The Dokalam standoff has reiterated the fact that China lacks the sense and poise of a ‘great power’ even though it wants to project itself as a rising power that wants to replace the US as a superpower.
The country through various ways — a recent video in the staterun Xinhua news agency, articles in the state-run Global Times and through statements of Deputy Director General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs Wang Wenli and spokespersons of foreign and defence ministries — has given the impression that it is nothing but a small-time bully against India.
A recent video released by Xinhua on India’s role in Dokalam is similar to classroom videos in the West, and reflects the desperation that has probably set in the Chinese establishment following India’s firm stand on issue. The video is not only in poor taste but can actually be counter-productive and inspire anti-China sentiments.
Several articles in the state-run Global Times too had a similar tone and tenor targeting India. The assertions by the spokespersons of various Chinese departments were no different ever since the standoff started and it became clear that India will not allow PLA to unilaterally change the status quo in Dokalam. Such an approach is unbecoming of a “great power”, according to diplomats familiar with China and its foreign policy. The approach can be aptly described as a big bully and not that of a mature power.
China has also used the media to provoke India. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, for instance, in a statement dragged the Kashmir issue, and blamed the exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops across the LoC as “undermining regional stability”.
A Chinese media commentary also suggested that if Indian troops can enter Dokalam, then a third party can intervene in Kashmir. Simultaneously, Beijing has engaged in psychological warfare too: the live fire exercise in the Tibet-Qinghai plateau at a height of 5,000 feet and telecasting it over Chinese Central Television.
China is engaging in this war-mongering to target Asian nations which it perceives to be close to the United States — India, Japan and Vietnam. The Indo-Pacific region has emerged as China’s preferred theatre for aggressive brinkmanship. “Historically, ‘Revisionist Powers’, and China is certainly one, going berserk when after sustained pursuit of military resurgence to ‘right theirs self-perceived historical wrongs and humiliation’, and flush with their new-found military power, start flexing their military muscles,” explained Subash Kapila in his recent article ‘China Going Strategically Berserk in 2017-A Global Concern’ published in Southasiaanalysis.org.
Beijing’s unrestrained sabre-rattling has the potential to impact sentiments of citizens who travel in large numbers to China annually.
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