China is moving very fast to become the world’s number one military power and is modernising its People’s Liberation Army to make it capable of winning regional conflicts and deterring any third-party intervention.
One of the central messages out of the sixth Chinese Communist Party plenum held last month is that President Xi Jinping would lead the country as its supreme leader for another five years and proceed with Beijing’s well-known agenda to emerge as the world’s number one economic and military power.
Observers say that since the Nixon administration opened China to the West, Beijing has moved very fast on its agenda to become the world’s most dominant power. It has already replaced Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. By 2030, China’s economy may emerge at least 50 per cent larger than the U.S.A.’s.
Beijing has roped in the Eurasian landmass and Africa through aid, development and trade links. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, launched in 2013, has bought more and more nations under its influence. According to an estimate, by 2020, China invested $139.8 billion through this project in over 139 countries, including several E.U. member states.
China is moving very fast to become the world’s number one military power. It is modernising its People’s Liberation Army to make it capable of winning regional conflicts and deterring any third-party intervention. Its modernisation is focused on long-range precision-guided munitions, hypersonic missiles, space and cyber weapons.
China is pursuing silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and satellite-guided munitions to strike targets on Earth and in space. There are already technological areas wherein Beijing is ahead of Washington. China today is challenging the U.S. lead in areas such as artificial intelligence, rocket launches, quantum computing, quantum sensing and supercomputing. Besides, the capabilities of China’s atomic arsenal have increased a lot over the years.
The possible rise of communist China as the world’s number one power is fraught with dangerous implications for the free world. It constitutes a threat to all nations that cherish pluralistic values. Given China’s continued aggression against modern, democratic India, New Delhi needs to be specifically cautious.
New Delhi would do well to take appropriate defence measures to checkmate China’s designs against India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Australian, American and Japanese counterparts Scott Morrison, Fumio Kishida, and President Joe Biden could forge more effective collaboration under the Quad forum to counter China’s effort to dominate the Indo-Pacific region or hinder the freedom of navigation and commerce in the region.
New Delhi could extend moral support to the AUKUS forum of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The forum is for sharing information in areas including artificial intelligence, cyber and underwater defence capabilities. The trilateral agreement allows Australia to receive nuclear propulsion technology to power a new fleet of submarines.
India could also reach out to the Association of Southeast Asia Nations and Taiwan to checkmate China in the region. Like India, all these nations have been concerned over China’s expansionist designs.
Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory. It has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region. The ASEAN members, including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, also claim the region.
Taiwan takes China’s military modernisation very seriously. Communist China considers democratic Taiwan as its territory and seeks to annex it by force if necessary. One report goes that the Pentagon has war-gamed over Taiwan between the United States and China, and in 18 such practices, Washington has lost to Beijing.
(The author is a senior journalist based in New Delhi)