It was the eve of seventh annual State of the Union Address to the Congress when (the then) president of the United States James Munroe floated the idea that that the New World and the Old World were to remain distinctly separate spheres of influence. The separation intended to avoid situations that could make the New World a battleground for the Old-World powers so that the U.S. could exert its influence undisturbed. The doctrine was issued on December, 2nd when nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved, or were at the point of gaining, independence from the Portuguese and Spanish Empires. This doctrine opens the path for the US to become a superpower, especially after the 2nd World War.
Now, almost two centuries later the US has unleashed the New Cold War against China. This time, it’s the brainchild concept of Graham T Allison; Thucydides Trap doctrine, which is in play in the Asian continent. The implementation of Allison’s theory will negate the thesis of Francis Fukuyama which got widely accepted all across the US and Europe. He argues that with the ascendancy of western liberal democracy and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, humanity has reached a post-war history and the universalization of the Western liberal democracy is the final form of human government. But, why does the US want to suppress Beijing? If the ideological conflict ended after the fall of the Soviet Union, as said by Francis Fukuyama; why the US see a communist, Marxist idealist China a threat?
One belt one road (OBOR) initiative for the connectivity of Africa, Asia with Europe is the main headache for Washington. US wants a China who manufacture items, export all over the world, have a healthy GDP, but under the prism of not a threat or a potential threat. It could be seen when the US put many trade sanctions on China. The cancelation of 5G license of a Chinese tech giant. The US challenged the claims of Beijing in the South China Sea. The recent visit of high officials of the US to Taiwan shows desperation to contain China of its initiatives. The region of more than 3 billion people is the epicenter of power politics. Here come the potential front allies of the region.
There’s a saying “love makes you walk in desert barefooted”. The love relation between the US and India got more romantic when the US badly needs a contender in the region to contain China. Their relation was getting toxic after the Afghan peace deal when India couldn’t show better results. But thanks to China, New Delhi landed again in the lap of Washington via Beijing. The expansion of Chinese influence in neighboring states such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal has also gone down badly in New Delhi. India signaled its displeasure by refusing to send a top-level delegation to China’s Belt and Road forums in 2017 and 2019.
Many of the countries sitting on the fence will soon have to decide which side they throw in their lot with. For India, the crunch time has come. For years every country in the world, including India and the US, had been in denial about the threat that a totalitarian and communist China poses to the world order. In ignoring China’s rise, they were practically sleep-walking towards an unmitigated disaster. But due to Chinese aggressive expansionism, India appears to have been rudely woken up from its slumber. So, to the US, which has suddenly realized that China’s rise is neither benign nor peaceful. The US took sides and show its cards, now China has to choose a player in the region. Heavily defended and invested in Pakistan by China in the shape of CPEC; bailout packages in times of economic difficulties; support in various causes in UNSC and different diplomatic fronts was nothing but the tale of love and partnership.
Washington has opened the gates for the new cold war, and this time it’s happening in the backyard of China. Point is Pakistan has got billions of dollars from China, and what India benefits from the US?
Transfer of state-of-the-art technology, enhancement in scientific technology, movement of different production centers (for example the recent transfer of Apple production unit in Chennai), the recent deal of 5th generation French Rafael jets, the possible membership of G-7, G-8, nuclear supply group membership, permanent membership of United Nations Security Council are some of the perks which Delhi expects from Washington; in return of being a proxy of the US.
Pakistan and New Delhi being new darlings of China and the United States respectively may get a boost on their terms. But, what consequences will it bring in the tussle of two world giants? Pakistan and India being already deep trapped in poverty have slipped more into trouble due to the new cold war.
It was the 14th century pandemic in Europe and Asia which caused the death of 75-200 million people. It changed the dynamics of politics in Europe. The dynamics of politics around the globe again changed after 9/11. This time, it is the COVID-19 pandemic that allows the world to be seen through a different prism. Cold War 2.0 came along COVID-19; hence it will change the dynamics of politics again. The backyard of China is the new playground this time. What consequences will it bring to the region? Time will tell.
Ali Asad has completed his masters in Political Studies from the University of the Punjab. His main area of interest is in capacity building, governance, education, human development, socio-political and socio-economic state of affairs in South East Asian region; focusing Pakistan. He is pursuing M Phil in Public Policy.