US-China ties: Readjustment required post-US election


US-China relations have seen many ups and downs over the years. Right from the Chinese declaration of independence as the People’s Republic of China under the Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, on 1st October 1949, the US, and China, both have been following two different paths; be it the issue of Chinese support to North Korea against UN and US during 1950-53, US military, and nuclear threat in support of Taiwan in 1954 or the US’ support to the Tibetan uprising in 1959.
Lately, China has shown a marvelous economic rise after the successful economic initiatives announced by Deng Xiaoping on 18th December 1978. Earlier, China developed formal relations with the USA in July 1971 when US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger made a secret trip to China through the courtesy of Pakistan.
During the same time, India, another heavyweight in Asian politics followed the non-aligned approach and kept getting benefits from all parties, including the US, USSR, and China. However, after the breakup of the erstwhile USSR, the US enjoyed a single global status without any meaningful challenge for the last 40 years.
Lately, the Chinese economy has provided her with the strength to allow her to initiate a very ambitious plan to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors with an aim for improving regional integration, increasing trade, and stimulating economic growth. Economic strength is also providing adequate military muscle to the Chinese armed forces and facilitating global reach. This initiative has certainly recognized China as a global player, challenging US global interests.
On the other hand, the USA cannot afford to match Chinese economic initiatives globally. US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, climate, and economic arrangements with the EU and other allied countries has further shrunk her global influence. Primarily, the USA has been following policies of erecting walls and barriers, whereas Chinese initiatives appear to be focusing on cementing relations without barriers and walls. The USA, a status co power, is trying hard to cling to her global power status without economic investments, whereas, China, ably supported by Russia is a rising global power.
To address this worrisome situation, the USA has launched several diplomatic offensives against China. Recently, the US Secretary of States Mike Pompeo visited India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Vietnam, and Indonesia, making a case against China for encroachment on sovereign nations of Southeast Asia, Asia, and the Indo-Pacific regions. Japan, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan, India, and several Far-eastern countries are already on board with the USA against Chinese moves in the South and East China Seas.
The US policy of appeasement of India and the US Indo-pacific policy are also important steps in the same direction. India, a big player because of her size, geographical location, resources, economic, scientific, and military power is now becoming a key player in US power games against China. The US’ continuous support to India in economic, military, and nuclear fields, while ignoring her track record of abuses against minorities, including the mistreatment of Kashmiris, violation of human security, is tilting the regional balance of power.
India, being an independent power, is trying her best to balance out the relations between US-India and India-China. Thus, India will continue to obtain benefits from the USA, portraying as her ally against China but is not likely to opt for any concrete steps. India’s ambition is only to attain a global power status and to get a security council seat with the help of the USA.
USA is not likely to get any material benefits from India (like India has opted for the purchase of Dassault Rafale aircraft against US offers and her nuclear supply group deal is also not yielding any meaningful benefit to US interest). Similarly, despite the US’ best efforts to normalize the Afghanistan situation, India has played the role of a spoiler, despite the US’ interest, to keep the US entangled in Afghanistan. We know that India is a major player in the Indian Ocean (IO), but she cannot match Chinese economic power coupled with her military muscles in IO.
Moreover, both India and the USA understand the importance of global trade routes passing through the Indian Ocean, which cannot be disrupted at any cost.
There is another angle to the US-India cooperation. The US’ blind support to India, will certainly one day create another big power center, which may turn against US interest in the Indian ocean. This has already happened when the US-supported China against USSR and was able to reward the US Security Council seat to the Peoples Republic of China. Now, the US is trying to make India a regional and global competitor for the Chinese rise.
Recent border clashes between India & China and subsequent actions from both sides is testimony to their wisdom. Moreover, hypothetically speaking, it is in the interest of both China and the USA to support Pakistan in her struggle against economic vows, the effort against terrorism, and the threat from India. It may be a farfetched idea, but in case India becomes a regional monster, because of the US’ continuous military and economic support, and opts to follow an independent route, outside US influence, it is only Pakistan, who has the strength, experience, and ability to deal with India.
The US needs to re-adjust policies towards “global good” instead of looking inward only. Otherwise, the writing is on the wall, where China with the help of like-minded states is going to re-adjust the global affairs, (like Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, challenging World economic institutions under US influence). Similarly, the US also needs to review its policies of economic sanctions, military threats, and regime change against non-friendly countries. Chinese policies of winning both hearts and minds are yielding desired results at the global level. Future interstate relations will not be based on military & economic threats, but cooperation and inter-dependence will be the key to make the world safer and more peaceful.