In May 2020, as the EU-China tensions rise, Margareth Vestager, EU Commissioner for Competition, voiced concerns over Europe’s lack of “strong knowledge on contemporary China.” Vestager’s concerns are important because knowledge, perception and policymaking are closely tied in international politics. Nevertheless, how does a mere deficiency in China scholarship affects one of the world’s largest economic powers? Simply put, this dearth of knowledge yields at least two critical consequences for the EU. First, Brussels’ limited understanding of China may negatively impact the soundness of the many EU policies involving China, from trade to competition. Second, misperceptions of what China is and wants could push the EU towards an excessive alignment with Washington’s strong China stance to the detriment of its own interests, which could be better served by a more autonomous European approach. Hence, given the stakes, some reflection upon the representation of China on which the EU conducts its policymaking is long-overdue.
Representations are important in social life, including politics, for they constitute a cognitive basis on which individuals and groups engage with outsiders and themselves. Thus, back in the early Enlightenment, Jesuits’ accounts of China fed into the European philosophers’ meditations on ethics and non-arbitrary government as a powerful case study, which suggested that sustainable enlightened governance and areligious morals were possible. In a way, the Europeans’ representations of China played a key role in the rise of European Modernism. Nowadays, the EU bureaucrats’ meditations on ‘The End of Naïvety’ and China as a ‘systemic rival’ led to the toughening of many EU ‘naïve’ policies, which have had the benefits of arming the EU cruise ship to better navigate increasingly geopolitical waters – e.g. the upcoming anti-foreign subsidies instrument. In both cases, the Europeans’ representations of China were key in engaging with themselves and the world.
However, unlike in the Enlightenment, the late European thoughts on systemic rivalry, which draw from an American ‘all-powerful’ representation of China, seem to inform many though policy moves that directly affect Brussels’ relations with Beijing. But, is this understanding of ‘all-powerful’ China accurate? While it is true that China is an authoritarian great power that may pose certain political and economic challenges to Western states, Beijing is also riddled with systemic weaknesses, which cast uncertainty over its future – e.g. aging population, shrinking workforce, or massive economic inefficiencies. Hence, any excessive focus on China’s dazzling strengths to the detriment of a proper appreciation of its deep-rooted deficiencies could alter the EU’s perception in potentially dangerous ways. In short, sound policymaking should address ‘China-the-powerful’ without losing sight of ‘China-the-weak’.
Take Beijing’s foreign policy. Very often, foreign states view Chinese policies as parts of a grand strategy aimed to render the world more sinocentric. While such views rightly consider the strategic elements underpinning certain Chinese policies, they often overlook Beijing’s complex policy implementation processes. That is, despite Chinese President Xi’s efforts towards centralization, strategic policies formulated in Beijing are implemented by substate actors according to their interests, which sometimes diverge significantly from those of the central government. Thus, while the Belt and Road Initiative does involve strategic considerations, its strategic effectiveness is often undermined by its implementation along the interests of local politicians and Chinese substate actors. Many significant issues and international misperceptions emerge from these ‘implementation politics’, such as China’s massive overlending to certain countries, which is often mistaken for a ‘debt trap’ strategy. In this context, developing more fined-grain approaches to China is critical for they help make sense of the usual confusion around Chinese projects and policies. In other words, they generate the kind of ‘strong knowledge on contemporary China’ that should inform sound policymaking.
Now, take the popular ‘China economic powerhouse’ narrative, which focuses on the links between Beijing’s GDP and international power, and informed a lot of Western policymaking towards China. Political economist Sean Starrs found that while Chinese privately-owned enterprises accounted for about 45% of China’s total exports in 2017, they only accounted for 10% of tech-intensive exports, which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) deems central to the country’s future development path. By contrast, foreign-owned firms accounted for about 65% of these tech-intensive exports, while joint ventures mostly accounted for the rest. Nowadays, as China became the world’s first foreign direct investment recipient in 2020 and foreign companies seem unwilling to leave the country, Starrs’ findings on the role of foreign firms in the Chinese economy are likely to remain relevant.
Therefore, when hearing about ‘all-mighty China’ taking over the world, one should remember that the CCP’s enduring leadership – Chinese leaders’ fundamental objective – rests on an economy that is significantly fueled by firms tied to the US. In other words, Chinese GDP should not be equated to Chinese power for it merely reflects Beijing’s complex embedment in globalization, which, depending on various factors, may or may not support its international power. Huawei was reminded of this fact the hard way when the Trump administration weaponized global value chains to shut the firm from its US and foreign semiconductor suppliers.
However, some might say that China could replicate its successful catch-up in solar panels across the board and solve its external dependency problems. China certainly steers in this direction, nevertheless, after over 60 years of industrial policy, Beijing’s semiconductor industry still lags two generations behind the global leaders. This failure sheds light on another popular representation of China – Beijing as a ‘tech power’ –, which is also potentially misleading. While it is true that China has ranked 14th in the Global Innovation Index and is home to staggering technological change – e.g. ubiquitous digital payment systems –, partly supported by the Chinese society’s ‘natural’ leaning towards tech absorption, Beijing’s weaknesses in terms of basic research make it hard to foster the kind of scientific breakthroughs that allow countries to move beyond the realm of incremental innovation. In other words, China’s tech power comes with serious caveats, which happen to explain a great deal of the Chinese economy’s decreasing productivity and related declining GDP growth rate. In short, this alternative understanding of China’s ‘tech power’ is yet another indication that, for all its might, China must constantly deal with deep-rooted weaknesses.
These weaknesses are all the more concerning for Beijing, as they occur when the CCP must take the country towards a new tech/consumption-driven development path to escape the middle-income trap. Any failure would shake the Party to its core. Therefore, to get a clear picture of China, one must move beyond the glamourous foreign investment announcements and the flamboyant warships, and look at the less glittering stuff. That is, for instance, Beijing’s ability to build a social safety net to free up savings and boost its weak consumption, as a part of its ‘Dual Circulation’ strategy aiming to rebalance China’s growth engine from the global markets to its domestic market.
One way to get this clearer picture of the Chinese system is to enrich our traditional understanding of China, as a developmental and repressive state, with some thoughts on the emerging Chinese regulatory state. That is the CCP’s policy action is not only political but also functionalist for it must solve concrete economic issues while exerting significant yet limited control over national actors. Thus, yes, the CCP’s current crackdown on Big Tech is about reaffirming its authority. But, it is also about technical considerations, such as streamlining digital markets by addressing the consumers’ demands regarding the digital platforms’ abusive practices and data privacy. These pragmatic concerns led the CCP to draft a GDPR-inspired law, which combines state access to private data and a high level of privacy protection, notably including the data of deceased persons. However, Chinese Big Tech, which already refused to hand personal loan data to the authorities, are likely to attempt to circumvent the new regulations, thus fueling a complex bargaining process among actors with various degrees of connection to the CCP, which will contribute to shaping the Chinese tech landscape. Such important and ambiguous developments are hard to grasp when considering China a mere totalitarian state and further emphasize the need for more refined approaches to China in policymaking.
This kind of more refined representation of China may help make the EU policymakers aware that China’s growing regulatory needs could constitute an avenue for renewed European engagement, given the EU’s broad regulatory experience. However, EU policymakers should keep in mind that, beyond ideological considerations, the ‘Plan’ or the market, the regulatory or the repressive state, are nothing but tools to ensure China’s stability under the leadership of the CCP. Thus, further engaging with China to foster trust between politically diverse regimes rather than liberalization may be wise for the time being. After all, trust will be key in persuading the CCP that a balanced rules-based world, which suits the EU the most, is the best environment for China’s stability. Of course, such an approach should be coupled with a degree of smart market protection and a strong attachment to EU core values. That will be a fine line to walk, but hey, that is what diplomacy is for.
Shi Maxian’s trap vs Thucydides’ trap
Many political theories and international interpretations have emerged to explain the form of the conflict between the United States and its allies in the face of China, which the United States of America gave “the form of a conflict of an essentially ideological nature”, based on the “Cold War mentality”, which prevailed during the period of the old Soviet Union before its downfall in 1991, and new international theories emerged, based on similar ancient Western events, such as the theory of the “Thucydides trap” and the theory of “Tacitus’ trap”. However, according to my analytical and academic view as an expert mainly specialized in Chinese political affairs, I have found similar theoretical explanations in the ancient Chinese imperial history, such as: (Shi Maxian’s trap theory), during the ancient imperial era of the “Xiongnu Dynasty”, while its confrontation with the “Han dynasty” old Empire.
Therefore, the Egyptian researcher proceeded here to (analyze the content of phrases from the masses political speeches of the Chinese President, Comrade “Xi Jinping”, in order to enable us to apply those Chinese theories in the face of the American and Western theories), which are concentrating on the principles of (hegemony, monopoly and unilateralism), based on the mechanism and policy of the current US diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and all the features of the US confrontational approach to China, as follows:
The ancient Chinese theory of historian “Shi Maxian”, was related to the basis for understanding the ancient Chinese interpretation of what is known (the theories of the rise and fall of ancient nations): this ancient theory may enable contemporary China to build a contemporary explanatory relationship with the “end of history theory” of the Japanese-American thinker “Fukuyama”, which is based on (the victory of Western liberal American values in the face of China and the Islamic world), so, based on our understanding of those Chinese theories and philosophies in the first place, we will be able to understand the direction and way of thinking and contemplation of the Chinese mentality and its view of the world and events, and even how to respond China on all American provocations in the face.
The possibility of China re-presenting the old imperial theory, known as: (the “Shi Maxian” trap or “the theory of confronting a foreign enemy”, and promoting this enemy among the Chinese people), will aim to increase the growth of the feelings of nationalism within it, to motivate them to turn around their leaders and homeland and increasing its strength: This is the ancient theory of China to build an external enemy permanently, which was put forward by the ancient Chinese historian “Shi Maxian”, the meaning of it, is to “build an enemy permanently, so that everyone gathers around this enemy and unites the citizens of the country to eliminate it”. This Chinese theory prevailed during the era of the “Ancient Chinese Xiongnu Empire”.
Also, this Chinese theory (the theory of the “Shi Maxian” trap) – according to my analytical and interpretive vision as a specialized expert in Chinese political affairs – is almost analogous to the international theory currently known as the “Greek Thucydides trap”: it is the Western Greek theory that was reproduced once again and showing it, despite its affiliation with the ancient state of Greece and Sparta, as an attempt to explain the form of the unity of the current conflict between China and the United States of America.
According to my academic analysis, the ancient imperial conflict in China between the “Xiongnu” and “Han” empires is similar to the form of the ongoing and current international conflict between China and the United States of America: this ancient imperial conflict in China, which was presented by the ancient Chinese historian “Shi Maxian”, who is considered the first true historian of China in the contemporary real sense or concept, wrote about the “Ancient Xiongnu Empire in China”, considering that it was the rival power that was forced into submission by the “Ancient Han Empire of China”.
The “Xiongnu Empire” with this ancient analysis applies parallel to modern China, meaning that: “The weaker the “Xiongnu Empire” in the face of the strength of the “Han Empire”, the Chinese will be stronger, and vice versa”: Here we may call this theory in the sense of the “Shi Maxian” trap or “the theory of building a foreign enemy to confront him”, meaning promoting the presence of a permanent enemy among your people, to increase the growth of the element of nationalism to him to rally around th homeland and increase its economic, political and military strength, in order to always prepare for this external enemy, which is here in our case, is literally applies to the United States of America and its allies around the world in the face of China and its ruling Communist Party.
Perhaps Chinese leaders in the future will try to evoke the analyzes of the ancient Chinese “Xiongnu Empire” and its permanent confrontation with the “Han Empire”, as a primarily Chinese attempt to explain all (theories of the new enemies of China, especially those who appear mainly from the West): the same thing has become true of the United States of America itself by comparing its hostility to China on a continuous basis with the mentality of the Cold War during the period of the Soviet Union, and applying this in its current dealings with China, and its adoption of the policy of alliances and the mobilization of alliances and new political and defense polarizations, such as: the Quad agreement with (Japan, India, and Australia) to confront China economically and regionally, and the most dangerous other agreement signed by the United States of America is the “New Aukus Defense Agreement”, which has been signed by both (Australia and Britain) to confront China’s military, security and strategic influence in the South China Sea and Taiwan, and to create a (US-Australian military and defense partnership to confront China in the “Indo-Pacific” or “Asia-Pacific” region), according to the Chinese interpretation.
We can deduce and analyze common points between Western and Chinese theories of conflict management. According to the theory of “Thucydides”, which is proposed by the ancient Greek state to explain the form of the conflict between new rising powers that triumph over old descending ones, as a reference to China and the USA: it’s a theory known globally, as “Thucydides’ trap”, which has been prevailed during the Greek ancient cities, as a trap to achieve the victory on the enemies, and presented by the Greek historian “Thucydides”, saying that:
“War will be inevitable when a new power emerges to challenge an existing one”
Hence, and by applying the Chinese response mechanism in practice to the American challenge in confronting it, according to my analysis of the content of the political speeches of Comrade “Xi Jinping”: According to my analysis of Comrade Xi’s speeches, I noticed that the general trend in interpreting and analyzing the speeches of the Chinese President, Comrade “Xi Jinping”, to his people, members of his Communist Party, and his comrades in the Politburo, was decisive in getting rid of the effects of the theory of “Thucydides’ trap” against China, by emphasizing in his political speeches to the Chinese people and members of the ruling Communist Party, which is stating that:
“No matter what stage of development China has reached, China will never seek hegemony or expansionism. China follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, and here China calls on the peoples of all countries to work together to build a community with a shared future for the humanity”
Another Western theory, called the “Tacitus trap theory” in the form of the conflict between Washington and Beijing, and its application to the credibility of the current US administration of President “Joe Biden” with its people, citizens and athletes themselves, is also related to their demand for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics: where I found that this Western theory, known as: “Tacitus’ theory”, as the perfect application of the US administration’s inability to move its people, athletes, and allies, dissuading them or preventing them from participating in the Beijing Winter Olympics, and then having to “leave the matter of participation or not as an open option and choice to all”. In my attempt to apply that historical theory known as the “Tacitus trap” to the conflict between the United States of America and China, and China’s role in getting rid of it, it becomes clear that this Western trap of “Tacitus”, is based on:
“Be careful when the government loses its credibility, it will inevitably be seen as a liar, whether it is telling the truth or lying or doing the good or the bad”
Therefore, the speech of the Chinese President, Comrade “Xi Jinping”, in a political speech to the masses of his people, came to warn against the theory of “Tacitus’ trap” in the face of the Chinese masses towards the government and its credibility: the emphasis has become that the policies of the ruling Communist Party itself must “fit the nature of the Chinese people”, according to their needs, to gain their legitimate government and satisfaction, in contrast to that narrow, individualistic and unilateral behaviours, adopted by the Western philosophy and their vision in dealing with the masses, by affirming that:
“We must focus on maintaining and keeping the Party’s close bond with the people in mind, developing a closer link with them and keeping on working for stronger overall support for Party governance”
Here, based on our understanding of the form of Chinese and Western theories of conflict management, according to the philosophy and vision of each of them, I was able to reach analytically, that the most prominent points of contention between that Western democracy and Chinese socialism, is based on that narrow Western individual view of the masses and peoples compared to China: Western political parties waste a lot of their energy on focusing on “campaigns to win and stay in power”. The interest in the West and the United States of America is focused on winning elections and governing. But, in contrast to the theories of the West, Chinese communist policies are concerned with (developing major strategies of interest to the masses), such as:
(Poverty alleviation, fighting corruption, comprehensive social and health security, and eliminating slums)… etc.
According to my personal view and my view of current events, the United States of America is trying to “create a foreign enemy in the face of the American public opinion that constantly criticizes the policies of its government”. Therefore, the current American policies are trying to ideologically impede the progress of the Communist Party of China: by deliberately the United States of America in dividing the world into democratic and totalitarian regimes, at a time when the American authorities and their administration have neglected more urgent and important internal issues and the basic needs for its people, we can find that the Communist Party of China, and its adoption of the (model of applying such successful policies to win the approval of the Chinese people and their masses), such as: poverty alleviation, fighting corruption and others, which helps in creating a strong public faith towards all endeavors towards achieving this, and addressing problems, contrary to the American policies at home, which are basically targeting China and its ruling Communist Party, claiming that they are the causes of the American current failure, economic and technological faltering, and their intentional harm to the American people.
Here we understand that the current American call for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February 2022, is just one of a series of other American attempts to impede Chinese growth and progress in all fields globally, due to (the success of the policy of the rise of China and its Communist Party globally, in contrast to the clear American decline internally and externally), especially after its failure and stumble in many files.
China and Indo-Pacific democracies in the face of American boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics
Despite the US administration’s announcement of a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, with the “American Olympic Committee allowing the participation of American athletes in the Winter Games in China”, many global democracies, that are allies to Washington itself were challenged to participate in the Winter Olympics in Beijing, and not only that, but a number of global official institutions defied the globally criticized US decision, most notably the United Nations, by announcing “Antonio Guterres”, in his capacity as (UN Secretary-General), that he would attend the Beijing Winter Olympics, despite a boycott by several allies of Washington. They are mainly, are: (Britain, Australia, and Canada), but on the other hand, the decision to challenge the United States of America from its regional allies neighboring to China has very many implications, which can be analyzed, through:
The confirmation of (South Korea, Japan, and India) and all the Asian countries directly neighboring to China, and the main allies of the United States of America in the “Indo-Pacific” region, to participate in the Beijing Winter Olympics and challenge the American boycott decision: Despite Washington’s alliance with the countries of the “Indo-Pacific” region, according to the American concept, which aims to exclude China by inserting the Indian Ocean within its territorial elements and borders, or the “Asia-Pacific” region, according to the well-known traditional Chinese concept, and not politicized in the American sense. However, we can stop a lot to analyze future indications and indicators, about: (the extent of the global challenge to American decisions and demands to boycott the Beijing’s Winter Olympics), even from most of the (democratic regimes allies to Washington itself in the Asia-Pacific region, adjacent to Chinese influence and an ally of Washington).
The most remarkable thing to me is the participation of “established Western democracies in the Beijing Winter Olympics and challenging the American boycott decision”, most importantly France, with French President “Emmanuel Macron”, describing the decision of the United States of America and some Western countries to boycott the Beijing Olympics diplomatically as a “trivial step”: The French government announced its defiance of the politicized US decision, and its non-diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Most notably, the French Minister of Education, Youth and Sports “Jean-Michel Blanquer”, said that:
“He does not support this incomprehensible diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, calling on France to participate strongly, to prevent the politicization of sporting events globally”
The French Minister of Education, Youth and Sports “Blanquer”, stated firmly that:
“Sports is a world in itself, and it must be protected from political interference, otherwise we will end up killing competition, and this is unacceptable and we must not bow to it or encourage it”
As for what is known as the theory of “China’s alliance with democracies and others to confront liberal authoritarianism” with the call for reforming American democracy at home: the Egyptian researcher believes that this applies primarily to the challenge of all democratic regimes to the decision of the American boycott, and their announcement that they all participate in the Winter Olympics. This is what requires the leaders and comrades of the Communist Party of China to take advantage of it later on by (adopting an appropriate discourse language aimed at mobilizing European politicians to defend its interests). Especially, on November every year in Beijing, all parties around the world are being invited by the (Department of Foreign Relations of the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party of China) to attend the annual conference’s meetings in Beijing from November 30 to December 3, in each year. The Comrade “Xi Jinping” in his capacity as the General Secretary of the “CPC” Central Committee made a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the international dialogue in 2021, in front of number of leaders of political parties around the world, stressing of the principles of (multipolarity and ignoring unilateralism policies).
China’s presentation of the topic and issue of “American politicization of the Beijing Winter Olympics and other events” in the meetings of foreign political parties and their political discussions, the dialogue will gain great importance for both the Communist Party of China and other parties even with different orientations and visions of communist ideology: what was striking to me as an expert in the Chinese affairs, what was done at the last conference of the CPC leaders’ meeting with the leaders of foreign political parties in 2021, the slogan has been raised by the participants, was that: “Working together towards a community with a shared future for the humanity and a better world: Responsibilities of political parties”. In this conference, the CPC discussed with all of the invited foreign parties leaders, the topic of “Sharing Responsibility on Major Global Issues”. Therefore, the leaders and comrades of the ruling Communist Party in China have benefitted of this opportunity to stress the importance of “not politicizing international sporting events and not politicizing events for American political agendas”.
The importance of the Chinese and international demand remains, even at the level of the American interior itself, to continue the approach of “reforming the democratic and legal system at home first before trying to impose it on the outside and brandishing it”, for regimes it calls “authoritarian” as a justification for interfering in its internal affairs: here, it would be much better for the United States of America to (adopt a comprehensive domestic agenda that prioritizes justice and a real democracy, better than interfering in the internal affairs of others), additionally, the American policies should get rid of the (increasingly crucial ideological cases of the white supremacy racism over its black citizens). Here, effective American advocacy for liberal democracy does not need to interfere in the affairs of other countries, with taking into consideration and account that the (USA is often supporting the authoritarian governments and regimes for its own interests), overthrew elected governments, and the reason is partly due to its quest to confront the former Soviet Union, as well as to achieve its own economic interests.
Increasing Chinese and international demands for the United States of America and its always successive administrations to stop presenting itself as (the global leader of the values of liberal democracy) and its demand to review all its policies and tracks internally and externally: here we find that Washington is in dire need to change its position regarding reviewing the policy of polarization internally and externally. Now, China and the international community should mainly focus on and call the USA for adoption such interior policies for the satisfaction of the American people, such as:
(Reforming all American democratic institutions, reforming its internal justice system, voting and casting their votes, including strengthening voting rights, in parallel with the need to put in place quick measures to stop racial injustice and improve comprehensive health and social security policies in the interior home).
On the external level, the United States of America is in dire need of (working with everyone and respecting diversity and difference, regardless of their political systems, and striving to achieve common goals and securing global public goods), such as: (climate change, arms control and fighting terrorism), and other issues that are universally agreed upon.
From my analytical point of view, it is necessary to shed light globally on the approaches and policies of the (development of China’s internal democracy and the improvement of its elections management system internally), in contrast to the decline in the level of performance of democracy in the American elections as the world followed them in the chaos of voting and the final results between “Biden and Trump”: The Communist Party of China “CPC” amended a number of internal regulations on Thursday, January 8, 2021, with the aim of improving the electoral work of all grassroots local Party organizations by approving the newly amended election rules, in accordance with the directives of the “Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee”, which announced that the local and grassroots groups are of great importance in strengthening the political structure of the Communist Party and the democracy within it. We can identify as well that the “Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee” has considered that the “revised version of the work rules for the elections of local party organizations, which was published by the CPC Central Committee on its official websites, is of great importance for unifying the standards of the electoral work of local party organizations and strengthening their construction”.
The procedures for the internal basal local elections of the Communist Party were determined by following (four steps for the election stages, determining an appropriate percentage for workers and peasants to represent them at the forefront of the front lines by selecting their delegates and their representatives in local party conferences), and the minimum required to represent this category is 30% of the are party’s congresses delegates at the level of various Chinese local provinces.
Through my new analysis and linking theoretically and practically between thought, theory and practice, to manage the ongoing conflict between Washington and Beijing, even at the sporting level, such as Washington’s boycott of the “Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022”, this can lead us to a theoretical analysis and understanding about the causes of this growing tensions between China and the United States of America, which have been (resulting from deep and long-term transformations in the current international system, and its transition from the era of globalization to the stage of strategic competition between the two major powers).
Therefore, it has become necessary for the United States of America to “practically” to stop interfering in the internal affairs of countries and primarily of China, by using the “ideological dimensions ” to confront others, or its attempt to (the renewal of the leadership of the United States of America for the freedom camp in the face of the tyrannical and authoritarianism camp).
The Global (Dis) Order Warfare: The Chinese Way
Since the ascension of Xi Jinping, two important developments have come to dominate the global headlines. One, the so-called wolf diplomacy of China has been on the forefront of global political relations and two, there has been a huge spurt in Chinese efforts to use disinformation and espionage, as a part of its global diplomatic-strategic plans to destabilise countries who it sees as rival or a threat, in more than one ways.
Suddenly, there are instances of greater violence, instability and conflict in countries and regions that could be considered as political/economic/military rivals or likely competitors to China. In the US, FBI has reported an increase of 1300 percent in economic espionage investigations with almost 90 percent cases having a Chinese military/government background. On an average, the US has reported registering of a new counter espionage case against China, every 12 hours. A recent report suggested the operation of about 250 MMS Chinese spies in Brussels, the capital of European Union.
In Australia that has a continuing run-in with China in recent times, there have been instances of Chinese overt/covert interference in political/economic domain. In the UK, a highest level confirmation came in from the Home Secretary Priti Patel that confirmed the MI5 report of a Chinese government agent working in the British parliament to subvert democratic process and promote Chinese interests.
In India in particular which is virtually in a state of no-peace, no-war with China for the last 21-months, following a bloody conflict at Galwan (in which 20 Indian and 44 Chinese soldiers killed, though Chinese did not accept casualties for a long time.), the situation is quite favourable to the massive Chinese interference. The Modi-led Indian government is working at a furious pace on various fronts, economic, political, diplomatic and strategic. And that is something that is not convenient to Chinese interests.
The Chinese since 1950s have been used to an Indian government, timid and submissive and more receptive to their interests than protecting national interests of India. A big example of this self-defeating, servile and pro-communist mental make-up has been the Nehru’s support to China for a permanent UNSC seat, even in 1963 after the Indo-China war in the previous year. Successive governments since then have been following the same thinking and policy in the name of ‘continuation of foreign policy’, irrespective of changes in the government.
Hence, when Doklam happened in 2017 and Indian government for a change, showed courage and stood up against the ‘self-proclaimed super power China’ to protect the territories of a friendly Bhutan, the middle kingdom got the shock of the decade. It was used to have a southern neighbour who in spite of decades of supporting terrorism in country’s north-east, supporting Pakistani terrorism, never faced China head-on. And that brought about a change in the Chinese perception and strategic calculations vis-à-vis India.
Since Doklam face-off between India and China, the latter has been playing all games with the clear objective of preventing its rise in the word order. For reasons better known to European politicians, for some years there has been no effort from their side to compete and prevent China from spreading its aggressive strategic-diplomatic policies around the world.
Its genesis could be seen in the passive Obama-led US policy of playing a second fiddle to China. No wonder, during the eight years of Obama administration, China was not only able to strengthen its politico-strategic grip over parts of Asia and Africa but came very close to attack Taiwan. Had it not been the sudden deterioration of US-China relations during the Trump era, probably the world map could have been changed so far, particularly in the south China Sea region.
The passive Obama administration allowed China to grow impressively on the trade-economic front and emerge as the manufacturing hub of the world. It also remained indecisive, letting China develop a huge trade surplus vis-à-vis the US. And the biggest flip came when is spite of being fully aware of the likely catastrophic implications and the debt-trap strategy of the Chinese showpiece Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it neither discouraged smaller nations nor took a stand against it.
India was the only country that spoke overtly against the concept and remained out of the BRI, even at the cost of antagonising China. Today, the world is witness to the debt trap that Chinese BRI has brought about for many countries like Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, Laos, Mongolia, Zambia, Montenegro, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and a few others. This grim economic scenario is almost certain to compel such countries to part with their political and economic sovereignty that could well be a 21st century model of Chinese imperialism.
Such explicit Indian opposition to China and its likely emergence as a political, economic and military rival, led China to create a host of internal disturbances in the country. It is interesting to see that most of the damning criticism against Indian government for the past three-four years are emanating from Indian intellectuals living in the US/Europe for decades and are overtly/covertly left-leaning.
Similarly, the journalists, intellectuals, academicians in India who criticise and abuse the government are having a leftist background, many of them have a record of visiting China in recent past. Some of the politicians, including the de facto opposition leader Rahul Gandhi is said to have had midnight meetings with Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi. The Chinese government has also provided funds to the main Indian National Congress (INC) opposition party, a few years ago. Some media reports suggested that was one of the reasons for INC’s pressure on the previous Dr Manmohan Singh and current Modi governments, to join the Chinese dominated trade block Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The Chinese efforts to politically subvert the democratic countries has become more blatant. The recent anti-India resolutions in the British Parliament could well be seen in the context of MI5 report confirming the presence of Chinese agents in British legislature. In Australia, the reported offer by Chinese to Nick Zhao to run for Australian parliament as a Liberal Party member and recent statement of an apparent Chinese defector Wang Liqinag suggesting that Chinese agents are ‘operating with impunity in Australia’, need to be seen in this context.
And beyond all this politico-diplomatic moves, there have been credible reports of Chinese cyber-attacks on US, India, UK, Taiwan, Australia and others who it sees as rivals. India in the last one year, witnessed a 261 percent rise in Chinese cyber-attacks against military, scientific, banking, telecommunication systems.
To make matters worse, a detailed analysis of individuals occupying important positions in government/international organisations reveals that a few of them do have some or the other sort of Chinese support that has affected their actions or lack of it, vis-à-vis China. The tremendous suffering that the world and humanity have to endure due to Corona, clearly occurred due to deliberate or ineptness of Chinese government/military/scientific community. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has failed to fix accountability for this pandemic on China.
All such development clearly points towards a Chinese strategy to create a global disorder, a state where democracies like the US, India, Australia, Japan, Europe, Taiwan will not be able to stand unitedly and make way for the ascent of the middle kingdom to the pinnacle of global political, economic and military hierarchy.
Shi Maxian’s trap vs Thucydides’ trap
Many political theories and international interpretations have emerged to explain the form of the conflict between the United States and...
China and Indo-Pacific democracies in the face of American boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics
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On the International Day of Education, we call on world leaders to transform how we deliver on education. The clock...
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