Containing China – Dr Ramesh Kumar

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The Canadian embassy in China has issued a formal apology after some diplomats were found ordering controversial T-shirts displaying the stylized alphabet ‘W’ appeared to look like a bat and the word Wuhan, the Chinese city from where the Covid-19 pandemic started to spread all over the world.

The unwanted incident also has sparked public outrage and anger in China in the context of the recent arrest of the daughter of the head of China’s largest telecom company Huawei in Canada. China believes that during the four-year rule of former US president Donald Trump, the US was clearly adopting the policy of containing China. At the behest of the US, Taiwan took various aggressive measures in order to provoke the Beijing government.

China has repeatedly warned the US about dire consequences in response to the supply of advanced weapons, including the F-16, to Taiwan. However, the Trump Administration placed a ban on various Chinese companies, including Huawei and the mobile app TikTok, in order to promote anti-China sentiment globally. Trump also openly termed Covid-19 the ‘Chinese virus’ and indulged the international community into a blame-game.

Even after Trump’s defeat, China has still reservations about the new US administration’s continued support for Taiwan. Just after a few days of President Biden announcing the US’s foreign policy, a spokesperson of the Chinese military has warned that “We warn those ‘Taiwan independence’ elements: those who play with fire will burn themselves, and ‘Taiwan independence’ means war.” On the other hand, the US president termed the Chinese stance ‘unfortunate’.

Australian Liberal Party Senator and former army general Jim Molan has already predicted war between China and the United States over the Taiwan issue. According to him, the US economic war with China will soon escalate into a full-fledged military confrontation in the South China Sea, and Australia should start preparations to defend itself against China. Although the US and Australia do not formally recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state, there is unofficial cooperation going on with Taipei in various areas.

According to the US, construction of Chinese military bases on artificial islands in the South China Sea is a violation of international law. Japan, a close ally of the US, is also expressing grave concerns over China’s maritime activities in the region, saying the Beijing government is trying to control the disputed waters that are potentially energy-rich as well.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was peacefully annexed by China in 1997. However, the recent unrest in Hong Kong has further added to China’s diplomatic woes. Many Western countries, including the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, are openly criticizing China over a new security law. The UK government has recently offered Hong Kong residents the opportunity to become British citizens. China, though, has refused to recognize British issued special passports for Hong Kong residents as valid travel documents.

China, under the Belt & Road Initiative, is very keenly interested in constructing the Kra Canal in Thailand. The proposed canal, on the pattern of the Suez Canal in Egypt, will be able to connect the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, bypassing the Strait of Malacca. Reportedly, the US, India and Australia are also currently in talks with Thailand to construct the said canal. If this happens, it would be a big blow for China.

No doubt, this century is China’s century and in the near future, China’s leading role will become more dominant in every field. However, the various attempts to contain China are a real threat to world peace and regional stability. Pakistan, in such a critical situation, must be very careful on the diplomatic front and safeguard its national interests.