By Pradip Baijal
In his recent book, “Has China Won” published in March 2020, and in the many earlier books, Kishore Mahbubani has stated “US has blundered into geopolitical contest with China”. Many other authors like Martin Jacques and Freidman also talk of the situation of Chinese domination, but the future is dependent on their performance.
I have raised these questions in my latest book, “Containing the China Onslaught”, and the new world has to be evaluated keeping the numerous confrontations/attacks China faces from the US, the world and even itself (democratic forces, Uighurs, Hong Kong and many other regions and leaders like Deng’s invalid son, a casualty of red guards back in 1975). China is not the inevitable winner, any longer.
The last round till around 2015 was convincingly won by China by manipulating the US in its favor. The war this time can be won by all opposing democracies, if they are able to partner with the US.
Let us first look at US power China is challenging.
The reality of American power is complicated, and always carefully built behind facades. I will only cite a few instances.
— The major source of US financial power comes from the major reserve currency status of dollar, which had led to John Connally, former US Secretary of the Treasury, telling European finance ministers that, “Dollar is our currency but it is your problem”.
— To put things in perspective, 2,043 Americans were killed in Pearl Harbour, but Japan paid the price, multiple times when ‘little boy’ and ‘fat man’ were released from the B-29 bomber. The Wuhan virus toll in the USA is nearing 80,000. There is a possibility of a typical cowboy response, “You hit us we will hit you.”
— You will ask if this is possible. The very same questions were asked for the Russian bloc too. But it was, and the USSR was balkanized. Only Deng opined that Gorbachev was an idiot who allowed the Russian empire to collapse.
— It does not matter if the Wuhan virus escaped from a laboratory or was deliberately made to escape or originated in wet markets; China will pay the price, if that is the universal public opinion.
The frustrated democratic world is now talking of multiple scenarios of balkanization of China, effected by forces similar to those in the erstwhile Eastern bloc. I am narrating one.
When the world limps back to normalcy, businesses may pull out of China, due to American and international pressures and the need to correct skewed trade and power balances. After all, the entire Kissinger policy flourished in the name of ‘power balances’ (though illogically implemented), and the reversals may be carried out in the same name.
China will flex her military might by increasing her presence in the South China Sea. This will make other countries feel threatened, leading to retaliation by America and other countries.
A cornered China may start bullying smaller countries who refuse to trade with it in consonance with the international anti-Chinese mood. This will trigger even greater military deployment in land, air and sea, of western powers as a deterrent.
Most importantly, it appears that Western Intelligence agencies will release a report that the Wuhan virus was man-made. WHO will counter this report by its own research findings that the Covid-19 has originated in nature and China is not to be blamed.
Western powers will discredit the WHO and its funding pattern will change. China will go against the tide and try to keep WHO afloat. This will happen to many more agencies, increasing the demand for a separate democratic UN, which can be forced to act on democratic principles.
China is challenging US supremacy in almost all walks of state power e.g. China’s surge in diplomatic ties in 2019, overtaking the US. China has 276 diplomatic outposts in foreign countries which is three more than the US. An inevitable democratic coalition can challenge China.a
Continuing trade war between US and China will leave a lot of space for countries like India to grow. The Fourth and Fifth Industrial revolution — on the same medium, same technology and same platform, which Indian minds have built from scratch may threaten other nations, including China. It needs massive state support to excel. The way these sectors grow in India, will decide India and China’s future.