Indefinite Xi Jinping rule in China: India needs to move on many fronts now

NEW DELHI: China’s move to scrap presidential term limits is expected to give a major boost to Xi Jinping’s expansive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, much to India’s discomfort.

The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to scrap the two-term limit for China’s President was indicated in October last year when Xi was re-elected for the second term. An unlimited term for Xi, whose political thoughts have been enshrined in the country’s constitution along with those of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, would vest enormous powers at his disposal.

A stronger Xi also suggests that China may not shy away from displaying its muscular foreign and defence policy in either Indo-Pacific or Indian Ocean Region or along the Line of Actual Control, posing challenges to India’s security.

Xi, 64, may end up ruling for life, on the lines of Mao. This would have a significant impact on geopolitics in Asia, where India is a critical player and a rising power. In this context any possible Sino-Indian contest could spread across the Asian theatre. Xi, chairman of the central military commission, is expected to further equip Chinese military for modern warfare.

Key infrastructure projects across Asia, Africa and Europe under BRI, a project of Xi, are aimed at extending China’s global influence on the basis of its economic prowess. However, several members of the international community led by India have expressed concerns over the mega initiative as the project can not only lead a recipient country into a debt trap but also have security implications.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project under BRI, is an additional challenge for India as it violates the country’s sovereignty.

Absolute power for Xi could further contribute to expansion in Sino-Pakistan ties, which are already a challenge for India. Pakistan, according to many experts, is moving towards becoming a vassal state of China as its economy is increasingly getting dependent on China’s largesse.

With Xi enjoying unlimited power, China could seek to push deeper into each of India’s neighbouring countries, keeping India on its toes as it tries to keep its relations intact with all these countries.

Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are set to go to the polls in 2018, making this a critical year for India. Maldives remains a challenge for India as President Abdullah Yameen shows no signs of moderating his approach and there are signs that he might influence presidential polls scheduled to be held this year.

China may now get more aggressive in Africa as well as Eurasia as it strives to access commodities from across the globe, according to experts. Southeast Asia, which is eager for a wider Indian presence to balance power dynamics in the region, may also witness additional pressure to yield more to China’s expansionist agenda.

Source: The Economic Times

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