China's belligerence is creating global flashpoints

As it looks both China and the US are mutually preparing to face each other into a possible confrontation due to Beijing’s persisting forcible capture over the entire South China Sea, despite losing this claim in the International Court of Arbitration just a few years back

Prof. Sudhanshu Tripathi May 30, 2020
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As it looks both China and the US are mutually preparing to face each other into a possible confrontation due to Beijing’s persisting forcible capture over the entire South China Sea, despite losing this claim in the International Court of Arbitration just a few years back. In fact, obstructing uninterrupted passage over maritime channels, as China does around the South China Sea, is in clear contravention to the international law which grants right to free passage through sea channels, outside the naval jurisdiction of a country, anywhere in the world. But China has, instead, raised its ongoing aggressive and assertive military activities around the South China Sea, far away from its own naval jurisdiction, with a view to consolidating its illegal claim over there. 

In the same vein, Beijing continues to browbeat India on the disputed international border between them as New Delhi has recently extended its claim over Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) by including the climate details thereon into its national weather-reports.

Today, while the whole world is painfully suffering the mounting corona pandemic, China is making efforts to expand its sphere of influence in the Indian Ocean and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (Pok), despite facing severe corona attack. As reported by the satellite images, Beijing has captured an area in the Indian Ocean and has also established its airstrip in the PoK. It has already encircled India through its earlier String of Pearl's scheme with active support of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other littoral countries around Indian Ocean. Similarly, China’s ambitious OBOR (One Belt, One Road) or Silk Road Grand Strategy, ostensibly for economic trade across continents, is indeed a covert scheme for increasing its clout and establishing its supremacy across continents.

Further, China’s failed attempts to intrude into India’s airspace and deliberately indulging into minor skirmishes with Indian soldiers on the international border have alarmed New Delhi and also the South Asian nations. Against this scenario, there have emerged at least two hot areas, namely South China Sea and PoK, which may possibly become future areas of confrontation respectively between China and America and also between China and India.

Chinese agenda

Carrying its aggressive-imperialist agenda forward, Beijing is consistently pursuing its missile tests and is installing nuclear tunnels under sea waters throughout Indo-Pacific, besides threatening major economic giants like Japan, Germany, and the US, as they have decided to wind up their business activities in China while searching for other destinations like India, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc., especially due to China’s dubious role in producing the coronavirus into its Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Though China has apparently agreed to face World Health Organization’s inspection into its Wuhan lab due to rising global pressure, it would permit that only after the pandemic is over. It is Beijing’s clever move to avoid international inspection because the fast-spreading virus is not going to subside in the near future and, by then, it will remove all stains against it that may corroborate its deliberate involvement in 'manufacturing' this deadly virus that it supposedly released into the world, either deliberately or accidentally.

If China released the corona virus deliberately into the environment, it evidently becomes a most serious crime against humanity which needs thorough investigation and fixing of responsibility, followed by punishment for letting-go this deadly virus to spread in all over the world, thereby infecting around 5.2 million innocent people and killing more than 334,000 among them so far. Besides these, many other adverse consequences are being suffered by humanity due to the pandemic, like a continuing long spell of lockdowns in many countries with recent minor relaxations, global economic recession, losing of jobs by millions and suffering hunger and ailments and walking on highways to return to their homes in scorching summer, in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Sanctions against China 

Given the blatant violation of international norms and international law by China with alleged involvement in producing this virus and not sharing its corona infection-cum-death details with the world, all global and major powers must unite under the joint the leadership of America, including NATO powers, Australia, South Korea, and India to seek for harshest economic sanctions to ensure crumbling down of its booming economy.

The US has to take this initiative particularly because it is indeed suffering the worst trauma despite being blessed with the latest and advanced medical facilities and eminent team of doctors but the epidemic is still much beyond its control. Indeed, the individual loss to the US is much greater than that of any of the western powers. This is why, Washington has placed its airpower including lethal B-52 bombers on alert mode, besides re-stationing the naval warship USS Roosevelt into the Asia-Pacific to ensure its presence. 

But China may not bow down against any US-led NATO power’s pressure and may resort to vigorous and violent reactions by deriving possible support from a few Islamic nations like Pakistan,  thereby making the volatile scenario very complex. This may probably result in major armed clashes between the two giant powers, which may possibly aggravate into the third World War, with fair chances of using nuclear weapons by both sides, and that may lead to an unimaginable human disaster of this century.

While China’s sovereign claim over the South China Sea stands refuted, its utter disregard and disobedience to the judgment and instead, persistence with the unlawful claim need to be collectively countered by all nations at the earliest, under auspices of General Assembly of the United Nations  under Uniting for Peace Resolution of the 1950s, framed during the then Korea War. Besides these, sincere efforts should be immediately initiated by all global and regional forums and also the saner leaders in the world to defuse the prevailing Sino-US tensions over the South China Sea and that between India and China over LAC as well, in the larger interest of peace and security in the whole world. 

(The writer is Professor of Political Science at Rajarshi Tandon Open University, Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. The views expressed are personal)

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