The long-term economic rivals US and China have suddenly changed their course of dialogue from critical to friendly. Surprisingly Trump and Xi have kept aside their political and economic differences to join hands in various strategic plans. The seemly random shift in leadership behavior is in reality derived by strategic mutual gains.
Donald Trump has for decades took a direct stand against China. He had been very direct in criticising China’s imperialistic policies. Even in his election rally in 2016, he stated that“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” and stressed that “It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.” However when he visited China after becoming President, his views about China and Chinese President Xi Jinping, has become incredibly positive.
Of course, Xi-Jinping has not mastered the art of magic but it looks like he has mastered the art of social engineering. The example of which is One Belt One Road (OBOR). Similarly, we might assume that Trump’s recent visit to Beijing was made ultra-special for pampering Trump’s ego to that extent that Trump changed the course of his ideation around China’s trade practices altogether.
While addressing business leaders in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Trump expressed his feeling that trade relations between China and US were “very unfair and one-sided” however it is not China who is responsible for it but it is the fault of previous US leadership. This visit almost ended the decades old economic rivalry between China and US and marked a new beginning Trump-Xi era in internal politics.
But what if China would not have taken those extra efforts to please Trump?
The dynamics would still have been similar. Analytically it becomes clear that this closeness is more due to diplomatic needs than that of any impressive gesture of brotherly affection. Even if Xi might not have treated Trump that warmly, he would have still responded his stated feelings in exactly the same manner.
There are three major motives for Trump showcasing a soft corner for China. Firstly, US is aware of its economy moving towards stagnation, so there is no more on ground economic rivalry. Secondly, it is closing on options to regulate rouge behavior of North Korea. Given the Japan angle, US’ only option to execute its per-planned war against North Korea is China.And third, most important for India, US has lost connection with Pakistan making its position somewhat weak in subcontinent. Whereas China is Pakistan’s new master. Given our closeness with Russia and Japan, US is left with the only option to bond with China to have control over the subcontinent.
China on the other hand, has also identified that US is no more the rival in economic race and maintaining good relations with US align three main issues in the subcontinent. Firstly, it will enter a power bloc with US and allies to balance trio that is Russia, Japan and India. Secondly, it is well aware that India, given its demographic advantage, has the potential to defeat China in his ambition to become world economic superpower. Thirdly, it needs more and more supporters for its ambitious OBOR project in the region against India, Japan, Australia and Russia led OBOR.
The analysis makes it quite clear that one of the mutual agenda of Trump-Xi growing closeness is to strategically contain India that has the potential of becoming economic superpower by balancing the power equations in sub-continent.
Given the conclusion, certainly Trump-Xi duo, poses economic and political set-back to India unless there is a diplomatic counter strategy devised to deal with it. India holds a strategic position in sub-continent both economically and politically hence no matter how strong the duo is it will not be able to undo it. But we must aim at realigning relations with Russia and US in such a way so that we don’t lose any more points.