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Indo Pacific Power and Security Equations-Post 2020

Paper No. 6562                                    Dated12-April, 2020
 
By Dr. Subash Kapila
 
Geopolitically, March 2020 will mark a 'Tipping Point' in Indo Pacific power and security dynamics induced by China's irresistible act wherein China inadvertently or deliberately suppressed information on the outbreak of China-originated Wuhan Virus19 from the global community for virtually two months in which act China has opened itself to pronounced "Strategic Distrust" the world over further reinforcing China's image of not being a responsible stakeholder in regional security and stability.
 
Strategic Distrust of China surfaces primarily because of apprehensions in global community that China's suppression of Wuhan Virus19 Pandemic perceptively emerges as a deliberate act catered on assumption that this Viral Outbreak could be linked to some BCW experiment gone awry in the BCW -linked Virological Labs located at Wuhan.
 
Strategic Distrust of China also arises from the fact that Wuhan a City of nearly 12 million people was placed by China in severe lockdown mode and that China was fudging its casualty figures when comparatively in places in USA and Western Europe far removed from Wuhan the casualty figues exponentially transcend China's figures of its own casualties from Wuhan Virus19.
 
Contextually therefore, inescapably arising from the above 'Power and Security' dynamics in Indo Pacific Region are destined to undergo drastic perceptional changes of the Major Powers on their China-policy formulations as in 21st Century it is the Indo Pacific Region where vital national security interests of Major Powers like United States, Japan. India and Australia intersect besides those of Russia.
 
Preceding March 2020 when China's Wuhan Virus19 Pandemic swept across the globe with massive loss of lives and economic disruption, the Indo Pacific Region already stood polarised geopolitically and geostrategically with China as a Revisionist Power defying all international norms and conventions indulging in military aggression and brinkmanship as manifested by its acts in the South China Sea.
 
What was becoming visible was a polarisation of major democratic Nations coalescing around the United States against a rising and threatening China which so far was not checkmated by the United States as the Nation most threatened by China's underlying aims of prompting military exit of the United States from the Pacific and also positioning China as the contending second Superpower in global strategic calculus.
 
Post-March 2020 one should logically expect a reinforcing of the US-led QUAD comprising United States, Japan, Australia and India into a more closely knit strategic coalition, but still short of a Indo Pacific Military Alliance, for obvious reasons. The QUAD's main emphasis would be on positioning itself as an existential mighty Naval Blocin both the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
 
One would not be surprised that West European countries like UK, France and Germany also take interest in TheQUAD going by recent expression of their interests articulated at ShangriLa Dialogues.
 
Geopolitically, the March 2020 Tipping Point is also likely to witness changes in policy attitudes of Indo Pacific nations who in the past have been China-apologists or been 'Fence-Sitters' in not criticising China for its wanton aggression in South China Sea. This particularly applies to the ASEAN Group which so far has shirked from being critical on China despite Chinese aggression against its member-nations.
 
Geo Economicall, the impact of China's indiscretion in wilfully suppressing information on outbreak of Wuhan Virus19 outbreak will be the heaviest on China despite its trillions of dollars reserves.   China's economy as it is in past five years or so has slipped from double-digit growth rates to about six per cent. The Strategic Distrust of China post-March 2020 would not be without sizeable economic costs for China whose economic growth has been dependent on global supply chains.
 
It should be a foregone conclusion that the United States most hit by China's Wuhan Virus19 Pandemic can be expected to intensify the on-going US-china Trade Wars and attempt crippling of the Chinese economy. Post-March 2020 despite US presidential elections domestic politics one can observe a bipartisan consensus in USA for tightening of screws against China.
 
Post March 2020, what is surfacing within Chinese domestic politics dynamics are the first open stirrings of political dissent against Chinese President Xi Jinping policies which carry both domestic and global repercussions. Growth of domestic political dissent coupled with the  onset of economic hardships in China could set in motion domestic upheavals.
 
Globally, one thing is certain and that is the Chinese President Xi Jinxing's unassailable position so far, and his switch to 'Hard Power' strategies in Indo Pacific of military overbearing postures and aggression would see a decline. The Chinese President's 'Great China Dream' and his grandiose projects of “One Belt One Road, Maritime Silk Road and China Pakistan Economic Corridor” will be severely hit and see a shrinkage with consequent geopolitical and economic implications.
 
Concluding, one needs to observe that despite China going on a diplomatic PR Offensive to offset the global negative impact of its wilful suppression of information on outbreak of Wuhan Virus19 Pandemic for two months, China today is in the dock for what amounts to 'Crime Against  Humanity' with hundreds of thousands of lives lost and economic disruption likely to last for decades. Globally, and in the Indo Pacific Region the 'Balance of Power' now can be expected to shift against China.
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