We are on the cusp of a New Cold War, and this time a choice has been forced on India. Despite sincere attempts to build a multi-polar world and not take sides, China has compelled India to get drawn into an alliance of nations which believes in democracy and a rules-based world order. As long as a dictatorial Chinese regime is in power, India cannot return to status quo ante. This is an entirely new situation for the foreign policy establishment, but India has the confidence, flexibility and creativity that are needed to influence world affairs for the good of all.
Just like India is taking a stand against the Chinese dictatorial regime by decoupling economically, the West and Japan also have choices to make. For major American companies China is a lucrative market, but they must stand up and be counted when it comes to humanity’ core values. Top United States officials have been making a series of statements, all aimed against China. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that it is rebalancing its forces away from Europe and towards the Indo-Pacific. Christopher Wray, the head of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, recently described China as the biggest threat to the US economy, and disclosed that his agency is investigating more than 2,000 cases connected to the Chinese Communist Party.
While America repositions itself, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) bloc is coming to the realisation that each of its 10 members may not be individually able to confront China’s aggrandising ambitions in the South China Sea. However, together they have a better chance. Which is why on June 27 Asean leaders issued a declaration saying that a 1982 UN treaty on the oceans should be the basis for settling maritime claims. China lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea on whimsical historical grounds.
Further to the southeast, Australia, under Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has moved out of the Chinese orbit. Australia clearly recognises the potential for China to become a neo-colonial power and a demographic aggressor. Japan, a historical rival, has major economic interests in China. However, it is also bound to the US by a security treaty.
The two major unknowns in the coming geopolitical match are the European Union and Russia, the key players in the Cold War. For Europe, taking a stand on China will involve making a firm commitment to the ideals which have shaped the world after World War II. China presents no threat to Europe’s territorial boundaries, unlike the former Soviet Union. However, China’s values certainly do not accord those of the EU. The unity of the EU, as well as its commitment to liberal democratic values, will be tested like never before.
Russia and China may seemingly enjoy a close relationship, but Russian President Vladimir Putin will definitely be under no illusions about the potential danger from China. Russia has been displaced as US’ main strategic rival by China, with which Russia shares a border that stretches nearly 4,300 kilometres. China’s penchant for territorial gains by demographic conquest is well-known, and Russia will not forget that fact. China is a long-term threat to Russia, and Putin knows it.
So what we see are a number of forces ranged against communist China.