Chinese belligerence was on full display in the major part of 2020, but the question remains why did Jinping think he will get away with China’s aggressive posturing? It comes from China’s understanding of the Indian foreign policy that India will not align itself with the USA or its allies to an extent of becoming a permanent member of the US alliance system as India prefers strategic autonomy more than anything else.
However, China went too far and underestimated Indian determination and how prideful the civilisational state is. Xi Jinping never expected the QUAD to be anything more than a seafoam which will dissipate with time. However, as New Delhi has moved together with the USA, Japan and Australia to cement the QUAD as a grouping, with the countries working in tandem, Beijing is not able to digest it.
The emotions of the Chinese Communist Party are best expressed by their English mouthpiece, which has picked up all the wrong messaging to suit its agenda and the Communist Party line. In an interview to the Indian news media, Japanese State Minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama described India as “Asia’s gravity point” but what the Global Times highlighted was that India should commit more, while the minister was saying this on a positive note to emphasise on the future prospects of the QUAD and still existing possibilities for India to contribute more by taking a stronger stance and actively collaborating for free and open Indo-Pacific.
“I personally know India’s position and I personally request India to commit more to protect the free and open Indo Pacific region. We want a strong India. India is Asia’s gravity point and is very important…We love India and we want more commitment from India towards the QUAD,” he said, according to the interview transcript released by WION News.
He also went ahead to put forth the similar situation India and Japan face in regards to a belligerent China, as he stated, “I know it is very tough…we in Japan, also have a lot of fear from the Chinese military activities. So, personally, I can understand India’s feelings towards those matters. But I hope China and India take a new step forward to calm down and make peace.”
India has been increasingly playing a very active role, be it the India-Japan-Australia trilateral to find alternatives to the Chinese manufacturing or the diversification of supply chains, on the military front, India has gifted a submarine to Myanmar and is working with Japan to develop economic infrastructure in Myanmar as well as taking Vietnam together by working on the radicalisation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
However, China is so delusional that it made an entirely different prognosis that would fit right into its comfort zone. China would never want to consider India drifting entirely into the USA’s corner because of its activities, as it will bring a big backlash on its foreign policy doctrine from its only credible defence partner Russia. In the Global Times piece, it hypothesised that due to India’s tendency to seek strategic autonomy, it is unlikely to completely lean toward the US, Japan and Australia.
During the press conference at the sidelines of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in 2018, the Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi described the revival of the QUAD, an informal grouping of India, Japan, Australia and the US, as a “headline-grabbing idea” but as per him, they were “like the foam on the sea” which will dissipate as time passes. However, the view has transformed since and now considers QUAD to be an attempt to destabilize the region by forming an Indo-Pacific NATO.
China never expected India to be an active member of QUAD and thus, take all the fence-sitting countries to incline towards the grouping as a tool to counter increasing Chinese hegemony, and now as the situation has flipped on its head, India has firmly joined up with the other QUAD countries, which China can’t digest. Beijing will have to face the reality sooner or later as the QUAD has come long way and is here to stay.