6:39 am - Wednesday August 12, 2020

Who Will Bell the Chinese Cat : Endangered Japan, Taiwan, India and ASEAN Countries . When Will The West Intervene Militarily ?

Who Will Bell the Chinese Cat : Endangered Japan, Taiwan, India and ASEAN Countries . When Will The West Intervene Militarily ?


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Chinse aggressive and successful occupation and militarisation of an artificially made Subi  reef island in Spratly Islands area with just nominal resistance from USA ,has sent shock waves across the globe . Its claim on the entire South China Sea by an imaginary nine dash line is like India claiming Afghanistan because it was part of the Mauryan empire . As adjudged by an international court on a petition by Philippine, it is a violation of international law . But it has not deterred China from making a military base and stationing missiles and aircrafts there . China is not accepting the international court’s judgement .

It has led to all countries in the region becoming acutely aware of the potential dangers of an expansionist neighbor . But India , Japan , Taiwan and Vietnam are the most endangered countries . India and Vietnam have already had a war with China . Rich Taiwan is under maximum existential threat and will not survive without US support unless it builds credible defence . Japan with its declining economy and aging population too cannot face China without allies . Although Taiwan and Japan are under US protection by defence treaties but USA had joined the second world war only after it was directly attacked in Pearl Harbor .Otherwise till then it had treated the second world war as an European war. Similarly France and Britain did not oppose and save occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia inspite of defence treaties . They did not oppose repudiation of restrictions on rearmament by Germany in violation the Treaty of Versailles . They could have intervened earlier without much cost as Germany was very weak then . Like Chamberlain, Europe will dither before joining any Asian war against an economic super power like China .

Therefore it will not be wrong to assume that America and its European allies will avoid direct military confrontation with China even if it makes further advances in East or South China sea particularly if it does not threaten free passage of their ships and trade.

China has objected to Vietnam granting oil exploration rights ONGC/ India in its economic area because a small part was in the imaginary nine dash line . In 1974 in a naval war with South Vietnam China had defacto taken control of Paracel islands which South Vietnam claimed as its territory . It is not allowing Philippines fisherman access to fishing waters in spite of the ruling of the international court .

Therefore China is likely to claim sole oil and gas rights in East and South China sea thus denying the rights of neighboring countries like Japan , Taiwan ,Vietnam, Brunei ,Indonesia, Philippines etc .Unlike India, China will not accept international arbitration nor like north sea oil it will share the oil and gas with others geographical neighbors.

USA and Europe will not mind fighting the war on behalf of Japan , Taiwan and others only if it does not lead to body bags coming home and if the war cost is borne by the affected countries . They will join war much more willingly if China obstructs free passage in international waterways thus affecting their vital trade . But China will most likely adopt the salami slicing method thus breaking resistance one by one and gradually over say next fifteen years by which time America will no longer be the sole superpower and Europe will be economically and politically much weaker .


While international groupings like Malabar or Quad naval exercises may be a good beginning in military consolidation against Chinese hegemony but in absence of a formal military alliance it will not deter China as with time China will only grow stronger. Joint submarine and naval ship tracking by the affected countries could be the next scale up of cooperation . ASEAN countries along with India , Japan and Taiwan too should contribute financially to joint surveillance and shared intelligence . Next stage could be joint leasing of war ships and submarines in which each country leases a part of the entire armada with provision of automatic transfer to the country attacked just the way Iran transferred its Sabre jets to Pakistan in 1965 without joining the war directly. For this all countries should buy same make of aircrafts etc so that no formal training is required for operating more aircrafts .The trigger could be forced change in status quo by China on any disputed territory . USA / Europe / Japan / India could be given some space by each country to station its aircrafts, ships and submarines temporarily subject to suitable precautions against misuse and violation of sovereignty .

To solve the problem of financing of the war needs more creative solution as most of the countries like Thailand , Myanmar, Philippines etc. are very small . Each country must contribute suitably to its defence . A formal war pact against China may scare them but other creative methods of payment like leasing new mines or gas fields have to be explored . An example can be that UN should draft new rules for wealth sharing in oceans , Arctic and Antartica etc . say in a year .After this South China countries could give exploration and oil sharing rights to USA which should also include defence clause .

It will help in making protection a self financing proposition .

But Taiwan with its 23 million population and per capita income of USD 49900 will remain under existential threat from China . It is not a member of UN and not recognized as a country by UNO. It is likely to be the first casualty of Chinese aggression . It must acquire mutual destruction capability with right to fire nuclear and other missiles if attacked . Like Switzerland its population must undergo compulsory military service . With one trillion dollar economy it can afford to build a powerful navy .

Its defence budget of $10 billion is too little for its needs and needs to doubled for effectiveness . Even then it will need military pacts .

Similarly ASEAN countries spending around 1.4% of GDP on defence need to increase it to 2.5% . They are rich enough to afford such an increase but for Laos, Combodia and Mynmar . China may not be appearing a strong direct threat at present but absurdity of claim about nine dash line as maritime boundary raises doubts about China’s intent . China will counter with its cheap debt offers with kickbacks to leaders to lure them against any common alliance .

With just two and a half trillion dollar economy ( nominal ) and huge povery India is already punching much above its weight in international relations . It needs to step back a bit . USA or EU is not providing any economic support while asking India to play a balancing role in the region . Indian economy is not growing fast enough and it needs more economic muscle to counter China . It needs to constructively engage with Japan ,Taiwan and ASEAN countries on defence matters . But no country wants to share defence costs without a formal military alliance . A coordinated defence purchases could be helpful with common transferrable assets like missiles ,aircrafts and ships being purchased in a coordinated manner . But it must be preceded by some formal understanding .

Ultimately formation of an Asian NATO seems inevitable to protect small nations from Chinese bullying . USA , Japan Taiwan and India could start searching for a common grounds for such an alliance now . Like European Coal and Steel Community of 1951 which led to European Union in 1992 with Maastricht treaty a small beginning can be made now beyond the QUAD or Malabar exercises . West must also stop isolating Russia so much thus prompting it to go into Chinese arms and USA should regain its moral authority by being less unilateral in action  .

The new world order needs much more creative thinking .

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One Response to “Who Will Bell the Chinese Cat : Endangered Japan, Taiwan, India and ASEAN Countries . When Will The West Intervene Militarily ?”

  1. May 29, 2018 at 9:37 am #

    There is only one world leader who has guts to confront Chinese, bell the dragon. And He is Narendra Modi.

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