Beijing’s assertions of power beyond China’s borders have begun to evoke responses that ought to deter it from going too far
Just a few days before Xi was talking about not being a bully, his country’s coast guard was blocking boats carrying supplies to the Philippines’ military stationed in the disputed Spratly Islands, and was even firing water cannons at these vessels.Such soft balancing against China by some of its closest partners in the region may not really have any substantive impact on the ground. Beijing continues with its aggression in the South China Sea. It has been asserting its claims in contested waters increasingly through the use of grey-zone tactics for which others are yet to find an adequate response. The use of militia fleets to push its claims in disputed territories grants Beijing the benefit of plausible deniability, even as ASEAN member states find it hard to present a united front against such brazen attempts at territory grabbing. Just a few days before Xi was talking about not being a bully, his country’s coast guard was blocking boats carrying supplies to the Philippines’ military stationed in the disputed Spratly Islands, and was even firing water cannons at these vessels. While the Philippines raised this issue at the summit, other nations were content with generalities. This grey-zone warfare of China has also been on full display when it comes to Taiwan, where there have been repeated incursions by China’s air force in the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, or ADIZ, close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands. It is clearly an attempt to test Taiwan’s defences as well as red-lines of the US, and Beijing appears willing to play this dangerous game of escalation, raising tensions across the Taiwan Strait, to challenge Washington’s credibility as a reliable security partner in the region. With the covid pandemic showing no signs of abating anytime soon, China’s role in the original outbreak of Sars-CoV-2 infections is still a major topic of debate. Taking aim at China’s initial response, the US has been quick to praise South Africa for quickly identifying a new strain of the virus called Omicron and sharing this information with the world. The US State Department said: “Secretary
Taking aim at China’s initial response, the US has been quick to praise South Africa for quickly identifying a new strain of the virus called Omicron and sharing this information with the world.Xi Jinping is morphing into Emperor Xi at home. His third five-year term was formalized by a landmark resolution of the Communist Party of China earlier this month that places him alongside Mao Zedong and Karl Marx in the pantheon of socialist greats. With all this power, Xi has managed to marginalize his opponents within the country. But abroad, his power is yet to find any obvious purpose. If the purpose of Chinese power is to emerge as the undisputed leader of the world, then Beijing’s actions over the past few years are beginning to produce a set of reactions from various quarters that might make it difficult for Xi to achieve his global agenda. President Xi Jinping’s agenda is slowly but surely getting unmasked and brute force may no longer be able to deliver.
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Professor Harsh V. Pant is Vice President – Studies and Foreign Policy at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. He is a Professor of International Relations ...Read More +