Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - Page 8 News List

China’s rise gives cause for alarm

By Sushil Seth

However, the debate here is all about China’s threat to the region and Australia, as well as its pervasive role in creating a powerful group of “fifth columnists” serving China’s interests.

The latter requires a separate discussion some other time, but the threat to the region is very much being talked about, in the context of China’s claimed sovereignty over much of the South China Sea and elsewhere in the region, such as the Maldives, which is now in the midst of a political crisis.

It is reported that a Chinese naval task force has been in the Indian Ocean, while Beijing’s ally, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen wrestles with his domestic crisis by putting his political enemies in jail.

“If it is basically, what it seems to be [propping up the Yameen regime in Maldives], which is the use of a naval task force to intervene in the Maldives ... [China is] using military force to influence the outcome of political decisions in another country,” University of Western Australia professor Peter Dean said.

Australia is particularly concerned about perceived Chinese machinations in its own South Pacific backyard.

Australia is a superpower of sorts for some of the small South Pacific countries reliant on Canberra’s aid and China is increasing its presence in these countries by doling out concessional loans for infrastructure projects that are said to go nowhere.

There is concern that these countries, being unable to pay their unproductive loans, will end up being subjected to Beijing’s coercion.

Indeed, this pattern of doling out unsustainable loans to different countries as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, and then acquiring a controlling interest in their resources and ports, is emerging as part of Beijing’s overall strategy, which is designed to create, by the middle of the century, a China-centered world order.

At least that is how China’s rise is being seen, by a number of countries — as a threat to the existing Western-centered world order created after World War II.

Sushil Seth is a commentator based in Australia.

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