How to walk the walk in the Indo-Pacific strategy?

Some 40 percent of Americans we are told, regard China, for the first time ever, as the greater threat to the United States, more than double the number who named Russia. 

by Victor Cherubim

“As Biden Administration is continuing to sound alarms on the Atlantic front, rallying its NATO partners for what it warns is an impending Russian invasion of Ukraine, as early as next week,” The Times of India asks: “Is the ongoing situation in Ukraine and Russia having any impact on crafting the Indo-Pacific strategy?”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks on the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy at the Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia December 14, 2021.

A US spokesman has asserted during a very recent visit of the India’s Minister of External Affairs, Hon. S. Jaishankar to Washington: “The US is capable of handling multiple challenges simultaneously”. He further stated, “We are very confident of our ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. Although, India is a very different place, in many different ways than Australia, than other countries.”

All this comment came out because India has been drawn in to the QUAD, an alliance of US, Australia, India and Japan, forming another major defence partnership, similar to NATO in the Indo-Pacific region, to support its role in providing security against China, at the same time: “supporting the continued rise to regional leadership of India, in South Asia against China”.

The US believes in forming strategic military alliances, NATO, SEATO (now defunct), QUAD, AUKUS among others, perhaps as defence, perhaps, as a show of strength.  

The US/China Strategy 

It is known that United States sees China as a more powerful American focus partly because of the Belt and Road initiative by China, it’s combined economic, military and technical might not only in the Indo-Pacific region, its economic coercion of

Australia, the so called neighbours in the East and South China seas, let alone Taiwan, as well as the “perceived impact” China has in the globe of today. 

Americans may fear China over Russia. According to a US Strategic Document released by the White House recently, the focus now is on both Ukraine and authoritarian and assertive China, as the one competitor to the US, capable of mounting a sustained challenge to the so called stable and open international system. It purports to seek a confrontation and supports QUAD when necessary to covertly contain the influence of China. 

Some 40 percent of Americans we are told, regard China, for the first time ever, as the greater threat to the United States, more than double the number who named Russia. When it comes to cost burdens too Americans believe the countries in the Indo-Pacific region can be relied compared with their European Allies in NATO. 

Americans know, or seem to know, the full range of threats posed by China and expect the Biden Administration to channel their concerns with their Allies and Partners, which now includes, AUKUS and now India in QUAD.

No one knows the real reason why the West fears the rise of China. Perhaps, of China turning capitalistic ideas to support socialist aims and the livelihoods of the 

so called “Working Class”? To be more exact, there is fear, anger and concern about China’s success, even with the constraints of COVID-19.

Besides, I need hardly mention the number of US affiliated Companies and Conglomerates located and doing business in China. 

With it all, the West’s image of China has been “stuck” in the past. They fail to acknowledge China’s development and power within a century. Perhaps, the West is yet to realise China is essentially a different civilization, a threat to Western values? 

Three Point China Strategy

To a layman’s mind, China is pursuing a three point strategy.

First, Medium term, maintaining a non-hostile external environment, in order to focus on domestic priorities. 

Secondly, expanding the reach of Chinese influence globally, particularly, in Africa, Latin America and among small island nations like Sri Lanka, for strategic reasons.

Thirdly, China’s actions are known to generate much reaction around the world.

China is aware of the perennial question of Tibet, the West’s bogey of the human rights of the Uyghurs minority in Xinjiang. Of course, the unanswered question of the origin of COVID-19 and more recent boycott by some leaders and countries of the Winter Olympics 2022. Could this third strategy, be part of a bigger picture, the planned China’s vulnerability?  

We hear of one sided claim that China has intentions of invading the LOC in Indian

Territory. That Sri Lanka is controlled by the debt to China. Irrespective of same, there is quiet diplomacy in the Sub Continent, between India and China, between UK and China, between Sri Lanka and China? We need to be in the real world, not the blinkered one, if we want to understand international affairs?

Would you believe, that much of India’s pharmaceuticals are exported to China and that trade and business interests, proliferate in each other’s activities. China attracts more Indian students in the Sub Continent. Both the leaders of India and China, have a common interest in raising their individual standards of living. The China Policy towards India and the West is consistent and stable.

Beijing’s medium and long term strategic objectives are naturally the subject of discussion both in the West and in India. But China, too is playing a long game which the subject of another lengthy piece.

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