Ever since the violent face-off in Galwan Valley, Ladakh resulted in heavy casualties on both sides- 20 casualties in the Indian Army and 43 in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), there have been murmurs of the possibility of a Sino-India war as tensions spiral out of control.
But guess what? China cannot afford a war with India, and if a limited military confrontation happens, China will be hammered from all sides. It cannot fight simultaneous wars on all sides. It will be a military blunder that the Dragon will regret for several generations to come. The reason is that China simply never built friendships. It only built partnerships that it can exploit for personal gains.
Today, Beijing has antagonised the world and has no real friends to back it. China has been looking to bully everyone in its neighbourhood- its fighter jets are busy trying to intrude into Taiwan’s airspace and all its naval assets are locked in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
Apart from engaging in a military stand-off in Ladakh, Beijing has been trying to bully five countries in the South China Sea alone- Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. In the East China Sea too, it has been venturing into Tokyo’s territorial waters, and its naval assets have been venturing around Japanese islands- Senkaku Islands and the Islands of Miyako and Okinawa.
China created a contagion that is killing people across the world, and in its entire neighbourhood, it is fighting endless wars. But even otherwise also, China’s Salami Slicing strategy that denotes territorial expansion in the South China Sea and the Himalayan regions is well known.
China is the only country in the world today that prioritises expansionism, and its claims in the South China Sea or border disputes with neighbouring countries are mostly based on historical claims that date back to fourteenth and fifteenth-century dynasties.
This often comes at crossroads with international law- Beijing’s “nine-dash line” theory in the South China Sea, for example, encircles ninety percent of the strategic waterways including territorial waters of other countries in defiance of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
China has been busy even beyond its neighbourhood, and the Coronavirus Pandemic has unmasked the Dragon like never before- harassing countries that once thought China was their friend and backstabbing the entire world with defective testing kits and faulty medical supplies.
China is fighting endless wars today- it is using economic coercion against Australia, by imposing tariffs on Barley and meat imports from down under. Now, China is also suspected of having launched a massive cyber-attack on Australia.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, that the ongoing, large scale cyber-attack was being carried out by a “sophisticated, state-based cyber actor.” He added, “This activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure.”
In the United States, President Donald Trump has been time and again asseverated that China has misused Washington’s goodwill. The United States and China are currently locked in an endless trade war.
Moreover, Beijing has been buying out global institutions that govern rules of international engagement, thus challenging the US-led world order. Xi Jinping wants to replace the “Washington Consensus” with the “Beijing Consensus”, which if realised will have catastrophic consequences for the international community.
In Washington’s neighbour next door, Canada also, there is growing disillusion towards China- tempers have soared over the detention of two Canadians- Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman on spying charges, by Beijing since December 2018. Recently, China started withholding consular access to the two Canadian citizens, citing Coronavirus lockdown of prisons.
They were detained in the first place as a tit-for-tat measure after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei by Canada.
The West including the United Kingdom and France, has come to realise that Beijing can never be a friend, no matter the level of engagement. China never partners with a spirit of co-operation and mutual benefit, and the only purpose of China’s engagement is competition with adversaries.
The Communist regime led by Xi Jinping is also fighting battles within China- it is running concentration camps where the human rights of Uyghur Muslims in the far western province of Xinjiang are being violated day in and day out.
In Hong Kong, the citizens in the semi-autonomous region are being robbed of whatever liberties they still enjoyed with a Draconian National Security Law.
Small regional players like Pakistan and Nepal don’t count for anything, and will not be of much use in case tensions spiral out of control between India and China. Nevertheless, with the passage of time, these countries too would realise that Beijing is not a friend.
The Dragon debt-traps small countries, and forces them to compromise with their sovereignty. Sri Lanka had learnt it the hard way during the Hambantota fiasco, but it seems that by the time Nepal and Pakistan realise this, they would have already reduced themselves into slave countries.
To conclude- China has no friends, and its present and past actions show why it will never have any friends but only practical partnerships, but such relationships are bound to bite the dust.