USI-CAPS, TAIWAN JOINT WEBINAR ON 16 JULY 2021

USI-CAPS, TAIWAN JOINT WEBINAR ON 16 JULY 2021

Report 

The USI and CAPS, Taiwan jointly, organized a Webinar on 16th July 2021, focusing on China’s outlook towards Taiwan, India, and IOR, respectively.

The Webinar consisted of four sessions namely, 100 Years of Communist Party of China (CPC): an Assessment, Status of India-China Bilateral Relations, China’s Strategic Coercion against Taiwan: Assessment and Response, and Future of QUAD and B3W.   Welcome remarks were given by Maj Gen BK Sharma AVSM, SM** (Retd), Director, USI and the  Panelist included Mr. Andrew Nien-Dzu Yang, Secretary General, CAPS, Maj Gen RPS Bhadauria, VSM (Retd), Head CS3 and Arthur Shuhfan Ding, Chairman, CAPS.

The key Highlights of the discussion are given below.

100 Years of Communist Party of China (CPC):  An Assessment

Since 1949, CPC has enforced total state control, right down to the town and village level in a bid to create an organized society. Even though the CPC has witnessed different leaders from Mao to Xi, the significance placed on Party’s control over other structures has remained constant throughout history. The party also integrated the country with the world market, thereby, abandoning the earlier policy of economic isolation. In 2000, China entered World Trade Organization (WTO), but till date has not fulfilled its commitments.

The Party also carried out a revamp of China’s foreign policy from being a low-profile developing state without any initiatives of its own, to eventually rolling out highly attractive projects like Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in an attempt to confront US diplomatically. Additionally, the Chinese military has been transformed into a fighting force which keeps a thorough watch on external military developments in order to assess its outcome for the country’s national security interests.

Status of India-China Bilateral Relations

China-India relations is generally categorized by 3 Cs: Cooperation, Competition and Confrontation. The core of this relationship is the competition for balance of power in Asia. China views a bipolar world order with a China centric Asia model, while, India supports a non-hegemonic multipolar global structure where India plays a paramount role in the region.

Some broad drivers for confrontation between the two states are:

  • Border Issues
  • Tibet and Dalai Lama
  • Damning of Brahmaputra by China
  • Chinese opposition to India’s joining Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The key issue, however, also remains Pakistan-China Strategic Nexus and its implication for India’s security calculus.  From being neutral at the beginning of the relationship, China now aligns with Pakistan and diplomatically shields it at UNSC as well as from being blacklisted by Financial Action Task Force (FATF).  In addition of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China also has several other strategic infrastructure projects with countries like Nepal and Myanmar in South Asia, which poses security concerns to India, as it is an attempt to weaken India’s strategic standing in the region. Furthermore, China has approximately 23 upcoming projects in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Following the recent Galwan clashes, India carried out a range of punitive measures which included the banning of several Chinese apps. Even though an understanding on disengagement and withdrawal was reached in February this year, China is yet to vacate certain illegally occupied positions.

Finally, at the recent Foreign Ministers meeting, India made it firm that resolution of border dispute remains the primary objective and only when this is achieved other aspects of the relationship like commerce and trade could be discussed.

China’s Strategic Coercion against Taiwan: Assessment and Response

China carries out deterrence against Taiwan in 3 different ways, which are:

Political and Diplomatic

Beijing has always blocked Taiwan’s activities as well as its participation in the larger realm of International Affairs. Even recently, China blocked Taiwan’s participation in World Health Organization (WHO) Assembly for its 74th annual meeting.  Whenever any foreign State or even multilateral organizations raise their concerns about the Chinese threat to Taiwan’s territorial sovereignty, Beijing tends to refute any such claims by issuing out press releases and statements with a substantially hard-line undertone. The Chinese government has also been using their indigenous vaccines as a tool to diplomatically damage Taiwan’s ties with global partners, especially in Central and South America.

Economic and Trade

China has an unwavering edge over Taiwan in this regard, given the latter’s export being largely dependent upon the Chinese market. For instance, 43 percent of Taiwan’s total exports last year was with China (including Hong Kong and Macau). 1 million Taiwanese continue to live, study and work in China which acts as a leverage for the Chinese in the larger economic sphere.

Military Pressures

China’s continued military exercises in Taiwan Strait has escalated tension within the region. Instances of military posturing by China such as when her 25 military aircrafts trespassed Taiwan’s airspace in April this year amplify turbulence in the wider geostrategic domain. G-7 members also took cognizance of China’s military coercion against Taiwan.  In the Joint Statement released after their June Summit, they advised China to follow a rule base order and maintain peace and tranquility in the region. These coercions have largely proven to be unsuccessful, as both Taiwan Government and people have not shown any intention of surrendering.

With rising Chinese nationalism, and their dream of national rejuvenation and integration of Taiwan with China, the former would require constant and perhaps enhanced international support to maintain its standing as an independent nation in the international order.

Future of QUAD and B3W

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD)

The four members of this organization first came together in 2004, when they successfully set up a task force, to conduct humanitarian mission in the wake of tsunami in the region.  Subsequently, former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in his speech “Confluence of Two Seas” in the Indian Parliament in 2007, highlighted the imperativeness of Japan and India to come together, along with US and Australia, to lay the foundation for the grouping of QUAD.

However, it was only in 2017 when former US President Donald Trump following US’s growing strategic competition with China gave an impetus to this quadrilateral framework. The emphasis laid by Present Biden’s administration on QUAD, was evident when the first Virtual Leaders Summit was held in the early days of Joe Biden’s Presidency.  During the meeting, Biden even remarked that, “QUAD is going to be a vital arena for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.” Furthermore, another Summit is likely to be held by the end of this year.

IOR

Economic resurgence has shifted the global economic and political centre of gravity towards this region. Majority global trade passes through this region including the trade activities from 7 out of world’s top 10 largest economies such as China, South Korea, Indonesia and the QUAD member states.

Economic partnership with China is lucrative for most of the countries in the region, but Chinese behaviour of using its economic might to gain strategic advantage over its host partners, is a worrying cause for nations in the IOR.

The ongoing Cold War between US and China has resulted in the region becoming a theatre for great power competition. Moreover, China is enhancing its naval capabilities with the desire and more so with the objective to neutralize American naval supremacy in the region. It has also been regularly conducting hydrographic surveys in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the littoral states in an attempt to further its ‘nine dash-line’ claim in the South China Sea, and also in the Indo-Pacific region.

China’s new Coast Guard Law was passed in February this year. This gives her Coast Guards the authority to strike down any foreign vessel in the so-called claimed Chinese territory. This legislation is capable of creating further disturbances in the region.

Future of QUAD and Indo-Pacific

In order to function at its true capacity, QUAD would have to expand in the following themes:

  • Economic partnership
  • Trade and commerce
  • COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Fighting terrorism

Furthermore, ASEAN member states can be considered as a collective major actor in providing comprehensive security solutions in the region provided they receive due assistance from major powers operating in the region such as the QUAD. Lastly, QUAD in the coming times can have more regional partners joining the organization and thereby, leading to the evolution of the institution into a ‘QUAD Plus’ like framework, which will only provide renewed impetus for achieving peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

Build Back Better World (B3W) Initiative

G-7 members have launched their own global infrastructural plan in a bid to provide developing countries with an alternative to Chinese debt-driven loans.

Focus Area of this Initiative will be:

  • Climate
  • Health
  • Digital Technology and
  • Equality

There are many challenges that lay ahead of this initiative. Italy is a member of China’s BRI as well as B3W Initiative. It will be interesting to see how Italy will behave when B3W takes a concrete shape. G-7 member states will have a huge task in rivaling China’s BRI simply because of Beijing’s large financial reserves amounting to about $3.5 trillion. Even though India has stated to consider this plan with a possibility of joining it in the future, further details of B3W project are still being worked out.

Report Prepared by Mr. Varun Bhagat, Research Assistant, USI of India

 

 

 

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