It is quite interesting and equally annoying too, to note that with the ever increasing economic and military might of China, the leadership of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is becoming assertive, rather bullying, in forcing its own narratives on the world community. Be it the CCP’s claims over territories of neighbouring countries; or its claims about absolute ownership of South China Sea and East China Sea; or demands from the world to accept its own version of history of China and Asia; or dictating to the international organisations to reframe their rules and to redefine even universally accepted norms on concepts like human rights, colonialism, democracy, freedom of navigation in international seas etc. as per it’s diktats; or forcing its indebted business partner countries to sign on dotted lines of completely opaque contracts and ‘treaties’… China is becoming more assertive and demanding by each passing day. This trend has gained new acceleration since President Xi Jinping has taken over the reins of China as its ‘Paramount Leader’. So much so, that even mighty and influential power centres like the USA and European Union, who had got used to ‘accommodating’, even encouraging China to run around in the way it likes, are now feeling threatened and insecure after the rise of President Xi. They are now finding it difficult to push back Xi who is bent upon enforcing his own version of world order that claims supremacy and command of China on every issue and wants to leave no meaningful space for the Western or any other power group in world affairs. Things are far more worrying and alarming for China’s immediate neighbours like India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Afghanistan who suddenly found themselves facing China as their immediate neighbour following occupation of Tibet and East Turkestan. This paper is mainly focused on the challenges faced by these South Asian countries at the hands of China and the strategy they can adopt to meet these challenges effectively.
It is worth noting that the Chinese rulers have reached the current heights of arrogance by gradually promoting and enforcing a specific set of narratives and myths which they have systematically evolved over years to suit their needs and future goals. Unfortunately, this approach has gained roots over past decades because many governments and major international corporates saw virtue, convenience and fat profits in kowtowing to the diktats of Beijing. But now, in the changed international scenario, these very governments and business corporates are finding themselves trapped in the Chinese ‘Chakravyuh’ (a term borrowed from Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’ which refers to a military formation that leaves the enticed and encircled enemy in an inescapable situation) and find themselves at a total loss over deciding how to pull out of China’s bearhug.
All this calls for a new international consensus and resolve to evolve a united front to take the Chinese challenge head on. It may not be very simple to build up a common military alliance to handle China’s military threats but it should be an easier task to break those Chinese narratives and myths on whose strength this mighty communist empire stands today. On close examination one will find that these Chinese narratives and myths are nothing more than the proverbial feet of clay and can be countered effectively. To demolish these narratives decisively one will have to understand basic facts around these Chinese claims and narratives.
Chinese Narrative and South Asia
The scope of present analysis has been kept limited to China’s aggressive and threatening postures towards India and the rest of South Asia. Since most of the prevailing Chinese narratives and myths, which are handled in this paper, are common to most other countries in the context of their relations and problems with China, it should be easy for other experts to extend this study to their own countries by bringing in those additional Chinese narratives which are specific to those countries.
Before we take up these narratives and myths of China, it would be useful to understand that the world’s troubles with China are neither a sudden phenomenon nor exclusively because of the emergence of President Xi Jinping as the ‘Paramount Leader’ of present-day China. The evolution of present-day aggressive China started since the historic establishment of a free and independent Republic of China in 1912. Since then, the common aim of all later rulers and leaders of PRC has been to fulfil the dream of their Han ancestors who wanted to establish China as the ‘Middle Kingdom’ of the world. On the contrary, the leaders of world governments, business leaders and China experts have been dealing with China mainly to achieve their own immediate profits and political goals. Very rarely have they understood or focused on the common aspirations and dreams of China as a nation. No wonder most of the world governments and corporate leaders of the world are finally realising that in their pursuit of making profits from China, they have been simply helping China to become the Frankenstein that it has become today.
On critical analysis one will discover that the gradual metamorphism of present-day massive ‘Peoples Republic of China’ (PRC) from a petty ‘Republic of China’ (ROC) of 1912 is not the result of an unplanned game or random and accidental historic happenings. Even during the Chinese ‘Xinhai Revolution’ of 1911 against the foreign Manchurian ‘Qing’ rule, the flags and slogans of the revolutionaries called for ‘Five Races Under One Union[i]’ which was aimed at including the Manchurians, Mongols, Hui (Muslims including the Uyghurs) and Tibetans in the new Han (Chinese) nation. In much later years, when Chairman Mao Zedong of the Chinese Communist Party announced his plans to grab Tibet and declared “Tibet is China’s palm and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and NEFA (now ‘Arunachal Pradesh’) are its fingers”, he had made China’s future plans clear not only about Tibet but also about India and the rest of South Asia. But unfortunately, the leaders of these South Asian countries and their friends failed to understand the seriousness of Mao’s plans.
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