India-China disengagement: How world has changed since Galwan clash in background

A quote attributed to former Communist Party of China (CPC) chairman Deng Xiaoping – the Chinese leader hailed for putting the country on the path of modernisation during 1970s – is doing round on social media these days. Deng Xiaoping remains the second-most revered figure in the CPC with whose legacy current chairman Xi Jinping appears to be competing in order to stamp his impact on China and the world.

The quote goes: “China is not a superpower, nor will she ever seek to be one… If one day China should change her colour and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialist, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.”

Deng Xiaoping made this comment in a UN speech in 1974 at a time when the founder of communist China Mao Zedong was still alive. In this speech, Deng Xiaoping had defined what a “superpower” is. He said, “A superpower is an imperialist country which everywhere subjects other countries to its aggression, interference, control, subversion or plunder and strives for world hegemony.”

It is this context in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Ladakh speech of June 30 is being seen. PM Modi had said that the “age of expansionism is over” while referring to India-China border tensions. The gradual build up of world opinion against China and in favour of India has a striking similarity with Deng Xiaoping’s prescription of how to contain an imperialist China, which is trying to assert itself as a superpower.

Let’s have a look at some of the significant developments that have happened around the India-China military tensions especially after the Galwan Valley clash.

India banned 59 Chinese smart phone apps in one of its kind punitive action against Chinese imperialism. This move got support in international arena. Now, reports suggest that the US will also follow the suit. The US had earlier hailed India’s move, calling Chinese apps spying arms of the CPC. The US, on its part, banned Chinese tech giant Huawei for links to the Communist Party of China.

Two UN Security Council (UNSC) permanent member countries have indicated military support to India in the event of a war with China. The US earlier said it was pulling out its forces from Europe over the India-China military tension.

France last week almost committed military support to India. In a fresh signal, the White House has also hinted at military support to India if tension with China escalates to war.

The US and Germany – a UN member candidate for a seat in Security Council – last week blocked China’s move in the UNSC attempting to pin the blame for the Karachi terror attack in Pakistan on India. China has long backed Pakistan in its terror designs against India while pointing fingers at India for terror plots in Pakistan. Additionally, Myanmar has accused China of fomenting trouble in the country by arming terror groups. Myanmar has sought help from international community against Chinese moves.

In another significant subtle diplomatic move, India deviated last week from ‘One China Policy’ perhaps for the first time over the question of free speech in Hong Kong. It mentioned the new security law for Hong Kong — passed recently by China’s national congress — in the UNHRC.

The UK offered the right to residence to people of Hong Kong following the Chinese security law and an easy window for acquisition of citizenship.

Despite persistent opposition from China, Russia recently committed to early delivery of S-400 missiles to India in the wake of India-China military tension. Some observers saw it as a diplomatic shock to China.

Russia, in a way, has given a clear indication to China that its relation with India has moved from the shackles of cold-war alliance, when communist ideology bound it with the CPC. And, also that growing Chinese influence in Russian economy is not a leverage to dictate its foreign policy and defence cooperation.

In another significant development, the US passed the National Defence Authorisation Act allowing training of Indian, Australian and Japanese pilots in Guam, an island in the western Pacific Ocean. This alliance has been in its nascent phase as QUAD for long.

Some commentators have viewed that Guam could serve as a launch-pad for aerial attacks on the Chinese mainland if a need arises in future. Combine this with Australia’s decision to increase its defence spending by 40 per cent over next 10 years. The QUAD may finally be coming together to challenge Chinese hegemony in the Pacific – East and South China Seas – region.

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