Ruling Chinese Communist Party’s move to authorize Xi jinping to rule China throughout his life by proposing constitutional amendment that will abolish limits in presidencies to two five-year terms. Strongman Xi will stay in power indefinitely thus returning China to the era of former dictator Mao Zedong or even imperial rule.
With this the number of countries under authoritarian governance increases as it includes Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
In 2017, China’s Communist party bestowed the title of ‘core’ leader to the president, Xi Jinping, putting him on par with previous strongmen Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
Under Xi, China has been aggressively progressing economically, militarily and politically. Moreover China’s influence has enhanced immensely with his flagship belt and Road initiative that propel connectivity and trade projects.
The party will vote on the proposal in March that aims to abolish term limits of president and vice president i.e “serving no more than two consecutive terms”. The absolute power will provide Xi the time and political space to implement his nationalistic vision of making China a great country as the Constitution of China has enshrined President’s political philosophy alongside those of Mao and Deng Xiaoping to establish a powerful socialist country by 2050.
But what does this mean for China, India and the rest of the world?
In the past five years, Xi carried out economic reforms, a fierce campaign against corruption that has punished corrupt Communist Party officials, including former political rivals and senior military leaders, as well as a resurgence in nationalism and a crackdown on human rights.
Trying to achieve his aim of restoring the nation’s central position on the world stage, Xi is aggressively working to make China a dominant player not in the region but globally as well.
Xi has been pursuing robust diplomacy and a muscular military posture by protecting and furthering its interests by controlling disputed South China Sea.Projecting China as a major power in Asia, Xi has offered to mediate between Bangladesh and Myanmar, between Afghanistan and Pakistan and also between India and Pakistan. In July 2017, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated that China was “willing to play a constructive role in improving relations between India and Pakistan.” He was speaking in the context of the ongoing India-Pakistan tensions on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir state.
China is also playing a major role in stabilizing Afghanistan and emerged as a key supplier of military equipment to Pakistan,Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.China has also clinched various economic, infrastructure deals with countries in South Asia.
Strategically significant tri-junction between China, Bhutan and India, Donglang,known as Doklam is a major point of conflict between China and India.
As Bhutan and China agreed to hold the 25th round of their boundary talks in Thimphu next month,this development assumes much significance as the announcement of the meeting was made after India’s top security and foreign policy triumvirate — National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Army chiefGeneral Bipin Rawat visited Bhutan.
India should worry as Maldives has snubbed New Delhi by rejecting India’s invitation to join Milan,a joint Naval exercise that is scheduled to begin on March 6. This development comes after India criticised ruling government’s decision to declare Emergency in the island nation.Although his absolute authority will also leave him vulnerable to absolute blame in the event of an economic slowdown or foreign policy crisis.
As there exists a vaccum in Asia by the retreat of Washington, China is positioning itself as a sole Asian super power under Xi with a bullish military and diplomatic policy .
Uptill now, China has not invaded or annexed any part of the neighbouring country but Xi has mentioned in his vision of retaining the government’s grip on China’s national security matters concerning Xinjiang and matters linked to land and maritime territorial interests thus ratcheting up of its demands for respect and recognition of its various territorial claims.
Xi is the son of one of the Communist Party’s founding fathers. He joined the party in 1974, climbing its ranks before becoming president in 2013.
Thus China’s burgeoning military arsenal and the increase in capabilities will impact the regional security. Highlighting his ambitious targets to be achieved during the next 30 years, Xi had stated that “From 2035 to 2050, China should become a nation with pioneering global influence by boosting national security and the party would resolutely protect its sovereignty and interests.”
India should be concerned as China’s air force has depolyed its “latest stealth jet fighter” – the J-20 Chengdu –near the disputed Sino-India border.China Military Online states it is “Authorized by the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and sponsored by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily and cited as a ”threat posed by the US, Japan, South Korea and India.There are also reports that the US Air Force has begun deploying the F-35 in Japan’s Kadena air base.
China has equipped its Sky Wolf commandos,a branch of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) special operations forces deployed along the Indian border with QTS-11,a powerful US-style integrated individual soldier combat system to prepare for a future “informatised warfare”.The western theatre command looks after the security along the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India.On July 25,2017 Chinese soldiers intruded 800 meters into the Indian territory in Barahoti, located in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, and stayed for sometime before returning to the Chinese territory.
The Chinese and Indian troops were in a face-off situation for more than two months in Doklam in Sikkim sector after Indians stopped the construction of a road by China’s army.
To counter China, US is equipping its allies with hi-tech and modern weapons as Japan, which has a F-35 production plant in-country, has 42 F-35s on order.South Korea will get its first F-35s this year, with 40 due to be delivered by 2021.Singapore too seems likely to opt for the F-35.
Four regional partners such as Australia, the United States, India and Japan are contemplating to establish a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s multi billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to counter Beijing’s spreading influence, as PLA has been acting with increased assertiveness in contested territorial claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea, as well as its border with India.
By: Arti Bali