Challenging Chinese Imperialism

    09-Jul-2020   
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PM Modi’s recent visit to Leh sent a stern message to China. Don’t mess with Bharat. Beijing realised it had blundered in the Galwan Valley, where it received 43 dead soliders in body bags
 
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PM Modi visiting Leh on July 3 amid the India-China border stand-off 
 
After the violent clash on June 15, 2020, it was clear that India will not sit and watch silently. After proper assessment of the situations, Indian PM has spoken categorically against Chinese aggression in Galwan Valley. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India has given a befitting reply to the Chinese transgression in Ladakh and the world has seen India’s commitment to safeguarding its borders. He further mentioned, “India honours the spirit of friendship and is also capable of giving an appropriate response to any adversary, without shying away”. The second immediate step was banning some of the Chinese apps. The Government has banned 59 Chinese applications, including top social media platforms such as TikTok, Helo, WeChat etc., to counter the privacy security posed by these applications. This could come as a significant blow to China’s Digital Silk Route ambitions, eroding millions of dollars from the valuation of its companies. This could also lead to more countries following India’s path in acting against these Apps. Many countries of the world, including China’s neighbours, are facing security and espionage threats from China.
 
For many decades, China has been following an imperialist approach in different parts of the world through ‘salami slicing’ strategy. It started with Tibet and moved into all three corners of boundary disputes with India. 2017 was Doklam, tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. It has been stealthy inching in the Indian subcontinent. Salami slicing means small, stealth military operations against neighbouring countries which accumulate over time into a large territorial gain. Such military operations are too small to wage a war but significant enough to gain against the neighbour who is not sure how it should respond. China has encroached at least 28 hectares of Nepal’s land spread across four districts of Humla, Rasuwa, Sankhuwasabha and Sindhupalchok. China has also taken over an entire village that falls in the world-famous Gorkha district, but this fact has come to light only now after a local publication carried a story recently. Last year the Global Times, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, claimed Mount Everest is a part of Tibetan China. When Nepal complained, the Chinese officials apologised for a mistake. This is a part of the Chinese strategy.
 
Salami slicing means small, stealth military operations against neighbouring countries which accumulate over time in a large territorial gain. Such military operations are too small to lead to a war but significant enough gain against the neighbour who is not sure how and how much it should respond. China has encroached at least 28 hectares of Nepali land spread across four districts of Humla, Rasuwa, Sankhuwasabha and Sindhupalchok 
There are four parts of the Chinese imperialist approach. It does not behave like classical imperial powers of 17th and 18th centuries, which conquered the foreign lands by force and subjugated them for centuries. China silently and stealthily creeps into another area; remain there for a few days and months. The second step is the use of media propaganda by highlighting that this territory belongs to China historically. While stating the history, they remain very selective to vouch for their legal claims. The third step is to trap them through economic packages and benefits. Once the Government of any country comes under the weight of ineptness, they silently break their institutional pillars and make a vassal state. This is a new imperialist venom emitted from Dragon’s tongue. It spanned in South Asia, East Asia, Central Asia and many African countries. Some of the European countries are also facing the brunt. Pakistan has wholly succumbed to the Chinese pressure. Last year there were widespread agitations near the Gawadar Port against Chinese venture, but the agitation was brutally curbed by military force. Nepal is moving on the suicidal path in the mouth of Dragon under the communist regime. It has been very unfortunate for India.
 
Former justice Katju compared Chinese imperialism with Nazi’s and called it more dangerous. The Chinese leader Deng Xio ping was critical of Imperialist powers and said in a speech at the United Nations in 1974 when Mao Zedong was still alive. This was reiterated on other international platforms, too. Deng said if China ever turned into a superpower, “the people of the world should identify her social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it”. The current President Xi Jinping has overlooked Chinese history. There are many examples of Chinese imperialist move.
 

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The Government has banned 59 Chinese applications, including top social media platforms such as TikTok, Helo and WeChat, to counter the privacy security posed by these applications. This could come as a significant blow to China’s Digital Silk Route ambitions, eroding millions of dollars from the valuation of its companies 
 
Tibet
 
Tibet has been occupied and ruled by China since 1951 in “a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities”.
 
In 1913, the 13th Dalai Lama—Tibet’s political and spiritual leader—issued a proclamation reaffirming Tibet’s independence: “We are a small, religious, and independent nation.” The country had its national flag, currency, stamps, passports and army; signed international treaties, and maintained diplomatic relations with neighbouring countries. Tibet is located to the south-west of China, also bordering India, Nepal, Myanmar (Burma) and Bhutan. Tibet remains an independent territory; it would be the 10th largest country in the world in terms of area. Tibetan delegates participated in the 1947 conference as an independent country. Today it is under China’s occupation and has been divided up, renamed and incorporated into Chinese provinces. China has sliced it into different parts. When China refers to Tibet, it means only part of historic Tibet: what it names the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China. Traditionally Tibet was divided into specific regions such as U, Tsang, Kham and Amdo. However, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) refers to only 50% of the landmass of the Tibetan Plateau. Roughly 60% of the Tibetan people live outside of the TAR in other regions of Tibet. In 1965, the Chinese Government announced the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The plight of Tibetan people is well known to the world. Still, Tibetans are struggling to get free from the colonial clutches of China.
 
India-China Border
 
After taking of Tibet and understanding its strategic location, China calibrated a strategy to usurp the adjoining areas for safety and security of China. Therefore, Aksai Chin area became very demanding. China showcased the historical anecdotes for its sovereignty in the Aksai Chin. If the countries fight with historical records, there will be a war against each possible neighbour in the world. That is why treaties of the boundary disputes become a point to agree with neighbours and maintain peace. But China has a different scheme. The current hotspot of Galwan Valley where Indian forces are facing Chinese PLA has proved the fact China’s imperial design has been challenged.
 
What explains the cause of the violent clash and the choice of Patrolling Point 14 on the LAC close to where the Galwan River meets the Shyok River, for the clash on the night of June 15. This segment has not witnessed disputes in the past. The newly constructed Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road on the Indian side runs close to the LAC at this point. The Indian post at DBO is at an aerial distance of just about 10 Km from the Karakoram Pass. After making Ladakh a Union territory, voices have been raised about a relook at Gilgit-Baltistan.
 
The Sino-Indian boundary can be classified into the eastern, central (middle) and the western sectors. According to India, the boundary is 3,488 Km including 523km of PoK-China segment, 1,597 Km in the western segment (Ladakh), 545 km in the middle segment and 1,346 Km in the eastern segment. The boundary in the eastern sector follows the McMahon line born out of the Simla Convention of July 3, 1914, an agreement between British India, Tibet and China. China, however, did not sign the agreement citing objection to Article 9 of the Convention which was about the boundary between inner and outer Tibet. It is also significant that along the same McMahon line, China settled its boundary with Burma in 1960 rechristening it as “The Burma-China Boundary Treaty of 1960”. So China has been selective in adopting the treaties. If it suits, it accepts if it does not it call it imperial construct.
 
East Asia
 
Recently China has shown its aggression against its East Asian neighbours. For many years Chinese neighbours are tortured by China’s imperialist designing. It is not only the South China Sea. Taiwan, Japan and even South Korea have had to face Chinese military recklessness. The Liaoning aircraft carrier strike group has sailed close to Taiwan and Japan, and PLA aircraft have been spotted at flying close to Taiwan’s airspace. Taiwan’s Ministry of national defence has also announced that China is planning to set up an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea. In March, South Korea had to scramble fighter jets after Chinese Y-9 surveillance aircraft trespassed into the Korean ADIZ without any prior notification. The countries near the South China Sea are facing consistent heat from China.
 
Tibet is under China’s occupation and has been divided up, renamed and incorporated into Chinese provinces. China has sliced it into different parts. When China refers to Tibet, it means only part of historic Tibet: what it names the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China. Traditionally Tibet was divided into specific regions such as U, Tsang, Kham and Amdo
 
Africa
 
China has moved to Africa with its policy ‘Go Out’. It is now nine years since China overtook the US as Africa’s largest trading partner. It has become the largest trading partner with most of the African countries. Kenya and Ethiopia were the only two African nations among the 30 countries signing economic and trade agreements at the Belt and Road Forum (Barf) in Beijing. But Chinese has become ominous in Africa. There are plans to extend that network into South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi; it was already the country’s largest infrastructure project since independence. It happened in Zambia like it could happen elsewhere in Africa. Chinese investors made deals with the Government to mine its natural resources, filling federal coffers with billions of dollars. Chinese immigrants moved into cities and rural towns. They started construction companies; opened copper, coal, and gem mines; and built hotels and restaurants.
 
The anger against China among the people of Africa is immense. Chinese sheep into political circles of the respective countries through economic veins and gradually damage the political institutions through corrupt practices. But then instances of corruption, labour abuse, and criminal cover-ups began to set the relationship between the Chinese and the Africans aflame. Chinese owners of copper mines in Zambia regularly violate the rights of their employees by not providing adequate protective gear and ensuring safe working conditions, according to a Human Rights Watch report. So Chinese imperial design contaminate the blood turn them rudderless.
 
Chinese Imperialism Challenged
 
It is well-said that none of the imperial power survives forever. The Paul Kennedy book ‘The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers’ aptly postulated this theory.
 
But the unfortunate part of China is that it has been challenged before becoming the superpower. It all happened due to its ill-mannered approach. While narrating the Sanskrit Slokas, the PM Modi said it, the ego of wealth dooms the person and country as well. The same principle applies to China. The world is geared up to challenge the Chinese imperialist design, which has become a threat to humanity. The US is reviewing its global deployment of forces to ensure it is postured appropriately to counter the People’s Liberation Army, given the increasing threat posed by China to Asian countries like India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on June. “We’re going to make sure we’re postured appropriately to counter the PLA. We think that the challenge of our times, and we’re going to make sure we have resources in place to do that”. The force posture review is being done at the direction of President Donald Trump, as part of which the US is reducing the number of its troops in Germany from about 52,000 to 25,000, he said. China is aware of the fact that India-America joint venture can dismantle the hegemonic power of China. India has never been in favour of seeking help from the US to encircle China. India has unilaterally supported in each of its venture and moment of crisis. But the friendship and cooperation were construed by China as Indian compulsion. China committed mistakes in understanding the ability of the political will of the current political regime in India. Now the much water has flown, it needs concrete action. India is ready to face the Dragon in every respect, and it is capable of doing it.
 
(The writer is a faculty of Political Science at MMH College, Ghaziabad)