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Why China’s aggressive foreign policy & military strategy is proving counterproductive for its rise?

Why China’s aggressive foreign policy & military strategy is proving counterproductive for its rise?


  • GS 2 || International Relations || India & its Neighbours || China

Why in news?

China’s more aggressive policies has harmed its neighbours, particularly India.

Chinese aggressive policy:

  • Two causes are driving China’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy: a rise in patriotic fervour in domestic politics and the Chinese economy’s need for new markets.
  • Xi Jinping spoke of the “Chinese dream” in 2012, referring to national grandeur.
  • Jinping took over as Chinese president in 2013 and immediately began attempts to expand China’s global reach.

The Roots of China’s Aggression

  • At any point, high-ranking Communist Party leaders can override the State Councilor and the Foreign Ministry.
  • The Politburo Standing Committee, which is presently led by President Xi Jinping and consists of seven men, will make crucial foreign policy decisions.
  • Meanwhile, the goal to increase the party’s domestic popular support influences his judgments.
  • Large state-owned corporations with extensive global assets, as well as an ever-expanding military. Private corporations may pursue their own foreign policies while also attempting to influence China’s.
  • The Chinese rich elite, who have more foreign experience than the Chinese authorities, are more keen to contribute their own ideas to politics.
  • In the last five years, China’s foreign policy has become more pluralized, with a diverse spectrum of views and actors participating in an unprecedentedly complicated policymaking process.
  • China’s foreign policy is shaped by the country’s economic trajectory and, to a large extent, domestic difficulties, which also explains policies aimed at ensuring a sufficient supply of resources from abroad.
  • It’s also difficult to get a clear picture of China’s foreign policy because it’s a ‘derivative’ of the country’s key internal policies.
  • Nationalism, which the Communist Party continues to promote, has an impact on China’s foreign policy.
  • The Party emphasises the historical significance of a great China and China’s rightful place in the world.
  • Over the research period, nationalism has been one of the primary enduring driving elements that has defined Chinese foreign policy.
  • As China becomes more integrated into a globalised and interdependent globe, Chinese confidence rises, and the contemporary expression of Chinese nationalism becomes more positive than previously.
  • It includes an ever-increasing amount of internationalism. Chinese nationalism is a significant aspect in developing popular support for the communist party when it is motivated in this way.

Reason for Conflict with other countries:

  • China’s “nationalistic” policies have sparked tensions with its unfavourable neighbours.
  • A pattern has been identified since 2014: From the People’s Republic of China’s escalating tensions with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea to the growing conflict with Japan over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, from the deterioration of relations with South Korea over Seoul’s deployment of US THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Air Defense) to the tensions over Doklam, there has been a lot going on.
  • Surprisingly, whenever a crisis erupts, the Chinese state-run media responds with patriotic war rhetoric.
  • Xi has had to solidify and look beyond the next term because to strong nationalist sentiment.
  • With five of the Politburo Standing Committee’s seven members scheduled to retire at this year’s Congress, President Xi is attempting to strengthen his position by enlisting the help of loyalists.
  • Xi’s “Chinese Dream” is manifesting itself in the “project of the century,” the One Belt One Road (OBOR) plan, both economically and strategically.
  • The project, which was first unveiled in 2013, is expected to cost $900 billion.
  • Its goal is to link 60 percent of the world’s population from China to Europe via a web of roads, high-speed train, power lines, ports, pipelines, and fiber-optic cables, with the purpose of spurring economic growth in the dozens of developing countries along the way.
  • Its overall cost is projected to be less than a third of China’s $3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and somewhat less than the $1 trillion in US Treasury bills.
  • Aside from politics, OBOR is driven by clear economic imperatives.

China’s export driven economy:

  • Unlike India, which continues to be a consumption-driven economy, China’s economy has been mostly driven by capital investments and exports, which account for around two-thirds of its GDP, with domestic consumption accounting for the remaining one-third.
  • Since the global financial crisis of 2009, the Chinese economy has struggled with decreased global demand for its exports as well as an internal bubble caused by over-capacity investments.
  • China knew that it couldn’t keep increasing its domestic investment without the bubble exploding.
  • With global demand failing to pick up, China couldn’t rely solely on traditional foreign markets like the United States and the Eurozone.
  • OBOR was born out of China’s need for new markets for its goods and investments.

One Belt One Road initiative:

  • The rapidity with which OBOR is consuming the entirety of Eurasia is taking everyone off guard.
  • Bangladesh joined OBOR in October 2016, Nepal in May 2017, while Sri Lanka, which is already a member, signed the Hambantota port agreement with China in past.
  • The arrangement offers China a 70% ownership in the port for $1.2 billion, but China will not have to pay anything because a portion of their $6 billion loan to Sri Lanka has been turned into stock.
  • The Hambantota port is critical to the Maritime Silk Road since it will link China to Europe via Mombasa, Kenya, and the Suez Canal, as well as other destinations.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor:

  • OBOR also includes the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is being expanded at a cost of $1.62 billion and aims to open up growth opportunities in China’s landlocked western regions.
  • On OBOR, India has not cooperated with China.
  • Also, India’s developing strategic ties with the United States has irritated China, which was counting on India to bolster its strategic interests while sugarcoating them with OBOR economic deals.

India’s response to China’s aggressive policy:

  • It is not enough for India to refuse to join OBOR; it must also clearly articulate a broader China strategy.
  • With the US preoccupied with domestic difficulties, Japan still suffering from stagflation, Russia suffering from low oil prices, and the Eurozone divided by Greece, immigrants, and Brexit, ignoring China’s attempt to rule a unipolar world appears to be becoming a reality.
  • China’s stronghold has nearly always disturbed the countries of the South China Sea. India was key in bringing together world troops for one of the greatest exercises, FORCE 18, which allowed India to strengthen its bonds with ASEAN nations and establish trust.
  • India is trying to train the navy of an ASEAN country as a show of force to boost India’s footprint in the region.