Expansionism In The Asian Century

A surprise visit by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 3rd of July 2020 became national news after he dealt an implicit blow to the Chinese government with his doctrine of ‘expansionism’. The Nation erupted with delight as this firm yet diplomatic gesture was viewed as the appropriate response for the Chinese ambush in the Galwan Valley on the 15th of June 2020, which resulted in the untimely death of 20 Indian Jawans. Yet our Hon’ble Prime Minister’s words beg the question, what is ‘expansionism’? and more importantly, is China the expansionist power the Prime Minister claims it to be?

Map of Asia

The Expansionist Doctrine

In simple words, the expansionist doctrine by a country is an intrusive framework particularly designed to rob another country of either its territory, trade, or even dominance in geopolitical affairs in the region. This rings especially true in the present circumstances considering Chinese intrusions across the Galwan Valley and the Pangong Tso regions.

Expansionism has been evident throughout history, be it with the early Mongol ruler Genghis Khan’s trampling of Eurasia, or even the British Raj in the 18th century, expanding its colonial regime. The foundational fabric for expansionism is exploitation. It thrives on robbing the weak of what they hold dear, and on demanding their irrevocable submission.

This is, however, exhibited in a more nuanced manner by the Chinese. To understand Chinese expansionist tendencies, we need to understand Chinese psychology first which explains a great deal regarding the Chinese way of demonstrating their power.

Trade Dominance

If we look at the trade statistics between India and China over the last 5 years, according to the data provided by the Indian embassy, in 2019, the net Indian exports to China accounted for a meager 16.32 billion dollars when compared to a whopping 68 billion dollars’ worth of Indian imports from China. This represents a trade imbalance (the difference between the net import and the export amount) of 51.68 billion dollars, which has risen significantly from 37.83 billion dollars as was the case in 2014.

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The data makes it evident that India is dependent on China for the majority of its trade and not the other way around. Such inherent control over trade buys China leverage and further reinforces its expansionist tendencies.

Why Expansion Now?

COVID 19 first emerged from the city of Wuhan in China and has since then caused havoc across the world. A reiterating narrative, at least from the West’s point of view has been the irresponsible and incompetent management of the COVID 19 by the Chinese authorities. Multiple reports of potential foul play on the Chinese part have exacerbated the already worsening Chinese reputation on a global scale.

The ideas discussed above carve a conspicuous narrative. The Chinese authorities intend to reclaim their position of influence and demonstrate their military power. India has unfortunately been caught up in its crossfires. It’s not just India however, that has been facing such a predicament. Other countries in China’s crossfire include Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam to name a few.

Development, Not Expansionism

The most tragic outcome of such expansionist tendencies is the pain and suffering it causes. The world has been battered by the COVID 19, with several countries still battling the virus. The need of the hour is to present a united front to face the virus, not merely at a national but also on a global scale.

As suggested by our Hon’ble Prime Minister, development is the tool that’ll help us carve out the path to glory moving forward. Be it development in the domain of technology, education, healthcare, or even national security, today we face a pressing need for intellectuals who’re vying to lead the country forward into the era of inter-sectoral growth. The future is largely obscure, to say the least, but what is absolute in this thick fog is that India will emerge victorious from every predicament it faces and will uphold the ideals of harmony and brotherhood on the world stage for eons to come.

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