14 Nov 2017/ Tuesday.
Surely China must be realizing now that they bit off more than what they can chew. June to August saw heighted tension between Indo-China with Doklam being the bone of contention. End of August India and China mutually agreed to de-escalate tensions bringing putative closure to the dispute which was misconstrued by the Chinese media and umpteen reports of India chickening out where reported. Not even remotely China would have then thought, that two months down the lane, India would get China on tenterhooks again. And how? With the Indo-Pacific Quad which is causing tremors in China for the past few weeks.
But why is China wary of this new alliance, when it is itself boisterously aiming at increased cooperation through OBOR, CPEC etc?
The following could help us understand China’s uneasiness:
1. It appears that China looks at it as a containment strategy. As it appears to be in line with India’s Act East Policy and US’ Rebalancing act. (China has got it right!)
2. Xi Jinping has recently got a thumping victory in the 19th Communist Party Congress, and is compared with PRC’s founder Mao Zedong. QSD has undoubtedly cut short the celebrations and overcast his growing ambitions. It may immediately not undermine his power in Asia-pacific region however, but a gentle caution to slow down has been smartly and timely conveyed.
3. It may hinder the ambitious Chinese OBOR project.
4. Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) & military-maritime might of the four countries in Indo-Pacific and South China Sea would have got Chinese think tanks rolling and pitching.
5. Pose a huge economic threat.
6. Lastly, four huge democracies aligned against a communist could be another genuine cause of worry.
It is crystal clear that India is now ready to expand cooperation with the West or East on the basis of enlightened self-interest. This quad will help it fight terrorism, improve regional connectivity and extend its naval reach. How the Trump administration works to realize the full potential of the Quad, and of a larger regional Indo-Pacific vision encompassing India and the Indian Ocean, will be the strategic question to watch.
However, if China is ready to cooperate on terrorism and stop blocking India’s rise, multiple possibilities could be explored.