Putting China in its place: Towards an Indo-Pacific century

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by ejazr, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://www.firstpost.com/world/putt...towards-an-indo-pacific-century-165428.html/2

    There have been a number of events, including a few unexpectedly dexterous moves by India, in the recent past that suggest a new set of strategic imperatives may well be emerging in Asia. In sum, there has been, for the first time, a mild pushback against the rampaging Chinese. But the Chinese may yet have the last laugh, though.

    The Indian role in all this is a little surprising, but welcome nonetheless. Whether India suddenly grew a bit of a spine – after 50 years of supine “bhai-bhai” drivel – or whether Uncle Sam gave it some Dutch courage through pep-talk is not clear. Nevertheless, it is a welcome move, because of the usual Chinese modus operandi: make outrageous claims; if challenged, retreat; if not, push the claim further.

    There are two aspects to all this: one, is there anything tangible and real about the moves, or is it all smoke and mirrors? And two, the importance of marketing and branding that Indians seem blissfully ignorant about, and implications for soft power.

    The background of all this is Chinese belligerence. Despite their propaganda about an alleged “peaceful rise”, it has been rather clear that China feels Asia is its backyard, the South China Sea is its private lake, and that nobody else has any business in Asia other than at China’s pleasure. This, of course, is exactly what the Monroe Doctrine said about Latin America, so the Americans know how imperial the Chinese feel.

    The Chinese have been emboldened because of the sudden slew of problems that the “one and only hyperpower” has been facing in the recent past: the quagmires of two generally unwinnable wars, the disastrous economic consequences of the financial meltdown, and a general fin-de-siecle type angst and loss of confidence, this last being uncharacteristic of the usually gung-ho Americans. Not to mention the fact that China’s proxy Pakistan has America’s knickers in a twist.

    Naturally, China has been attempting to take advantage of America’s distractions, partly by saber-rattling in the South China Sea and by building up its blue-water navy. Hence the recent American announcement of a naval base in Darwin, Australia. Both unexpected and significant, this means that there will now be some kind of pushback to Chinese adventurism in that region. Predictably, the Chinese swore bloody murder through their propaganda organs like Xinhua, but that was about it.

    In this context, we might consider the recent spat about India’s moves to cozy up to Vietnam to drill for oil in their territorial waters. The Chinese screamed until they were blue in the face that it was Chinese waters, not Vietnam’s (of course, since China claims the entire sea, that would be tautologically true in their opinion, if not either de jure or de facto. They threatened India with unspecified ‘consequences’.

    But India’s response, for once, was not to roll over and play dead, possum-like. Amazingly – for the first time, if I am not mistaken, since Arundhati Ghose stood up to American pressure at the United Nations – India made some counter-noises, such as increasing troop strengths and the positioning of aircraft squadrons on the Indo-Tibetan border. This, to put it mildly, was a surprise, because the normal instinct for Indian mandarins is to kowtow to the Chinese.

    Of course, the Chinese had the last laugh: they announced a naval base in the Indian Ocean, in the Seychelles. But that is going to take some time to materialise, and there are some pretty good counter-moves available to India – more on that later. It is interesting to also note that there have been some setbacks to China’s ‘string of pearls’ strategy to strangulate India.

    On the one hand, the détente the Americans have begun towards the Burmese (Myanmarese, if that’s what they are called today) seems to be paying dividends. The Burmese have cancelled some deals with the Chinese, and seem eager to end their long-term isolation.

    Similarly, despite Pakistan’s entreaties, the Chinese have chosen not to take up the option of making Gwadar a naval base – which basically suggests that China is not confident of the Pakistani state’s viability and certainly not of its ability to control the restive Baluch. And China cancelled large mining projects there, too.

    More recently, there has been a trilateral India-Japan-US conclave in Tokyo. This is being compared to the trilateral Australia-Japan-US discussions – that has been a long-term security arrangement, of course. In some sense, what we see is India being drawn inexorably into some sort of Asian Nato – which has its positives and negatives (for instance, it is an open question whether Pakistan has in the long run benefited from its Cento and Seato partnerships with the US).

    But a reverse ‘string of pearls’ that could strangle China is the possible outcome. China’s neighbours are not exactly enamored of it – with the singular exception of North Korea, everyone else, say, Vietnam, Russia, Japan, India, Thailand, the Philippines, etc. are all suspicious of Chinese malafides and aware that their strategic intent is imperial and intended to capture resources, such as in the oil-rich offshore areas of the South China Sea.

    Imagine: that long-articulated objective of China-watchers – a cordon sanitaire at least on the security front, if not on the economic front, may well be getting built under the leadership of the US. This could contain the Chinese.

    India should probably explore some interesting possibilities of its own. I have long advocated the idea that India should enter into a strong alliance with the Vietnamese, the Taiwanese, the Japanese, and others threatened by the Chinese. Just as China has quite happily proliferated weapons (including nuclear weapons) to its dubious allies such as the Pakistanis, India should also consider increasing its security footprint.

    For instance, since India and Vietnam are on good terms, why not seek the use of the old American naval base at Cam Ranh Bay? That would be a fitting riposte to China’s Seychelles gambit, and Cam Ranh Bay, unless I am mistaken, still has a good bit of the infrastructure put in by the Americans.

    There are other old American bases that may be available, such as Subic Bay and Clark Air Force base in the Philippines. India should get its act together about its blue-water navy, which is able to project some force in far-away waters. But China’s ambitious naval plans as well as India’s own delays in building up aircraft-carrier groups – remember the problems with Admiral Gorshkov – are eating into that competitive advantage.

    India, as an Indo-Pacific power, has the right and the obligation to project itself as a powerful naval force, with the ability to do some serious gunboat diplomacy.

    That brings up the other point, that of nomenclature. The Chinese have striven mightily to downgrade India’s brand and confine it to a ghetto called ‘South Asia’. India’s idiotic mandarins and media have lapped up this stupidity – stupid because it lowers India to Pakistan’s level. I have also noticed that whenever any Indian does anything good, he’s a ‘South Asian’ and if he’s a criminal, he’s ‘Indian’. But whenever a Pakistani does anything good, he’s a ‘Pakistani’. Only Pakistani criminals are ‘South Asian’.

    Why, one should ask, is China not similarly confined to an ‘East Asia’ ghetto? On the contrary, there is now the term ‘Greater China’ being pushed with great gusto. Let us remember that the term ‘Greater India’ was in wide use until roughly the 1940s, to indicate all of what is now called ‘South-east Asia’. Indeed, that was an appropriate rubric because of the tremendous historic influence India had on that region. But that term, and other useful terms like ‘Indo-China’, have disappeared.

    There are other attempts to take away India’s brand. I believe the Pakistanis have managed to destroy the term ‘Indian sub-continent’ altogether, and I am pretty sure they use the term ‘South Asian Ocean’ – their general approach is to do a global edit, substituting ‘South Asia’ for ‘India’. Once when I went to Indonesia, I saw that in their maps, it was called the ‘Indonesian Ocean!’

    Thus it is a very interesting development that the Americans have started using the term ‘Indo-Pacific’ instead of ‘Asia-Pacific’. This is related to the idea of ‘heartland’ and ‘rimland’ as articulated by geographers. But the word ‘Indo’ is being resurrected, and in this formulation, India is seen as being quite important for the new century.

    Since many Americans are not even aware that India is in Asia – they think it is in Africa or the Middle East – this, I am sure will lead to some serious puzzlement among the good folks at The New York Times and so on. I am only concerned that they will conclude that the ‘Indo’ refers to Indonesia, which is indisputably in Asia.

    Indeed, I have seen the beginnings of this already: maven Fareed Zakaria has suggested that the ‘I’ in BRICS properly belongs to Indonesia, not India. He does have a point, given the ineptitude of India’s unelected rulers, the geniuses in the NAC.

    Nevertheless, if India continues to exist – and that is not a given with the NAC in charge – it does have a chance of becoming a player in the ‘Indo-Pacific Century’, clearly a branding win for India as compared to the ‘Asian Century’.
     
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  3. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Very good article. :thumb:

    More than the points it makes about China, I am in thorough agreement with what the article says about nomenclature and the erosion of India's brand.
    This is something that everyone here should take to heart. It has long been argued on BR that Indians should consciously strive to use the term "Indian subcontinent", instead of "South Asia". I am consciously trying to stop the usage of that term "South Asia" - though even yesterday, I used the term in one of my posts on DFI. :sad: Pakistan is part of the Indian subcontinent, and we should refer to it as such.

    On a related note - after the F1 race in Noida, that Paki forum's link came up in Google search for F1 images. And guess what I see there? A Paki posts: "this is a great achievement for South Asia" :frusty:

    All of us should strongly discourage such comments and such thinking. Also, never ever do an India-Pakistan "equal-equal". That is severely detrimental to India's brand.
     
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  4. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    Nice article!!!
    our media and sone part of the ruling classes needs to read this.
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    China requires to be shown the reality of geopolitics and geostrategy.

    It is time that the fraudulent 'Peaceful Rise' of China is exposed and it be put in its place.

    The rise of the peripheral countries and their arming themselves to defend themselves from Chinese hegemonic and imperialist design is a move in the correct direction!
     
    SADAKHUSH likes this.
  6. Vishwarupa

    Vishwarupa Senior Member Senior Member

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    It should be a collective effort by Indian in Branding....we should showcase all our achievements ...... Good post....Hope our brainless politicians, Media personnel & Academicians read this.....
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    China requires to be cornered and put in its place with every possible instrument available.

    I feel the Chinese people are very cool.

    It is their CCP that wants to have an 'external enemy' to divert attention from their policies!
     
  8. Tianshan

    Tianshan Regular Member

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    haha, how will you prove that "peaceful rise" is false?

    by baiting us to go to war with you?

    if there is no war, then peaceful rise is true.
     
  9. amitkriit

    amitkriit Senior Member Senior Member

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    India will have to match China in multiple domains listed according to their priority:
    a) Internal Stability
    b) Sustainable Economy and Political Structure
    c) Economic Growth, including the growth in infra/power
    d) Education and R&D
    e) Geo-politics, which includes making our neighborhood safe for ourselves.
    f) Augmentation of our Defense Forces and indigenization of technologies

    We have been fairing well as far as points (c) and (f) are concerned, I am not sure about the other.
     
  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Peaceful Rise was a ploy to fool the world into complacency.

    China was nowhere in the reckoning when it started the so called Peaceful Rise.

    China rose with the world being at peace and fooled into a lull.

    Then China showed her hand!

    War?

    China won't dare such a thing since she is nowhere ready to take on the world!

    Neither is China to go to war with India. That is why she has got herself spooked into knots with India's legitimate defence acquisitions and beefing the border against Chinese adventurism!
     
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  11. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    There is no need to disprove something which is already stark naked and was never proven.
    It was never even properly conveyed. China has been seen as an aggressor for a long time now.
    The myth of "Peaceful rise" is limited to the CCP sponsored "bubble world".in China.

    That is the dumbest definition of peace I've ever heard.

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
  12. ice berg

    ice berg Senior Member Senior Member

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    If absence of war is not peace, then it will surely be interesting to hear your definition of peace.
    It is all about definitions.
     
  13. RedDragon

    RedDragon Regular Member

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    What a pity, you don't have the ability.
     
  14. RedDragon

    RedDragon Regular Member

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    Peaceful Rise, the important part is Rise. Peaceful or not, it is on your choice. Anyway we will rise.
     
  15. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Valid point.

    Rise is important.

    Peaceful is to disarm the world into complacency so that there is no interference or obstacles in that Rise. In fact, it is a Ruse!
     
  16. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    The irony of it all is that the real rise (resurrection) in the Pacific is the US, which has been declining steadily until China started posing its skinny body pretending to be the new Mr. Universe! :laugh:
     
  17. RedDragon

    RedDragon Regular Member

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    logical

    illogical
     
  18. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    From the Chinese point of view!
     
  19. SADAKHUSH

    SADAKHUSH Senior Member Senior Member

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    Once the other SCS countries step up the arming their respective armed forces and start circling the Islands in dispute, it would test the so called "Peaceful Rise" of China. I hope we will find out the real intentions of China in my life time. BTW your illegal occupation of Tibet in no way indicates your real Peaceful Rise intentions. India and Vietnam know it rest of the world will find out in due time just the way they have finally come to terms with Pakistan's intentions.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  20. Tianshan

    Tianshan Regular Member

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    from a dictionary:

    peace
    n.
    1. The absence of war or other hostilities.
    2. An agreement or a treaty to end hostilities.

    peace - definition of peace by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
     
  21. SADAKHUSH

    SADAKHUSH Senior Member Senior Member

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    You are giving us the meaning of peace as per dictionary, whereas we intend to judge your country by its actions of the past. You can sit on the dictionary for now to use as a booster for yourself.
     

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