The US-China tensions are rising, and the escalation threatens not only the start of new Cold War, but also huge blow to the already crumbling international order, especially after the Russian invasion of Ukraine which began in February 2022.
The tensions have gone up with the conflict between the two superpowers over Taiwan and South China. The world is already getting divided into blocs and the geopolitical landscape is in for bigger troubles and tensions unless the US and China talk to each other.
Therefore, in simple words, the essence is dialogue between the two nations. And that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, given the exchange of harsh words in which Washington and Beijing have been engaged.
India, in particular, has to watch its interests, while it cannot avoid witnessing escalating tensions between the US and China. The US is a strong strategic partner.
Only yesterday, India and the U S have signed a defense pact, which opens opportunities for the two countries in manufacturing and supplies. This is a landmark step forward in their relationship.
The bilateral cooperation is the high point. It demonstrates beyond any doubt India standing on its own, pursuing its national interests suiting its geopolitical needs and strategies.
It is aware that the rest of the world, particularly China and Russia would be watching this pact and the growing strategic partnership between Washington and Delhi through their respective prisms.
China is wary of everything that the US does , and the fact is that it has not been able to digest the rising international profile of India, its economic progress and the growing relevance in the global affairs. It views India as a competitor, and counterweight to its influence in the immediate region and beyond.
The way it is pricking India on borders shows its intentions. And, the situation it has created close to the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh for the past over three years is manifestation of its strategic goals to keep India tied up in a particular military situation as long as it is possible for it to do so.
China is seeking to tell the US and the rest of the world that , when it comes to its pursuing its expansionist ambitions, it can go to any length. There are consequences for China too. India has offered robust resistance to China in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
China had not expected that. Its ambitions to have a free run in the Himalayan territory have been thwarted. It may have some distinct advantages in connectivity and logistics, but these are not proving sufficient for it to accomplish its goals.
Its ambitions were checked in tracks when India chose to engage it in dialogue to dissolve the border situation. China has been caught on back foot by the Indian approach, as despite its aggression and assertiveness on borders in the most threatening manner, it has not been able to do what it wanted to – unilaterally change the status of the LAC by force. Indeed, there are costs, but these are worth paying to guard the territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
The Chinese threats, as the world knows, are not just confined to its immediate neighbours, these go far beyond. The ASEAN and Indo-Pacific countries are fearing China advancing its goals in their region. It has been subjected to extraordinary volatility.
Japanese Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu, reflecting on the situation in the region while addressing Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore listed competition and conflict among the states as urgent challenges. He voiced the concerns that in the Indo-Pacific region, “there are ongoing unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion, particularly in the maritime.”
He suggested two ways to keep the region safe from tensions and conflict. One, all efforts should be made to prevent the unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion, and second, “to enhance communication in order to avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation, and to promote confidence-building through dialogue .”
This makes clear that Chinese threats are palpable and these are considered dangerous. There is a catastrophic ring to it as the world is worried that any misunderstanding and miscalculation can do irreparable damage to the international order.
The attempts are on to open channels of communication between the two countries. The US have sent some of its functionaries to China to break the ice, but their adamancy on Taiwan Straits and South China sea, and rising walls of doubt over China-Russia axis founded on “no limit friendship”, and the US admitting more countries to NATO are preventing the real-time talks.
This is an ominous stage for the miscalculation, and recipe for start of the Cold War, when blocs gain priority over international order that is just to all.
Arun Joshi, strategic affairs expert on South Asian Affairs, is the author of “Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War”.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.