The foundations of geopolitics can be traced back to the foundations of numerous territories under individualistic rules of Kings. Sure enough, the times have changed and democracy is more prevalent than ever and so is the race for being a global player. Had it been the world of constant wars and rivalry, many lands would have been consumed but an equivalent force exists in the modern world, geopolitics which takes aggressive face and hampers the development of the world. One such modern day geopolitical actor is the People’s Republic of China.
Ever since its foundation in 1949, China has become a key player in geopolitics by advancing majorly in spheres of Technology, Economy, Military and production of numerous resources. Overtime, it has redefined the definition of diplomacy and showed trends in preserving its “sovereignty”.
The Red Threat?
No wonder such actions have led to popularized criticism for China’s course of actions on various matters. Many countries around the world have addressed the “Chinese problem” on numerous international forums but so far no significant resolutions have been made to curb this. In the 21st century, this can be called “The Red Threat”.
The Wolf Warrior
A new trend was observed in Chinese diplomacy in 2008 and notably after Xi Jinping joined the office. The wolf warrior is a new shorthand abbreviation used for Chinese diplomacy which refers to its new aggressive and more public show of opinions. In the past, China’s diplomats aimed to keep a low profile on international forums and were often subject to worldwide humiliation on communism and human rights situations, particularly by the United States.
The Wolf Warrior instilled a new sense of nationalism in the diplomats, something which existed prior to the establishment of PRC, this is quite evident when these representatives stormed out of international meetings to lash out at foreign counterparts to even insulting foreign leaders.
Reports have it that it has also created a sense of self confidence in the diplomats, this was put to test when China was alleged for the spread of COVID-19 virus yet the game was reverse played by them through this new diplomacy.
Today China is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations with significant power in hand. The peace talks which China delivers were initially not a part of diplomacy, but rather came into existence when its economy and military started to grow.
Just like other major actors, China had to settle the world with a new term which would help it grow steadily and silently so “PEACE” was the new term. It was also a reassurance to the global community that China’s intentions are peaceful and its rise would not mean a threat to global systems.
Xi Jinping is focused that China’s system is successful and that the communist regime should not be apologetic for its actions. The peace promises often turn out vague when China adopts a new extremist policy for making its intentions complete.
The world is well aware of China’s interest to continuously increase its land area through whatever means possible. It has attempted to gain more and more territories through the course of history by military mobilization and use of force mostly from its neighbors.
One major example is that of Tibet when China launched its full scale military invasion in 1949 and captured Tibet. Another matter of concern is the South China sea where China threatens the existence of many sovereign countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei. Through numerous Chinese military strategies and heavy presence of its Navy, China has created major geopolitical tensions.
Many times, this has led to direct confrontation between the West and China while the magnitude of tension varied by China’s actions. Border skirmishes are now frequent with its strong neighbor, India on various fronts. Logistically, China shows historic proof and claims small pieces of land in India mainly in the North East and the North.
Whereas when smaller nations are concerned, they are simply afraid of China’s massive military strength. For expanding territories overseas, China settles military bases abroad and slowly increases its activity there capturing small areas.
Interestingly, China follows a policy of “Salami Slice” policy by Stalinist Communist Mátyás Rákosi. Under this, China pursues its expansionism through divide and rule by threats and forming alliances.
China has established deep ties with Pakistan and other countries near India to surround India and keep them engaged from all four directions which would lessen its power. China has finessed this deception to effective military use to expand its territories quietly.
Debt Trap Diplomacy
Another diplomatic strategy that China actively pursues is the debt trap diplomacy wherein it grants massive loans to smaller nations in need of aid with low interest rates, unable to repay their debts, nations are forced to give a share or sometimes all of its resources and thus demand concessions from China.
For example, Sri Lanka was forced to hand the control of Hambantota Port to China for 99 years. This largely benefited China in military and commercial sea routes passing through the port. In exchange for relief to Djibouti, China constructed its first military base there. Whereas, Angola is paying multi-billion dollars with its crude oil.
China simulates this money lending system parallel to the official market often regulated by inter-governmental organizations like the IMF. It offers low interest rates than the market or gives more time to repay making countries fall in the trap.
Most of the countries in the world have fallen in this diplomacy (The Red Threat) and are constantly paying debts to China or have accepted its intervention in its economy. This is a form of indirect control that China is aggressively pursuing and a major concern for Western nations which was openly addressed in the 2021 G7 Glasgow Summit.
Furthermore, a major step called “One Belt one road initiative” was launched by China in 2013 to recreate the old silk road connecting Asia to Europe. This would certainly increase Beijing’s economic power in the world and soon or later, the majority of the countries will fall to China’s plans, as the west warned while China shows it as a great economic opportunity for the world to cease and would empower many nations.
Xi’s vision included creating a vast web of railroads, power lines, highways and streamlined border crossings. From the west through the mountainous former Soviet republics to the south to Pakistan, India and the rest of Southeast Asia. According to Xi, such a network would expand the international use of China’s currency, the renminbi, and “remove connectivity bottlenecks in Asia.”
This is followed by additional fifty special economic zones following the model of Shenzhen Economic Zone in 1980. To date, more than 60 countries have agreed to be a part of this and analysts claim that China’s overall expenses over the life of the BRI could reach $1.2 trillion-$1.3 trillion by 2027, though estimates on total investments vary.
China has both geopolitical and economic motives behind this and could be largely seen as fulfilling the “Made in China dream” by 2025.
The Belt and road initiative is also facing major opposition. BRI funding is viewed as a potentially poisoned chalice for those nations that incur significant debt to pay for infrastructure investments. As opposed to aid grants, BRI projects are constructed utilizing low-interest loans. Some BRI investments required the involvement of Chinese companies and entailed secretive bidding procedures. Contractors have raised prices as a result, which has caused projects to be canceled and political reaction.
Before committing to BRI investments, certain governments, such those in Kenya and Zambia, thoroughly examine the investments, while candidates in Malaysia have run—and won—campaigns on anti-BRI platforms.
In Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad, who was elected prime minister in 2018, ran an anti-excessive BRI initiative campaign and rejected BRI projects worth $22 billion. 2019 saw widespread protests against the building of Chinese companies in Kazakhstan, which were sparked by financial worries as well as resentment over how the Chinese government treated Uighurs in Xinjiang Province.
To counter the BRI route surrounding India through Pakistan, Djibouti, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. India reacted with “Necklace of Diamond strategy” which contradicts the BRI and cuts China’s sea route via the Indian ocean near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
China’s long term goals
China haswell laid out long-term strategic goals, dovetailing territorial expansion and economic objectives:
Leadership Role– China is aiming to dislodge the USA from the world leadership role. Naturally, it condones no competition from India to its hegemony in South Asia. China appears on course.
Economically Powerful– China’s GDP, valued at $13.2 trillion, is quickly catching up to the US economy, valued at $21.44 trillion. In 2001, China formally joined the World Trade Organization.
Military Supremacy– Militarily too, China is marching ahead. As in keeping with the Global Fire Power Review, China’s army-would possibly rank 1/3 in the back of America and Russia. With 2.18 million strength, it boasts of the best range of active army employees with inside the world. India is a far off 2d with a pressure of 1.23 million. China has an excellent array of land, air and marine systems and armament.
Maritime Ambitions- China’s goals to be Asia’s undisputed local hegemon is possibly maximum obvious with inside the South China Sea. China has struck oil there. To lessen dependence on imports, it seeks to preserve a monopoly over this reserve. Beijing constantly creates navy bases alongside far flung reefs and islands in a 1.5-million-rectangular mile expanse.
Since 2013, the People’s Republic of China has resorted to island-constructing withinside the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands areas to boost its maritime limits.
In this race of geopolitics, nations are competing actively in turning out to be global players and taking various courses of action to achieve their own ideals. What lies in the future of diplomacy is an answer that can only be answered in the future. The world order is taking a turn once again and what lies ahead is for the world to see.