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China Going Strategically Berserk in 2017- A Global Concern

Paper No. 6280                                  Dated 24-Jul-2017

By Dr Subhash Kapila

 Communist China in 2017 emerges as a strategically berserk ‘Revisionist Power’, militarily arrogant with the first flush of unprecedented military power and setting set China on clashing trajectories with its Asian and global rivals.

Communist China in 2017, in Hitlerian overtones, has seemingly gone strategically berserk going by its military predatory forays on its periphery, trampling on national sovereignties of its peaceful neighbours and in total defiance of global opinion and conventions. In essence, China perceptionaly emerges as an expansionist power both in intent and in demonstrated actions.

With such a strategic overhang on the security and stability of Indo Pacific Asia and on the wider global plane, where China indulges in brazen political and military coercion and brinkmanship, legitimate global concerns are aroused on China’s ‘Threatening Rise’ trajectory. Strategic polarisation is already underway and visible in Asia.  With China’s brinkmanship currently in a ‘strategic berserk’ mode, China’s miscalculation on global and regional responses to its provocations could result in unintended consequences of igniting the multiple explosive flashpoints all across Indo Pacific Asia which bear China’s signature.

Historically, ‘Revisionist Powers’, and China is certainly one, go strategically berserk when after sustained pursuit of military resurgence to ‘right theirs self-perceived historical wrongs and humiliation’, and flush with their new found military power start flexing their military muscles. In this process, peace and stability on the peripheries of such ‘Revisionist Powers’ invariably becomes a casualty. Global and regional conflicts start sprouting in the process as the ‘Status Quo Power’ invariably belatedly attempts to arrest the strategic waywardness of ‘Revisionist Powers’. In its wake global and regional polarisation emerges in which the rest of the world logically tends to side with the status quo powers which have ensured some stability and peace.

Repeatedly emphasised in my writings so far, the strategic reality is that like ‘Revisionist Powers’ in the past, China has “No Natural Allies.’ China has only succeeded in propping up two natural allies of its own---namely North Korea and Pakistan---both globally reputed as ‘Rogue Nuclear and Terrorist Powers’. Surely, illicit and WMD proliferation are not the hallmarks of a responsible nation aspiring to be the second Superpower.

Germany emerged as the ‘Revisionist Power’ towards the end of the 19th Century and markedly so in the 20th Century leading to the prolonged conflict of the First World War 1914-18 and the Second World War 1939-45. The end result was disastrous for Germany as the Western democracies with the United States in the lead inflicted humiliating defeats in both World Wars.

China in 2017 seems traversing the Hitlerian path with the same contours of illegal usurpation of territories belonging to smaller nations, at odds with Emerged Powers of Asia like Japan and India, and flouting international conventions and when it suits Communist China “selectively quoting and falling back” on international treaties and conventions.

War-mongering, threats of military aggression and demonising rhetoric are the signature tones of China’s policy fixations in its attitudinal approaches to Asian Emerged Powers -----Japan and India. China forgets that it cannot arise on the global power ladder in spite of Japan and India.

China is highly unlikely to carry out any mid-course correction of its ‘power-drunk trajectories’ and adapt itself and assimilate itself in the global community to function as a responsible stakeholder in global peace and security? China’s strategically berserk trajectory should now be a matter of global concern. 

China has wildly gone strategically berserk secure in the belief that the Major Powers would not checkmate China or rein-in its imperialistic impulses. This arising from the vain hopes of the United States as the global Superpower hedging timidly in face of China’s military aggressiveness and military brinkmanship extending from the India-China Occupied Tibet borders in the High Himalayas to the seas of the Western Pacific. Since the last decade, much to the United States disappointment, China has not emerged as a ‘respectable and benign stakeholder in global or Indo Pacific Asia security and stability.

United States succeeding Presidents have all failed in their concerted efforts to facilitate China’s assimilation in the global community as a responsible stakeholder in overall peace and stability. Successive US Presidents have failed in this direction simply because China resists and refuses to be ‘patronised by the United States and be seen as subordinate to USA.

Reflected in my Book on China last year was China’s burning ambition to seek “Strategic Equivalence” with the United States and be globally acknowledged and respected at par with the United States. In other words China should be viewed as a competing Superpower with the United States, with all the military implications so arising in its tow.

And, in the above, is embedded, the seeds of China going “Strategically Berserk” as the neither the United States  nor  other regional powers in Indo Pacific Asia are willing to concede and bestow the halo on China’s stature as China desires.

Russia which could have applied brakes on China’s strategic waywardness and aggressive instincts has emerged more directly complicit in China’s expansionist designs on its peripheries for no other reason than to get back at the United States for the American lingering Cold War animosities.

China many years earlier had set the year 2020 as the target date for completion of China’s comprehensive military modernisation enabling it to pursue more assertive foreign policies including projection of military power far beyond its peripheries. China seems to have already achieved its military comprehensive military modernisation and ability to project military power and oceanic power.

Coinciding with the above was the installation in power in Beijing of the incumbent President Xi Jinping and his acquiring imperialistic hold over all the vital organs of China’s power instruments. Casting himself in the mould of Mao zeDong, and presumably aspiring to outclass Mao, President Xi Jinping’s tenure marks the tipping point in China’s unrestrained assertion of military power beginning with the illegal military occupation of the South China Sea maritime expanse, declaration of an ADIZ over the East China Sea and an intensification of provocative border incidents and standoffs with India.

Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to being driven by a devilish impulse to successfully realise the full potential of his ‘Chinse Dream’ which in essence aims to restore China to its imperial dimensions and domination.

The global community and the Major Powers need to rein-in China’s unrestrained aggression and military brinkmanship on its peripheries before the world is plagued once again by the menace of Hitlerian aggression running rampage in Asia. China’s next stepping stone would be even further afield.

Within a decade of the end of the Cold War in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, China commenced the generation of the Second Cold War in 2001 as one of my SAAG Papers then pointed out. The Second Cold War initiated by China to challenge United States predominance in the Western Pacific on China’s doorsteps and in the wider Indo Pacific Asia has in 2017 now acquired more menacing contours. This arises from China’s switch from exercise of ‘Soft Power’ strategies and the adoption of ‘Hard Power’ strategies.

The above stood synchronised with China’s fast- tracked naval expansion and the advent of President Xi Jinping in power in Beijing. The Chinese President in the pursuit of his grandiose ‘Chia Dream’ has fostered the rise of “Chinese Hypernationalsm” to unrealistic levels.

Hypernationalsm was the defining feature of Hitler’s Nazi Germany and the aphrodisiac with which Hitler hoped that Germany under his leadership could reclaim Germany’s historical greatness. The end-result was disastrous for Hitlerian Germany and the German people. It took the Second Wold War, though belated by hesitation of democracies to avoid armed conflict, to finally bring Germany’s resurgence of imperialistic impulses with loss of millions of lives and unprecedented devastation including the use of the bombs on Japan—Germany’s ally in the Pacific.

With China going strategically berserk, visibly so in 2017, and China zealously in pursuit of reclaiming China’s historical imperialism, China today finds itself at strategic odds with the United States, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, Vietnam and India. China will become increasingly strategically berserk as the “Chinese  Dream” runs into countering opposition of the above-named powers with China being tempted to trample on either the sovereignty of such nations or threatening the security interests of such nations, and in the process of the United States as a global Superpower.

Concluding observations should be obvious from the foregoing discussion on China running strategically berserk all over Indo Pacific Asia.  Firstly, the global community and in particular the United States bears a heavy responsibility in that its policies of omission and commission on China do not, and certainly no longer, dwell on the mistaken belief that China could turn around and assimilate itself peacefully in the global order

Finally, the United States needs to crucially recognise that China running strategically berserk all over Indo Pacific Asia is impelled to do so with the end aim of prompting an American Exit from Indo Pacific Asia and the Western Pacific in particular. Japan and India are the targets for China because in Chinese perceptions these two Asian Emerged Powers as democracies stand as ‘Natural Allies’ with the United States with varying connotations, and could therefore impede the realisation of the “Chinese Dream.”

(Dr Subhash Kapila is a graduate of the Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley and combines a rich experience of Indian Army, Cabinet Secretariat, and diplomatic assignments in Bhutan, Japan, South Korea and USA. Currently, Consultant International Relations & Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. He can be reached at drsubhashkapila.007@gmail.com)

 

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