Just go back to century old days of the Great Game against Russia-USSR and back to today’s Russia. Through economics, the hypothetical map of the greater Middle East is being shrunk. The containment ring from Turkey to Bangladesh-Myanmar is perforated. Iran, Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar have drifted to the Chinese camp of BRI. Chinese freight trains regularly shuttle to Europe. China is becoming a major actor in the frigid polar regions. Africa, once considered backward and deadweight, is coming alive and kicking. This tectonic shift in strategic plates owes little to Russia and more to the Chinese economic miracle.
Time itself restores balance. Challenged by the Chinese economic might, the unipolar world is crumbling. Eurasia, spearheaded by China is breaking out from a century of humiliation. All colonies that the US and the West used to exploit and make launching pads for military adventures are gone. For how long will India wade against the tide; only time will tell.
Unnoticed, a far bigger change is taking place. Countries as far away as Greenland and Iceland could be drifting into Chinese influence. Considered a desert and inferior race, Africa lost its reckoning in geostrategy with the Suez Canal. Now, its future will have a direct effect on US supremacy as a political, economic and military power. African growth is not a sudden influx of Chinese cash but on sustainable lines. If it comes to being a colony, based on past experience, Africans will love to live and be prosperous under a Chinese shadow.
Through a series of outposts from Europe to Africa, West to South Asia and the inevitable ring of artificial islands, China is set to challenge US led naval superiority. What remains in the Indo-American arsenal is an obsolete Tibetan policy, crafted in the beginning of the cold war against China. Though the Tibetan Liberation Army (Indo-US crafted non-state actors) had a role in the 1971 Bangladesh war, their employment against China like the Afghan Mujahideen is foolhardy.
Nor will the Indo-US alliance be able to agitate and up the ante in China’s Xinjiang autonomous region. China and Pakistan exercise influence over Afghan Taliban and the US could soon learn how a war based on ‘shock and awe’ should not be waged. From Korea to Vietnam and from Africa to Afghanistan, American interventions tell an endless tale of failures, destruction and human misery. Orange Agents, Daisy Cutters and MOAB are now history. Warfare will have to be on economic and social lines.
Many countries in US parlance considered ‘burnout states’ are rising like a phoenix from the ashes of civil wars and unrest, kicking unprecedented growth rates. While the world is in recession, these African countries are showing sharp trends in development and growth after nearly a century of colonisation.
Fredrick Forsyth’s Dogs of War have been steadily replaced by the Chinese dragon offering financial assistance, development infrastructure and a controlled development/governance model. What is surprising is that over 10,000 Chinese companies outside the Chinese official statistics are also part of this revolution. The Chinese spread is unparalleled on a broad spectrum of state-owned enterprises, private sectors, construction/real estate, manufacturing, agriculture, services and trade. The private Chinese spread is 3.7 times more that China’s official figures. Major countries are Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia and South Africa. Be assured, Africa is becoming self-reliant and not a colony of the Chinese Communist Party as some may suggest.
The US dominated geostrategy in containing Russia towards the warm waters of the Indian Ocean is in its last throes. Surprisingly it is not Russia but China that leads the charge.
Chinese economic interventions in India are beyond measure and shall invoke international arbitration. Indian reactions to Chinese occupations in Ladakh are peripheral. Indian action of banning 56 applications will have no effect. The Gujarat miracle would not have been possible without China. China is India’s largest goods trading partner amounting to nearly US$ 90 billion with a deficit of nearly 40 billion. According to India’s own admission, over 100 Chinese companies have contracts in India in major sectors including steel, nuclear, communications, power, infrastructure and mobile phones. Severing this trade on the click of a switch is rather impossible. The retrograde will be cautious and incremental. Maybe there will be none.
It was in reaction to Mike Pompeo’s bellicose statement at the US India Business Council that Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar responded, “the US and India have the ability today by working together to shape the world,” and that the “US needed to go beyond alliances and get used to working in a multipolar world with plurilateral arrangements”.
Now what does this mean? Despite the setbacks in Ladakh, is India still asserting its global position towards multi polarity? Could the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India become a counterweight to Chinese policies? Would being an unofficial partner in the Indo-Pacific Military Alliance benefit India?
American and Indian tones suggest that they are still searching for clues and answers. There is far more at stake than what catches the eye. In the final reckoning it was the North and the West that abandoned pockets of severe poverty the world over to provide China an open economic playing field. The North, West and India lack the resources and mindset to displace China from the poverty-stricken areas of the world.
Pakistan’s pivot in three Asias (Greater Middle East) provides a launching pad to Chinese policies in the world. It is supplemented by Myanmar in the South East and Iran further to the West. Afghanistan for as long as it is unstable can be bypassed. Europe is accessible by road, rail and sea.
It is always most unstable before an equilibrium. The USA will never part away from its 100 years of supremacy without a fight. The same will be the case in the UK and France. They will fight back to gain ascendency and re-establish their terms of balance.
This campaign will not be fought directly against China but against its interests in peripheries. Weaker countries will be turned chaotic through western sympathisers and misguided zealots. Every weapon in the arsenal, from banana republics, dictatorships and poverty will be the name of the game. Terrorism, economic, cultural and societal hitmen will be the major non-state actors. Bad governance will be the tipping point of this new rage.
Pakistan will be no exception. Be ready for the ball of fire.