RCEP: China’s Strategy to Browbeat the World

Countries which have been clearly accusing China in recent time  like Australia, Japan, Philippines have joined the RCEP with the clear objective of  enhancing  trade with China.

by N.S.Venkataraman 

China has not concealed it’s ambition to become the global super power by dominating the world politically, economically and militarily. To achieve it’s ambition, China believes that any means, ethical or unethical,  would be appropriate. It further thinks that the world opinion is impotent and need not be taken seriously and can even be ignored with contempt,  so long as it remains economically and militarily strong.

In the past , China has  aggressively occupied Tibet and in the process massacred thousands of innocent Tibetans. It is laying claims to South China Sea and Senkaku Islands , with least care about the protest from Japan, Vietnam, Philippines and others. It is occupying thousands of kilometres of Indian territory and is claiming more. While it is  threatening to invade Taiwan , which may well happen sooner than later, it is suppressing liberty and freedom of people in  Hong Kong with brutal force. Several countries have objected  to  China’s such aggressive strategies but China is going ahead , as it is convinced that the world opinion matters little.

China very well knows and probably several countries also know that China is vulnerable to trade pressure , as it’s economy is very largely dependent on exploiting the global market.  To check China’s greed and ambition, U S President Trump started a trade war, which impacted China to some extent.   But , Trump did not get much support from other countries including those in Western  Europe.

Now , with  most countries becoming weakened due to COVID 19 crisis and USA facing humiliating internal conditions due to bitter hate politics between the two parties and in the process getting it’s global image severely hurt,   China  obviously thinks that  present is the right time to assert it’s position and move on with it’s clever strategies.

With China’s expectation that every country in the world can be made to be tempted by China’s huge market and knowing very well that  no country in the world would challenge China that would make them lose China’s market, China  has successfully kicked off RCEP ( Regional Comprehensive Economic  Partnership ).

Countries which have been clearly accusing China in recent time  like Australia, Japan, Philippines have joined the RCEP with the clear objective of  enhancing  trade with China.

Only India has refrained from signing RCEP with courage of conviction  and confidence that it can protect it’s interests  and it has alternate option without joining RCEP.

In recent months, we have been repeatedly hearing about QUAD where  India , Japan, Australia and USA have formed an alliance,  which is widely perceived to be an anti China alliance.  China and Australian governments have been exchanging bitter  statements. Japan even went to the extent of providing special incentives to Japanese companies to withdraw the investments from China. Now, Australia, Japan and twelve other countries who have certainly expressed doubts and misgivings about China’s intentions in recent times have joined RCEP.  What to make of this ?

Obviously, these countries seem to think that economic interests and political interests are different matter,. They do not seem to understand that it would  be a naïve idea to separate economics and politics in devising the policies for any country.

China has ensured that it’s interests would be protected even if the trade war with USA would continue, by successfully enticing fourteen countries to sign RCEP. China  would certainly dump it’s goods on these countries and most of these countries  would not be able to get benefits from entering the Chinese market, to the extent that China would gain by “invading” the markets of these countries. 

Perhaps,  countries like Australia, Japan, Korea which are all reasonably well developed seem to be thinking that China would not be able to use their countries as dumping ground for it’s goods and services. This remains to be seen.

Even a casual observer cannot but get an impression that countries like Japan and Australia have fallen in to China’s trap. Certainly, China would not give up it’s claims  on South China Sea or Senkaku Island, inspite of the affected countries like Japan, Vietnam, Philippines joining RCEP.

They are bound to learn at great cost soon that their sacrificing political interests for the sake of economic interests is an unwise gamble and short sighted policy.

With  several weak countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and a few others already falling into China’s trap, China now seem to feel confident that it’s strategies and approach  have been further  vindicated  by it’s  clever  and successful RCEP strategy.

By joining this RCEP, Japan and Australia , who are part of the QUAD, have belittled themselves and  have virtually accepted  that China  is a  big brother and in the process , they have made  QUAD  Accord a laughing stock, which virtually mean that they themselves have become a laughing stock in the eyes of the world.

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