Action against China can be on the economic front and/or military front. Action on the economic front primarily means to stop all imports from China to the extent possible, writes Vinod Aggarwal for South Asia Monitor
Five months after the first reported case of COVID 19 in Wuhan city of China in December 2019, most people around the free world tend to believe that China is indeed responsible for bringing such untold misery to the whole world—more than four million Covid positive cases and over 300,000 deaths. Just because Covid 19-like previous viruses (SARS-HINI ) originated in China can China be accused of bringing misery to the world? In other words should it be forgotten as a mere accident or it should be considered as an insidious act on the part of the Communist regime of China to destabilize the world, take advantage of the situation and attempt to rule the world which it feels it is destined to do? Some related developments in the last six months and before force one to conclude that it was indeed a deliberate criminal act of omission and commission on the part of China with mala fide intentions.
These developments are :
- Massive deployment of its armed forces, particularly navy, in the South China Sea and serious efforts to do same thing in the Indian Ocean, totally ignoring legal claims of various coastal countries. These countries include Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, etc.South China Sea is an important sea-trade route and thousands and thousands of ships use it for navigation China is trying to use these international waters as its territorial waters.
- Creation of several artificial islands in the area unitarily declaring them as Chinese territory and establishing military bases thereon.
- Quick reopening of several factories within a couple of months and resumption of normal exports.
- Late reporting of the initial outbreak in China. In the meantime, thousands of Chinese nationals and others travelled from China to all over the world. Several of them could be corona positive and thus carried the deadly virus to all those countries including Italy, France, United Kingdom, and thence to the United States, India etc. One should remember that when the entire world was totally in the dark about the virus, normal international travel was on, and there was no screening or testing. These thousands who entered scores of countries mixed with local residents and passed on the virus to them. One should also remember that a corona carrier generally remains asymptomatic for the initial few weeks but is fully capable of inflicting the disease on others without even knowing it.
- Regarding the allegations – mainly by the USA — regarding unsatisfactory safety norms at the Wuhan Institute of Virology from where the virus is alleged to have been “exported” or escaped, this has been vociferously denied by China which has blamed the city's Hua'nan seafood and wildlife market - where, besides meat of several exotic and wild animals like bats, dogs, snakes, etc, even live animals are also sold as food - as the source of origin of the virus. Initially, China kept on claiming that the virus originates in bats but cannot be transmitted to human beings.
- It is a mystery that whereas the virus has reached far-off USA and western Europe, it had not reached most major Chinese cities like Bejing, Shanghai, etc. How? Is China not giving a true picture of the actual spread of the disease to other cities and the actual death toll? Or China knew about the havoc this virus can cause to human beings, which means countries? It first protected itself against widespread damage and then exported the virus to the unsuspecting world. It closed its factories in Wuhan for a short period and resumed full production and export by April 2020 whereas the rest of the world, including scientifically advanced USA, Europe, India, etc, are still struggling even in the second half of May to contain the virus. The wrong\doer gets to enjoy benefits of its own crimes and victims are left to suffer losses for a crime committed by somebody else.
- Several countries including India have complained that Covid 19 test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) supplied to them by China are defective.
Was it a deliberate attempt to delay containment of the disease in these countries when China resumed its factory production and exports and mobilized its navy and other forces to claim exclusive right over mineral-rich and popular trade route of South China Sea?
The famous Chinese debt trap
In this, China first zeros on a poor backward but strategically located (from the military point of view) or mineral-rich country, preferably with a corrupt regime. They sell a dream to them that by using Chinese loans the country can build modern cities, factories, infrastructure etc, and improving living standards of their people, long-term loans which a country is not able to repay. The loan documents specify that if a country is not able to repay as per repayment schedule, Chinese lender (read Communist government itself) will take over specified assets and at times a huge piece of land which finally become Chinese territory with their flag, but sometimes having Chinese military and police as well There are numerous examples of this in several. African counties like Ethiopia, Zambia etc and even in our neighbourhood— Gwadar port in Pakistan which has given much shorter access to Central Asia and other countries and Sri Lanka which has been forced to transfer a 99-year lease of Hambantota port.
China itself hardly gives a damn to international law, conventions etc and Chinese entities frequently approach international judicial/arbitration mechanisms to enforce their rights.
The question arises what can other countries do to tame China. Is any concerted action by several other nations - as was done by several countries including USA and Russia after World War II - feasible and at all desirable?
Action to contain China
Action against China can be on the economic front and/or military front. Action on the economic front primarily means to stop all imports from China to the extent possible. It need not be done tomorrow but can be done gradually over a period of time. But the important thing is it cannot be done by one or two countries but has to be done by most countries together. It is not the business interests of only two countries but sovereignty and freedom of the entire world threatened by one. So either all countries must stop or substantially curtail import from China or force them to sell their merchandise at a price at which they start feeling the pain. Exports constitute more than 25% of Chinese GDP – 2 trillion USD out of 9 trillion GDP,
If other countries can pool their resources, they should give loans free of interest or very low interest to debt-trapped victims in Africa and Asia. Extraordinary times do call for extraordinary solutions.
On the military front, despite Donald Trump, global leadership has to vest with the USA. Other nations, including India, Europen nations like Germany and France, Japan, etc can and must show leadership and daring to the best of their capabilities. Russia, for strategic reasons, can be an important ally but whether it will go along is another question. It should be clearly understood by all the participating countries that this anti-communist China grouping is not to advance any political ideology like capitalism or democracy or even increase their share in international trade.
It is not a grouping even against communism. The sole reason for this grouping and its aim is to contain China in its imperialistic dreams—taking over 80 to 90 % of vast mineral-rich South China Sea; 'buying' countries in lieu of unrepaid debts and establishing its sovereignty in strategic parts of these countries. It has to be concerted action on economic and military fronts on the lines of Allied action against Nazi Germany in the two World Wars.
(The writer is an Indian entrepreneur. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at email@example.com)