India-China Border confrontation will not be an isolated affair with India friendless as in 1962. It will be part of a global Cold War.
While the world is still coping with the pandemic, China has begun strife on three fronts. The Chinese president has effectively abrogated the treaty with the United Kingdom wherein China had promised to maintain a special status for Hong Kong under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle.
Xi has got the National Assembly of China to agree to his plan. How the UK reacts remains to be seen. He has also, without provocation, called for the incorporation of Taiwan back into mainland China after 71 years. Last, and not at all the least, he has hotted up the India-China Border war.
Why, and why now? The question of Why is relatively easy to answer. All three demands relate to the core programme of Chinese nationalism. Hong Kong was part of China till the British seized it.
In 1997, when the time came to give up the long lease on Hong Kong, the British realised that they were now much weaker compared to China than in the past. The UK cannot single-handedly stop Xi from taking over Hong Kong.
The Americans are, however, coming to Hong Kong’s help. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asked the US Congress to place sanctions on Hong Kong regarding travel and financial transactions with the US. If Congress agrees, Hong Kong is finished as a global financial centre.
The two moves are part of the agenda of Chinese nationalism, a desire for Akhand China as it were. But the India-China Border war, which Xi seems to have revived is also a part of the same drive.
China takes the view that when it was weak in the last two centuries, Britain took advantage, seized Chinese territory, and incorporated it in British India. China began to ask for it from independent India in Jawaharlal Nehru’s days. Nehru took the view that the territory of British India was Indian territory.
Xi is playing for high stakes for another major plank in Chinese nationalism. This is the idea that China has to regain its pole position in the world — Middle Earth — as it was till the 17th century.
This requires China to be the top economic and military power. In technology, China has already outstripped the US as the Huawei controversy shows. The US wants to fight China on that front through sanctions in cooperation with Europe.
Hence, this time the India-China confrontation will not be an isolated affair with India friendless as in 1962. It will be part of a global Cold War.