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How China Is Squeezing & Conquering The World With The Philosophy Of Sun Tzu?

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China is a country with an ancient past that preserves and follows its traditions, and for this reason, one can try to understand China’s actions by viewing them through the prism of history.

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Most of the world is familiar with Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, strategist and philosopher who lived either in the 6th or 4th century BC. It was due to Sun Tzu’s victories that his country grew more powerful. When he retired, he wrote the military treatise The Art of War, which is one of the most popular pieces on politics and strategy.

I am more than certain that the Chinese ruling elite, including heads of different services, have read Sun Tzu’s work. Therefore, we can find many cornerstones of China’s behavior in the writings of Sun Tzu.

He writes: Therefore, one who is skilled in warfare principles subdues the enemy without doing battle, takes the enemy’s walled city without attacking, and overthrows the enemy quickly, without protracted warfare. His aim must be to take All-Under-Heaven intact. Therefore, weapons will not be blunted, and gains will be intact. These are the principles of planning attacks.

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If some time ago the notion of “the art of war” could only be imagined in the context of an armed battle, then now countries try to reach their goals by sending diplomatic and financial means to the battlefield. We can look at it this way: at one time in our history it was possible to seize power over a city or country using force; now, however, it can be done with financial instruments.

There are numerous ways to do this – from the most basic ones such as bribes to more refined ones like investments, grants, and loans. Thus, the more primitive method of war that uses weapons is being replaced by a more elaborate battle, the main weapon in which is MONEY.

And I don’t mean the cheap bribery cases. The reality is much more complex, and initially, no one even dares to suspect the true intentions of their “benefactor”.

One of the largest players taking part in this game is China.

Over the last two decades, China has become the largest global lender, with outstanding claims exceeding 5% of global GDP. In total, the Chinese government and its companies have handed out 1.5 trillion USD in direct loans and trade credits to more than 150 countries.

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This has turned China into the largest creditor in the world, surpassing such organizations as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, or all of the OECD creditor governments combined. It should be noted that many of these Chinese loans are secured, meaning that the loan is repaid from revenue gained, for instance, from exports.

Numerous countries already owe China at least 20% of their nominal GDP (Djibouti, Tonga, the Maldives, Congo, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Niger, Laos, Zambia, Samoa, Vanuatu, and Mongolia).  The “loan diplomacy” actively employed by China in recent years is aimed at gaining political influence in “vulnerable” countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

It is most likely that China would not mind if other nations in its sphere of interests would also express enthusiasm for large loans or grants because then it would only be a matter of time until China calls the shots in these countries.

Luckily, most countries can resist the temptation to acquire such easy money. We can draw parallels with mortgage loans or the short-term loan business. It is easy and fulfilling to borrow money, but when the time comes to return the money, then…Of course, China will be very friendly and flexible during the talks concerning the repayment of the loan.

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If you are unable to return the money, we could decrease the sum or even write off the loan, but for us to do this we will ask you to do this and that. What exactly can China ask for – the possibilities are endless: starting with more lucrative conditions in mutual trade or international lobbying, and ending with the long-term rent of specific objects.

However, I already said that most countries don’t want anything to do with China’s primitive loans, but this doesn’t mean China intends to cease. Instead, China has decided to take a relatively long road for achieving its goals, and this road is the most dangerous, but also quite steady and effective – investments.

China has now invested in several mega-projects. I will name only a few:

Pakistan has seen large investments: for instance, 46 billion USD were used to transform Pakistan’s transportation and electric networks. The Karachi nuclear project K2/K3 is mainly funded by the Chinese state-owned Exim Bank which transferred over 6.6. billion USD in three payment stages.

The transport infrastructure in Ethiopia also received investments. This is most visible in the country’s capital Addis Ababa, where China sponsored a large part of transport projects, from new bypass roads to the first metro system in Sub-Saharan Africa.

From 2000 to 2017, Sri Lanka, a country in serious debt, received more than 12 billion USD from China in the form of loans or grants. Until 2017, the government of Sri Lanka was burdened by the loans of the previous administration.

The Hambantota port project, which concluded in 2011, was funded by the Chinese government that hired a state-owned company to carry out the construction of the port employing mainly Chinese workers. After months of negotiations, the port was commissioned along with the surrounding land that was leased to China for 99 years. This illustrates the true intentions of China, which has now acquired a port in the direct vicinity of India.

China has been studied extensively, and it has been concluded that the main concerns are caused by the situation in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, where China’s “loan diplomacy” has reached a level where the governments of these countries are forced to hand over their strategic objects to China, for example, ports or military bases.

Belarus signed an agreement with the Shanghai branch of the China Development Bank in late 2019 on receiving a loan of 450 million euros. This loan is not intended for a particular project and can be used for different purposes, including repaying government debt, maintaining Belarus’ gold and currency reserves, and furthering trade between Belarus and China.

One of the largest projects, however, is the famous Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is a global development strategy adopted by China in 2013 that foresees infrastructure developments and investments in at least 70 countries and international organizations in Asia, Europe, and Asia.

The Chinese government says the initiative “is aimed at improving regional compatibility and supporting a brighter future”. Some observers see it as Chinese dominance in global affairs by exploiting its trade network. The project is expected to conclude in 2049, which happens to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Presently, China has signed cooperation agreements concerning the BRI with 138 nations and 30 international organizations.

Looking at the intentions of China, there are no questions about who intends to become the biggest global player. The list of countries engaged in China’s project is quite extensive, so I will name only some: Poland, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, etc. If we look at the geographical coverage, the expected construction works will take place in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

The Baltic states are not directly engaged in the BRI project, but this doesn’t mean that China is not interested in furthering its influence in the region, as the Baltic states are members of the EU and NATO and somewhat able to affect the decisions made by this organizations.

Therefore, we can’t say that China has completely excluded the Baltic nations, including Latvia, but it should be noted that by looking at the amount of investments received we are not China’s main concern, not even close.

In 2016, China expressed interest in investing in the railway project Rail Baltica, but the interest did not manifest in actual funding. But it is not completely true to say that China has lost interest in the project. In March 2019, head of Rail Baltica business development Kaspars Briškens confirmed that “there is actually significant interest from the Chinese side.”

Now, China is considered one of the world’s leaders in developing high-speed rail technologies. “Rail Baltica commercialization plans could foresee attracting Chinese cargo flows in the future, including attracting Chinese investment for the development of logistics and cargo handling infrastructure,” Briškens commented.

China’s investment activities in other countries, for instance, the construction of logistics centers in Poland and Belarus signal of its wishes to receive additional privileges. Most often, these privileges manifest as the requirement of allowing Chinese workers into the country. This backs the assumption that Chinese investments and other types of assistance are not based on mere unselfishness and willingness to help.

On the first glance, it may seem that that’s no big of a deal ­– let the Chinese themselves do the construction. We should remember Soviet times, where one of the USSR’s deliberate strategies was to overflow the republics with large masses of foreigners.

For example, in 1935, 63% of the residents of Riga were Latvians, but in 1996 this dropped to 38%. In the late eighties, the idea of bringing 10,000 construction workers to construct a metro was the decisive factor that made the public protest against it.

As I have already expressed, China is the ideological brother of the USSR. China is well aware that in the long-term it is necessary to station as many of its citizens as possible in a territory it is interested in. In addition, the more Chinese people there are in a particular territory, the greater the freedom of Chinese secret services to act there. This brings us back to Sun Tzu’s writings: In war, there is nothing more important that espionage. None should be more liberally rewarded as spies. In no other business should greater secrecy be preserved?

Spies cannot be usefully employed without a certain intuitive sagacity. They cannot be properly managed without benevolence and straightforwardness. Without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make certain of the truth of their reports. Be subtle! be subtle! and use your spies for every kind of business.

I think you would agree that it would be naïve to assume China is not employing its secret services to further its own ends. It would also be foolish to think that all Chinese workers are only mere workers.

Therefore, I would say that for now, it is actually a good thing that the Baltic states have not come under China’s radar, because considering the greediness and susceptibility of people and China’s modus operandi, it wouldn’t take long until some political parties would begin chanting that Chinese communism isn’t Russian communism and that we need to expand cooperation with this nation.

It is well known that China has mastered numerous ways of getting what it wants. As I said previously, this ranges from simple loans and grants to different types of investment. And to stimulate the process, China invites influential people to different meetings in China, covers the transportation and accommodation costs, and, of course, never forgets about gifts.

Lithuanian intelligence services have also concluded that: “With growing Chinese economic and political ambitions in Lithuania and other NATO and EU member states, the activities of Chinese security services are becoming increasingly aggressive.”

We can now do a comparison of the two countries. Just like Russia, China too has a single goal – to strengthen its geopolitical influence. Both countries have bloated ambitions, but when it comes to resources China is already far ahead of Russia. And, unlike the aggressive approach of Russia which only yields results in the short-term, China’s tactics are much more covert and deeper and the resources available to it are much greater.

I will conclude my thoughts with another grain of wisdom from Sun Tzu: He who lacks foresight and underestimates his enemy will surely be captured by him.

Investigative Journalist – Zintis Znotiņš         

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Ladakh Now, Kashmir Next: Why India-China War Is An Attractive Option For Many In India?

I now believe that a big event is needed for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and the India-China war could be that big thing – J&K resident 

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As India-China border standoff continues in Ladakh, people living in the Kashmir Valley see war as an attractive option. Kashmiris living in Jammu and Kashmir are rejoicing at the prospect of a war between India and China and expect something positive from the border clashes.  

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Kashmiris have taken to social media to share computer-generated images sarcastically reminding India about its inability to halt Chinese aggression. The pictures shared in Kashmir are completely in contrast to the anti-China images being shared in other parts of India.

Images shared include Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing a traditional Kashmiri garb preparing a traditional wazwan meal while another image shows Xi’s face superimposed over a local bus driver who is calling out to commuters that the bus is headed to Ladakh – the place where Indian and Chinese troops clashed.

Apart from the trolling on social media platforms, Kashmiris are also discussing the possibility of Chinese military occupying the disputed region. “Ladakh Kheow Chenan (Ladakh has been taken over by China)” is the most discussed topic these days. During a demonstration on June 21 in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir’s largest city, protesters mocked the police by chanting “Cheen aya Cheen aya (China is coming)” slogans.

According to experts at EurAsian Times, discontent and gloom amongst Kashmiris have been on the rise since the abrogation of Article 370. The scrapping of Article 370 took away the special status enjoyed by the Kashmir and divided the state into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Most importantly, the abrogation of Article 370 by PM Narendra Modi led Indian government quashed the possibility of an independent Kashmir, a dream envisaged by many Kashmiris.

Following the historic decision, Kashmiris living in the union territory have complained about increased military presence, detention of people on arbitrary grounds and, lack of internet services and lockdowns.

Speaking to Nikkei Asian Review, Waqas Ahmad from Srinagar said that abrogation of Article 370 was the last nail in the coffin and it broke the back of every Kashmiri and the fear of settlement of outsiders seems a reality to all Kashmiris.

So far, the Indian government has granted 25,000 domicile certificates to non-locals which allows them to get a residency certificate for education, employment and buying land.

For Kashmiris, China Brings Hope

While Chinese aggression has been condemned by Indians across the length and breadth of the country, Kashmiris have endorsed China’s aggressive move. For them, the introduction of China spells ‘hope’.

Younis Ali, a political science student in Pulwama, explains the logic behind supporting the Chinese. He says that Kashmiris have tried everything to forward their cause including peaceful protests and militancy, but neither has yielded any results.

”I now believe that a big event is needed for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and the India-China war could be that big thing,” Ali says.

Specialists on Kashmir also agree with what locals say. Gowhar Geelani, an experienced journalist Kashmir, says that people are of the view that a new geopolitical situation could be to their advantage in terms of ending the political uncertainty in Kashmir. He also noted that Pakistan’s weak economy and military “has also led some to pin their hopes on a stronger China.”

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, explains that Kashmiri joy stems from seeing their oppressor bogged down by an emboldened, aspiring superpower that is a bitter rival of New Delhi and a close friend of Islamabad.

Speaking about human rights violation in the region, Ashok Swain a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, says that Kashmiris are excited about the Ladakh clash because of the perception that China has become a party to the Kashmir conflict, after experiencing hopelessness and despair with “the near silence of the international community over serious human rights violation.

According to a report on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir that covers the first six months of this year, at least 229 killings in different instances of violence have taken place in the region.

The report cites “extrajudicial executions of at least 32 civilians in J&K, besides killings of 143 militants and 54 armed forces personnel.” It was put out by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a prominent human rights group.

Swain adds that with the introduction of China into the Kashmir conflict, India has lost the military and diplomatic advantage it enjoyed over Pakistan.  China’s open opposition Article 370 as well as the strength it showed in the border clash have revived the hope of Kashmiris of an open alliance between Pakistan and China on the Kashmir issue.

At present, New Delhi and Beijing are looking for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ladakh. Today PM Narendra Modi flew to Leh, Ladakh to take stock of the situation, boost the morale of troops and send a covert message to Beijing.

China was quick to announce its displeasure over Modi’s surprise visit to Ladakh and warned Indian from taking any action that may escalate the situation.

New Delhi and Beijing have been at each other’s throats since the first week of June. Both countries have engaged in the rapid military infrastructure development, troop buildup, air patrols, weapon deployment and even fistfights, which ended with casualties on both sides.

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EurAsian Region

China On Its Side, Pakistan Going All Out To Woo Russia; Counter India-US Alliance

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Pakistan Foreign Minister SM Qureshi in conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov expressed Islamabad’s desire to have a long and multidimensional relationship with Moscow. Can the growing closeness between Pakistan and Russia change the political and diplomatic relationship between New Delhi and Moscow?

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The Russians are seeking the development of ties with Pakistan to limit the US influence in Asia,” wrote Farzad Bonesh, a researcher and analyst of international affairs. “But it should be noted that one of the most important goals of Russia’s foreign policy is to increase its international influence and advance its economic growth,” he added.

In recent years, the United States has had stronger ties with India than with Pakistan. With Washington’s strong stance against Islamabad’s inadequate response to the allegations of sheltering terrorists have led to weakened ties between the two nations.

“Pakistan is trying to use Russia to balance its foreign policies regarding India and the United States,” stated Bonesh. He further wrote that Pakistan is also trying to use its connections with Russia to gain advantages over the US by considering the regional and international confrontations and rivalries.

Russia and Pakistan plan to enhance their economic trade which was mere $800 million in 2018 but is expected to grow in the future. “So far, the two countries have been simplifying procedures and encouraging trade by establishing an intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation,” observed Bonesh.

He further wrote that unlike the trade relations between Russia and India, which amount to $10 billion a year, the volume of trade is inconsistent with its real potential. “In fact, the current volume of trade between the two countries compared with the overall volume of Russia’s foreign trade is very small,” stated the author.

Till 2014, Russia had a policy of not supplying any weapons to Pakistan. According to the author, the continued cooperation between the US and India in a series of important agreements in the field of defence has resulted in Russia and Pakistan going forward with more defence cooperation and weapons trade.

Pakistan has shown support for Russia’s “intention to cooperate” with the Taliban. Bonesh believes that the security interests of Russia and Pakistan are also influenced by the security and political stability of Afghanistan.

“A significant number of ISIS forces moved to Syria from Russia’s Muslim republics and some of them have further moved from Syria into areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan”

The reason between the closeness between Russia and Pakistan can be due to “limiting the US’s influence”. However, the author believes that the cooperation and relations between Russia and Pakistan cannot create the conditions and basis for a strategic, lasting and interdependent alliance in the fields of security, politics and strategy, because, for Russia, India is still an important country in South Asia. Thus, Moscow is taking careful steps with Islamabad to continue having healthy relations with India.

He concluded with explaining Moscow’s concern that the expansion of its relations with Islamabad will force India to move closer to the United States. “India’s market is larger than Pakistan’s. The arms trade between India and Russia still has great potential, while the deals signed between Moscow and Islamabad so far have not been very important,” he concludes.

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Expert Reviews

Five Reasons Why India-Nepal Border Dispute, Bilateral Ties Went From Bad To Worse?

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India-Nepal border dispute has diplomatically isolated New Delhi in its own backyard. EurAsian Times gets you an analysis of why India-Nepal border dispute deteriorated and has jeopardized strong and healthy cultural, social, linguistic and economic ties between two nations.

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Nepal and India have garnered a reputation for being “world’s closest neighbours” and are one of the few Asian nations that share open borders. It is no coincidence that while thousands of Nepal’s Gurkha soldiers serve in the Indian Army, the small nation’s army chief is an honorary general of the Indian Army.

Nowadays, both India and Nepal are embroiled in a bitter border dispute. As EurAsian Times had previously reported, the spat with Nepal picked pace in May when India inaugurated an 80 kilometres long road originating from Ghatiabgarh and terminating at Lipulekh Pass, a disputed region claimed both by India and Nepal.

Post the inauguration, hundreds of youths in different cities of Nepal began demonstrating against the alleged encroachment by India. The Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs also objected and a few weeks later Nepal came up with the new map officially including the disputed territories of Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, Kalapani as Nepali territories.

Birat Anupam, a senior reporter at Nepal’s National News Agency puts forward five factors causing long-lived resentment from Nepalis towards the Indian state establishments.

1.    Blockades on Nepal by India

The senior reporter believes that the blockades that India had imposed in Nepal in 1975, 1989 and 2015 have caused mass-infuriation towards the Indian state. 

He writes that “Land-locked Nepal is sometimes called “India-locked” because it borders India to the east, west, and south,” while maintaining that New Delhi had taken advantage of its geographical position.

 

2.    Nepal’s Border issues with India

The border between India and Nepal, about 1800 kilometres long stands wide open with no deployment of Nepali or Indian troops. The senior reporter writes that India’s has strong border guards deployed to protect adjacent Indian borders who have been accused of encroaching into Nepali lands.

“There are countless instances where Nepali migrant workers returning from India are extorted by Indian border guards. These incidents also serve to foster anger against India in Nepal,” he writes.

 

3.    India has claimed Buddha’s birthplace

It is globally known that Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini which forms an important part of Nepal not only due to its cultural and spiritual value but also due to its touristic significance.

However, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, during his address at the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly had rather said that India “ has given the world … Buddha’s message of peace”.

“This was widely criticized on social media platforms in Nepal, increasing anti-India sentiment among Nepalis,” writes Anupam. He also mentions that “some Indian films, books, and public figures say Buddha was born in India, generating strong public protests in Nepal.”

 

4.    India’s Big-Brother Behaviour towards Nepal

Nepal takes pride in being one of the oldest sovereign countries of South Asia even when other South Asian giants like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh were colonised, Nepal was free of the British clutches.

“However, many figures in Indian politics and media habitually call Nepal India’s “young brother.” Nepalis do not endorse the framing of India as Nepal’s “big” or “elder brother,” often used by veteran Indian politicians, intellectuals, and journalists,” emphasises the expert.

He criticises India’s narrative of being the big-brother due to the larger size and quotes Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli who stated that “Any country can be big or small in size or population … but nationality cannot be smaller or greater. All countries should get equal opportunity to exercise their sovereignty.”

5.    Unequal Diplomatic Agreements

India and Nepal share numerous diplomatic relations that includes several treaties and agreements. However, the reporter believes that the general masses of Nepal see these relations more largely beneficial to India than Nepal.

“For instances, the Gandaki, Koshi and Mahakali water agreements with India are heavily disliked by the majority of Nepalis. These agreements, they say, have given India the upper hand over the use and control of Nepal’s precious water resources,” writes the senior reporter.

Apart from the water agreements, the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty is highly unpopular in Nepal. Anupam says “there are strong civilian and independent intellectual voices calling to revise this treaty, which is seen as a formal diplomatic document putting Nepal under the Indian security umbrella,”

Originally Penned By Birat Anupam for Diplomat. Edited by: Vipasha Kaushal

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