New Delhi, Feb 27 : Even as the Chinese Communist Party amended the country’s Constitution to pave the way for President Xi Jinping to continue beyond the traditiol two-term presidency, a leading Indian Sinologist and former envoy to Beijing described the Chinese supremo’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a “strategic opening to expand its regiol and global profile” that will inevitably “impinge on India’s strategic space”.
Chi impinging on India's strategic space'
He said the Middle Kingdom — which historically saw itself as the centre of the world — is moving beyond former President Deng Xiaoping’s famous 24-character dictum of maintaining a low profile and not overtly claiming leadership, and is instead seeking to reclaim its centrality in regiol and world affairs.
“One can see that Deng Xiaoping’s famous 24-character dictum — ‘Observe calmly, secure our position, cope with affairs calmly, hide our capabilities and bide our time, be good at maintaining low profile, and never claim leadership’ — has started receding in the rear-view mirror (of Chi),” Ashok Kantha, Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies and former Indian Ambassador to Chi, said in a speech on “Chi’s Belt and Road Initiative: ture, Implications and India’s Response” here on Monday evening.
The speech was part of the “Changing Asia” lecture series organised by the Society for Policy Studies think tank in association with India Habitat Centre.
Stating that Chi has clearly started moving beyond Deng’s advice, Kantha said that today Beijing is “prepared to deploy its considerable political, economic, military and diplomatic clout in pursuit of its strategic objectives” and saw the recent developments in Sri Lanka, Maldives and the Indian Ocean neighbourhood as a manifestation of the Chinese great-power ambition.
At the same time, he entered a caveat saying that Chi is still reluctant to expand its intertiol responsibility too rapidly.
He said that the BRI — earlier called One Belt One Road and which loftily proclaims to reinvent the old Silk Route of intertiol trading for the modern era — is a highly “imagitive and strategic” plan under President Xi as part of Chi pursuing its great power ambitions. Chi has estimated one trillion dollars of investment in the BRI which has, since its formal unveiling in 2015, seen some 70 countries joining its bandwagon.
Kantha’s remarks assume significance as the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee on Sunday amended the country’s Constitution, removing the rule that the President and Vice-President of Chi “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms”, thereby allowing Xi to continue as President indefinitely.
“Chi is now shaping its environment in its periphery in quest of an objective dating back to the 19th century of an economically prosperous and militarily strong tion,” the former diplomat said. (IANS)