Can US role in China Sea help India?
After enjoying a geo- strategic holiday for over two decades that began with the Soviet Unions withdrawal from power politics, America was left unchallenged. There was no one left to fight until Al Qaeda attacked and Washington decided to invade Iraq.
However, during this period of American unilateralism, China by making full use of that countrys engagement in the Middle East has emerged as a parallel financial support system for the global economy.
Beijing, unlike Soviet Union, has emerged as a powerful economy making it a credible military force.
However, the checkered history of East Asia with several territorial disputes involving Beijing and its lust for energy resources has raised several questions over its military intentions.
The recent announcement by American Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is one such example of Washingtons intention to reemerge in the East Asia region.
No, it was never absent in the region in military terms, but two land wars have stretched American military, economic and diplomatic resources.
It is a global paradox that, where America has been the most powerful, the region has seen the maximum instability and wars, and in East Asia, where there has been the traditional power rivalry and balance of power game, the region has been the most peaceful and prosperous in the world.
However, amid peace in East Asia two parallel hegemonies have emerged i. e. American maritime and Chinese control over regions land mass. The latter is the uncontested land power in the region. The US tried to be the land power in East Asia, but failed. It could not defeat Chinese forces in Korean Peninsula in 1950s and lost against Vietnam in 1960s.
However, the military balance in past 15 years has tilted in favour of Beijing.
It has made rapid economic progress influencing the regional economy and developing credible military that can delay an American military response in case Washington decided to change the course of action.
Former American president Henry Kissinger once said, " Once China becomes strong enough to stand alone, it might discard us.
A little later it may even turn against as….". Today it has grown from aloof posture of a spectator sizing up the game to active participation and a lively and astute promotion of its national interests. It was an economic opportunity that has grown into a military challenge for its immediate neighbours.
Maybe, America is reading through the 'China Threat'theory. What remains to be seen is whether Washington is trying to prevent any future conflict with Beijing or contain China before it becomes too big to handle. However, a second cold war cannot be ruled out. Last month Chinese military once again dismissed an American role in South China Sea saying, " The South China Sea is not Americas business…. it is between China and its neighbours." This is in complete contravention of America and India wanting to explore the regions natural resources. The sea is believed to have 130 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion cubic meters of gas.
Beijing has already issued warnings to New Delhi against the latters planned exploration of oil off Vietnams coast in South China Sea. New Delhi is watching the situation closely after the US proposed to move 60% of its navy to region. One group may say, yes, why not, after all we are democracies.
We have common interests. And, this could be the opportunity for India to play the balance of power politics in the region with Washingtons help. We can fix both Pakistan and China. However, the questions arise are: Will America in the region be any better? Will India become Washingtons client state? However, America will be better than Beijings increasing prominence in the Indian Ocean Region that is supported by Islamabad.
The region is likely to entertain Washington keeping Beijings desire for land and energy resources.
Not all neighbours of China prefer her influence in the region. New Delhi is already wary of Chinas interest in Indias North- East. New Delhi cannot let Beijing jeopardise its national interests by allowing Beijings monopoly both on the international sea lines and border areas.
As Indian economy expands and engages both China and America, and the international community New Delhis bargaining power is sure to increase.