Chinese President Xi Jinping’s bonhomie towards India at the 9th BRICS Summit ran contrary to his earlier hardline rhetoric during the two-month long Doklam stand-off. It can be rightly argued that BRICS acted as a coolant for Sino-Indian tension.
All eyes in the next few months will be on how former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will play his cards vis-à-vis the Pakistan army. If one were to look beyond the domestic ramifications, the first point which needs to be closely examined is how China has reacted to the instability.
In early August 2017, Japan lodged a protest with China over its gas exploration in a disputed area of the East China Sea. Confirming the presence of a Chinese drillship close to Tokyo’s proposed median line, Japan accused China of conducting “unilateral development.”
US President Donald Trump wrote: “China is our enemy.” He said China was an enemy because of weak and incompetent US officials that were taken to the cleaners by smart and seasoned Chinese negotiators, and he would fix that and turn China into a friend.
One of the arguments for a coming war is the Thucydides Trap theory. It goes that the situation of a status quo power (Sparta in ancient Greece) and a fast rising power that challenges the former (Athens) creates a condition wherein neither can tolerate the other.
At the end of the August 2017 ASEAN gathering in Manila, ASEAN overcame all obstacles and issued a communique addressing the non-militarization of the South China Sea. Both China and ASEAN have also agreed on the framework for a Code of Conduct.
In a New York Times op-ed, China expert Merriden Varrall accused Chinese students of “importing a pro-Beijing approach … that is stifling debate and openness.” The article is symptomatic of a rising moral panic in Australia about the political activities of Chinese students.
A Chinese incursion in Australia’s EEZ has sparked a debate. Many say China is hypocritical because it is undertaking ISR missions in other countries’ EEZs while opposing those of the US in its own EEZ. But there are differences between what China and the US are doing.
Cambodia was one of the first countries to take a strong stance supporting the BRI and the Chinese-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) after their establishment in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Despite the agreement being in place for peaceful coexistence and respect for each other’s sovereignty, if their armies are standing eyeball-to-eyeball for whatever reasons, then China and India need to revisit the Panchsheel Agreement.