Former US National Security Advisor (NSA) John Bolton has said Indo-US relations would be ‘most important’ for the US in the 21st century. He also said, from the US perspective, ties with China remains a challenge. In strategic terms, US-India bilateral relationship is going to be one of the most significant for Washington in this century. China, for the US, is the existential threat potentially in the 21st century. The other main player on the world scene will be India, Mr. Bolton said.
Referring to “many common values and an increasingly shared heritage” between the two largest democracies, Bolton said since the US is a country where people have immigrated from all over the world, the attention towards India would “inevitably grow.”
Acknowledging that there are many issues that need to be discussed between US and India, Bolton underlined that “geopolitically, this is critical”. Talking about the ndia-China face-off in Eastern Ladakh, Bolton said, this sort or behaviour worries the United States of America and every citizen in China’s periphery.
He further said, China has one of the world’s largest offensive cyber warfare programmes; it has got area denial and anti-access weapons to push the US Navy out of the Western Pacific; Beijing is expanding its ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons capability on and on; in the context of China’s stance on its borders with India and elsewhere.
Mr. Bolton observed, the rest of the world has made mistakes about China over the past 30 or 40 years. It believed, that economic freedom and growth that took place in China would make it abide by the rules of the international economic order. That has turned out to be untrue.
The US believed that as China became more prosperous, representative government would also spread from village elections to provincial elections to national elections. That too turned out to be false, the ex-US NSA added. In lieu of global expectations being belied by China, Mr. Bolton called for a review of the policy structure that was framed on these assumptions about China.
The former US NSA said, President Xi Jinping is the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Tse-tung; but there is no sign of spread of representative government. He added, that Xi “is an authoritarian leader” whose “moves are very coldly calculated”. Mr. Bolton is sceptical of China becoming a responsible stakeholder in world affairs.
He felt, the rise of China has not been peaceful and it is not a responsible stakeholder. China is effectively seizing control of the South China Sea. The Chinese are literally creating the ground upon which they are building their military bases in the South China Sea.
Bolton also accused the Chinese government of hiding the facts of the COVID19 outbreak, following it up with, what he called “extensive disinformation campaign around the world”. He added, to this day, no one really knows the extent of the effects inside China. The statistics comparing the spread of the disease in the US, Europe, Latin America, India and elsewhere, makes it look as though, coronavirus pandemic is completely solved in China. It is impossible to believe that. The world also doesn’t know about the economic impact in China of coronavirus.
Bolton questioned China’s intentions when it came to finding out the root cause of the COVID19 pandemic, considering that China’s research on biological weapons could be “the most extensive in the world”. He felt a country that really wanted to get to the bottom of the COVID19 pandemic, would have no fear in opening-up to epidemiologists and physicians. Experts should get to the bottom of this. That is however, opposite of China’s approach.
Mr. Bolton also referred to ZTE and Huawei as entities which are “not commercial communications firms”, but “arms of the Chinese state”. “They are part of the effort to gain control of the economic space around world, part of the Belt and Road Initiative. This is a long-term strategy, the former US diplomat said.
Script: Siddharth Rai, Journalist