Context

  • With time China’s increasing aggressive policy is hurting its neighbours especially India.

Chinese aggressive policy

  • The increasingly aggressive Chinese foreign policy is chiefly driven by two factors: A build-up of nationalistic fervour in domestic politics and the Chinese economy’s hunger for new markets.
  • In the year 2012, Xi Jinping spoke of the “Chinese dream,” referring to national glory.
  • Soon after Jinping took over as the Chinese president in 2013, Xi undertook efforts to expand the Chinese footprint worldwide.

Causes of China’s Aggressiveness

  • High level officials of the Communist Party can overrule the State Councilor and the Foreign Ministry at any time.
  • Pivotal foreign decisions will be made by the Politburo Standing Committee, consisting of seven men that is currently headed by President Xi Jinping.
  • His decisions, meanwhile, are also influenced by the desire to boost the party’s domestic popular support.
  • The ever-expanding military, as well as large state-owned companies that have significant investments overseas. Private companies may have their own foreign policies and also try to influence China’s foreign policy.
  • Increasingly, the Chinese wealthy elite, who have more international experience than the Chinese leaders is eager to play a role in politics with their own ideas.
  • China’s foreign policy in the last five years has become increasingly pluralized with a range of voices and actors interacting in an unprecedentedly complex policy making process.
  • China’s foreign policy is influenced by the country’s growth path and mostly by domestic issues, also explaining policies related to securing a sufficient resource supply from abroad.
  • It also is difficult to get a clear vision on China’s foreign policy because it is a ‘derivative’ of leading domestic policies.
  • China’s foreign policy is also influenced by nationalism, which the Communist Party continues to encourage.
  • The Party points to the historical value of a great China and China’s entitlement to its place in the world.
  • Nationalism is one of the key enduring driving forces that have shaped Chinese foreign policy over the research period.
  • China increasingly integrates itself into a globalized and interdependent world and Chinese confidence grows, the current expression of Chinese nationalism is taking a more positive form than before.
  • It incorporates an expanding component of internationalism. Motivated in this way, Chinese nationalism is an important factor in generating popular support for the communist party.

Reason of conflict with other countries

  • China’s “nationalistic” efforts have caused sparking conflicts with inconvenient neighbours.
  • Since 2014, a pattern has been noticed: From the PRC’s escalating tensions with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea to increasing conflict with Japan over Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, from the downturn in relations with South Korea over Seoul’s deployment of US THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Air Defence) to the tensions over Doklam.
  • Amusingly, each time a conflict arises, the state-run Chinese media comes upwith patriotic war-rhetoric.
  • A strong nationalist sentiment has made Xi consolidate and look beyond just the next term.
  • With five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee set to retire at this year’s Congress, President Xi is looking to consolidate his hold by getting loyalists.
  • Economically and geo-strategically, Xi’s “Chinese Dream” is manifesting itself in the “project of the century”, the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
  • The project, announced in 2013, is estimated to cost around $900 billion.
  • It aims to connect 60 per cent of the world’s population from China to Europe in a web of roads, high-speed rail, power lines, ports, pipelines and fiber-optic lines with the goal of stimulating growth in the scores of developing countries that lie en route.
  • Its total estimated cost is less than a third of the $3 trillion foreign exchange reserves China holds and slightly less than the $1 trillion held in the US treasury bills.
  • Apart from politics, there are hard economic compulsions driving OBOR.

China’s export driven economy

  • Unlike India, which remains a consumption-led economy, the Chinese economy has been largely driven by capital investments and exports, which together constitute about two-thirds of its GDP while domestic consumption accounts for the remaining one-third.
  • Since the global financial crisis of 2009, the Chinese economy is confronting the twin problems of falling global demand for its exports and an internal bubble of having invested into over-capacity.
  • China realized that it could not continue to invest more domestically without this bubble bursting.
  • China couldn’t only rely on traditional world markets like the US/Eurozone with global demand failing to pick up.
  • China needed new markets for its exports and for making investments, hence OBOR.

One Belt One Road initiative

  • It is not OBOR’s grandeur but rather the speed with which it is engulfing the entire Eurasia that is catching everyone by surprise.
  • Bangladesh signed up for OBOR in October 2016, Nepal in May 2017 and Sri Lanka, already a signatory to OBOR, signed the Hambantota port deal with China last month.
  • The deal gives the Chinese 70 per cent stake in the port at an expected cost of $1.2 billion, but China does not have to pay anything as they have converted part of their $6 billion loan to Sri Lanka into equity.
  • The Hambantota port is crucial to the Maritime Silk Road because it will connect China to Europe, via Mombasa in Kenya, and the Suez Canal to Europe and beyond.
  • Pakistan, one of China’s close allies, is busy changing its Constitution by recognizing the illegally occupied Indian territory of Gilgit Baltistan as its fifth province to facilitate OBOR projects.

CPEC corridor

  • The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), being expanded at a cost of $1.62 billion, is also part of OBOR, aiming to open up development possibilities in the landlocked western parts of China.
  • India have not played along with China on OBOR.
  • Also India’s growing strategic engagements with the US, has irked China which was looking forward to India to strengthen its strategic interest, sugarcoating it with some OBOR economic deals.

Why will China not opt for a war with India?

  • Even an angry China would not want a full-scale war with India because of the possible collateral consequences.
  • It is certainly clear that China wants to keep India suitably engaged for at least three reasons:
  1. to provide steady fuel to domestic patriotic rhetoric;
  2. to put pressure on India to play ball on OBOR; and
  3. to ensure we are not able to use our geo-strategic advantages to build a strong international alliance against global Chinese dominance, especially in view of India’s increasing strategic engagements with the US and Japan.

India’s strategy on China aggressiveness

  • Not joining OBOR is not enough, India needs to clearly spell out a broader strategy on China.
  • With the US distracted by domestic issues, Japan still reeling from stagflation, Russia hit by low oil prices and Eurozone engaged internally post-downturn with questions on Greece turmoil, immigrants and Brexit, ignoring China trying to dominate a unipolar world seems to turning into a reality.
  • The South china sea countries have almost always been harassed by the stronghold of china. India was instrumental in bringing the world forces together to hold on of the largest exercises FORCE 18 which enabled India to bond with the ASEAN nations better and build the trust with them.
  • India is looking to train ASEAN nation’s navy; this is seen as an opportunity as a show off to increase Indian presence in the area.
  • India has been looking to find a market in the far east nations which will help them to establish itself in the countries and in turn step up military action to protect these establishments.
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