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China and Covid-19

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On December 31, 2019 the Chinese office of the World Health Organization officially informed of the existence of some cases of pneumonia of unknown aetiology in Wuhan, Hebei.

 Subsequently, the Chinese authorities identified a new coronavirus for these pneumonias of unknown aetiology, which was isolated on January 7, 2020.

 On January 30, the WHO declared a global public health emergency. In fact, on February 16, as many as 51,857 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in China and 25 countries were already affected by the virus at the time.

 In those days, there were 1,666 deaths in China and only 3 outside the country.

 At the beginning of the pandemic, marked by the WHO statement, the UN agency experts in China and in the rest of the world officially declared that neither the direction, nor the duration, purpose and extent of the pandemic itself could be predicted at that juncture.

 What is certain is that almost all recent pandemics originated in China: suffice to recall SARS in 2002-2003, MERS-Cov (in 2012 and still weakly spread), as well as A/H1N1 between 2009 and 2010 and finally Ebola from 2013 to 2016.

 Also in the case of SARS, harsh criticism was levelled at the Chinese government, because the first case was recorded on November 16, 2002, and the WHO was informed only on February 14, 2003.

 It was precisely SARS that triggered a radical change of the Chinese ruling classes, not only in the health sector.

 What is certain is that currently the economic extent and the interaction between China and the other developed economies is much greater than we could study at the time of SARS.

As is well known, currently China is the second largest economy and the second largest importer of goods in the world, with a total of 1,674 trillion U.S. dollars in 2019. It accounts for 13.7% of global exports.

The restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic mainly concerned the province of Hebei, while 26 of the 31 Chinese regions announced a prolonged lockdown for non-essential industries.

 Covid-19 will mainly show its impact in the economic data for the first quarter of 2020, but also the second quarter may be clearly affected if the coronavirus lasts until May 2020, as was the case also with SARS.

Certainly China’s GDP of the first quarter of 2020 has fallen by 6.8%, which is a significant percentage.

 The fall in economic activities has therefore been severe and substantial. It affects one of the primary assets of the Chinese regime: the citizens of the Celestial Empire are ensured ongoing and stable GDP and previously unimaginable consumption levels and standard of living, but they must recognize the political system and its hierarchy. They cannot call them into question. That is not up for debate.

 However, how will the Chinese economy react to Covid-19, based on what we can currently perceive?

 A first effect has been the very net increase in digitalization.

 Another effect, which will be recorded ever more also in Western economies, will be the decrease in external projection and hence the increase in the economic and political importance of internal markets, finance and technology.

Moreover, China has never completely abandoned its internal markets to their fate, unlike what many increasingly passive export-led Western economies have done.

Nevertheless, the “re-nationalisation” process of the economy will be clearly visible both in China and in the Western countries, such as Italy, which have blocked their domestic markets to embark on the export adventure all the way. This will happen if there is a ruling class in Italy, which can by no means be taken for granted.

Competitive intensity, which is the pressure of competition between industries in the same sector, will also increase in China.

 Consumption will also change, both in China and in the rest of the world, and will be more focused on health and quality and less connected to “image” and glamour. In the near future the successful industries will be ever more no frills, essential-oriented and sensitive to their impact on health.

Probably, it will also saturate needs that nowadays we would still call “post-modern”.

The importance of the private and of the non-profit sectors, however, will increase also in China.

As said above, in China and in the rest of the world the pandemic has strongly accelerated digitalization in the B2C segment (business to consumer), but also in physical transactions (ever less frequent, given the pandemic) and in the B2B segment (business to business).

In China 55% of consumers will keep on buying food and everyday goods online even after the pandemic has ended, but China had already begun to reduce its exposure to world economies long before the outbreak of Covid-19.

Hence reallocation of parts of the supply chain to other economic and political areas and return to the Chinese territory or to the neighbouring countries by many of the sectors which, in the first phase of Chinese globalization, had been projected abroad. This is therefore the end of a project that, until the Covid-19 pandemic, was typical of Chinese politics.

 The use of globalization as passive Revolution, just to put it in Antonio Gramsci’s words.

 This means China’s imitation of the Western globalization-Americanization models so as to redevelop them with hegemonic aims.

Hence, according to the latest projects developed by their think tanks, it is a real decoupling for China and also for the European Union, i.e. the beginning of a great phase of industrial diversification and new global specialization among productive areas and among nations.

 With an “industrial sequence”, however, which is much shorter than the very long “value chains” that have so far characterized the American-led globalization and the structure of world trade.

With specific reference to industrial diversification, it should be noted that in China the highest decile of companies currently captures over 90% of profits, while the average is 70% in the rest of the world.

This maximum verticalization in China is matched by a particular relationship- although less obvious than we can imagine – between the economy and political direction and leadership.

 This system will certainly change and many new companies will enter the top ten list of profits, with an internal transformation of the productive systems, many of which are already mature, as well as the entry of new activities in the top companies, such as digital systems, work-replacing technologies, large distribution, entertainment.

Just as the great U.S. crisis in the 1930s –  which was overcome only by means of the war spending of World War II – created the great mass and already globalized cinema, currently the pandemic crisis will create a new big market for specialized TV, streaming movies and the Internet.

Furthermore, as shown in a very recent analysis by McKinsey in China, 70% of consumers will look ever more for healthy food, as well as eco-friendly and high-quality products for personal care. Another historic paradigm shift in consumption.

 Moreover, at the time of the SARS epidemic, it was China and its state-owned companies that started again economic expansion quickly and with large investment, while nowadays the Chinese private sector is worth 90% of new jobs and two thirds of economic growth.

Hence currently the relationship between politics and economy is changing in China and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is stepping up the privatization of the Chinese economy and the new relationship between the political Centre and the economic decision-making process.

On the political and, above all, strategic levels, the quick containment of the coronavirus pandemic in China, even after the initial difficulties, doubts and slow paces, has triggered – also in the West – a new debate on possibly simplistic, but clear political concepts such as authoritarianism, populism and liberalism, albeit in the classic criteria of these political traditions in the West.

There is a new fact, however, in global politics, i.e. a new correlation between different geopolitical models and geopolitical competition.

 The Chinese model emerges as the leading reference point in the vastarea we could call “anti-liberal” or “anti-liberalist”, with China promoting its specific “victory against the virus” to defend and, for the first time, propagandize its specific political system.

 No longer the imitation, possibly with “Chinese criteria and characteristics”, of North American and European globalization, but the claiming of a centralist, authoritarian, nationalist and Confucian criterion for the victory against Covid-19.

 Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic shows that nowadays, irrespective of our ideology of reference, borders are much vaguer and more porous than we imagined.

Hence we are dealing with a new cold war, albeit with unimaginable limits, while the struggle between political and economic systems becomes a “war of the worlds”, just to borrow from the title of an old science-fiction masterpiece.

 Moreover, think what you like, in the United States there is an evident deficit of political leadership, with a U.S. President – the last true modern sovereign – who is wildly unpopular even with his deep state and with a good part of his own ruling classes.

From this viewpoint, China’s ideological and cultural war attack on the United States is technically correct and rational, especially if we look at the clash on duties and tariffs.

 The E.U. is undergoing a deep and possibly definitive crisis and certainly nobody outside Europe thinks of the E.U. model as an example.

 Moreover, considering South Korea, Japan, China, Singapore and Taiwan, Asia has shown it has tackled the pandemic better than many Western countries.

Hence China wants to maintain, first of all, the shift to Asia, but with a different production formula that the coronavirus pandemic will bring out: more privatizations, different products from those of the old globalization and often better ones, a different distribution network and less productive verticalization.

Hence what will be the future scenarios, in the phase of control and stabilization of Covid-19?

a) The first assumption is the return to the past, i.e. the classic clash between the United States and China to limit each other, while the above described processes are going on with their long time schedules. In the West as in the East, the share of public spending on health will increase and the structure of health protection will change in “liberal and liberalist” countries which, like the United States, spend even more than Italy on healthcare. The hospital system will change also in China and the same holds true particularly for the health early warning system, which has been the real weakness of all the Western and Eastern healthcare networks.

b) We can also imagine maintaining stable Chinese growth under new conditions. The success resulting from the quick containment of the contagion could catalyze a new vast group of sympathizers and supporters vis-à-vis China. There is also the election year in the United States, which would probably witness the shift from President Trump, who has clearly organized his campaign focusing on “China’s faults”, to a more moderate Joe Biden.

c) If this happens, the United Sates will once again have a network of international institutions from which to exercise its hegemony, while maintaining a clear contrast with China in terms of hard power and trade relations.

c) The E.U. could even be part of the game if it succeeds in convincing the United States to distribute the strategic effort more widely than currently, but I do not believe that, apart from a few isolated European leaders, the E.U. can go that far. The E.U. strategic thinking is minimised. The (bad) accountants have won.

Certainly the fight against coronavirus will at first reduce the U.S. military potential in the Pacific and, pending the economic therapy against the Covid-19 crisis, the E.U. will have its economic and strategic survival test. The Maghreb region is now floundering in a definitive crisis and I fear that the pandemic has destabilised the whole region. It is currently hard to predict what the E.U. blind kitten will be able to do in the tense, migration, economic, military and oil situation prevailing in the Maghreb region. But it will always be too little, that is for sure.

 Even the major OPEC countries are undergoing a very critical phase, while Russia is carefully controlling its pandemic, which is probably greater than we know. Closure of the oil channels for the E.U., pending the fall in oil barrel prices? Europe would not survive.

Hence the coronavirus is a very quick game changer for the whole world.

Whoever will have greater information and psywar projection power than the others will create a “storytelling” that will be focused both on laying the blame and shame upon the enemy of the moment and on the relative success recorded in the fight against coronavirus precisely by the country that develops the “storytelling”.

 Currently, we do not know that the E.U. and, in some ways, the United States have created a narrative suitable for this new viral psywar.

 What we can see on the American side is the adaptation of old models previously implemented with Japan, in the early 1990s, or in the propaganda against the “rogue” States in the Middle East or Latin America. The pattern has always been the same: a) you are anti-democratic; b) you have committed a series of offences and crimes, in the private law sense of the term; c) you are a “liar”. The U.S. psywar is subjectivist.

Today President Trump talks about “Chinese virus” and has organized actions against China in international legal fora, but this does not seem to be fully effective at the moment.

In the psywar of “storytelling”, the winner is whoever tells the most fascinating and credible story, which does not mean it is true at all, while whoever files lawsuits, is too aggressive or formally accuses a hypothetical or real enemy, never wins.

 Moreover, the issue of Wuhan’s laboratory is more complex than we might think.

 Barack Obama had placed a four-year moratorium on the results of the tests in Wuhan, while for years both the United States and France funded the Hebei laboratory, specialized in research on animal viruses, possibly the research that their laboratories could not or did not want to carry out.

 In fact, in 2004 France began to build a top security laboratory in Wuhan for research on animal viruses.

The laboratory was inaugurated in 2017, but China kept out the 50 French researchers who had to have access to it anyway.

 The Americans took over immediately. It was precisely Anthony Fauci, the Head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who replaced France in funding – with 3.7 million U.S. dollars – a fully Chinese project on viruses.

 In previous years, 7.4 million U.S. dollars had been provided to Wuhan.

 These are the facts, as far as we can establish them. But certainly the safety and security issue was primary even for China, after the outbreak of the pandemic.

Pending the ongoing clash between China and the United States, the first geopolitical and strategic scenario developed by the former is that of a limited war between the two superpowers in the South China Sea.

The is also inland China that has long been sending no reassuring signs. There are signs of social destabilization, which do not result into riots, but are well analysed by the Communist Party of China.

Currently China is endeavouring to restore “social peace”, also with ad hoc government structures.

In the minds of the Chinese decision-makers, nothing prevents opposing countries from operating in this context, also with distant operational means and support.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, President Xi Jinping has spoken of a “people’s war” against the virus.

 For the time being, the paradigm of Chinese propaganda is that of efficiency: we do not know where the virus originated, but we were certainly quick to contain the pandemic.

 Initially China also left some psywar controls open, because it was believed that, immediately after the pandemic started, people needed some outlets and relief valves.

Nevertheless, the image of efficiency of the Chinese regime was certainly successfully managed abroad, but had some flaws and shortcomings at domestic level.

These flaws and shortcoming come from afar: at the beginning of globalization, the Chinese regime offered Western employers low wages, low unionisation, low levels of environmental protection and a friendly relationship with the regime leaders.

 Now that mechanism has inevitably broken down.

 The delay in curbing the pandemic did not prevent it from being finally effective, but now the inevitable economic crisis is biting, despite China’s rapidity in responding to it.

 The “social credit”, which is the synthesis of every individual’s city and social life, is now in crisis.

Created in 2014, it is a traditional or advanced surveillance system that leads citizens to adopt a better and more “social” behaviour.

For example, the system monitors and punishes citizens’ membership in associations not approved by the Government, delayed debt payment, excessive dependence on video games, poor cleanliness or even lack of kindness towards other citizens.

 Obviously, low scoring prevents those who record it from enjoying a whole series of advantages, permits and opportunities.

Incidentally the system had to be definitively perfected in 2020 and also affect companies.

Nevertheless, the U.S. psywar against China, with specific reference to coronavirus, concerns these basic assumption: a) China always has something to hide, which is certainly very severe, although we do not yet know it completely; b) we (the USA) throw many and varied accusations, but China responds only to those that it is interested in refuting everyone has something against China, hence it will necessarily have done something.

China responds with a series of psywar counter-arguments: a) a whole “story” is immediately created which, being complete, tends to ridicule the U.S. attempts. The whole story always insists on rhapsodic allusions. Furthermore, b) the demonstration that also others are upset with China and therefore our (U.S.) accusations against China are founded. But it also demonstrates that there is a conspiracy against China.

 A trivial and sometimes rough war of OSINT information.

 Then, multiple messages and subliminal messages from both countries.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

East Asia

Considering the Continental Dimension of the Indo-Pacific: The Mongolian Precedent

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The Indo-Pacific is now the site of global great-power competition and contestation. And, as a reflection of its growing importance in international discourse, a number of extra-regional actors adopted the concept last year. Among those adoptees, Mongolia set a unique precedent for the regional security discourse to actively consider the continental dimension of the Indo-Pacific by highlighting geopolitical convergences with other regional actors, and the strategic threat posed by Beijing’s “Silk Road Economic Belt”.

Mongolia in the Indo-Pacific

Actors who have adopted the Indo-Pacific concept vaguely define it as beginning in the Arabian Sea and ending in the Western Pacific Ocean. Much of the discourse is also driven by the US-China strategic competition in Southeast Asia, and the US’ attempt to counter Chinese influence in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, along with its regional partners and allies, e.g the India-Australia-Japan-US ‘Quad’. As a result, actors in the Indo-Pacific have generally focused on the development of maritime military and economic measures.

In early October, during a Japan-Mongolia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, both sides agreed to continue consolidating their efforts in pursuing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”, in line with the promises of the 2018 Japan-Mongolia Summit.

Mongolia’s participation as a continental, extra-regional actor with limited maritime significance, shifts the geopolitical locus of the theatre, ever so slightly, north of Southeast Asia (the current focus). Ulaanbaatar’s adoption of the geostrategic theatre appears to be driven by continued Chinese antagonism, and a result of its “third neighbour” policy.

China continues to threaten Mongolia’s territorial sovereignty by claiming Inner Mongolia,clamp down on its cultural identity, and impose costs on Mongolia’s export-oriented economy. The last issue is critical, since Mongolia’s largest export partner, approximately92.78 percent of overall exports, is China. Enclosed between two large countries, Russia and China, Mongolia has traditionally maintained a “third neighbour” policy approach: building political and economic relationships with actors other than the aforementioned.

Given the continued animosity with Beijing, Ulaanbaatar has increasingly emphasised these other relations over the years. e.g. with the UK, the US, Japan, etc. In 2019 President Khaltmaagiin Battulga visited New Delhi to develop deeper ties with another “third neighbour” state. Mongolia also shares the “like-minded” characteristics – a liberal democracy – to maintain and preserve a “free, fair, open and rules-based” order in the US-Japan Indo-Pacific strategy.

And so, actors looking to potentially partner with Mongolia or others with similar economic and connectivity deficits in Central and West Asia, will have to include, within their Indo-Pacific approaches, measures that involve non-littoral actors.

The BRI and Continental Asia

China’s rise as an expansionist Asian military and global economic power is at the core of the  Indo-Pacific security discourse. Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea (SCS), China’s growing naval power, and the colossal Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) form the major strategic threats to regional multilateralism and collective security.

The most long standing threat among them, the BRI, is divided into the transcontinental “silk route” and the maritime “silk road”. However, much of the Indo-Pacific discourse is dominated by the silk road, especially those projects directed towards the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). BRI projects in the IOR are crucial to Beijing’s expanding influence in South Asia and control on international energy and trade supply routes. Also hidden among the maritime/trans-continental connectivity and infrastructure projects, is China’s growing security presence in the region.

However, Mongolia’s entry directs attention to a dimension unique to the current maritime Indo-Pacific discourse –the silk route, that cuts across Central Asia, towards Europe and South Asia, with a similar number of projects in Southeast Asia.

Among the six ‘silk route’ projects, Mongolia’s concern is the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor (CMREC) that cuts through Eastern Mongolia, beginning in Ulanqab (or “Jining”) in Inner Mongolia, and ending at Ulan-Ude, in BurYatia, Russia. Similar projects include the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor (CCWAEC).

Connecting the continental to the maritime is the main goal of the BRI. In fact, the project was first announced during a Chinese state visit to Central Asia in 2013. President Xi Jinping proposed the “Silk Road Economic Belt” with a vision to connect the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea. Beijing’s vision of comprehensive global economic and military power requires a built path to various regions of the world, i.e infrastructure to facilitate dual-use logistics. Given the recent spate of BRI loans going bad, this vision continues to remain unfulfilled.

The continental dimension, Asia, is what makes the Indo-Pacific a theatre of global concern. Trans-continental connectivity, between and within Europe and Asia, narrows the distance between actors, and the shared interest in maintaining regional multilateralism and collective security ensures their continued participation in the Indo-Pacific. As more actors like Mongolia adopt the Indo-Pacific concept, connecting the continental to the maritime and vice versa, sans BRI, will become a strategic concern.

Mongolia’s entry into the theatre offers a unique precedent for those involved in maintaining and preserving a “free, fair, open and rules-based” Indo-Pacific to evaluate and initiate relationships between non-littoral actors and the maritime dimension.

The On-Ground Reality

However, there are a number of obstacles to actively consider continental Asia in the Indo-Pacific discourse. The two most important are geography and geopolitics.

Mongolia for example, is completely enclosed by two actors – Russia and China – who are averse and hostile to the idea of the Indo-Pacific. And, any “counter-BRI” connectivity project envisioned by other regional actors will have to go through their territories. The case of Afghanistan is similar. Divergences in geopolitical interests and ties with actors in the Arabian Sea, particularly with regard to Iran and Pakistan, stays the idea of trans-regional connectivity between Kabul and the world.

The geopolitical obstacle here is the dependent economic relationships that non-littorals in Asia have with Beijing. Mongolia is just one among many Central and West Asian states that have local economies indelibly tied to the political whims of Beijing. During the coronavirus pandemic, a period that saw considerable anti-China sentiment in the international community, Beijing has managed to maintain a level of trust and shared security with many Indo-Pacific states. National vaccination plans are based on the delivery of Chinese vaccines.

There is another reason why the security discourse on the Indo-Pacific is focused on maritime measures – maintaining and preserving the integrity of international Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) and the respect for territorial sovereignty. In that endeavour, multilateral platforms like the Quad allows members to share historic and strategic advantages in the IOR and Pacific Ocean to counter Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific’s various sub-regions.  On land however, in Central and South Asia, for example the clash in the Galwan river valley last year, Chinese incursions provoke bilateral responses giving it leeway to act with relative impunity.

Conclusion

While there are a number of real obstacles to consider the continental dimension of the Indo-Pacific, Mongolia sets a geopolitical precedent for a comprehensive geographic definition, one that includes both the maritime and continental. From this year on, states participating in the Indo-Pacific now have a reason to approach and include non-littoral actors in the Indo-Pacific.

This precedent also highlights the need to include the continental ‘silk route’ in the Indo-Pacific security discourse. Devising such a definition will be a similar exercise as to the amalgamation of the terms “Indo-Pacific” and “Asia-Pacific” to form the “Indo-Asia-Pacific”; now used at times in geostrategic discourse.

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Time to play the Taiwan card

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At a time when the dragon is breathing fire, India must explore alternative tactics, perhaps establishment of formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan can be a landmark step

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The standoff on the Ladakh border between the Indian Army and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) continues amid failing talks and casus belli measures being unleashed by the Chinese regime. While the union government and the armed forces make it clear that they will do whatever it takes to protect India’s sovereignty and integrity, precious little has been done on the foreign policy front. While India and its democratic allies which comprise the Quad security grouping declare their intent to form the ‘Asian NATO’, the Quad continues to suffer from indecisiveness which was pretty much evident when the Quad did not even issue a joint statement to condemn China at the foreign ministers meeting held last year, only America publicly called out China.

In such a situation, it is imperative that India explore alternate diplomatic and militaristic routes to tame the dragon.

Recognizing Taiwan

Establishing formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan after recognizing should be vigorously pursuing by South Block. Indo-Taiwan ties date back to the early 1950s when Chiang Kai Shek, the ex Chinese president and former head of state fled to the island of Formosa following the victory of Mao Zedong in the long drawn out Chinese civil war called on Nehru to establish and further ties with Formosa, however Nehru believing that Chiang was nothing but a “peanut” decided to ignore his call, choosing instead to concentrate on building ties with People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Seven decades on, plethora of changes has taken place on the foreign affairs front, while both China and India have developed considerably both militarily and economically the dragon has surpassed elephant to become an economic powerhouse in its own might. It has now embraced aggressiveness to enforce its 5th century vision of the ‘Middle Kingdom’. In such a situation providing legitimacy to the existence of Taiwan is a necessary first step.

Paradigm shift in policy

Establishing formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan will bring about a paradigm shift vis-à-vis India’s foreign policy. It will enforce the idea that liberal democracy is the last word in the battle of ideologies as Francis Fukuyama had visualized in his landmark book ‘The End of History and the Last Man’ and that there is no alternative to human rights and liberties, not even the Chinese model of ‘authoritarian development’. It will be the boldest step that any global leader has taken, not even the mighty US which has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan has taken this step.

Recognizing Taiwan will entail a lot of benefits for the mandarins of India’s foreign policy regime- firstly, Taiwan is a robust democracy with a booming economy, it will prove to be an alternative to China albeit in a relatively less proportion, secondly, India can bolster the legitimacy as the leader of the democratic world at a time when the democratic institutions in the US-often regarded as the cradle of democracy has been undermined.

Thirdly, India can get the support of another powerful ally in its attempt to carve out a new supply chain alliance which India-Japan-Australia formalized recently. Fourthly, recognizing Taiwan will make it clear to China that India means some serious business and if the need arises then India will not back down from sending dedicated naval and air assets in the disputed South China Sea region to enforce freedom of navigation principle in the resource rich region. Lastly, the Quad security grouping will be institutionalized which in the near future can even be extended to include new members, it will be the first time that India will be a part of any dedicated military and economic alliance which will deter the aggression of the Chinese war machine in the strategic Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific Region.

Caveats remain

However the recognition may invite severe ramifications for India. China will be infuriated and can choose to ratchet up tensions with India. India must be extremely careful while dealing with China as China is our second largest bilateral trade partner and a key export partner of India with regard to raw materials and goods. According to a FICCI report, India imports more than 40% of several important goods like the API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients), television, chemicals, chips, textiles and many more.

The dragon will as a possible retaliatory measure can activate its propaganda machinery to wage psychological warfare with India. It can also activate its terror financing networks which for years remained a chronic internal security for India in the northeast of the country. China will also collaborate with its ‘iron brother’ Pakistan to try and deter India by intensifying terrorism in the Kashmir valley and elsewhere. Further, China can use its potent disinformation empire to try and peddle fake news about the credibility of India’s indigenous vaccines at a time when the light at the end of the tunnel of a pandemic stricken world has appeared.

Exercising caution

Keeping all the dangers in mind, the Modi government must keep national interests in mind. Despite all the risks, it must work with all the like- minded countries to take own the mighty dragon responsible for unleashing a deadly virus which has wrecked havoc on humanity. For the sake of the free world, India must take the hard step which will reinforce India’s position in cementing its place as the leader of the free world.

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East Asia

Pro-Communism warping Hong Kong

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The latest turmoil in the Covid-ridden strata of mainland China is not servile to any pandemic, however, the issue has been one of the most queer and rare kinds, enough to be classified as one of the endemic issues in the global affairs. The tension at helm is the chaos following the announcement of a “New Security Law” by the Chinese regime which is being eyed as one of the monumental events of this decade; slicing off a sliver of attention from the deadly Corona virus that continues to exponentiate around the world in its second wave and sporadic variants.

The law that set out by the Chinese lawmakers back on 22nd May 2020, threatens the liberties of subversion and sedition enjoyed by the citizens of Hong Kong under a constitution. Simplistically named “Basic Law”, it aims to tame the country scaffolded by the “One country, Two systems” framework since the power handover by the former colony to China back in 1997. This act came around amidst strained economic relations between the two superpowers of the world; China and USA, each passing the baton in the blame game of who sustains the blood-crown of the catastrophe impending on the world courtesy of the lethal virus that engulfs every periphery in each continent on the globe. The matters seem complex at sight and a glimpse to the historical timeline of how riddled the relations were could hint at how strained they could reach.

The colony, known as ‘Hong Kong’ today, had been the battle ground, figuratively, to the major competitors of the 20th century: The Great Britain and China. The British dominated the colony for more than 150 years, tracing back to the late 19th century; leasing the territory for the span to morph it into the modernised metropolis marking it as the hub we know today. In 1997, an agreement was reached via an accord, ‘The Sino-British Joint Declaration‘ between the two sides. The treaty allowed Hong Kong a semi-autonomous status, that is, relaying self-sufficiency in all the national domains except in defence and foreign affairs. The allotted autonomy arches under the sovereignty of China until year 2047, henceforward melding into the mainland China as harkened by the Chinese hegemony over decades.

Despite of the granted protection of Hong Kong’s own legislation, borders and freedom of speech, the liberties have been trampled on by the Chinese government over the last couple of decades. A similar law abolishing the right to sedition was initiated in 2003 yet mass protests calling out up and about 50,000 citizens impeded the efforts that went futile and drastically ended up being shunned for good. The Communist party under the wings of Chinese president Xi Jinping have expounded further in tightening their talons on the city since 2012 as efforts were made to corrode the educational system of the country via meddling with the curriculum, biasing the foundation to hail Chinese communism. These acts were proactive reactions to the advances of the United States forging relations with the city. China even tried to manipulate the elections in 2014, tampering with the selection their Chief Executive leading to a 3-month long protest known as the ‘Umbrella movement’ and ultimate downfall of Hong Kong’s autonomous political system.

The security law falls in tandem to the events of 2019; the legislation allowing the convicts from Hong Kong to be extradited in China causing a rave of fear of a massive tactical crackdown of the Anti-communist activists of Hong Kong, sighting it just as ruse to underwhelm the right of sedition of the people of Hong Kong. The Law passed by the parliament notions to only one thing; The ultimate end to Hong Kong. The lawmakers in China, hailing from the National People’s Congress (NPC), sight this move as extricating a threat to the national security and stability of the country while many of the pro-activists in Hong Kong deem the law as betrayal, accusing China of walking back on its promise of high-degree autonomy and freedom of speech, marking it as the final straw, the last struggle before the country could override the laws in the city and indirectly, transition from the entity holding the right to veto the laws to now gripping the law altogether.

Despite of the speculated protests to spark like the history dictates, many of the sage minds predict either a relatively dormant demonstrations or none at all, having a tint of finality in the statement shote the protests are “high stake in risk and repression”. The recent arrest of the leading activists of Hong Kong standing up to voice their disdain to the separatist efforts of China further solidify the notion. Despite of a global condemnation to the new law, the efforts of China resume to subdue any opposition in Honk Kong no matter how sparse. Foreseeing no way out for Hong Kong this time; the Covid-19 paralysis the United States in its own crisis and the legislature inclining towards the Chinese pressure, a complete erasure of Hong Kong is sighted and could not be restrained- for better or for worse.

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