China flag (file photo) Photograph:( AFP )
Now is the time to counter Beijing's aggression, and this urgency might sound alarming to some. But we've got three reasons for backing this argument
History tells us that most military blunders and political catastrophes could have been avoided only if the world had acted on time.
Today, we're at the same crossroads.
An expansionist China is not on the horizon anymore as it is sailing into the port.
Now is the time to counter Beijing's aggression and this urgency might sound alarming to some.
But we've got three reasons for backing this argument.
March 11 marks one year when the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic. By this time, the virus had travelled the world, sowing the seeds of this massive crisis.
In this one-year period, most countries have focused on saving lives.
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They've made tall sacrifices, but China was busy plotting its rise.
It was making plans to utilise this pandemic for political and economic gains.
Let's tell you how.
As countries shut their borders, China opened its purse strings.
Foreign companies were struggling to break even in 2020, so China swooped in and acquired these assets.
That too at dirt-cheap rates. The list includes 112 mergers and acquisitions in North America, 142 in Europe, 220 in Asia, and 30 in Oceania.
If you notice, these are places where Chinese strategic interests are challenged by the US, Canada, Australia, and India.
In 2020, China's overall foreign investment was 132.9 billion dollars, that too in the pandemic year.
The total value of its mergers and acquisitions was 46.4 billion dollars.
Countries were slow to realise what was happening and when they did, FDI laws were tightened.
The US, the European Union, Australia and India, all blocked China's predatory investments.
Strategic assets had to be protected, but for some companies, it was too late.
Beijing also scored a few trade deals in 2020.
Phase one of its agreement with the US was finalised.
But the crowning achievement was the EU investment deal.
They haggled for seven years without any progress.
Then suddenly in December 2020, a deal was announced.
In exchange for some vague promises, Chinese companies gained access to the European markets.
And of course, there was nothing concrete on human rights violations.
China's pandemic strategy was crude and hinged on one thing to ensure it wouldn't be blamed for the pandemic.
It launched a massive disinformation campaign, in which Chinese diplomats blamed the US military and Europe for the crisis.
Part two of this strategy was to sabotage the WHO probe.
The entire world knows the virus originated in Wuhan, but the WHO probe team couldn't find evidence.
They were denied access to bat caves, tailed by Chinese spies and arm-twisted into granting them a clean chit.
China used the pandemic to implement a new security law in Hong Kong that has effectively killed the promise of "one country, two systems".
In the South China Sea, Beijing has made piracy a maritime policy. It regularly intimidates foreign vessels, carries out military drills near disputed islands, and sends fighter jets into Taiwanese territory.
The top US military commander in the Indo-Pacific has made a grim prediction.
He feels China could invade Taiwan in the next six years.
This was always Beijing's plan, but the hourglass is a lot shorter than many expected.
China wants to dominate the world.
The Indo-Pacific is only the dress rehearsal.
Some may ask, what's the issue here?
America has dominated the world for decades and India, Britain, Brazil, and Australia have global ambitions.
The difference, however, is that the China-led world order is the end of democracy.
It will be the end of human rights and free thought.
Leadership shapes politics and Chinese leadership would vitiate global politics.
In the end, expansionism always fails, but not before claiming thousands of lives and dismantling dozens of cultures.
So the question is - how long will the world wait this time?