Africa and Sino-Indian Conflict | The Background

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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Africa and Sino-Indian Conflict

Abu Sayeed Ahmed

The story goes like this. Around 1414 AD, a delegation from Kenya brought some giraffes for Sultan of Gaur, Alauddin Firuz Shah 1. They met the Chinese Admiral Muhammad Mahsin there, who was better known as Zheng He. They gifted him one of those giraffes. Zheng took to China then ruled by the Ming dynasty during that time.

The Chinese, for many centuries, have maintained their penchant for business scopes and thereby expanded their economy. Africa, Middle-East and Europe are potential trade hotspots to China. But the western border of China is either landlocked Central Asian countries or neighbouring Russia. Moreover, Russia itself has scarcity of hot-water ports. Eastern Coast gives an opportunity to Indo-Pacific ocean routes but is vied with United States.

To solve this problem, China took the Belt and Road Initiatives through land. CPEC in Pakistan is part of this. Chinese buttressing in South China Sea is to secure Eastern Coast naval trade routes. And India is potential threat to both.

India occupies a chunk of territory south to China. India even refused to join Belt and Road initiative. India inherited border dispute with China from the time of the British rule. Moreover, Indian Missile range reaches Chinese interest in the Mainland and South China Sea. Recent revoking of Article 370 and claim over Gilgit-Baltistan by India is certainly a threat on Trans-Karakoram Highway, an integral part of Chinese interest. Indo-US military activities, diplomacy over Taiwan, favouring BIMSTEC over SAARC did enrage Beijing. Modi-Xi Mamallapuram meet just after Imran Khan’s belligerent speech in UNGA may soothe Indian perception. But it fails to prove the stunt after Chinese incursion in multiple spots of the Indo-China border of Ladakh sector.

The disputed borders and territories with India and China.

Western interest of dominance and cheap labour source relays on weakness of Africa but Chinese interest counts on purchasing power of African Markets too. So, Chinese influence found to be more profound there. More so, China does not have any ideological rigidity in their foreign policy, which has made Chinese economic interest flow easily.

In this context, it seems that Narendra Modi’s chest thumping politics will find a baffling situation if India fails to thwart Chinese intrusions. Either way, they have to concede territory or make some sort of concessions. In both cases, Indian claim as “Kashmir an integral part” will lose its credibility because whatever happens from now will evolve around this chunk of land.

Cover Cartoon- Courtesy South China Morning Post

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