Ladakh Face Off

Scared Dragon's Tail on Fire: Xi's bid to Save Face at Home

Like all good stories, genesis of this one lies 4000 km east, in South China Seas, and Chinese failed bid to incorporate Taiwan in mainland China and establish dominion in South China Seas.

It also takes us few years back to the three-month standoff at Doklam in 2017, when India mothballed Chinese Army, and placed troops to prevent China from building a road into territory claimed by its ally, Bhutan. It worth noting, then also Xi’s clamor to “be prepared for any eventuality” was very well called a bluff, in a smug manner, by the Indian Government.

Since the beginning of this month, China India standoff, which started at Pangong Tso lake, has now escalated all along the LAC from Ladakh to Sikkim. This has resulted in a standard textbook response from the Indian Military, to move soldiers and activate its Military response machinery.

It is worth mentioning, that none of these places have a strategic value, where a soldier can be there to occupy it in all seasons to come. Hence if Indian or Chinese Army occupies a chunk of that land, they have to vacate during Winter months.

Implying, China is attempting to create a hullabaloo, which has no military value/objective it can hold on to.

 

Why is China is forced to carry out this needless venture, which it has not committed to in last 70 years? What is the Bigger Game at Hand?

Xi’s ‘South China Sea’ Debacle

Taiwan Integration gone Awry

The famed 2018 re-election for life, Xi Jinping’s rally for the same, was the buzzword “Reintegration of Taiwan into China mainland ” by 2020. Xi Jinping promised to take China to highest reaches of “Chinese Greatness” by 2050, and reassert Chinese pride by integrating Taiwan by 2020.

Xi was scheduled to gatecrash the presidential swearing-in of Taiwan on 20 May 2020 by invading Taiwan. Xi could not do so. 

China got off to a good start. With COVID-19 all across the globe, China since 2019, has launched few militarily advanced technology weapon platforms. New warships were built at an incredible rate, radically modernizing the fleet and adding new capabilities, especially amphibious capability vessels.

With US Navy grappling with Coronavirus outbreak onboard its Ships, in early parts of the pandemic, China’s aggressiveness in South China Seas turned from aggressive to buccaneering. It rolled out its Aircraft Carrier, numerous destroyers, amphibious flotilla while daring Australian, Japanese and US Navy with its circus maneuvers.

However the tide turned and April saw US Navy destroyers patrolling aggressively in Spratly Islands, reassuring Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysian shipping’s. US  battle fleets had acquired military posture and positioned aggressively (Article of April 27)  from Japan and Guam, maintaining readiness.

Now, with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen taking oath for her second four-year term on 20 May 2020, it is past the inflection point, where Chinese PLA could have acted.

China has missed the flight, and Xi’s clueless policy of creating a Racket in South China Seas since outbreak of COVID-19 is nowadays under the lens.

He is desperately looking to lose off that heat on him, and what better place than familiar Indo-China faceoff along the LAC.

Reality of Chinese Standoff

Military Bluff?

Is the faceoff, a military/strategic gain point for China? Apparently No.

China with a total of 200,00-230,000 ground forces under the Western Theater Command, Tibet, and Xinjiang Military Districts, majority of forces are located further from the Indian border, posing a striking contrast with the majority of forward-deployed Indian forces.

In the event of a major standoff or conflict with India, it would have to rely upon mobilization primarily from Xinjiang and secondarily from the Western Theater Command forces deeper in China’s interior.

The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) also suffers from a numerical disparity to the IAF in the border region. Unlike the tripartite organizational division of Chinese ground forces facing India, the Western Theater Command has assumed control of all regional strike aircraft. In total, this amounts to around 157 fighters and a varied drone arsenal(Compared to India’s 200 fighters). This includes an estimated 20 GJ-1/WD-1K precision strike UAVs, 12 WD-1 ground attack and reconnaissance UAVs, 12 WD-1 precision strike UAVs, and 8 EA-03 reconnaissance and electronic warfare UAVs.

On a strict comparison of available 4th generation fighters, authoritative assessments hold that China’s J-10 fighter is technically comparable to India’s Mirage-2000 and that the Indian Su-30MKI is superior to all theater Chinese fighters, including the additional J-11 and Su-27 models.

However, The high altitude of Chinese air bases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel, whereas IAF shall launch from bases and airfields unaffected by these geographic conditions, with maximum payload and fuel capabilities. This is compounded by IAF’s capability of runway replacement fiberglass mats into its base defense systems, to overcome runway repaving in case of bombings of airfields.

In event of conflict, while ground forces are evenly poised on both sides, the apparent Air Superiority of IAF shall continue till 2025, whereby Chinese fifth-gen Aircraft are deployed, along with Long distance Bombers(under development).

Localized Sino – Indian Conflict?

With deployment of Indo-Pacific encompassing India, US, Australia, Japan with Chinese neighbors like Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia showing intent by acknowledging it, China finds itself in a bookshelf. At this moment, if Myanmar decides to be part of Anti-China axis, the scenario reeks of the worst nightmares of Chinese strategic defence. 

Above is discounting the involvement of Russia to lay claim to the Natural Gas fields by Mongolia in Gobi Desert, in case of a Global Conflict.

Hence in case of an all out conflict at the LAC, other nations shall lay claim to their sovereignty from an increasingly belligerent China.

COVID-19 Triggered Economic Boycott

Xi has no answers to its Public

Post COVID-19 breakout, and to world’s horror, nations lay bare and dependent on China for consumer supply chain. This has triggered an almost synergic response from global companies to pull out from China, as their manufacturing base. Post-2018, with an economic downturn, 5 million Chinese workers were returning home, and with COVID-19, many more are laid waste.

There is widespread discontent in China and even within the Communist Party of China(CPC) . Public anger was visible in initial times of outbreak. One civil rights activist even published an open letter asking President Xi Jinping to resign.

Xi Jinping has no answer to this fact of Economic Boycott and downturn, and now expects to shift Chinese citizen’s focus towards ultra Han nationalism, by invoking threat from India.

 

Viewpoint

In 2018, with backdrop of Dhoklam, shown as a Chinese nationalist assertiveness in region, Xi Jinping got elected as President again, now for life.

Similar is the turn of events here, wherein China has its back against the wall.

China Great Again tagline of Xi Jinping has been severely dented, with inability to influence Taiwanese elections and forceful integration into mainland China. The Taiwanese government is in place, and militarily US and allies are in the region for any arm twisting tactics that Chinese may employ, for an amphibious assault on the Island. South China Seas are also being now opened and kept free of interference, by the alliance of US-led Indo Pacific.

Economically China has been stonewalled, and situation shall get worse, as thousands of countries pack their bags out of China. Global supply chain, which was dependent on China, has been exposed to be having deep fissures, especially with the Dirty Play history of CPC.

China cannot be trusted, and world order is going to see a panoramic shift  with the supply chain shifting to South East Asia and the Indian Sub Continent. This Xi is aware and needs to consolidate his existence in China.

Chinese consolidation of Hong Kong is already in the UN for discussion, and it is unlikely that China can get away with it in any near future. Combine it with the reparations(Article of April 23) that world order is demanding of China, Xi has a serious situation at hand.

What better way out, than to create a charade along the LAC. That is the safest place, where Xi Jinping can create news, deliver fake news to its domestic audience about a great Chinese Victory(Chinese media is deeply state controlled), and consolidate the rapidly shifting ground below his feet.

30 May 20/Saturday                                                                                  Written By: Fayaz

U.S. Is Now More Clear In Support For India On China Border Issues, Says Researcher

I think each country in China’s periphery is trying to strike a very delicate balancing act, trying to reap all the benefits of continued engagement with China while taking measures to protect their sovereignty and independence, says Jeff Smith

Amid heightened tensions on the India-China border, top U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asia Alice Wells on May 20 hit out at China, saying the tensions reminded the world of the “threat” posed by Beijing. China slammed the remarks as “nonsense”.

Jeff Smith, Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation in Washington and author of ‘Cold Peace: China-India Rivalry in the Twenty-First Century’, says her comments are significant with the U.S. in the past not always forthcoming about expressing support on the boundary issue. The U.S., he says, wants to ensure it is in a position to facilitate stronger security ties with countries in the region concerned about China’s rise.

At the same time, Washington has developed an understanding of India’s complex relationship with China. The Trump administration, notwithstanding the rising U.S.-China rivalry, is unlikely to push India to assume positions on China that Delhi is uncomfortable with. Excerpts from an interview.

Have you been surprised by the latest tensions on the border? How unusual is it to have flare-ups at four different locations?

Yes, I found the flare-ups surprising. As you noted, China and India relations had been on a more stable footing since the Wuhan summit in 2018. I think there was recognition after the 2017 Doklam crisis that both sides wanted to move away from the brink, and away from a period of elevated tensions. While there was no resolution of their underlying disputes, there was some desire in both capitals to move the relationship back toward a more stable, cooperative framework. Over the last two years or so, they were mostly successful. And with China under some level of duress, both from actions initiated by the Trump administration, but also greater international scrutiny over the COVID-19 pandemic, it did not appear to be an opportune time for China to start making trouble on its land borders with India.

Before this month, the LAC (Line of Actual Control) appeared to be relatively quiet, though we now know that recorded Chinese incursions across the LAC surged in 2019 to over 600, the highest total I’ve ever seen. But yes, the events of this month did come as a surprise to me.

Alice Wells, the outgoing top U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asia, said on May 20 that the border incidents served a reminder that it wasn’t just about China’s rhetoric, and the border reflected a pattern of behaviour we also see in the South China Sea. Do you think both are linked in some way?

Ambassador Wells made a series of fairly robust assertions in her remarks, including underscoring U.S. recognition of the McMahon Line and Indian sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh. These are in fact long-standing positions of the U.S. government, but positions it has not always been forthcoming about. In 2012, I recall asking State Department officials, when was the last time the U.S. government reiterated support for the McMahon line and Indian sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh? They replied they couldn’t find any comments on the matter in a search of archives stretching back to 2000.

I recall writing about this in September 2012, and in December 2012 then U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell publicly reiterated U.S. recognition of the McMahon Line. There have been a few more public comments on it since then but having Ambassador Wells reiterate the position during a time of crisis is noteworthy. I think you’re right to point out the linking of Chinese actions at the border with its challenges to the rules based order and its actions in the South China Sea was relatively new. I’m a little hesitant to draw connections among the different fronts, because I do think they have their own logic and China calibrates each policy individually. But I think her broader point which does hold true is that in an era countries aren’t launching wars to seize territory any more, or using force to exact revenge for perceived historical grievances, there’s one country that’s been continuously disruptive on territorial questions, that’s continuously pushing the boundaries, using grey zone coercion tactics along multiple fronts and creating instability, whether it’s in the South China Sea or the LAC. In some ways, it doesn’t matter whether they’re linked. What matters is that China is generating friction with multiple neighbours with its assertive behaviour along territorial fault lines. And that’s just another reminder to the world that China’s rise has really assumed a different trajectory since 2008.

Do you expect to see a different approach from the U.S. towards the region going forward as concerns about China continue to rise?

I think each country in China’s periphery is trying to strike a very delicate balancing act, trying to reap all the benefits of continued engagement with China while taking measures to protect their sovereignty and independence. For each country, it’s a different equation. A different mix of threat perceptions, different levels of economic engagement with China, different levels of Chinese influence over their domestic politics. There are also different levels of determination not to allow China a veto over their foreign policy. So we have seen some traditional internal and external balancing behaviour among China’s neighbours, weaker among ASEAN than we have seen among the Quad [the U.S.-India-Japan-Australia grouping]. I think the U.S. government wants to ensure that we’re in a position to facilitate stronger security ties with any of these countries that are interested. I think that, frankly, we’ve done a good job in the last few years with the Quad, with not only reviving it, but with upgrading it to the ministerial level and adding new aspects to the quad like counter-terrorism exercises. The Quad countries are also involved in some COVID-19 pandemic response coordination as well, with regular calls among officials from the Quad and those from South Korea, Vietnam, and New Zealand, though it’s not formally a Quad initiative.

Stepping back, there hasn’t been a wave of regional balancing activity the way some realist theorists might have predicted, in part because China has done a very effective job winning over elites in neighbouring capitals, and convincing them of the economic benefits of engagement with China. That’s true even in cases like the Philippines where you have a population and national security establishment incredibly wary of moving closer to China. But you have a group of elites that have been essentially captured. Being able to directly funnel financial incentives to political leaders and their patronage networks in autocracies and flawed democracies can take you a long way in some parts of the world. So we do see some rising concerns about Chinese behaviour and some movement toward the U.S., but within the context of this constant balancing act which, particularly in Southeast Asia, may leave some of these countries vulnerable.

One concern you hear in many countries asking as they navigate this balancing act is that with the Trump administration, is this a Washington they can count on?

Well, I think there’s a very broad consensus among the national security community, both Republican and Democrat, that the Indo-Pacific is, in many ways, the most important theatre for U.S. foreign policy, and certainly the most important theatre of competition with China. When you review the Trump administration’s key national security and strategy documents, they paint a pretty clear picture that the U.S. priority is and will remain the Indo-Pacific. I understand why, at times, the President’s rhetoric can create some doubts and uncertainty in the region. But when you look at the broader sweep of U.S. foreign policy, the machinery of the State, Congress, the military, the national security community, and many of the Trump administration’s senior most officials and Cabinet officials, I think they’ve all been very clear and uniform in underscoring America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific, that it’s going to be enduring, that it’s going to grow, and that the U.S. isn’t going anywhere. I think that’s a very safe bet.

What do you think is driving the deepening security cooperation we are seeing between India and the U.S.? Is China one of the factors?

The amount of progress the Modi and Trump administrations have made over the last three years or so, in many cases outside of the headlines, is remarkable. If you just look at the revival and upgrading of the Quad, the establishment of a 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministers Dialogue, the signing of COMCASA [Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement], the likely signing of the BECA [Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement] this year, the stationing of Indian officer at CENTCOM [Central Command], our first tri-service military exercise. We had a joint sail through the South China Sea that was joined by Japan and the Philippines.

The Trump administration revised U.S. export control laws to put India in a privileged category with NATO and key non-NATO allies.

If I had a wish list of items to strengthen the U.S. India strategic partnership before the Trump administration, I’d say they’ve already accomplished 90% of them. And not always to great fanfare. But these are the building blocks of a 21st-century strategic partnership that will endure beyond the Trump and Modi administrations. So I give both governments a lot of credit for making substantive progress even as they were navigating trade friction that that seemed to dominate the headlines.

Of course, the fact that they were unable to reach an even modest trade deal was newsworthy and disappointing. But even as they struggled with trade negotiations there was progress being made on the defence side. I would say that is in part a credit to some veterans in the Trump administration like Ambassador Alice Wells, like Lisa Curtis at the National Security Council, as well as a new willingness in the Modi government to pursue alignment with the U.S. in ways that previous governments proved reluctant to do. I think the impetus to move closer to the U.S. has grown stronger. And some of the historical baggage and philosophical reservations that prevented previous Indian governments from taking some of these concrete steps, I think the Modi government has in some ways moved past those limitations. It has carved out more space to do cooperative things with the U.S. within a framework that still emphasises strategic autonomy.

While there are shared concerns about China, there have been divergences about how to deal with China. In the past, U.S. administrations have been sensitive to India’s own consideration vis-à-vis its relationship with China. Has that changed with the Trump administration? Is it pushing countries to choose?

I don’t think that has changed. It’s been 15 years since the civil nuclear deal was announced. In that time I think Washington has developed an understanding of India’s unique disposition, its sensitivities, and its complex relationship with China. The policy community in Washington isn’t under any illusions about what India will or won’t do vis-a-vis China. And if you look at the record, to my knowledge the Trump administration has not really pushed for India to assume any positions on China it is uncomfortable with. It’s certainly been encouraged when India has supported things like upgrading the Quad or engaging in a joint sail through the South China Sea.

Where there has been some friction it has been over sanctions related to Iran and Russia. On China, the Trump administration hasn’t made any attempt to force India to choose. In fact, it’s come closer to India’s position on things like the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Belt and Road Initiative. It has been vocal with India about its concerns related to Huawei, but that’s been the case with all of America’s partners and India had its own concerns about Huawei that predate the discussion now underway in the U.S.

We are headed into an election year. Is the U.S. approach to China here to stay regardless of the outcome?

I believe so. I think you can trace this shift back to the end of the President Obama’s second term. With the President and the centre-left national security establishment, there was a sense that they had tried their best at engagement with China, and it was producing declining returns. Of course, this also paralleled a change in Chinese foreign policy and came at a time China’s behaviour was growing substantially more assertive. That eventually catalysed a rethinking on both sides of the aisle about U.S. policy toward China. It prompted more scrutiny of the engagement strategy that guided policy for decades and more scepticism of its benefits and wisdom.

We’re still fighting over the details, but it led to a general consensus that it will require a more competitive relationship with China to defend America’s interests and those of its allies and partners. For a long time I think China was given a free pass with the promise of expected future benefits, including economic and political liberalisation. Those days are over.

I think that bipartisan consensus has not only held but sharpened over the past few years. There are certainly parts of the Democratic establishment that are uncomfortable with some of the things the Trump administration is doing with China. To be honest, many Republicans, including the Heritage Foundation, are uncomfortable with the tariffs and aspects of the trade war.

So it’s very likely we see candidate Biden trying to create some space between himself and President Trump on China. We’ve already seen attack ads from both sides on the China question. But I think it’s unlikely that a Biden administration would depart from the more competitive posture the U.S. has now assumed. Even where they have criticised President Trump the Biden team hasn’t complained that it’s been too tough on China. Or that it was wrong to increase Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea, or block Huawei from US 5G networks, or revive the Quad, or stake out a position in opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative, or crackdown on Chinese espionage efforts in the U.S. These policies have support on both sides of the aisle. The Democratic grassroots has been complaining for years about China and its unfair trade, investment, and labour practices. Left-wing human rights groups are rightly appalled at what’s happened in Xinjiang and Tibet. So I struggle to envision a scenario in which a future Democratic or Republican administration swings back hard toward an engagement strategy that assumes China will become a more open country and more responsible stakeholder.

The competition is here to stay and is likely to intensify. The contours of that competition and points of emphasis might change under different administrations but there is clearly a change underway that I think will be lasting and will endure, regardless of who is in the White House.

25 May 20/Monday                                                                                                 Source: thehindu

 

Us – China trade war: impact on India

The two economy giants of the world, the US and China locked horns sparking the major trade war between the two nations.  Any settlement appears a distant dream; as a matter of fact, it has been intensifying with every passing day and recently on August 1, 2019, US announced fresh tariffs of 10% on $300 billion on imports from China, to be implemented from September 1, 2019.

Why US-China trade war started

It was during US presidential election campaign in 2016, Trump had drawn attention of US populace to the issue of lob sided US trade policy with China and pledged to redress ‘unfair trade deals’ of the past. Trump’s widespread strategy to “put America first,” protecting US jobs and stop “unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China.” US also blamed China of taking advantage of the WTO enabled global trade framework to its advantage through currency manipulation, violations of US sanctions on third countries and veiled subsidies. Accordingly, on July 6, 2018, US levied 25% tariff on $34 billion on Chinese goods and China instantly responded with tariffs on a similar amount of US goods. Subsequently, on August 23, 2018 both sides increased tariff on additional goods worth $16 billion. However, the main threat came with US declaration of the $200 billion tariff imposition on China’s export in the latter part of June same year while China was more cautious in imposing the tariff at same rate but  only on $60 billion.  The US goods trade deficit with China was $419.2 billion in 2018 as against $375 billion in 2017 and the gap has continued to widen.

After effects

The full-fledged trade war between the two largest economies of the world will have major consequences and outcome may not be easy to control in an integrated global economy thereby destroying the trade agreements under WTO and rendering the organisation redundant. The trade war could weaken investment, depress spending, disturb financial markets and slow the global economy. It could also snowball in other countries raising protectionist barriers. To offset the US impact ,the Chinese  have  been  clever  in  targeting  products  such  as  soybean  that  hit  Americans  most as it  buys about 60 percent of their soybean exports from the US. Further, a study on tariff on steel exports shows that 16 US jobs will be lost for every steel or aluminium producing job gained, totaling over 400,000 net lost jobs. The Chinese could also influence consumers to boycott US goods on similar lines as that of an incidence in 2012, where Chinese boycotted Japanese cars and stores because of a territorial dispute, badly affecting the sales of Japanese goods.  Increase in interest rates in the US will adversely impact emerging economies such as India, both for the equity and debt markets.

View Point

The Bank’s Economics Prospects Report had forecasted that the Indian economy likely to grow at the rate of 7.5% during next two fiscal years and is fastest growing major economy. However, increasing tension between the US and China, and the implementation of tariffs will impact Indian economy more adversely in the long run. The biggest impact could be on the rupee which hovering around 68 against the US dollar and may touch anything between 72-80 per $. The higher oil prices will further widen the India’s current account deficit adversely affecting economic stability. However, India has opportunity as well, may be in the short to midterm where it could reduce the trade deficit with China which stand at $57.4 billion in 2018. China imports approximately 36,148,312 tons soybean form US in 2017, which has almost dropped to zero, presenting huge opportunity to India. India may also exploits the other areas in exporting garments, textiles, gems and jewellery.

More than the US – China trade imbalance of $419.2 billion, the US is more concerned with the Made in China (MIC) 2025 programme of China, which could challenge the US supremacy in the high technology domain. The US would wish China to forgo its  MIC 2025 whereas  China considers  it  a   normal  strategy which  has  been  followed  by  countries  like  Japan  and  South  Korea  and  even  by  the  US  during the  early  years  of  its development. 

16 Aug 19/Friday                                                                                Written by Fayaz

THE U.S. OR CHINA? EUROPE NEEDS TO PICK A SIDE

Amid ten consecutive weeks of protest in Hong Kong, Beijing is looking to a seemingly unlikely place for support: Europe. In recent days, Chinese ambassadors across the continent have gone on the offensive to rally Europe behind Hong Kong’s government and against the protestors. As part of their campaign to promote Beijing’s line, China’s ambassadors are publishing op-eds in local papers and publicly criticizing European leaders for failing to denounce what they are trying to frame as violent protests. The audacity of China’s efforts suggests that in Beijing’s eyes, Europe is up for grabs.

There’s a reason China thinks Europe might be persuaded. As China attempts to spread its authoritarian values across the globe, and especially as the competition between China and the United States intensifies, Europe has conspicuously avoided siding with the United States over China. European leaders remain convinced they can uphold the values and norms they share with Washington while benefitting economically from greater engagement with China. This stance is short-sighted and dangerous—putting liberal democracy in peril.

China is a close and important partner for Europe; the two sides trade roughly 1 billion Euros worth per day, and Chinese foreign direct investment in the EU totaled 29.1 and 17.3 billion Euros in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The economic opportunity that China presents—especially for countries that have lagged economically behind Western Europe—creates strong incentives to sit on the fence. Countries in Southern and Eastern Europe in particular benefit from China’s Belt and Road investment and are keen to avoid losing it.

At the EU-level, leaders have been unable to chart a clear course for dealing with China. Yes, some countries like Germany and France have driven progress on this front—the EU referred to Beijing as a “systemic rival” earlier this year, and the European Commission introduced a new framework to facilitate closer scrutiny of Chinese investments in Europe. But while EU-level joint statements and guidelines are welcome developments, implementation of the guidelines is left up to EU member states, who have different strategies to deal with China. As we have already seen, for example, some European leaders are willing to criticize China’s business practices and human rights record, while others have remained silent. This lack of cohesion prevents Europe from effectively countering the challenges that China’s rise creates or from clearly aligning with the Unites States in the ways that will be required to defend shared values.

Europe’s lack of a unified, strong approach largely stems from an absence of a European-wide consensus about the threat that China poses. Unlike Russia, which illegally annexed territory in Ukraine and regularly interferes in Europe’s democracies, China has pursued a more subtle approach to Europe. Moreover, while Russia looms large to Europe’s north, China is more distant and does not pose the same direct military threat. China’s tactics have so far obscured (or made it easier to overlook) the fact that, like Moscow, Beijing views liberal democracy as a threat to its success and stability and believes that by weakening democracy it can accelerate the decline of Western influence.

The United States has done little to help move Europe off the fence. Instead, the Trump administration has actively pushed the continent away. Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal, imposing steel and aluminum tariffs, and antagonizing some of its closest allies, including by referring to the European Union a foe, have made the United States seem like a less attractive partner than it used to be. While Washington has been antagonistic, Beijing has been careful to strike all the right chords. The CCP talks about harmonizing civilizations, invokes “values” when discussing European and Chinese commonalities, and extols the values of multilateralism. Because China and Europe increasingly find themselves on the same side of conflicts with Washington, this administration has made it easy for Beijing to present itself as the reliable and responsible global player.

Europe’s reluctance to side with the United States puts liberal democracy in danger. The closer Europe gets to China, the less opposition China will face in its efforts to re-shape norms—on issues like data and privacy, Internet freedom, AI and governance. To uphold their shared values, both the United States and Europe need to collectively push back against China’s unfair trade and investment practices, its blatant human rights abuses, and the anti-democratic norms and practices it seeks to spread. A Europe that refuses to pick sides is exactly what Beijing seeks to achieve. Beijing understood long ago that its rising economic influence would lead other countries to balance against it. In an effort to dilute Western opposition to its national interests, China has taken steps to interrupt Europe’s alignment with the United States.

Choosing the United States does not mean that Europe should forfeit all trade and economic relations with China. But as Europe advances its economic relationships with China, it must be clear-eyed about the risks that accompany those ties. Beijing expects that its economic influence will translate into lasting diplomatic leverage in Europe. It will use its investment to secure support for—or at least prevent the EU from taking a unified position against—human rights issues like Tibet, the mass detention of Uighurs in “re-education” camps in Xinjiang, and on geopolitical issues like Taiwan and the militarization of the South China Sea.

China is already using its economic relationships to pressure Europe to acquiesce to its efforts to neuter democracy and human rights protections. For example, in 2017, Greece blocked an EU statement at the UN criticizing China’s human rights record. This was almost certainly because of China’s growing economic investment in the country. As long as Europe continues to sit on the fence, actions like these will only continue.

What would it look like for Europe to get off the fence? 5G is at the forefront of the debate. Europe should follow Japan, Australia and New Zealand’s example and ban high-risk vendors like Huawei from building its 5G infrastructure. Allowing China—which has a history of intellectual property theft, cyber espionage and the absence of an independent judiciary that allows the CCP to leverage Chinese companies for political gain—to play a foundational role in Europe’s 5G future would aid in Chinese espionage, jeopardize U.S.-European intelligence sharing and present novel threats of disruption or exploitation. Yet despite the risks, Huawei continues to expand its foothold in Europe’s 5G landscape. Countries including the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are allowing use of Huawei equipment on non-core parts of their networks.

Europe could also work with the United States to develop a joint response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which serves as a conduit for China’s influence and tactics. Here Europe and the United States could develop common transparency, environmental and social standards, and pool their financial resources to jointly invest in those countries where their interests are most at stake. Similarly, Europe could work with Washington to better insulate supply chains against Chinese influence. Finally, Europe and the United States could develop a set of common rules for data privacy and artificial intelligence and vocally criticize China for its blatant human rights abuses. Progress on any of these fronts would be welcome. But at the heart of the matter, Europe must clearly communicate to Beijing that it will unequivocally side with America to uphold democratic norms and standards.

For certain, there has been a shift in European views on China. Europeans are more aware and concerned by the challenges that China poses and have taken real steps to push back against it. But the message coming from Europe continues to convey an aversion to choosing between the United States and China. Europe must realize where its long-term interests lie, and not let this administration or the allure of economic gains prevent the right choice. The health of liberal democracy will depend on it.

13 Aug 19/Tuesday                Source: politico.com

CHINA INDIA STAND OFF - US HINTS AT OBOR (CPEC) AS THE ROOT CAUSE FOR INCREASED TENSIONS BETWEEN THE TWO GIANTS

Speaking against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), United States Defence Secretary James Mattis termed the project as controversial.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a part of One Belt One Road project passes through ‘disputed territory’. He clarified that US openly opposes this project. This changed US Stand has sent shivers in Pakistan. The statement has been widely covered by Pak Media, which interprets this development as another US pressure tactics on Pakistan to tow its line.

China out rightly rejected the statement by claiming UN support for its controversial One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.

"We have repeatedly reiterated that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an economic cooperation initiative that is not directed against third parties and has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes and does not affect China's principled stance on the Kashmir issue".

However the ground realities are totally different.

India’s refusal to attend the 'Belt and Road Forum', organised by China in May, was the first open show of dissent by India on OBOR.  As the sequence of events unfolded, it was clear that the Indian move has not gone down well with China. The differences climaxed with Doklam, which has made the world look deeper into the geo-strategic space in Asia. The rising tensions between the two Asian powers does not speak well for the world’s falling economic growth. Major economies of the world wants both China and India to sustain their growth. The world has now realised that a stable Asia is vital to its interests and the recent statement by the Defence Secretary is an indication towards that.

The future course of action towards which, this statement hints at is that; China must address Indian concerns on POK portion of the CPEC, if it is really interested in the economic development of the region. What is veiled in this message is that Chines hegemony in garb of economic development of the region will not be accepted by the US. It is up to China to understand and address the issue.

US BACKS INDIA ON 'ONE BELT ONE ROAD', SAYS IT CROSSES 'DISPUTED TERRITORY'

The Trump administration has informed Congress that it too believes the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) passes through a disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. “The One Belt, One Road also goes through disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” US Defense Sec­retary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Secretary Mattis said the US oppo­sed the One Belt, One Road policy in principle because in a globalised world, there were many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating One Belt, One Road.

Viewpoint

US support for India’s opposition to the Chinese project was first reflected in the joint statement issued by the two countries after PM Narendra Modi met with President Donald Trump earlier in June. India is the only South-Asian country not to be involved in China's ambitious project to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a maze of roads and waterways. The main reason behind India’s opposition towards the policy is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a part of OBOR and has projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The new US position on CPEC will further strain already tense relations between the US and Pakistan. The One Belt One Road strategy seeks to secure China's control over both the continental and the maritime interest, in their eventual hope of dominating Eurasia and exploiting natural resources there things that are certainly at odds with US policy.