As it looks that both China and the US are mutually preparing to face each other into a possible confrontation due to Beijing’s persistence with its forcible capture over entire South China Sea despite losing this claim in the International Court of Arbitration just few years back. Similarly obstructing uninterrupted passage over maritime channels – as China does around South China Sea – is in clear contravention to the International Law which grants Right to Free Passage through sea channels, outside the naval jurisdiction of a country, anywhere in the world. Further China has raised its ongoing aggressive and assertive military activities around South China Sea, which is far away from its own naval jurisdiction, with a view to consolidate its illegal claim over there.
Apart from South China Sea, the ‘One China Policy’ over Taiwan and ‘One Country, Two Systems’ approach as regards Hong Kong and disrobing the autonomy of Tibet as well, are the other potent areas of persisting confrontation between China and America, besides their vexatious trade issues and Beijing’s clandestine support to Pyongyang for its arms buildup, including nuclear missiles. In fact, Tibet had been an independent state all through past ages enjoying a distinct and royal religio-cultural heritage prior to delineating of Mac-Mohan line under Shimla Agreement of 1914, defining international border between India and Tibet. But China disapproved this Agreement by rejecting Tibet’s autonomous statehood and that led to surfacing of several disputes wherein Beijing derived mileage to forcibly swallow Lhasa in 1959 as Tibet is a very small and peace-loving religious community as compared to China.
In the same vain, Beijing is stepping up the ante along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by deliberately indulging into skirmishes with Indian soldiers at Galwan valley thereby leading to escalation of tensions between both nations, like that in Doklam few years back. In fact, both sides have consolidated their forward posts by sending additional troops earlier this month when confrontation between both armies began in Sikkim and eastern Ladakh. In fact, China continues to browbeat India on the disputed international border; this time what spurred Beijing appears to be New Delhi extending claim over Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) by including the climate details thereon into its national weather-reports and that of Aksai China as well.
Today, while the whole world is painfully suffering the mounting Corona pandemic, China is making efforts to expand its sphere-of-influence in Indian Ocean and PoK, despite facing reverse Corona attack. As reported by the satellite images that Beijing has captured an area in Indian Ocean and has also established its air-strip in the PoK. It has already encircled India through its earlier String of Pearls scheme with active support of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other littoral countries around Indian Ocean. Similarly, China’s ambitious OBOR or Silk Road Grand Strategy, ostensibly for economic trade across continents, is indeed a covert scheme for increasing its clout and establishing its supremacy across continents. Further, China’s recent failed attempts to intrude into India’s air-space have alarmed it and also the South Asian nations.
Against this backdrop, there appear to be emerging at least three hot areas viz. South China Sea, LAC and PoK, which may possibly become future areas of confrontation respectively between China and America including NATO & Indo-Pacific powers, and between China and India. Taking advantage of the volatile situation Pakistan has also jumped into the Sino-Indian fray against its bête-noire India wherein Nepal may also side with China due to nurturing animosity with India over Lipulekh Pass to which Kathmandu has raised its sovereign claims. If China moves forward against India on LAC, both Pakistan and Nepal may follow China to pave way for Beijing-Kathmandu-Islamabad axis against New Delhi. Carrying its aggressive-imperialist agenda forward, Beijing is consistently pursuing its missile tests and is installing nuclear tunnels under sea-waters throughout Indo-Pacific, besides threatening major economic giants like Japan, Germany and the US, as they have decided to windup their business activities in China while searching other destinations like India, Vietnam, Cambodia etc., especially due to China’s dubious role in producing the Corona virus into its Wuhan Lab of Virology. Though China has apparently agreed to face World Health Organization’s inspection into its Wuhan Lab due to rising global pressure, but it would permit that only after the pandemic is over.
In fact, it is Beijing’s clever move to avoid the international inspection because the fast-spreading virus is not going to subside in near future, and by then, it will remove all stains against it that may corroborate its deliberate involvement into manufacturing this deadly virus that it supposedly released into the world, either deliberately or accidently. If China released the so-manufactured Corona virus deliberately into environment, it evidently becomes a most serious crime against humanity which needs thorough investigation and fixing of responsibility, followed by strict punishment for infecting more than 54 lacks innocent people and killing above 3.5 among them, so far. Besides these, many other adverse consequences are being suffered by the global humanity due to the pandemic, like continuing long spell of lock-downs in many countries with recent minor relaxations, global economic recession, losing of jobs by millions and suffering hunger and ailments and walking on highways to return to their homes in scorching summer, in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Thus given the blatant violation of international norms and International Law by China with alleged involvement in producing this virus and not sharing its Corona infection cum death details with the world, all global and major powers must unite under the joint leadership of America including NATO powers, Australia, South Korea and India to seek for harshest economic sanctions to ensure crumbling down of its booming economy. The US has to take this initiative particularly because it is indeed suffering the worst trauma despite being blessed with the latest and advanced medical facilities and eminent team of doctors but the epidemic is still much beyond its control. Indeed, the individual loss to the US is much greater than that of any of the western powers which has, so far, infected above 16 lacks innocent people and killing around one lac so-affected patients therein. This is why, Washington has placed its air power including lethal B-52 bombers on alert mode, besides re-stationing the naval warship USS Roosevelt into the Asia-Pacific to ensure its presence. Besides these, the US has also initiated diplomatic efforts to pressurize China by moving forward with a bill in the US’ Congress to grant independent statehood to Tibet. The next American step may obviously be to grant the same status to Taiwan as well as Hong Kong.
But China may not bow down against the so-designed US led NATO power’s pressure and may resort to vigorous and violent reactions by deriving possible support from few Islamic-nations like Pakistan and many terrorist organizations, thereby making the so-emerged volatile scenario very complex. This may probably result into major armed clashes between the two giant powers which may possibly aggravate into third-World War, with fair chances of using nuclear weapons by the both sides, and that may lead to an unimaginable human disaster of this century. While China’s ongoing highhandedness against Taiwan, as Beijing continues to oppose Taiwan’s participation in the WHO, and against Hong Kong, by devising a national security law to undo its autonomy, are quite contrary to the international norms as well as International Law, so are its unjustified muscle-flexing over Sino-Indian borders to disturb not only peace and security of New Delhi in South Asia but also to extract India’s support in favour of China on all international forums, as Beijing has been isolated by the global community, and also to fall in line to the evolving Sino-centric international order.
Against this precariously evolving scenario, Beijing’s persistence with the sovereign claim over the South China Sea and, instead, utter disregard and disobedience to the judgment need to be collectively countered by all nations at the earliest, under auspices of General Assembly of the United Nations under Uniting for Peace Resolution of 1950s, framed during the then Korea War. These besides, sincere efforts be immediately initiated by all global and regional forums and also the enlightened leaders in the world to diffuse the prevailing Sino-US tensions over South China Sea and that between India and China over LAC and PoK as well, while not ignoring genuine claims of Taiwan and Hong Kong towards full statehood as being improvised by the US for Tibet, in the larger interest of peace and security of the entire world. This can happen as nothing is beyond human endeavour.
Author: Prof. Sudhanshu Tripathi
The writer is Professor, Political Science in UPRTOU Allahabad. His book NAM and INDIA was published in 2010/ 2012 and a co-authored text-book Rajnitik Awadharnayein, in 2001.