Why in News?
Recently Chinese envoy warned Bangladesh against joining the Quad which points to new kinds of challenges that the Subcontinent will face from the assertive superpower at its doorstep.
Syllabus– GS2: India & Its Neighbourhood relations, Groupings.
- China’s imposition of punitive sanctions on EU institutions and individuals over Xinjiang, its attacks on the West’s colonial past when discussing human rights and the recent outburst by Yang Jiechi, a politburo member and former director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office of the Chinese Communist Party, during the dialogue in Anchorage have all re-ignited discussions over Beijing’s assertive diplomacy.
- In fact, throughout the past year, there has been much debate about the increasing abrasiveness of Chinese diplomats. This phenomenon has popularly come to be described as Wolf Warrior diplomacy.
- While Yang’s long speech in Anchorage got much coverage, he was incredibly measured in comparison to Li Yang, China’s Consul General in Rio de Janeiro. A week ago, Li lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter, accusing him of turning Canada into the “running dog of the US.”
Why does the Chinese envoy warn?
- China being aware that the Quad has not invited Dhaka & closely tracking US policies in the region, wanted to lay down a red line for Bangladesh.
- China is conscious that Bangladesh’s impressive economic performance in recent years & its location at the Bay of Bengal littoral lends a new strategic salience.
- It also notes India’s growing diplomatic investment in developing a strategic partnerships with Bangladesh.
- It was anxious about Bangladesh’s policy that supports China’s BRI but is also open to infra cooperation with the US, Japan & India.
- In this scenario, the envoy remarks about the Quad were to warn Bangladesh to resist any Indo-Pacific temptation.
- This pre-emption is very much part of China’s strategic culture.
- For the 1st time, it was witnessed in subcontinent in 2007 against Malabar exercises in the Bay of Bengal conducted by India with 5 nations.
- The envoy’s remarks are indeed part of China’s party line that the Quad is a “small geopolitical clique” which wants to divide Asia & contain China & takes any engagement with the Quad very seriously.
- At the same time, the remarks underline China’s top strategic priority is to prevent the emergence of any countervailing Asian coalition.
- This above diplomatic style is new for China that strives for assertiveness.
New Wolf Warrior Diplomacy:
- “Wolf-warrior diplomacy,” named after these movies, describes offensives by Chinese diplomat to defend China’s national interests, often in confrontational ways.
- China’s foreign ministry spokespersons Hua Chunying and Zhao Lijian have taken to Twitter to hit back against external criticisms of China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the poor quality of exported Chinese medical equipment.
- “Wolf-warrior diplomacy” is evidenced not only in combative words but aggressive actions. For example, in early April, a Chinese coastguard ship allegedly sank a Vietnamese fishing trawler near the Paracel Islands.
- China has always used an aggressive style in the matters of its sovereignty & territorial integrity and pushed back vigorously against any interference in its internal affairs.
This aggressiveness covers a much broader range of issues.
- In the 1970s, When Deng opened up the Chinese economy & sought for international cooperation for rebuilding China, its diplomatic focus was on winning friends & influencing people.
- But the 21st Century marks discourse for China’s diplomatic style known as “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” which boldly defends China’s interests & actively shapes the international discourse on the issues of the day.
- It confronts head-on any criticism of China in the public sphere.
- Lecture host govts & ignores summoning of host nations.
- For a while, India has been at the receiving end, But India’s neighbors that has good relation with China are now experiencing China’s new diplomatic treatment.
Impact of China’s Assertive diplomacy on South Asia:
- On diplomatic style & political substance, India & China are trading places in South Asia.
- For a long time, India’s neighbors resented the imperious style of India’s diplomacy, now Chinese envoys inheriting that “pro-consuls” dubious mantle.
- After a long time, India learned that too much diplomatic swag in the region had undermined its pursuit of regional objectives.
- But China is eager to bet its substantive leverages in deterring smaller nations from crossing the markers that it lays down while limiting the costs.
- In the case of Interventionist policy, for a long time, South Asian elites seethed at Delhi meddling in their affairs & they have welcomed China’s non-interventionist policy.
- But now, China is no longer reluctant to intervene & its interventions are quite ostentatious.
- Whereas India is now more circumspect than before about the interventions in the region & also demonstrates greater patience with uncomfortable developments in the neighborhood.
- But today everyone discovering the flip side of Chinese cooperation that is not in favor of the host nation.
- Also, they soon discover that they have no political recourse at all in China’s closed political system.
Bangladesh keen to join Indo-Pacific for economic reasons
- Bangladesh has earlier shown interest in joining the Indo-Pacific initiative but that is aimed at strengthening its economic ties with countries in this vast region and also for enhanced connectivity.
- In an interview to ThePrint earlier this year, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Momen had said that Dhaka views Indo-Pacific purely from an economic perspective and is also contemplating coming out with a strategy for the region.
- “We are evidently interested in Indo-Pacific because we are in the Bay of Bengal area and part of the blue economy,” Momen had then said. “For us, getting part of any security alliance as such is difficult because we believe in non-aligned policies and we would like to keep it that way.”
- India and Bangladesh had jointly inaugurated the ‘Maitri Setu’ (Friendship Bridge) in March, weeks before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka, in an effort to enhance infrastructure connectivity with the neighbouring country, as New Delhi plans to take Dhaka into its strategic embrace under the umbrella of Indo-Pacific cooperation.
- India has also joined hands with Japan in developing connectivity with Bangladesh.
Way Forward: –
- Until now, India’s neighbors have seen Chinese support against India free of cost, convenient & off-the-shelf solution. But the increasing assertiveness of China, likely to cost them.
- At the same time, having strong ties with India, the US, Japan & Russia does increase the bargaining power of South Asia’s smaller nations with each of them.
- The Dhaka controversy enables them to discover the joys of dealing with the new hegemon in the South Asian horizon.
For decades, India’s neighbours have complained about its inefficiency in implementing projects vis-à-vis China’s speed & economic purposefulness. Why is China resorting to “wolf-warrior diplomacy?” Has this aggressive style become the new norm?