File photo: China's President Xi Jinping Photograph:( AFP )
Despite facing global anger for being the originator of oronavirus, Xi Jinping's aggressiveness on multiple fronts, to suppress internal and external dissent, has pushed the world against the dragon.
History is full of examples whenever the ambition of any autocrat grew beyond global tolerance, he became responsible for the collapse of his regime. Today, despite facing unprecedented global anger for being the originator of novel coronavirus, the aggressiveness of Chinese leadership on multiple fronts to suppress internal and external dissent has pushed the world against itself. Xi Jinping’s unfair adventurism for incremental encroachment, in the continental and maritime domain, at a time when other countries are fighting against the most dangerous pandemic of the century, is amounting to inhuman aggression, junking all morals, international conventions, rules, treaties and forcing the world to reluctantly react against his regime.
Xi Jinping’s Overambition
Xi started his term by dream-selling that all Chinese living below the poverty line would no more be poor by 2020. Internationally he projected himself as the crusader for world peace and climate change, with a resolve to push through Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to fulfil Chinese dream of rejuvenation. As ‘Chairman of Everything’, he indirectly declared himself as the tallest leader on the planet, in the manner he got himself re-elected for the second term and did everything possible to make himself great, under the banner of ‘Making China Great’. His anti-corruption drive was most popular amongst masses witnessing powerful people in jail, besides systematically eliminating the entire dissenting elements and all his possible competitors, through this drive.
The Boiling Pot
Xi took over in 2012 as President with 7.9 per cent GDP growth and led China to economic downslide thereafter. With failing BRI, mishandling of COVID-19, there is no worthwhile achievement to his credit except that he managed to eliminate dissenting elements better than others. Disagreeing with Xi ‘The Core’ is anti-national and leads to jail. Xi has indicated that in “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” and adequate ‘Revolutionary Tampering’ will be resorted to quell dissent.
As his regime stops delivering economically, the democratic winds will start flowing from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the educated youth may not tolerate the autocratic system of Xi Jinping, having no worthwhile grievance redressal mechanism. After all, China is the third most popular educational hub, with the largest number of PhD’s in the world, where the population understands the entire power play; hence cannot be assumed to be quiet forever. The legal system stands hostage to party leadership justifies the boiling pot theory; hence the biggest threat to China comes from within.
Some of his actions like unfair treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang province, the use of force in implementing draconian National Security Law in Hongkong are risky. The strict censorship of media and internet, electronic isolation, social engineering to bring societal changes are unpopular steps to minimize unrests. The viability of “Implosion theory” is feared to be a reality by a totalitarian regime; hence a dose of nationalism to be nurtured through external aggression suits Xi Jinping’s hold on power, besides making the best use of early recovery from COVID-19 in comparison to his competitors.
Opening Multiple Fronts
China has unfairly used early recovery from the pandemic as an opportunity to assert itself on multiple fronts, including India-China borders to scrumptiously encroaching some area not supposed to be held as per the mutually agreed CBMs, where both sides were free to patrol. This is a sequel to Chinese adventurism in Indo-Pacific at multiple places in the South and the East China Sea with greater assertion against other claimants like Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Besides the coercion of Taiwan, it has also taken away the autonomy of Hong Kong by passing the draconian National Security Act unilaterally. The rationale of China being over assertive at the time of pandemic comes from Sun Tzu’s thoughts of ‘Strike adversary when it's weak and preserve yourself when it is strong’. China is, therefore, speeding up its Incremental Encroachment Strategy in the South China Sea as well as LAC.
The strategic calculations seem to be ambitious as in the authoritarian state, the sycophancy sometimes prevents leaders from getting objective advice from subordinate strategists. When Hitler launched an offensive in Russia in World War II, beyond its logistics limit for sustaining in winters, he overruled the advice of subordinates and brought Germany to disaster.
In continental domain its land grab efforts in Ladakh have been rebutted by India, which honoured its 20 fallen soldiers with state honours, whereas PLA chose to hide the actual number of its fallen soldiers, creating another wave of anger amongst PLA veterans. The mutual disengagement is being viewed with suspicion as PLA demonstrated its unprofessionalism to the world by using barbaric tools for attacking Indian soldiers, junking the CBMs and yet suffered heavy casualties. India is certainly not going to take mini disengagement gestures for granted unless PLA withdraws to pre-standoff positions; hence will be ready to respond with all options on the table.
On the maritime front, the US has already demonstrated strong military posturing. ASEAN, which has been muted by China so far by the consolation of CoC and purse diplomacy combined with coercion due to large power asymmetry, seems emboldened to talk about UNCLOS, demanding its fair share of EEZ in case of affected countries. Taiwan, emboldened by national sentiments, leadership and US support, has started identifying itself as a nation, junking ‘One country Two systems’, ready to defend itself should a situation arise. Xi Jinping’s ambition has costed global loss of trust and some important markets for China. Russians have a forced marriage with China, due to sanctions from the West and economic compulsions, but given the geostrategic situation, playing neutral, along with the sale of weaponry may be the best option for them.
China may be able to implement the draconian National Security Act in Hong Kong, but the global reaction is unavoidable. China has to bear the cost of the demise of its financial hub, with many countries inclined for economic distancing, shifting FDI, banning concessions granted to Hong Kong, granting citizenship to those willing to exit, thus creating ideal conditions for urban insurgency in times to come, besides the rural insurgency of Xinjiang. Suddenly the voices in support of Uighurs and Tibetans and questions on ‘One China Policy’ have started becoming active, notwithstanding the threats of Chinese wolf warrior diplomats and state media Global Times, which are being taken as tools of propaganda warfare.
Future of China under the leadership of Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream of ‘Rejuvenation’ and his aim of ‘Prosperous Developed Society’ with a ‘War Winning Modern PLA’ by 2050 was achievable, had he not harboured dictatorial overambition to achieve these aims by making unfair use of pandemic. With the kind of global anger he has generated against his regime, the lesson of diversification of global factory for the world along with the need for economic distancing from China has become evident. Xi has thus pushed his country on a path of disaster.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)