The balance of power in the world has been affected by the expansion of China’s economy in the last twenty years. Geographic expansion follows economic and population growth, something we know well in Africa: first as colonialism, then as asset stripping. In an effort to contain this the countries on the periphery of China’s zone of influence, Japan, India and Australia, have banded together to form the Quad Group. They have partnered with the US, who is economically threatened, to lend their weight to the alliance
Balance of power in the world and region
China’s growth in a generation should not be a cause for concern in itself. In fact, it should be celebrated. They suffered servitude from the Western nations who kept them down – literally addicted to opium in the nineteenth century – in order to carry off their riches. This same strategy happened with India, and is arguably still happening. The US doesn’t mind who joins the dinner party. But they want to be the only one sitting at the Big Table.
Afghanistan, a small, poor land, has confounded large empires throughout its history because of its strategic location. Nothing has changed. In fact, the US leaving Afghanistan is going to speed up China’s plans.
Belt and Road
China’s strategy for the 21st century is to resuscitate the ancient Silk Route – a line of communication from China, across South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe. This would send their goods to the markets of Europe and along the way- securing the future as workshop of the world for hundreds of years.
China needs access to the Indian Ocean for this to happen. Guess who stands in the way? India. This is why China has been Pakistan’s closest ally and plans to break out to the Indian Ocean via Pakistan. On the other side, they have projects in Bangladesh and have created a strong zone of influence in South East Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines). India is probably getting the “we’re not alone feeling”.
History as a guide
Many western political analysts do not understand the power of history. They are coming from new countries and relatively recent situations of power. We can trace Chinese and Indian history back 5,000 years, a conservative estimate. China is the only culture that can look India in the eye when it comes to richness, sustained wealth and having trialled many different methods of rule and changed them when necessary.
Neither nation has a track record of invasion, conquest, exploitation or colonisation. If you look at other empires such US, Arab, Europe, Rome and Iran then this is astounding. This inward focus happens partly because they are hemmed in by mountains, oceans and deserts. The real reason is that they have created cultures or “ways of doing things” that didn’t require expansion. Good climates and resources, unlike deserts and ice, tend to keep one at home developing a mindset of abundance which is reinforced in culture and religion.
India relations with US and other partners
It may be believed that the US won World War 1 and World War 2 by themselves if you watch a lot of US films. The fact is that they entered late, both times, on the winning side. France and Britain, the world colonial powers at the time, were severely weakened, losing all their colonies within 15 years and India directly after the war, 1947. The outcome was the US becoming the undisputed world power for at least 75 years.
Pakistan became a US ally when independent India decided to not join the US game plan – remain non-aligned – and so lead to a freeze in the Cold War toward India. This has slowly changed as India modernised and both countries sought allies in counter-terrorist activities. The US wants China and India to be passive markets for their products, a losing battle as Chinese prices and Indian quality make inroads.
Japan and Australia are not key partners in the Quad Group for India, but the four of them “encircle” South East Asia and therefore can contain China’s ambitions if they prove violent or economically perilous. They have formed the Quad group, starting from talks in 2007, for strategic purposes with no military integration at the moment.
Effect on the Diaspora
A lot of things make sense when the above is understood. Pakistan has been allies with China and the US. But its likely that the US will abandon Pakistan now that it has pulled out of Afghanistan – there is no point to the relationship. Pakistan sees China as a lifeline and a big brother in the area.
Watch for attacks on India, Indian culture and PM Narendra Modi coming in the media and films. Money talks, as always, and even small states such as Qatar have deep pockets which they use to fund their political agendas. The more unstable India is, the better for its rivals. Any attempt India takes to defend this will be labelled nationalism. Media and film industries have become politically weaponised in recent years, ironically in democracies that have more freedoms.
The diaspora in Africa is well-established with some cultural links to India and is used to doing business with the new Chinese expansion in Africa. Mauritius and the Maldives may become strategically important due to their positions on sea routes.
The Quad group is a political grouping for India, and there is a bigger picture, but don’t start worrying about World War 3 at this point. Alliances are more for show and intimidation than gang fights.