By Patial RC*
Can China leapfrog its way into the future? There is no doubt that the Chinese Dragon “Can and Will” if the world does not come together to blunt this smooth and swift leapfrogging.Leapfrogging, also known as island hopping, was a military strategy employed by the Allies in the Pacific War against Japan during World War II. The key idea was to bypass heavily fortified enemy islands instead of trying to capture every island to reach the final objective.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has tasked the new People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) with pursuing “leapfrog development” and advancing military innovation.Cyber warfare would also allow China to leapfrog by means of technology transfer and exploiting adversary weaknesses. President Xi is forcefully pursuing his pet proposal of ‘One Belt and One Road’ Initiative (BRI).
President Xi Jinping’s Leapfrogging would allow China to reach its global destinations with speed and not expend time, manpower, and resources enroute. American statesman John Adams, who served as president from 1797 to 1801; “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country: One is by the sword; the other is by debt.” In this game China is leapfrogging to conquer countries more by debt trap and is turning out to become a Global Bully.This Global problem requires a joint Global solution of like-minded nations to counter China’s expansion.
China has been the biggest impediment to India gaining membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the UNSC in spite of the fact that Nehru deemed it wise to get the PRC at the UN . The other four permanent members, the US, the UK, France and Russia have expressed backing for New Delhi’s membership.
Globalization has not only resulted in greater world economic integration and interdependence, but also in the rise of China’s new economic power and the fast growing economic influence in Asia, Central Asian Republics, Europe, Africa and South America.
New Year 2022 was welcomed between Indian and Chinese troops by exchange of sweets. But why this mirage of bonhomie from the Indian side when the PLA is relentlessly building infrastructure near the LAC and the Chinese are constructing a bridge on the Pangong Tso lake on illegally occupied Indian territory to help deploy troops for their future aggressive designs.In an another effort of provocative posturing, China recently renamed the Sela pass, eight villages and towns, four mountains and two rivers in Arunachal Pradesh what they like to call South Tibet.
Australia is also suffering from China’s trade coercion. China’s purpose in using such tactics is to send a message to other countries about standing up to China’s aggression: “if you oppose Beijing, you will suffer, and no one can or will help you”. Australia will not be the last to suffer at China’s hand, unless other countries come together to form counter- coalition groups that can act together to provide mutual support.
Immediate Actions to counter Chinese hegemony :
- Firstly each Chinese coerced country has to fight its own battle and have a plan to counter in its best interest.
- India and the US need to bring together those countries who have suffered China’s trade or other coercion and are likely to be vulnerable to such coercion in future.
- India should derecognize Tibet as part of China which Nehru recognized in 1954. Earlier Indian politicians have been scared or hesitant to do so.
- Recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.Chinese Communist Party leaders have vowed to annex Taiwan for years and are building up the People’s Liberation Army to achieve that goal and continue with threatening force posturing.The US need to keep its commitment to side Taiwan in a standoff evantuality.
- India should insist that the present Dalai Lama be allowed to follow the traditional method of identifying the next Dalai Lama to be his successor.Tibetan Buddhists believe that the next Dalai Lama will be reincarnated and identified by a council of senior disciples. The Chinese government insists it has the right to anoint his successor.China’s attempts should be strongly countered by India and the world.
- The Muslim nations should be convinced to recognize Uyghurs East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE) in Washington, of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tatars and others. ‘Xinjiang’ is a Chinese colonial term which literally translates to ‘the new territory.’
It is evident that rather than seeking to resolve differences across its neighbourhood in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, China seeks to impose its will on others, with whom it shares land and maritime borders. China, however, wishes to enforce its rules when it comes to its territorial claims.
The Quads have emerged as a force to resist Chinese maritime and economic aggression. Quad members Japan, Australia, and India, democratic nations with capable militaries that are clearly interested in arresting Chinese hegemony.Quad is not a security alliance as of now, but it can develop into a Security alliance of some kind in the foreseeable future. Or Quad may enlarge itself to include many more nations and still not be a Security alliance – only time will tell and how China reacts to these developments.
A new ‘Middle Eastern Quad’ (US, Israel, UAE, and India) or Quad 2 has also been established.Economic and strategic competition between the US and China is forcing Gulf nations to choose between the two. UAE’s top trading partners are China, India, Japan, the US and Saudi Arabia.Despite the tough talk to counter China, its trade with the US and India is increasing at a fast pace. Indian trade has grown by almost 50 per cent during the year 2021. Wonder how far each Quad member will go to reduce the economic trade interdependency on China, which is very large for all.
The US also announced a new trilateral defence partnership with Australia and the UK (AUKUS).It is a new three-way strategic defence alliance between Australia, the UK and US. This will also work together in the Indo-Pacific region to counter the increasing threat of China.
India-France-Japan trilateral as a security framework in the Indo-Pacific is in a serious stage of being formed up. This will also strengthen the recently floated AUKUS, which claims to provide security platform in the South China Sea.
The US and the security establishments are all looking to block China’s military thrusts in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region. All the above groupings are a step in that direction. The US has to protect the security interests of its allies in the region, resolve the trade wars and most importantly not let its superpower status be eroded by China.
Not all Chinese leapfrogging attempts will be successful if the like minded thinking nation partners are willing to take risks and put their act together. One thing is certain: Nations have to be bold and come together as investing members to create a conducive environment to blunt the Chinese hegemonist aggressive designs across the world.
*Patial RC is a retired Infantry officer of the Indian Army. Possess unique experience of serving in active CI Ops across the country and in Sri Lanka. Regular writer on matters military in professional journals. The veteran is a keen mountaineer and a trekker.