Cause Of Concern

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Apr 2018 09:46:07

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

China is itching to expand its reach and influence because to sustain its exploding population and ensure economic stability in the long run, it needs newer markets and newer allies.”


South Asia is vulnerable, disorganised, militarily and economically backward and disunited. The population in this region is diverse with each group’s interests varying from the other. There are illegal settlers,
unrecorded migrants, unstable Governments, legal tardiness and people of uncertain ethnicities and origins jostling for space and power.

 

AMID allegations of China engaging in massive land grabbing in the Maldives, the Pentagon has said it was a cause of concern for the US. Asserting that the US was “committed to a free and open” Indo-Pacific rules-based order, the Pentagon said anything else would cause the US concern. “It’s in India’s backyard. We know it’s of concern to India. We will see how it plays out. It emphasises some of our priorities identified in our National Defence Strategy,” Joe Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia, said.


He was responding to a question on the allegations of a Maldivian Opposition leader and a former foreign minister, on the Chinese land grabbing activities in the island nation with the potential of developing them into a military outpost. “If you look at similar activities across the region, it gives us some cause for concern. From Djibouti to, Gwadar port to Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, and now potentially the Maldives and then extending further east, it’s of concern,” he said. “We believe the interests of all States- large and small- are best served by maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific and a rules-based order.


Some of China’s activities do not seem to be consistent with those interests. I suspect India shares these concerns as well,” Felter said. During a recent visit to the US, Ahmed Naseem, a former foreign minister of Maldives, had alleged that China was meddling in internal affairs of Maldives and had indulged itself in a massive land grabbing endeavour which if left unchecked would pose a major strategic threat to both the US and India.


China, he alleged, appeared to be keen on building a base in the Maldives which one day may house warships and submarines. We wish this was just an allegation and remained so, without a proof to support the claim, but what the leader says is nothing improbable and not outside the purview of Chinese expansionist interests. China is itching to expand its reach and influence because to sustain its exploding population and ensure economic stability in the long run, it needs newer markets and newer allies.
South Asia is vulnerable, disorganised, militarily and economically backward and disunited. The population in this region is diverse with each group’s interests varying from the other. There are illegal settlers, unrecorded migrants, unstable Governments, legal tardiness and people of uncertain ethnicities and origins jostling for space and power.


This gives China the constant lure to bring these nations under its dominion because it is always easy to bring such societies and Governments under moral, economic and psychological control if one wants to. The attractions of a possible good life and stability in society are enough for a distraught people to owe allegiance to the nearest power that plays the caring big brother.
This is something all super powers have done in some way or the other in the past and still do through wars or sanctions etc. Every dominant country tries to have some offshore facilities in place for its military and economic expansion. China’s new found love for power is certain to irk the US, especially because it is going to end the monopoly America has enjoyed through the greater part of the 20th century.


Though the US is not directly affected by what China is up to in the Asian region, it is ‘concerned’ because it cannot accept China to usurp US’ world domination and wield the baton in a strategically important region. But India stands to gain from such a stance because the US is India’s natural ally and India is a key country in the region which can counterbalance the force of China by undercutting its influence.


Do what it may, China also knows the fact better than anyone else that at this moment it is peaking and such sunshine is not there to last long. China is going to stagnate sooner than later since the saturation point is close at hand. A huge geriatric population burden further scuttles China’s future potentialities.
This is one reason it is desperately trying to make the best of whatever time it has. On the contrary, India is just waking up to unfathomable possibilities and it has a whole army of young minds and shoulders who are scripting the new development story. The US cannot miss being a part of this growth mapping. Should the shadow of China’s influence in the region fall on India, it is bound to fall on the US too.


The US fears that if China goes ahead with its skewed expansionist aims, it may try to cross the Asian threshold and target non-Asian regions too. It has already tamed Pakistan to gain access to the Central Asian region.
Such rapid changes in the geopolitical scenario are bound to jeopardise the socio-economic and military policies of the US and other countries, spawning possibilities of escalating tension.


The South-East Asian region right from Japan to Indonesia and beyond has become a volatile and tensed zone due to China’s aggressive policies. It is investing heavily in communication infrastructure to smoothen its access to the regions it is trying to dominate and have facilities in. India is keeping a close watch on the developments and has spurned Chinese advances effectively. China is understandably wary of only one country in the region and that has to be India because only India has the power to slough it off should it cross its limit. China has been trying to get hold of India’s neighbours and periphery nations without being able to nudge India.


With the US standing by the side of India for whatever military and strategic calculations it has, China is certain to be cautious in its approach towards India. China might be going overboard but it is still in its safe limits and hasn’t done much overtly to raise hackles. It won’t want a war at this stage, which is sure to set its development clock back by a few decades.


It has reached this stage of economic prowess through much sagacious calculation, tough measures and sacrifices of years. If it takes one wrong step, all what it has done will come undone and this is something no prudent dispensation in any country can afford in this era of globalisation where countries depend on other big markets for their economy. Therefore, there is no express reason to fear the Chinese march, which is more of a show of power than any real political intrusion, because it is economic interest that ultimately guides nations’ policies today than military might or political heft.


By the way, the right democratic forces like India, US and the Western nations need to unite and keep watch so that China is constantly reminded of its limits. It has to be a strategic mix of diplomacy and dialogue, trade and cultural exchanges as well as political maneuverings and military alignments vis-à-vis China’s changing stances and priorities which could keep the worst at bay.