June 9, 2020
Indian Express

China Now Has the Military Power to Alter Territorial Status Quo

by C. Raja Mohan

. . . China is on a bold and ambitious drive to expand its control over the disputed waters. Let us start with gathering tensions over the territorial dispute between Beijing and Jakarta. China Map
To talk of a territorial dispute between two countries so far apart from each other seems strange. But distance is no guarantee of an escape from territorial problems with Beijing, at least in the South China Sea. To be sure, Jakarta says it has no territorial dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea. But there is a problem nevertheless.

Neither Jakarta that is scrupulously non-aligned nor Manila that was ready to break its alliance with the US has been spared from Beijing's current muscular approach to China's territorial disputes.

While intellectuals can argue about the sources of Chinese conduct, peasants with their common sense can point to answers lying in plain sight. One is that China has long-standing claims, right or wrong, on the territories of its neighbours. The other is the dramatic shift in the regional power balance in favour of China. Unlike in the past, China now has the military power to make good its claims and alter the territorial status quo, if only in bits and pieces. This is what China is doing in the South China Sea. And the situation may not be any different in Ladakh.


Now that the Cold War is becoming a memory, America's foreign policy establishment has begun searching for new enemies. . . . Topping the list of potential new global bogeymen, . . . are the Yellow Peril, the alleged threat to American economic security emanating from East Asia, and the so-called Green Peril (green is the color of Islam).--Leon T. Hadar, "The 'Green Peril': Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat,", August 27, 1992

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[In 1997, roughly 20 years after China emerged from the isolation of the Mao years, the Economist bemoaned the popularity of a quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte. "Let China sleep," he allegedly pronounced, "for when she wakes she will shake the world." From 1977 to 1997, China's GDP more than quadrupled, its foreign policy grew more confident, and in 1995, in a show of aggression, Beijing fired missiles across the Taiwan Strait to intimidate the government in Taipei. "To observers of China, dazzled by its startling economic growth and ever-increasing power," the Economist wrote, "Napoleon's aphorism has seemed irresistibly apposite. . . .

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