DECEMBER 30, 2018
Reports in certain sections of the American media accuse China of using CPEC as a means of flexing its military muscles; a claim that the Pakistani government denied as recently as the end of last week.
The New York Times carried an extensive investigation on this front. As is befitting of what still remains one of the most influential newspapers in the world — homework had been done and facts checked. Nevertheless, where the media house let itself down was in the overriding bias of the piece. For talking to truth to power means holding one’s own government to the same standards of scrutiny as foreign ones.
At the heart of the story are the Dragon’s regional ambitions. Including plans to expand here on Pakistani soil co-manufacturing of Chinese military jets; among other big boy war toys. The concern is that this would afford Beijing a certain leverage. When, in fact, the reverse would likely be true. And why should this country not do everything in its power to stem an economy that everyone knows is haemorrhaging? Or are (uneasy) moves to profit from weapons of mass destruction to remain the reserve of wealthy nations like the US, economic powerhouses such as the EU or, indeed, military alliances along the lines of NATO? Even the shock that China may well be positioned to sell ballistic missiles to oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia when Washington will not play ball on this front appears contrived. Especially considering the Riyadh-led war on Yemen — one of the world’s poorest nations that now suffers the worst humanitarian crisis of the last 50 years — has been insufficient reason for Trump Town to turn its back on the Saudi arms-sales-cash-cow. The same holds true vis-à-vis the state-sponsored murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
It is a similar story when it comes to China’s control of Gwadar Port. Even as India has just taken over operations at Chabahar on the Iranian side; securing a waiver from US-imposed sanctions as it did so. Or else, when talking about satellite stations the hyperbole turns to the Beidou Navigation System that is set to challenge the American GPS network. Most crucially, this will render more difficult US moves to potentially monitor the military actions of those nations linked to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Thus the main point of contention is that Beidou is set to undermine US dominance in this area. And the mainstream western narrative recasts natural competitors as rivals with deliberate malicious intent.
The national interest always drives foreign policy. This is just the way the geo-strategic cookie crumbles. Something that naturally causes upset to the unipolar world order. But the days of this set-up are clearly numbered. China has been softly rising for some time. A fact that prompted the Americans to embrace New Delhi as their strategic partner for this century. Russia, too, is resurgent. Elsewhere, non-state actors such as ISIS and Al Qaeda seek to overthrow entrenched US hegemony. And what cannot be overlooked is how Washington’s own violent march towards empire has afforded these terrorist groups the breathing space to do so.
In short, Washington must accept that its days of lone superpower status are on the wane. The impetus ought to now be ensuring an equitable redistribution of wealth. And this is the burden of the entire international community. *
Published in Daily Times, December 30th 2018.