Keep China in our magnified sight

Last week’s clash between Chinese and Indian army personnel in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, confirmed by defence minister Rajnath Singh in Parliament on Tuesday, underscores the constant threat posed by China to not just India‘s borders but also to the rules-based international order. Indian armed forces successfully repulsed the aggressors underlining preparedness. But there is no room for complacency. Cyberattacks targeting key Indian infrastructure have also increased, thus demanding defence.

Beijing often uses belligerence towards its neighbours to tackle tricky domestic situations. The latest confrontation comes at a time of rising Covid cases and capacity issues of hospitals following the relaxation of its zero-Covid policy. India must rally its partners and allies, and strengthen its relationships in the region and beyond. It requires New Delhi to take a clear stand against countries that disregard and violate rules-based international order and show little respect for rights of sovereign nations. India’s G20 presidency can only buttress such an effort.

India poses a threat to China’s ambitions for global dominance under an imperial Xi regime. China’s growing economy and its role as the world’s factory gave it a modicum of protection. But there are chinks in its armour. Late Japanese PM Shinzo Abe‘s efforts put the spotlight on the danger China poses in the Indo-Pacific, resulting in the formation of the Quad. The pandemic demonstrated the dangers of concentrating supply chains in one country. In this context, India’s growing global space and role at the helm of several plurilateral and intergovernmental platforms are anathema to Beijing. India can’t wish away its neighbour, but it can ensure that engagement is on its terms.

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