reduce tension with Russia. it is good that Bernie sanders is out, as he was aligned with Islamists and fake liberals and human right activists. So basically he is against India & Russia. But with either Biden or Trump US will follow a hardnose policy to contain China.

  5. Bells of WW3 are being heard ringing again in South China Sea during April , 2020. Despite working to control a pandemic that first came into being in Wuhan – China around December 2019 , Beijing has not reduced its activities in the South China Sea , a strategic waterway through which one-third of global shipping flows. Some appear to be suspecting that Chinese govt survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 may be exploring oil there. It is informative that China can afford to divert much of its focus to South China Sea while battling with a deadly novel coronavirus. News reports around 21 April , 2020 , indicate that the USS America , an amphibious assault ship and the USS Bunker Hill , a guided missile cruiser , entered contested waters off Malaysia. At the same time , a Chinese govt ship in the area has for days reportedly tailing a Malaysian State oil company ship carrying out exploratory drilling. The news reports also claim that the Australian frigate HMAS Parramatta has arrived near the US warships in April 2020 , to join the US Navy in exercises. These developments in the South China Sea by just a week to May 2020 have the potential of triggering something dangerous , could even be probably WW3. In this context , it is relevant to refer readers to 11 November , 2019 predictive alerts of this Vedic astrology writer in article – “ Astrological probable alerts for 2020” – published at on 1 January , 2020. The related text of the predictive alert reads like this in the said article :-
    “ Predictive Conclusions
    4. The months of April to June , particularly May-June in 2020 , look to be trending into the scene serious worrisome landscapes. THERE COULD BE SOME WAR OR WAR –LIKE CONDITIONS ACROSS THE WORLD , WHICH THE US MAY BE CALLED UPON TO ADDRESS. SEA OR OIL REGIONS OR SUCH STUFF SEEMS TO BE CALLING ATTENTION. More care and appropriate strategy may be taken during April to June , particularly May-June in 2020 , against spill or loss of such stuff as are known for repugnant and repulsive smell through air passage. It may be alright to take pre-emptive measures against potential leakage or spill of oil-gas in vulnerable regions or locations during the said period of time”.
    Such dates of May as 6 , 7 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 25 and 26 ; and such dates of June as 3 , 4 , 11 , 12 , 21 and 22 may be kept in view.
    Further , this writer had contributed the following predictive alert last year 2019 on 18 November , to the opinion piece by Mr. Madhav Nalapat published at :-

    “ kushal kumar says :
    November 18 , 2019 at 7 : 44 am
    This Vedic astrology writer has been , for some years past , making yearly predictions every October-November before commencement of new year for nations like India , Singapore , Japan , Canada , Italy and the U.S. In relation to coming year 2020 , this writer’s predictive alerts for more care and appropriate strategy were published as early as on 10 October , 2019 through article – “ Predictions for world in coming year 2020 by kushal kumar” – at Singapore and Japan in coming year 2020 have been covered in October 2019 by bringing those to public domain widely. The U.S. predictions for 2020 have been submitted to Wisdom Magazine for publication in its monthly Webzine. It is expected to be published on 1 December 2019. In relation to worrisome concerns of war , there could be even some kind of WW3 , April to June in 2020 have been indicated as potential time. In any case , even if better wisdom prevails not to venture WW3 , widespread catastrophic times involving huge shortages , disease and destruction , massive earthquakes , floods , storms and the like look to be likely in vulnerable regions and countries , deep economic stress or disaster during the said period”.
    It is a well known history that South China Sea

    • Mr Kushal Kumar: I have studied International Relations and the many schools of thought that seek to explain the behaviour of nation states. But to the best of my knowledge, you are the first one to apply “vedic astrology” – whatever the hell that is – to the analysis of International Relations. Brilliant work Mr Kushal Kumar !

      While the Vedic Astrology paradigm is somewhat reminiscent of PM Modi’s claim that plastic surgeons in ancient India were able to sew an elephant’s head to a pot-bellied man’s torso and Narendra Modi gravitational waves, I will merely say the following:

      The RSS vision of making India a “vishwaguru” is indeed becoming a reality thanks to brilliant Indians like you !!

      • Better than the genocidal destruction of most of global cultures & civilizations by the man made delusional cults of jeeesooos & moremad !

  6. It’s high time China be brought down to its knees for causing such an enormous amount of catastrophe through out the world. It’s responsible for the death of soo many young & old people + people who already are suffering from cancer & are not able to get their treatment on time + hugely responsible for the economic crunch + taking advantage of the situation to fulfil its own communist greed. How cool it is & not even bothered for the mistake it has done by clouding facts. All countries should stand together at this time & press charges against it for its callous attitude. This will decide China’s downfall.


  7. A saying in Hindi goes, “diya bujhne se pehle fadfadata hai.” This now applies to China. At one time it was said that world war three would be for water, but now I think it would be due to corona virus.

  8. The one and only way is economics and commerce. Firstly, the business powerhouses across the world must be restricted to partner with China, at the cost of reducing their top and bottom lines. Secondly, a new alliance among the big and strong (?) economy like India, Brazil, US, must emerge to thwart the Chinese dependency. Thirdly and most importantly for India is to become self reliant in most of the areas at the earliest.

  9. If all the countries join together,China can be bowed down .
    India must take the lead and this is the right time .India must remember 1964 aggression by China on India and how China occupied ta large area of India .
    China is to be taught a lesson .Hands when they join the miracle will happen .

    • Mr Rajkumar Dham: Clearly, you need to have a basic understanding of international relations before ranting nonsense such as:

      “If all the countries join together,China can be bowed down”

      That as you know is a pipe dream. There seldom have been situations where there was such a thing as a “global coalition”. Even a global pandemic such as COVID 19 has not elicited a concerted response from countries. Indeed, every major country has used this as a golden opportunity for one-upmanship as opposed to co-operation. The operating dictum appears to be famous quote of Emmanuel Rahm, former Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama

      “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”

      Indeed, this crisis is being used by authoritarian regimes and leaders everywhere in the world to consolidate their powers, upend democracy and jockey for re-positioning themselves in the world pecking order. From Victor Orban in Hungary through Narendra Modi in India to Dinald Trump in the US, the crisis presents an unique opportunity to strengthen their hands on their respective domestic fronts with a view to cementing their own powers. For instance, Trump’s belligerence at China is dictated by a narrow re-election consideration than any grander over-arching strategy towards China.

      Likewise, the BJP’s and Modi’s obsession with being anti-Muslim and by extension anti-Pakistan means that India refuses to perceive China s the greater and more mortal threat to India. Pakistan can generate military pinpricks, China on the other hand can annihilate India economically and even militarily. But try telling that to rank and file worshippers of Modi and Hindutva and their congenital anti-Islamic attitudes and perception of Pakistan as the perpetual enemy will remain unchanged.

      “China is to be taught a lesson” as you suggest is simply wishful thinking Sir.

  10. Indians are much firm and determined to support the cause of democracy and welfare of each state of the world and the country. We survived millions of years in this universe with social responsibility and great humanistic culture. Never forget the glory of human Nature! We Indians are the Greatest God….. Christ and Buddhas are but on the boundless Oceans which We Are.

  11. Chinese in technology, infrastructure, finance,Road building, Loan’s, taking over of Companies, Manufacturing, Industry ,as the world was Sleeping they have already Penetrated the Ozane layer in another one year they will make the whole world Kneel & beg before them for all the Product’s..

  12. Oh my God, a writer from JNU actually counselling on how to protect India from real threats unlike the imaginary ones of Muslims and other such groups!

    This is why real nationalism can only come from enlightened people who care about India more than Hinduness.

    • Well said Mr Jo.

      The tunnelvision that Hindutva that the BJP has foisted on Indians makes the people blind to far more lethal threats emerging from other sources. China is a far more dangerous and deadly threat to India than Pakistan. But try telling that to the gomutra drinkers – you won’t have many takers.

  13. Telling the truth to China is important and patriotic duty for everyone. However, many opinion makers may have noticed an unusual push back for critical comments towards China by some of our own compatriots. My hypothesis for the strange reaction is as follows.
    There are many assets China has cultivated in India ( political party,people media outlets and armed insurgents) over the years. The asset building accelerated with the growing economic clout and military power.
    ‘His Master’s Voice’ the old British brand used to have in its logo, a loyal dog listening attentively.
    The Chinese asset’s functionality, obviously, goes much further became now the ‘dog ‘ not only attacks on command but takes preemptive action like barking on sensing trouble.
    Non performing assets are ‘eaten up’ by the Master.
    After all in China, ‘dog is a delicacy’

    • Ben Canadian: I refer to your hypothesis:

      There are many assets China has cultivated in India ( political party,people media outlets and armed insurgents) over the years.

      Have you done any additional research to identify who these assets are? So who is putting forth critical comments that support China here?

      And since you employ very canine metaphors in your – and pardon me for saying so – a rather asinine post, one wonders what you were inhaling when you made your post …

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