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China's expansionism against peace and stability -The Asian Age


Since 1949, the People's Republic of China has laid claim to numerous areas of land ranging from tiny islands right through to whole provinces - much to the charging of its neighbours. Some of these disputes  resulted in all-out war, and many continue to simmer.

As the country's economic power has risen, so too has its spending on its armed forces, which it increasingly deploys to further its territorial claims. China's core interests have changed substantially since the 1950s, and its  ambition has increased significantly - as have the resources at its disposal.

Particularly since the 2000s the maritime disputes have taken on a much higher strategic importance and symbolic importance and that is the disputes between Japan in the East China Sea, obviously Taiwan, and then the South China Sea dispute.

The modus operandi seems to be push as you can, see how strong the reaction is, and push as hard as you can until you get sufficient reaction and say, 'OK, that's probably where the line is at' and then they don't go too far. It's often quite a reactive approach but, as is often the case with China, trying to see inside the Chinese black box to understand what is going on in terms of their thinking is very difficult.

Perhaps the most volatile of all China's territorial disputes is the island of Taiwan. Taiwan was where the defeated Kuomintang nationalist government of the former Republic of China retreated after defeat by Communist Party forces in the Chinese Civil War, which followed the end of World War II.

The former nationalist government never relinquished its claim to be the legitimate ruler of all of China, but in reality, was left in control of just Taiwan island and a few island chains off the mainland, including Kinmen Island, the Wuqiu islands, the Penghu islands, and the Matsu Islands.

At various points in the 20th century both sides have fired shells at the other. In more recent years Taiwan has accused China of intimidation and threats after Chinese military jets conducted flights around Taiwan and also for testing missiles in the region.China maintains that Taiwan is its  province, and under its One China policy intends to return the islands to Beijing's control.

Taiwan has not declared itself independent, but current President Tsai Ing-wen has stated her Government wishes to maintain the status quo, despite her Democratic Progressive Party being strongly in favour of gaining independence from China.

Also of strategic and economic importance are the Senkaku Islands, situated just to the north-east of Taiwan in the East China Sea, which are claimed by China, Japan and Taiwan.The islands are currently controlled by Japan and are uninhabited. Discoveries of potential oil reserves led to competing claims from the three countries.

The islands were  controlled by Japan from 1895 until the end of World War II and again after the United States transferred them back to Japan in 1972.Of all the disputed areas claimed by China, none has been more high-profile in recent years or involved more players than the South China Sea.

There are no less than six countries with competing claims, with many other countries weighing in due to the area's strategic importance as one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The region contains two island groups, the Paracel and Spratly islands, many of which are small reefs and atolls. China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, The Philippines, and Taiwan all claim parts or all of the region, with each having established a presence in parts of the area.

There is a overlapping claim on area between Indonesia and China. China has called upon for negotiation but Indonesia  rejected it because China is already disrespectful of accepting the verdict of a International Tribunal in 2016 regarding dispute in South China Sea with Philippines.

Tensions have increased as all countries have begun to establish military presences on the islands, with China the most active. As a result, other nations like the US and its allies have increased naval exercises in the region for freedom of navigation in Indo-Pacific region.

We know QUAD has been formed amongst USA, India , Japan and Australia. They are working to establish peace and stability in the region involving all the rim countries of the region. We know 66% of world sea transportation is run through this.

From around 2010-11 and especially in 2015-16, we saw the island-building in the South China Sea and that's now basically stopped - China got largely what they wanted, and partly because the US and its allies have pushed back.
India is perhaps the most volatile of China's borders and one of its longest at 3,380 kilometres. China claims a number of areas along its border with India, including Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin.

It also claims parcels of land of Nepal and Bhutan. The tweet of Beijing's state-run media agency - China Global Television Network (CGTN) - on May 2 claims that the Mount Everest is on its side.  Survey document of Nepal Agricultural Ministry shows Chinese encroachment in seven districts.

Recently, a map has been approved by Nepal Parliament where territories have been included possessed by India. Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh said few days ago, we have historical, cultural and spiritual  relationship with Nepal and no force con earth can break it. PM K P Sharma Oli also said on several times that Relationship with India is natural.

Therefore, in process, it will be solved. We know India is maintaining good relations and cooperating with neighbouring countries except Pakistan for peace, democracy and progress that is evident in the history. It is known to all that regional leaders participated in the oath ceremony of Indian PM last two times to express solidarity and that is rare in history of the world.

In 1962, China attacked India in both the west and east of the country's borders  and taking control of Aksai Chin before a ceasefire was agreed. Given the length of the borders and the fact that both are rising world powers with nuclear weapons, many fear the possibility that a border clash could slip into another all-out war. As recently as 2017 border tensions came close to war between the two rising superpowers.

The standoff  occurred after China began constructing a road near the Bhutanese border in the strategically sensitive Doklam Plateau area, claimed by China and Bhutan. Both Bhutan and India protested the road-building to China before Indian and Chinese soldiers engaged in a tense standoff along the disputed area.

The troops later stood down and China ceased construction work. It may be mentioned that in 1967  the Indian forces achieved "decisive tactical advantage" and defeated the Chinese forces in the clashes and many PLA fortifications at Nathu La were said to be destroyed, where the Indian troops drove back the attacking Chinese forces.

China is testing its rival India but had underestimated the strength of the Indian Government's response and India's position globally. It is mentionable that China was surprised by India's response and they were caught off-guard by the consistency and the tenacity of the Indian.

China's border dispute with Pakistan is one that ended with a  outcome. The  two signed an agreement where Pakistan ceded a portion of the  territory to China. China and Pakistan are collaborating by CPEC and has built  Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.

There is a resentment amongst the people of Pakistan. It may be remembered China is persecuting Uighur Muslims and other communities and sections of its people by authoritarian rule. On the other hand, it is supporting Pakistan's patronization regarding terrorists and militant forces.

USA report slams Pakistan on terrorism that it continued to serve as a safe haven for certain regionally-focused terrorist groups. It allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN, as well as groups targeting India, including LeT (Lashkar e-Tayyiba)  and its affiliated front organizations, and JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed), to operate from its territory. UN report reiterated same things few days ago.

Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was killed in 2011 when US special forces raided his hideout in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. The Pakistani PM said Bin Laden a "martyred" means Shahid which is used to denote martyrs who have died in the way of Islam or in the defence of Pakistan.

We know Myanmar has pushed 1.1 million Rohingyas in Bangladesh backed by China. China is constructing deep sea port in Rakhine. China and Russia, then the Soviet Union, were for a time allies during the Cold War before they drifted apart ideologically.

Fighting took place  between the countries over several months, with a total of 100 casualties, before a ceasefire was called over the tiny river island of Zhenbao, situated between Russian Siberia and Chinese Manchuria.

It is evident from the above discussion China has a territorial ambition and its expanist activities are against the peace  and stability of the region. There was a meeting between Indian PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was thought after Doklam conflict, China will honour Line of Actual Control (LAC). But China's mind-set has been exposed time and again.

New satellite images have revealed Chinese structures back at Galwan Valley, the site of the June 15 clashes that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and on the other hand 43 Chinese soldiers killed and wounded. We know China has built structures near LAC at different points. Naturally India is also building roads, bridges and other structures.

We also know India is the strong centre of civilization and it was in top most position in knowledge- science, economically, socially and militarily. The first university across the world namely Nalonda University had been established in 493 AD that is accepted by UNESCO.

China and other countries have been benefitted by Nalonda and Taksoshila. It is mentionable that Buddhism and its culture was brought to China by Buddhist monks from India during the latter part of the Han dynasty and took over a century to become assimilated into Chinese culture.

India is practising democracy that is based on humanism. Now  India is working with almost all the countries  of the world especially democratic countries that is proved. In the mean time,  Washington ordered all three of its active super-carriers, now virus free, and at least eight nuclear submarines to move into the Indo Pacific area for peace and stability in the region .

US Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo also said that  part of the US troops  are  withdrawn from Europe to move to tackle the threat  from China posed to countries such as India, Indonesia, Philippines,  Malaysia and other countries etc. India is appreciated by democratic and peace loving people of the world and China should realise it. We hope that India China negotiation will be fruitful for peace,  stability and tranquility.


The writer is an academic, former ambassador, leader-student action committee 71 and freedom fighter.