Explained: China’s Expansionistic Tendencies and India’s Response


After a round of high-level talks following a three-week standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which included India’s National Security Adviser, there are signs of disengagement at Galwan Patrol Point 14, Gogra and the Hot Springs area.

  • India’s response to China’s “expansionistic tendencies in 21st century” will have significant ramifications not only for India but the world.

China’s Expansionism – A Strategic Perspective

  • China’s primary strategic goal is the accumulation of ‘comprehensive national power’ defined by economic, military, technological and diplomatic global leadership.
  • China wants consolidation of its land and maritime boundaries and to ‘reunify’ and ‘reclaim’ its ‘lost’ territorial and maritime borders, which it calls its ‘core interests’.
  • China uses ‘Salami-slice’ strategy to expand their boundary which is a divide and conquer process through threats and alliances to overcome opposition.

Role of Communist Party of China (CPC) in China’s Anxiety

  • Policy of Greatest Legacy: President Xi Jinping is aiming to create for himself “the greatest legacy’’ i.e. greater than the great Mao’s which will be based on nationalistic fervour.
  • China’s Expansive Economic Model: The Chinese growth model needed to find subservient emerging markets where it can park huge debts and make investments to keep feeding the Dragon’s high growth rates.
  • Geo-strategic and Geo-economic Interest: The Belt and Road Initiative was rolled out as a meeting point for China’s geo-strategic and geo-economic interests.
  • Aggressive Tendency towards its Neighbours: China has made aggressive moves on most of its non-submissive neighbours i.e. from Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines in the South China Sea to India in the Himalayas.

India’s response to China’s Expansionistic Tendencies

  • Exercise Range of Options available to India: The response towards expansionism will require conviction and exercising a range of military, diplomatic and economic options based not just on emotions but on the cold calculus of relative strengths.
  • Strategic and Tactical Deterrence: Calling out China’s expansionism and banning Chinese apps are welcome step but it is required to have a determined leadership that secures strategic and tactical deterrence.
  • Expansion on Quadrilateral Security Dialogue: India should now propose the expansion of the Quad’s scope with a possible exploration of a collective defence architecture clause like Clause 5 of NATO, where an attack on one of the members is considered an attack on all.
  • Focus on the proposal of G7 to G11: On the economic front, India must welcome the US proposal to expand G7 to include India, Russia, Australia and South Korea without China as a member.
  • Strengthening the relations with Neighbours and Russia: Apart from strengthening ties in our neighbourhood, India must put an effort to regain the relationship with Russia.

Alternatives for India beyond Trade Barriers

  • Focus on Globalisation in Trade Policy: The New Delhi’s trade policy needs to be alive to the imperative of higher growth, which can be achieved only through more, not less, globalisation.
  • Linking of Trade Policy with Industrial Policy: The industrial policy needs to be linked with India’s trade policy so that imbalance between the two policies can be corrected.
  • India’s Coercive Diplomacy: A flurry of decisions such as banning Chinese apps, barring Chinese companies from bidding for road projects, stopping imports of power equipment, prohibiting Chinese investment in micro, small and medium enterprises, and blocking their consignments in ports, were taken by the Indian Government.

China’s Aggression Presents an Opportunity for India

  • Movement of Companies from China to India: As a result of COVID-19, number of companies considering shifting their operations out of China because of disruption in supply chain and India is one of the most favored destinations for companies moving out of China.
  • Changes in FDI Policy: In April 2020, India made changes to its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy in order to prevent opportunistic investments from bordering countries, more specifically China, and prevent the hostile takeover of Indian companies by Chinese investors.
  • Closing ties with Taiwan: On May 20, Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in as Taiwan’s president for a second term and two members from the ruling government virtually attended the swearing-in ceremony. India’s stand becomes important since it could be perceived as tacit support to Taiwan and its government.
  • Against China’s assertion in South China Sea: India has always advocated a free and open Indo-Pacific and a rules-based order but has never directly targeted China for its strategic assertions in South China Sea.

Way Forward

  • India could afford to be largely non-aligned during the 20th century Cold War, but our size and economic momentum necessitate that we play a clearer role in the Cold War’s 21st-century sequel.
  • nation’s self-respect is as non-negotiable as its territorial integrity and one cannot cede even a notional inch of national pride for while keeping the pretence of preserving sovereign power. Therefore, the time has come for India to stand-up to Chinese expansionism.
  • India of today is strong enough to stand for her interest and yet must be clever enough to find common ground with those with whom her interests align, whether to its West or East.
  • At present India has been applying a combination of building up pressure through military presence, economic policies, and diplomatic advances and India needs to keep up and build upon this pressure.
  • China’s aggression in Ladakh is an opportunity for India to clearly define its own role and participate in the security architecture of the Indo-Pacific.

Source: The Indian Express

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