Today, while the whole world is painfully suffering the massive onslaught of the mounting Corona pandemic, China is, instead engaged in consolidating its illegally captured areas in South China Sea and the so-established sphere- of-influence in Indian Ocean and may be elsewhere too, despite facing the reverse Corona attack. As Beijing maintains strict silence lest the global community may come to know of its so-committed misdeeds – latest being the reported making of 1000 atom bombs – as it has already done several irresponsible acts against humanity in the past many decades, like annexation of Tibet, attack over India, skirmishes with almost all countries of Southeast Asia and also extending its sovereign-claim over the entire South China Sea despite losing this claim in the International Court of Arbitration, and that obviously arouses suspicion as regards its real intentions. Though China is increasingly being condemned by the US as the original source of this virus that it manufactured in its Wuhan lab of Virology, Beijing is accusing Washington for the same in its counter-offensive. Although the real culprit as regards producing the virus is still unknown, yet China has now agreed to face the World Health Organisation’s inspection into this Wuhan Lab but only after the pandemic is over.
Notwithstanding all these facts, there are at least three prominent areas viz South China Sea, Indian Ocean and Pakistan occupied Kasmir (PoK) which may possibly emerge as the new centres of probable conflicts between China and the maritime powers in Indo-Pacific like Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asian states, Australia and India, besides America. Recently China has raised its aggressive and assertive military activities particularly in Asia-Pacific around South China Sea and over Sino-Indian borders with a view to display its full supremacy respectively over South China Sea and also to browbeat New Delhi, as it has just extended its genuine claim over PoK by including the climate details thereon into its national weather-reports or forecasts.
Further, China is also reported to have captured an area in the Indian Ocean and has converted it into an island and has also established its air-strip in the PoK according to so-reported satellite images, apart from encircling India through its earlier String of Pearls scheme with active support of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other littoral countries around India Ocean and in Asia-Pacific. Its earlier Silk Road and Maritime Road Grand Strategy, ostensibly for economic trade across continents, is also a meticulous and covert-crooked exercise for establishing its global supremacy to counter-balance the Asian rebalance plan initiated by America. Further, its failed attempts to intrude into India’s air-space and minor skirmishes between soldiers of both countries in the northern sector of the border have alarmed not only India or other nations in the region but also the US.
Unfortunately, Beijing is consistently unfolding the massive showoff of its amazing military power in Indo-Pacific accompanied by its missile tests in today’s critical times when the entire humanity is fighting perhaps the worst Corona pandemic in all over the world because China is very much afraid of the forthcoming exodus by several foreign companies from its soil, having their huge investments therein to other destinations like India, Vietnam etc. particularly due to its supposed shady role in producing this virus in the now notorious Wuhan Lab and then leaking it into the world to create global catastrophe that is now visible.
While Beijing’s sovereign claim over the South China Sea has been rejected by the International Court of Arbitration few years back, its disregard and disobedience to the judgment and instead persistence with the unlawful claim need to be collectively countered by all nations under the auspices of the United Nations at the earliest. Thus given the unethical and blatant violation of international norms and also that of the International Law and China’s alleged involvement in producing this virus over which almost the whole world is particularly suspicious against it, most of the global and major powers will be left with no option but to organize under the joint leadership of the US and India including all NATO powers and the Western Europe to seek for harshest economic sanctions against China so as to lay down its otherwise booming economy to crumble down into bankruptcy and also to encircle it militarily with likely possibility of conventional war between them with a view to secure free passage over maritime channels thorough Indo-Pacific particularly around South China Sea and also to restrain its consistent global expanse, through Central Asia and South Africa, under its ongoing grand silk road strategy.
The US has to take such initiative especially 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 more far beyond its control; and its megacity, New York in particular, is witnessing the disaster, recording highest number of deaths of the so-infected patients each day. Indeed, the individual loss to the US is much greater than that of any of the western powers and much more than that of the causality occurred in the earlier Axis power’s attack on Pearl Harbour during the second-World War, which America may find hard to digest. This is why, perhaps Washington has placed its army including air power on alert mode to preempt any unforeseen eventuality emerging due to Beijing’s mounting expansionist aggressions particularly over the South China Sea.
But China may not bow down against the possibly so-designed US-India led western powers’ pressure and may react violently by drawing support from p from North Korea, Iran, Russia and few Islamic-nations, thereby making the so-emerged volatile tensions very complex to polarize into two counter-poles, like that emerged after second-World War. This may probably result into major armed clashes which may possibly aggravate into possible nuclear war or third-World War to lead into an unimaginable human disaster of this century. That must not happen as nothing is beyond human endeavour
Much has been written about all this and one would focus on the Way Ahead. One is confident that the WHO and all countries particularly India are straining every sinew to social distance, test and quarantine people to ensure trajectory is flattened and health authorities get a hold of the situation. The moot issue is what would be the way ahead? The answer is extremely difficult as it would be different for each spot where the virus is effective. For the first time the whole world is fighting one virus and it is undoubtedly a difficult fight.
The answer probably lies in what our Prime Minister has advised our Cabinet Ministers on 06 April 2020 to work out a graded response where there is an evolution of the current system of working. At the outset every person must wear a mask. The next thing that is to be done is to ensure a reduction of numbers and minimising contact. This would have to be done till a vaccine is found which would take minimum six to 18 months. Next entries into public transport must be subject to checking; travellers by aircraft to be cent percent tested. Buses and trains to be permitted to run to 50 percent capacity and no pooling of taxis and shared electronic rickshaws to be controlled. All industries to provide protective clothing to the congested sections of workshops. Further shops and other establishment must ensure social distancing.
Schools and colleges to be gradually opened and where ever possible compress the syllabus and run these institutions in two shifts. At all places testing should be easily available and all this must go on till a suitable remedy is found. We should not allow crowds to build up as has happened in Huangshan in Anhui province of China on 04 April 2020.
As far as the Armed Forces are concerned they would have to space their activities for a few weeks and thereafter plan on outdoor exercises based on the medical situation. In the border areas where extreme vigil is to be maintained testing must be done to isolate symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. Ensuring all this and working in a proactive manner will help us to tide the situation effectively.
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.