Rapid Changing Political Developments
A series of political developments in the past two months have changed the nature of international geopolitics after a botched up withdrawal & ignominious retreat of American & NATO forces from Afghanistan leading to installation of Pakistan controlled Taliban Afghan government in Kabul. Sensing an opportunity in the region China is looking for a larger role in Taliban governed Afghanistan providing them with millions of dollars in aid and looking for expanding the CPEC region from Pakistan to Afghanistan. In addition the communist nation is also looking to tap the largest reserves of lithium that are pervasively used in electrical vehicles.
Formation of ‘AUKUS’
The exit from Afghanistan provided the American to focus its energies primarily into the Indo Pacific with a view to counter China. In a surprise move, the United States, United Kingdom & Australia formed the historic Anglo trilateral alliance ‘AUKUS’ in which America will help Australia to build nuclear powered submarines, develop AI & other technologies. The historical pact excluded France which has considerable presence in the Indo-Pacific with around 1.6 million French citizens residing in New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, and other smaller islands. The cumulative exclusive economic zone of French territories is around 9 million square kilometres. The termination of the French submarine contract by Australia in favour of America opens for a possible alliance between India & France for the latter acquiring nuclear propelled attack submarines.
The trilateral military alliance AUKUS excluded QUAD members Japan & India from the alliance. In the backdrop the heads of four democracies USA, Australia, Japan & India met in Washington to set an agenda for peace & prosperity in the Indo Pacific through rules-based international order. The outcome of the meeting was to promote agreements to build capacity & export on COVID-19 vaccines, enhance semiconductor supply chains through building framework of technological development & cooperation among member nations, focussing to deploy, secure, open transparent 5G networks, develop emerging technologies like AI, cyberspace, biotechnology & taking steps towards promoting cleaner energy.
INDO – TAIWAN STRATEGIC COOPERATION IN SEMICONDUCTOR MANUFACTURING
The declaration of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue framework held in America regarding 5G networks posed a challenge to Chinese Telecommunication giants Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. America has been running a relentless campaign to restrict the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks citing national security risk. Much to chargin of CCP reports have emerged of possible deal between India & Taiwan over $7.5 Billion dollar deal to set up semiconductor manufacturing facility in India. The deal will accelerate the MNC firms operating in China to abandon the communist country, thereby moving manufacturing plants to India. In the past Foxconn Technology Group and Wistron Corp have scaled up their production facilities in India.
CHINESE ECONOMY WOES
The rapid fast paced developments of companies abandoning China in favour of India has rattled the CCP. The Chinese economy is not doing well as the Debt to GDP ratio has climbed over 300%. The highly leveraged Chinese real estate industry including the Evergrande Group, Fantasia Holdings Group Co,which accounts for 30% of Chinese GDP has defaulted on its dollar bond payments for the first time in history. Analysts are fearing global financial contagion due to future possible defaults by real estate Chinese companies. Compounding woes of the Chinese economy is the power shortage, blackouts faced by cities & industrial hubs which had led to contraction of manufacturing activity. In the past Chinese Premier has adopted an unprecedented clampdown on Chinese Silicon Valley giants like Alibaba, Tencent & others eroding One Trillion USD of Market Capitalization in this year.
CHINESE BELLIGERENCE IN HIMALAYAS & SOUTH CHINA SEA
The prospect of cooperation between India & Taiwan has not gone well with CCP. In the past four days the dragon nation has deployed 149 Military fighter aircrafts to fly over Taiwan air defence zone. China intends to attack Taiwan by 2025 and merge the Island nation with China under the ‘One China Policy’. To counter India’s growing clout in Asia the CCP is ramping up infrastructure along the border by building air bases, constructing aircraft shelters, deploying anti aircraft exercises, conducting night vision war games. The build up is aimed at dissuading India to take steps to contain China in the Indo Pacific, weaken QUAD & prevent alliance between Taiwan & India. In the past attempts were made to vandalize the work place of Foxconn & Wistron in Bangalore. Reliance promoted JIO which is working to develop 5G Technology in India has been targeted as well. An explosives-laden vehicle was discovered outside of Mukesh Ambani residence ‘Antilia’ & further around 1500 Reliance Jio Towers were vandalized in Punjab by protestors masquerading as farmers. PLA forces have crossed Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand repeatedly in the past two months after agreeing to disengage at Eastern Ladakh in August.
SYNERGIES OF DEMOCRACIES & INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION OF TAIWAN
This is a well known fact about the CCP employing Sun Tzu doctrine of The Art of War to strangle the adversary by using their own political system. And China, through its deeply cultivated network of activists, academicians, film personalities, media corporates are running a well orchestrated campaign to diminish the nationalist passion in India to safeguard Beijing economic interest. And the stumbling road block for CCP global expansionist plans are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi / Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison / Taiwaneese Premier Tsai Ing-wen / Japanese Premier Fumio Kishida who collectively in a coordinated approach giving sleepless night to Chinese Premier Xi JingPing who is scared to travel outside China fearing internal dissent and revolt. Taiwan has filed an official application for membership of the ‘Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)’ trade group. And the visiting French Senator Alain Richard, a former defence minister addressed Taiwan a ‘country’. Taiwan has opened office in Lithuania and new office would be called the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, rather than the “Taipei Representative Office”. The increased global engagement and cooperation with Taiwan has not gone well with CCP which regards Taiwan as renegade province.With the Chinese economy appearing to be unstable and fearful of internal revolt by Xi Jingping, CCP is likely to adopt provocative approach towards Taiwan. And seeking support from democracies around the world the allies United States, United Kingdom, Japan & Australia are monitoring the situation closely with their respective navy stationed at Taiwan southern coast to show their solidarity.
FREE AND OPEN INDO PACIFIC to Counter CHINESE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE
The new political developments in Asia point out that the Belt & Road Initiative of China which was aimed at legitimizing its perceived claims over uncontested territories and waterways, will now face increased challenge from the Indo-Pacific grouping of democracies who would resent Chinese expansionism and hegemony in the continent. The hilly terrain of Himalayas and the marine waters of South China sea are likely to see many more events of heightened skirmishes and engagements with China in the days to come, which would meet the stiff resistance of all the democracies in the Indo Pacific region which will strive for “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”.