Mr Kumar,- - - -
THE United States of America’s undue and unjust meddling in the domestic affairs of China through coercive means has forced China to initiate its Integrated Counter Diplomacy (ICD) which is based on greater connectivity, shared consensus on common challenges, regional structures, economic integration and relocating with ‘good neighbourliness in South Asia.
In this regard, China’s pandemic diplomacy has already won hearts and souls of South Asian Region (SAR). Thus, the SAR supported the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stance on making vaccines a global public good and carrying out continued vaccine cooperation with the participating countries in a flexible manner.
Moreover, China has been trying its best to engage the SAR with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang assured that his country would actively promote the building of the CPEC and the Trans-Himalayan Connectivity Network and support the extension of the corridor to Afghanistan and further unleash the dividends of regional connectivity In this context, China-SAR proposal of China-South Asia Emergency Supply Mechanism and China-South Asia Poverty Alleviation and Development Partnership Centre are at final stage.
For the further strengthening of China’s out-reach in the SAR, its Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Nepal and Pakistan during 2020. Consequently, it boosted relations, deepened cooperation and elevated military mutual trust as part of China’s neighbourhood diplomacy.
China’s ICD is also to safeguard its vested interests particularly from the southwest and containment from the United States-led military alliance and the multi-dimensional international power politics. In this way, the Himalayan region of the Indo-Pacific Region with the emerging QUAD coalition and the evolution of China’s ICD has created strategic cushion for China and its allies in the SAR against hegemonic policies of the US and India alike.
Moreover, for the US face-saving, Kamala Harris, Vice President of the USA, visited Vietnam and Singapore and tried to convince for further strengthening of relations. Afterwards, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited both the countries as well as Cambodia to engage the regional allies and players.
It was a timely good move of China to mitigate US diplomatic posturing and strategic influence in the region. Meanwhile, Vietnam has tried to become strategic partner of major power brokers like the US and Japan.
Japanese Defence Minister and the US Defence Secretary visited Vietnam within a period of three months which showed diplomatic pains in the policy makers of the White House. In this regard, the Chinese Foreign Minister sensed strategic dynamics of the US high-officials’ visits to Vietnam and visited the same to comfort the ideological partner that China would be acting constructively.
The Chinese Foreign Minister during the visit clearly stated that Vietnam should not entertain extra regional powers in South China Sea (SCS) and resist from complicating the situation while magnifying the maritime territorial disputes.
its part, the US relied on its covert vaccine and health diplomacy towards Vietnam and created so-called favourable conditions to enhance trade relations with the US. As part of its ICD China has pledged to donate three million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and is willing to support Vietnam in their fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Thus China followed a balancing act to defuse the US increasing presence in the region.
Unfortunately, Vietnam Foreign Ministry has been vocal in criticizing Chinese so-called maneuvers in SCS and threatening legitimate activities of Vietnam in its Exclusive Economic Zone for the last two years which has created some kind of political and diplomatic rift between the two countries.
Moreover, western propaganda about so-called illegal activities of Chinese survey ships and fishermen militia in Vanguard bank, Reed Bank and Whitsun Reef has worsened bilateral relations. Thus Chinese ICD was positive, productive and participatory to align with Vietnam.
The Chinese Foreign Minister visited Singapore and had fruitful interaction with his counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan. Thus for China, engaging Singapore is important for securing its strategic periphery and engaging it for its trade and economic interests. The Chinese Foreign Minister’s proposal of development cooperation is to get assurance from the Southeast Asian neighbours regarding good neighbourliness and commitment to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) undertaken by China in the maritime domain is a right move and vividly reflects its ICD.
China’s ICD and neighbourhood diplomacy clearly shows signs of victory and worries for the US and its allies in the region although the US has intensified surveillance and intelligence activities as the latest Malabar defence exercises 25th edition which concluded recently near Guam.
On its part, Chinese ICD initiated diversified but integrated assertive activities in terms of operationalization of the Chinese Naval Ships (CNS), Chinese Coast Guard (CCG), Chinese Hydrographic Survey Ships (CHSS), and the Chinese Maritime Boat Militia (CMBM) which has been protecting sovereignty of its waters in SCS.
The military exercises undertaken by China close to the contested waters in SCS particularly in the Paracel islands, is primarily aimed to counter the group sails undertaken by the US and its alliance partners as well as any concerted activity undertaken by the Quad countries. Thus Chinese ICD is active and alters.
Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to Cambodia was timely. To counter any misadventure of the US and its allies in the region, China is to set up a full-fledged Chinese naval base at Ream naval base. Therefore, because of Chinese ICD the US projects in that region has been stopped and relocated to other areas which was not liked by the US agencies.
Moreover, the involvement of the European powers in the security of indo- Pacific region with special reference to the UK, France and Germany showcases that many players would be involved in ensuring maritime security in the region for trade and commercial aspects. Thus Chinese ICD is must to create strategic balance in the region.
Being a prominent regional expert of China, CPEC and BRI, this scribe foresees that visit of Chinese Foreign Minister would achieve its strategic goals of peace and stability in the region in which its ICD would play vital role.
It is hoped that being a potent power in SCS it would not allow any intervention by the extra territorial powers which try to intervene in the South China Sea dispute. Therefore, this visit clearly demonstrates that China has been successful to counter coercive diplomacy initiated by the US and its allies in the region.