Two of the biggest takeaways from the October 6, Quad security dialogue were that US confrontation with China over Taiwan has the potential of serious escalation and that Washington blames Beijing for not only the global pandemic but also for the economic hit on the American economy on the eve of Presidential elections.
While India is legitimately worried about the on-going military stand-off with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in East Ladakh, the three other Quad powers were far more concerned about China’s bellicose moves on Taiwan. With US Navy super carriers and destroyers patrolling the South China Sea, there is serious military friction over Beijing’s bullying of Taiwan.
Indo-US interlocution and diplomatic feedback from the Indo-Pacific indicates that Beijing’s “One China” mantra may come under question if US President Donald Trump returns to power, although the Biden campaign has signaled that it too will take the hard line on China. The legislation introduced in Capitol Hill over Tibet and Xinjiang, and the military moves over Taiwan and South China Sea are clear indicators that the “One China” policy could be called out by Washington — although some experts believe that the Trump administration is also applying the squeeze on China in the hope that a potential international incident could help the incumbent President in an election where he is trailing his opponent.
At a subterranean level, Beijing has involved both Nepal and Pakistan for abrogating the Buddhist cultural plank from India by highlighting the place of birth of Prince Siddharth (in Nepal) and the prominent Gandhara school that flourished (in Pakistan) before Islam swept through the Af-Pak region. So what if Siddharth became Gautama Buddha in Bodh Gaya in the heart of Bihar.
The world of Buddhism will be further complicated by China in the coming years over the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama. While the exiled leader continues to be popular with a Buddhist temple dedicated to him being built in Tuva in Russian Siberia, Bejing’s Sinicization of Tibet will put very serious pressure on the very institution of Dalai Lama itself in coming years.
However, Beijing is least bothered about global statements. Its expansion plans have picked up steam after a weak global response to Beijing’s introduction of security laws in Hong Kong and the near-absolute silence of ASEAN countries over events in Taiwan and the South China Sea due to the massive economic clout of the middle kingdom. Beijing has refused to be part of any arms control negotiations despite rapidly growing nuclear arsenal and delivery platforms. The PLA’s cyber offensive capabilities now match the best in the world but it has no intentions of joining the proposed US-Russia cyber talks.