BY N. P. UPADHYAYA
Some three years ago or even more, a Pakistani academician turned politician, Musahid Hussein, had while making a key note speech at the Nepal Council of World Affairs said that “world politics now has shifted to the Asian land, more so to South Asia, from what it used to be prerogative of the Developed West”.
During the course of his academic speech, Mr. Hussain had also presumed in advance that overt and covert bids may have already begun to encircle China in whatever manner it could be and that too through its declared arch rival-India that it is and will continue to be so for long time to come.
Summing up his enlightening speech, the Pakistani intellectual of international standing had termed the China encirclement strategy of the West, including the boss, the US, as the “great game.”
And this great game to what the Pakistani national had coined is in its full swing. Unfortunately, India has just become an extraordinary handy tool of the developed West in this mechanism in order to tease and thus provoke China.
India thinks that her increasing ties with Japan, Australia, Taiwan and the US shall become handy in containing China in this part of the world more so in the South Asian region.
However the fact is that not even a single country mentioned above shall come in front of China in order to champion and advocate the interests of India. Let’s presume that even Japan and Australia would not prefer to upset China for pleasing India or for that matter the US. For some understandable reasons, both Australia and Japan have tied interests with China though on individual country basis. The ties remain intact.
Recently, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinjo Abe too has made some not that too bad comments, rather positive, on China and perhaps Australia will follow the Japanese line soon.
Interestingly, what the Pakistani scholar, formerly a media man in fact; Mr. Hussain had envisioned in advance that the great game, as such, was in the offing to contain China has come true.
“The excessive use of the term, Indo-Pacific nowadays has something to do with the encirclement of China by the countries engaged or say attached to this notion whose key drivers are as stated earlier, the US, Australia, Japan and India who share common concerns regarding “China’s rising influence” as a major power”, so writes Xu Shaomin, a research fellow at the Institute of Public Policy, China.
He further writes that given the recent developments, it was not surprising to see the emergence of bilateral and multilateral security partnerships among these key drivers particularly in reference to maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean.
Sensing China’s assertive security and foreign policy toward the South China Sea, say Nepali observers that may have given further impetus to this new “exclusive” Indo-Pacific construct which has, writes Mr. Xu Shaomin, been welcomed by strategists inside the key driver countries.
To recall, the then US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton had openly encouraged India to “look east” during her visit to India some four years ago.
Naturally this has alarmed strategists in China who have become more concerned of the increasing soft power and the emergence of the resultant political dynamics which demanded appropriate actions on the part of China to counter the impact of such a conglomerate which has countries like Japan, Australia, the US and above all China’s arch rival-India.
The entire game is to contain China and check China’s growing cuff in that region and in South Asia which now has approached South Africa.
However, China remains undeterred and has been advancing its reach in South Asia and much beyond, for example South Africa.
China policy makers are thus advised, opine Nepali observers, to remain attentive and monitor these developments wherein India is a part of the great game to control China which is ultimately impossible.
India locked Nepal unfortunately can just only advice the emerging power house that is China.
In the mean time, the Chinese Prime Minister Li Kequiang only the last week called on the five nations situated in the Lancang-Mekong River to consolidate political will and deepen economic ties to promote regional peace and sustainable development.
The five countries include Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and obviously China. The leaders of these countries discussed issues such as connectivity, water management and industrial production capacity.
China, writes Xinhua, is willing to deepen cooperation with the Lancang-Mekong countries, LMC, in agriculture technology and build platforms for technology exchange, joint research as well as investment and trade cooperation.
While China is extending its helping hands to bring in prosperity in her surrounding areas then India together with some developed countries is hell bent on destabilizing China by being a part of the Great game whose main objective is to block the advancement of China in each and every part of the world where she can play a negative role and damage the credibility of China-the emerging super power.
Having wooed the entire South Asian nations in the past two years, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and very recently the war torn Afghanistan and now Bangladesh, guaranteeing the prosperity and infrastructure development in these countries, like what she has already achieved in Pakistan through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-the CPEC, China prefers to expand her relations with other interested countries to join the One Belt One Road initiative wherein she has bagged considerable success despite of the Indian distaste associated with visible suffocation.
To the utter dismay and chagrin of the US and India (read the countries contained in the Indo-Pacific also), France has become the first major European Union country whose leader, President Emmanuel Macron to visit China after the conclusion of the 19th National Congress of the CPC. During the fresh visit, President Macron pledged to work with China to address common challenges of the International community, championing globalization and multilateralism when it is most needed. He also said that France would also like to take an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative, echoing China’s key proposal to seek common prosperity in the international community.
To recall, Chairman Mao and General Charles de Gaulle had made a historic decision with remarkable political foresight to forge diplomatic ties with each other as back as in 1964 which changed the world pattern at that time whose impact could well be seen even in these days.
France, a permanent member of the United Nation’s Security Council, is seen by China as a country of importance; one with which it is able to coordinate with on major international issues in the hope of promoting world stability and prosperity.
Nepal too had its own contribution for the entrance of China in the United Nations, it should be recalled. Neighboring India, PM Nehru notably, had then scolded Nepal for having lobbied for China for the safe passage into the UN System.
While China is expanding her relations with major powers of the West France included, then India prefers to remain as a handy apparatus of some countries included in the stated Indo-Pacific gang in order to embarrass Beijing. In fact these powerful countries have been fighting a proxy war with China keeping India in the frontline. India is being fooled thus and is hopefully happy enough.
With Nepal already at a comfortable distance with the Indian establishment, by default, Bangladesh, a trusted and tested ally of India very freshly looking towards China in seeking help build a 12 billion dollar major power hub at Pyara, 200 KMS away from Capital Dhaka. Power, Energy and Mineral resources minister Nasrul Hamid said, writes Xinhua. The minister said that his government plans to develop the power hub which has a combined electricity generation capacity of 9, 000 MW.
The already signed power plant is currently in progress claims the Chinese news agency.
A paradigm shift is taking a grand shape in India’s neighborhood and that too rapidly.
Politics and diplomacy perhaps remain never motionless.
Bangladesh notably has also expressed its willingness to invest billions and billions in Nepal for the import of power to meet its ever increasing demands.
This means that Bangladesh is too is slowly slipping from the grip of Delhi.
Sri Lanka and the Maldives have in a surprising twist of politics joined hands with China.
And look Colombo has already begun benefitting with the China initiated railway projects.
The track-laying commencement of the first phase of the China-built Matara-Kataragama railway extension project has been held in Matara in southern Sri Lanka.
The first phase of the project includes constructing a railway service from Matara to Beliatta, in the south of the island country, claims news dispatched from Colombo on Jan. 13 by Xinhua.
Sri Lankan State Minister for State Enterprise Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said during the ceremony on Friday that the Sri Lankan government was hoping to finish the first phase of the railway project in the coming months, which will benefit the public and tourists.
“On behalf of the president and the Sri Lankan government, I would like to thank the Chinese government for this historic event. The extension is a historic development which will hugely benefit the public transport sector as well as the country’s tourism sector,” Abeywardena said.
Slowly but very quickly Indian clutch, read the Nehruvian doctrine, in South Asia has waned. Admit this fact and find as to what may have its political reason underneath. Coercion, arm twisting, micromanagement, RAW penetration and finally economic blockades? Yes. It is. These were the hallmark of Indian foreign policy experiences over decades and decades.
Pakistan, India’s declared rival in South Asia, is enjoying huge benefits of the Chinese help through CPEC.
The short term projects of CPEC, as has been stated, will reach its fruition, much to the frustration of India, in 2020 while the midterm ones in 2025. It is a happy marriage between CPEC and Pakistan’s Vision 2025 which seeks to transform the country into an “Asian Tiger” much to the discomfort of Delhi babus hopefully.
The guidelines for executing CPEC are the all-weather Sino-Pak partnership of cooperation, concepts of harmony, inclusiveness, mutual benefits and sustainability” so writes one Pakistani scholar. (People’s Review and the Weekly Mirror, Global Times and Xinhua).
Meanwhile, a two day international conference LifeCon 2018 has already begun in Islamabad, Monday, whose theme is “Belt and Road Initiative-Collaborating for a better future”. National and international delegates are participating in the said conference, it has been learnt. (Source Twitter).
Unfortunately, India has distanced itself from the universal concept of harmony thus allowing grand space to its smaller neighbors to find suitable alternatives here and there. The Indian loss is definitely China’s gain.
Inside carefully nurtured baby Bhutan, the younger generations, as observed by Indrani Bagchi, too have begun feeling uncomfortable with the regional Goliath which time permitting may explode much to the detriment of Bhutan-India relations. The new generation now prefers Thimpu to open up to the outside world more so to establish diplomatic ties with China and other countries in the West. Articles to this effect have already begun circulating in the social media. The long drawn DOKLAM standoff in between India and China has irked many Bhutanese people mostly the youths who apparently use social media to ventilate their angst over heavy dependence on India and that too on Delhi’s terms and conditions.
The last year’s visit of Indian officer Mr. Jayshankar and US embassy second women in Delhi to Bhutan has not been liked by many a Bhutanese nationals. The Nepal born Bhutan King is silent yet. He must have been thinking of Beijing’s assurances.
Experience collected over decades and decades says that India not only creates troubles in neighboring countries, Nepal is a classic case, but prefers more often than not either to poke Pakistan and if not then to China.
Very freshly, the Indian army general, Bipin Rawat, made some erratic comments against Pakistan only to be rebuffed by the other side. Look how the Pak FM rebukes and challenges General Bipin Rawat’s erratic account on Pakistan, in his own words, “a very irresponsible statement by Indian Army Chief, not befitting his office. Amounts to invitation for nuclear encounter. If that is what they desire, they are welcome to test our resolve. The general’s doubt would swiftly be removed.”
The FM says that if India were interested in testing Pak resolve then so be it.
Commenting on Indian Army Rawat’s bluff, Pakistan minister of defense Rana Tanveer has said the other day that his country has advanced nuclear and Missile technology that enables to target every Indian city.
The Indian Army General Bipin Rawat has also made some offensive comments on China but has misfired. By saying, “China is a powerful country but we are not a weak nation”. The Indian Army general, who is also honorary General of Nepal Army implicitly, admits that India is not as powerful as China, but the weaker of the two countries.
Being the Honorary Nepal Army General, Mr. Rawat has no right as such to make comments on China or for that matter Pakistan as Nepal enjoys more than cordial relations with both these countries of which the one is world’s emerging super power and the other is political and nuclear deterrent to India which, read Pakistan, has so far kept South Asia stable.
The Indian Army Captain is thus advised not to make erratic comments aimed at the countries with which Nepal enjoys close ties and also not to send Nepali born brave Gorkha soldiers to fight these countries as and when such confrontations take place between India and these countries.
The smaller countries in South Asia look upon Pakistan as a political and nuclear deterrent against India. This is the fact and shall remain a fact. Nepal subscribes to this view though in a subdued manner because Nepali leaders fear India for some understandable reasons that are political indeed.
The last economic blockade perhaps still haunts Nepal’s Indo-pendent leaders.
And here is flash news: President Trump’s point person for the region this Monday said Pakistan’s support was critical to the success of the US strategy for Afghanistan in a development that suggested that Washington was not seeking a divorce with Islamabad despite recent hostile statements.
Alice Wells, Special Representatives for Pakistan and Afghanistan, was the first high ranking US official to have visited Pakistan and the US hit a new low after Trump’s diatribe and suspension of security assistance to punish Islamabad for its alleged inaction against the Haqqani network. It appears that the strained relations have come to track much to the discomfiture of India.
In all, India under PM Modi has become already a laughing stock among the comity of nations, Nepal included; whose leaders and even military generals make comical remarks that makes one to think as to what has gone wrong with India under PM Modi?
In the mean time, Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the White House” has been creating havoc in the American society which according to the Global times “questions the mental health of an elected President satirizes not only the institution but the US electoral system itself”.
Nepal has though nothing to do with the personal problems of the US President, if any, yet the latter has insulted Nepal through the use of a filthy word that generally people avoid using in public places or while making formal statements.
President Trump should have avoided the use of the dirty word which he spoke as regards some African nations.
Back home in Nepal, bids are afoot not to allow ailing KPS Oli to become the next Prime Minister fearing that Oli will bring China’s PLA close to the Indian border. Yet China has already entered Nepal. The Indian monopoly in the Internet sector has been shattered with the entrance of the Chinese optical fiber with greater bandwidth. Nepal now has Internet facility provided by China. Many in Delhi may have become restless considering as to what more is in store from China in these “slipped” nations more so in Nepal.
The first severe jolt of its own kind to those who may have concerns.
Yet one last tip for China from Nepal: Help connect Nepali lands with various parts in Tibet with black topped roads so that Nepal can challenge Indian economic blockades that is in store perhaps. And do not challenge the sovereignty of the partner countries.
Connectivity counts. Now if possible, China should think of the Kimathanka route which links Biratnagar with Tibetan border. If this road connection is established then Nepal will easily face another economic blockade imposed on Nepal by India. The rest intelligent China understands better. Friendship initiated by late Chairman Mao with Nepal could be in action visible to the world near and far. Let this bond continue.
For the Road: Hard, soft or sharp power or whatever other term the West like to describe China, the fact is that China contributes 35% to global growth and has already lifted 700 million from poverty. That is sufficient to qualify China as a great power. Other descriptions remain this immaterial. (Twitter Source).
REGIONAL AFFAIRS : Indian monopoly in South Asia shattered: Indian loss is definitely China’s gain
BY N. P. UPADHYAYA