China enters September despised by scores of countries over its constant bullying, lying and expansionist incursions. The isolation is evident as global cynicism turns into overt antagonism, making the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) desperate to search for a friendly face on any continent.
It finally found a friend in Cameroon, at the crossroads of Western and Central Africa. The official Chinese media a few days ago went agog with an “international” event involving the two: Cameroon conferred its prestigious military award, the Knight of the Order of Valour, to Chinese Defense Attache to Cameroon. The occasion marked the departure of the Chinese officer at the end of his four-year mission in Yaounde.
The event is significant, representing the one and only positive mention of China by no country other than the debt-trapped “friends of China” in all of 2020. It is another matter altogether that Cameroon is so much in China’s debt that it is willingly chopping away its rainforests to satisfy Chinese insatiable hunger for rare, African timber.
The Cameroon award affair is but a blip in the ocean of global misgivings China is beginning to bear the brunt of. It is puny compared to the mighty disdain India has shown. This is with reference to the Sino-India stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector.
India appears vexed with the relentless Chinese attempts to intrude into its side of the LAC and claim that the entire territory that China eyes is Chinese. Unlike on previous occasions, India has adopted a tooth-for-a-tooth policy vis-a-vis China, nearly ending its hitherto accommodative attitude.
Overcoming initial confusion about its stand, India today dares China to intrude. Its generals have repeatedly announced they are in a state of readiness for any eventuality. That this is not lip service is evident from the Indian counter offensive to stop Chinese intrusion by quickly scaling the mountain heights to ward off a potential incursion in Ladakh the other night.
As India builds up a unanimous public opinion backing its stand with China, China was forced to take a pause. Its defense minister repeatedly told his official media that he tried twice, even thrice, to invite his Indian counterpart for talks to settle the dispute. They eventually met in neutral Moscow. Such invites are rare coming from the Chinese side, particularly when China stakes a moral right to anything — land or sea — it fancies.
India also refused to take part in a Russian-sponsored multi-national military exercise, Kavkaz-2020, scheduled for later in September, because China is a participant. The official reason is the continuing medical threat from COVID-19. India’s polite no has sent the signal clear to China that it is no longer interested in keeping up pretences where China is concerned.
On top of all this, India continues to ban Chinese apps, promising to end the presence of intrusive Chinese cyber technology in Indian territory. Taking cue from India, other countries including America are beginning to closely scrutinize the world of entertainment to weed out any questionable role of China.
Taiwan has recently called for an alliance of world democracies to check China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea. President Tsai Ing Wen said in a statement: “The rapid militarisation of the South China Sea, increasing and frequent grew-zone tactics in the Taiwan Strait and East China Sea, coercive diplomacy used against countries and corporations … are all destabilising the Indo-Pacific region.”
Australia’s relations with China are worsening day by day. Its criticism of China’s delay in informing the world about the COVID-19 outbreak was countered with trade sanctions. The animosity has now spread to the media with China detaining an Australian TV anchor on charges of “criminal activity of endangering China’s national security.” The last of Australian journalists have since left China.
The trade war with America continues to stump China’s attempts to steer its COVID-19-affected foreign trade back into smooth waters. The war of words between the two countries has now escalated into a war of actions across all fields. China is having to stretch its naval resources in view of increased presence of the American fleet in South China Sea. The U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is making efforts to bring its allies on the line confronting China.
Since the middle of this year, China has lost a lot international goodwill. It brought in a draconian national security law into Hong Kong in a bid to silence its critics and to exercise greater control over the island’s law and order. When the U.K. promised residency to the people of Hong Kong trying to escape the new law, China threatened counter-measures and warned the U.K. that it will have to bear “all consequences,” putting an end to what is called a “golden era” of relations.
Japan continues to woo its industrialists, asking them to exit China. It promises them financial awards in return. Some of the world’s top cyber-tainment companies, all Chinese, are facing financial crises after India banned WeChat, TikTok and PUBG. A third of their global users are Indians. Chinese tech giant Huawei lost its foothold in all of Europe and the U.K. because of China’s belligerent policies.
As China’s companies and its citizens begin to pay the price for the CCP’s brazen attitudes, countries caught up with China are now beginning to do four things. One, they are taking a near unanimous stand against China’s bullying and aggressive attitude. Two, they are deciding to stand up to China’s aggressions, one by one. Three, they are beginning to separate the people of China and the CCP regime and find ways to help former in standing up to the tyranny of the latter. Four, they are looking for a global alliance against China though there is yet a clear confirmation of the United States being the natural leader of such a grouping. The China narrative is finally flipping a page.
• Jianli Yang is founder and president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China.
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