China’s troubled relations with the US and India! – Guest Author: Nirmalya Chatterjee
China is now engaged in serious conflicts with the world’s largest economy and the world’s largest democracy on a number of fronts. This is not a very good situation for China to be in. Accusations of unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, aggressive posture in South China Sea and violation of basic human rights have been some of the most serious ones against China in the past couple of decades. However, the recent events of COVID-19, abrogation of the rights of Hong Kong people and the Himalayan border clash with India have made the situation more intense. China’s opaque political system and the firm hands of its leader do not give much clue of where the country is heading.
China has been accused of creating giant trade imbalances with the United States and Europe by restricting its borders to foreign imports while ‘dumping’ Chinese products in the western markets. Many people in the United States firmly believe that China’s unfair trade practices have caused its massive loss of manufacturing jobs. Trade war between the US and China has greatly ratcheted up since President Trump came into office but most economists believe that it has failed to yield any significant progress so far.
Counterfeits of international luxury products are easily available almost in any Chinese city at a small fraction of their original price. Protecting technologies, hardware or software, is very difficult there. There have been some serious concerns in the recent years that some of the Chinese technology companies are sharing confidential military and personal data with the Chinese government. Sanctions are being imposed as a result on many Chinese companies including the giant ones like Huawei, TikTok and WeChat.
South China Sea is a part of the Pacific Ocean with the great strategic importance as a trading route. There are a number of disputes between China and its neighbors, namely, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia on the territorial claim of South China Sea. China has taken a very aggressive stand and has been building man-made reef islands in the middle of the ocean and establishing military bases there. Japan, India and the United States have recently conducted joint naval exercise in that area as a show of force with aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.
Since being transferred from Britain to China in 1997, Hong Kong has maintained separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under a principle of “one country, two systems”. Chinese central government has been clamping down on democratic freedom of Hong Kong in the recent years leading to massive and sometimes violent protests for a prolonged period. On June 30, 2020, Beijing enacted the ‘National Security Law’ whereby the Chinese mainland system has taken over the Hong Kong system. Both United States and Britain have announced that they will eliminate the special rights Hong Kong enjoyed as a ‘free economic system’. With Hong Kong’s role as a major hub for commercial and banking activities, this will be of major consequence in the long run.
China and India have been engaged in a long running border dispute that traces back to the British rule of India. In 1962, there was a brief but serious war between the two in the north-east area near Assam and in the north near Kashmir, known as Ladakh. There have been off and on military tussles along the border between these two nuclear powers since then. In June 2020, Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a clash in the high-altitude border area in Ladakh when 20 Indian soldiers were killed and over 150 were injured. China has not disclosed its casualties. Tension continues to remain high along the border as well as in the Indian media.
While there is a good deal of investigation and suspicion continuing as to how the COVID 19 pandemic originated, there is no disagreement that it started in the Wuhan province of China. This being one of the greatest human sufferings in a century, China’s standing in the world opinion has been greatly tarnished due to this. There is considerable discontent against China amongst the people in two of the most affected countries – US and India. When President Trump calls the virus ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘Kung Flu’ at his rally, the crowd cheers. China brings a lot to the global party. It is a strong, vibrant economy with a vast, hard working population base backed by modern infrastructure. Fixing the issues with China or getting them to ‘play nice’ will not be easy. But, it will be in everyone’s best interest. Most experts are of the opinion that the current premier Xi Jinping has been China’s most determined and controlling leader since the days of Mao Zedong in the fifties. No matter who gets to occupy the White House after upcoming November election, it is going to be a daunting task to tackle Xi Jinping. It will require solid, sustainable strategy that will be backed by the allies. Prime Minister Modi is an astute leader who enjoys a strong support of his countrymen. He will be a team player. But the US and India cannot do it alone. Just like the way the Soviet Union was brought under control in the eighties by President Reagan, leaders of Europe and Asia will also have to be brought into the fold by the US President to have a well-coordinated effort in resolving the multi-faceted issues with China.
Nirmalya Chatterjee is an 11 year resident of Las Vegas. He is a management consultant for consumer products and the hospitality industry. During his professional career, Nirmalya had several senior levels and ex-pat assignments. He was the Chief Financial Officer for Coors Brewing Company; Vice President of Finance for Las Vegas Sands Corporation; Sr. Vice President of Finance, Galaxy Entertainment Macau; and General Manager of Revlon India. Most recently, Nirmalya served as the Chairman of the Hindu Temple and Jain Center of Las Vegas.
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