By Bhavdeep Modi
China’s 2019 Defense White Paper & how it is influencing current actions by China under Xi:
China released China’s National Defense in the New Era last year in 2019. Until this paper, the previous papers containing China’s defense strategy, focused solely on presenting China as a peace-loving country which wants to have amicable relations with its neighbors and the world in its entirety. It never talked about China’s defense policy in specific sectors or areas, say South China Sea or Taiwan, to name a few. But this paper elaborates, in detail, about the areas in which China is aiming to forward its defense policy.
The Defense White Paper starts off by targeting US, accusing it of bringing uncertainties to the regional security of Asia at large. It specifically mentions the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems in Republic of Korea as being a factor in undermining strategic interests of the region. In this regard, if we start looking at the present scenario, China has indeed shifted its entire focus on its relations and activities with the US. The recent developments between US and China point out to the growing concern about USA in the minds of the Chinese ruling elite. Recently, USA moved its most agile navy assets, USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Raegan, to the waters of South China Sea. Both the ships carry with them F/A-18Es (supersonic jets) and B-52 bombers. On 14th July, US issued a statement rejecting China’s claims over South China Sea, a stance which US, till date, had never officially taken. China reverted to the statement strongly, claiming that the Chinese Army is fully capable of giving the US a ‘befitting reply’. It also stated that China’s defense capabilities easily rival that of the US.
In addition to the increasing tensions between US & China over South China Sea, we have seen in the recent past that both the countries have locked horns over host of issues like COVID-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong Crisis, and the US-China Trade War. More recently, USA sanctioned Chen Quangduo and other powerful Chinese politicians for human rights abuses against Uighurs in the Xinjiang area, to which China reverted with sanctions against US politicians, including Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. This shows that China is following the strategy put out in the Defense White Paper of 2019 against USA with utmost sincerity.
Apart from its US strategy, the Defense White Paper covers various areas where China aims to get involved in. It states that China aims to defend waters of East China Sea, South China Sea, and the Yellow Sea, and that it would “resolutely respond” to security threats in these waters. It also mentions its increasing involvement in Taiwan by sailing ships and flying aircraft around it, warning the ‘separatist forces’ there.
Interestingly, the White Paper nowhere mentions Hong Kong, which is curious because the recent developments point out to China’s increasing focus on this area by implementing the National Security Law. It is part of a whole set of expansionist actions that are being undertaken by China, including staking its claim to the border areas with India. Based on these aspects, it can be very well assumed that China might just come up with an action plan for exerting stronger control over Taiwan in the future, since the area of Taiwan is something that the White Paper explicitly mentions of focusing on. It also is in line with Xi’s grand strategy of making China not only a reginal hegemon, but also emerging as a contender to US’ unipolarity.
#chineseexpansionism #Taiwan #USChina #Xinjiang #NationalSecurityLaw #hongkong #XiJinping #CoronavirusPandemic #humanrights #SouthChinaSea #IndoChinaFaceoff