The scaling up of aggression by China on the Indian border is not an isolated case, with an assessment forming that Beijing is upping the ante on territorial disputes across Asia, possibly to preempt investments from departing to neighbouring countries in the post-Covid world. From India to Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia, territorial aggression seems to have got fresh wind in the past weeks, with the establishment studying if the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is being utilised to suggest that other markets in Asia are not stable enough to move investments.
Both Ladakh and Sikkim on the Indian border have seen fresh aggression over the past three weeks, with a stand off continuing at the Galwan river with troops entrenched on both sides. While occasional border stand offs do take place along the unresolved boundary, simultaneous action in two states is rare. Besides, there is a fear that the current border conflict with Nepal over a road to the disputed Lipulekh pass could also have silent support from Beijing. Aggressive naval drills are being carried out by the PLA Navy in the South China Sea, Vietnam lost a fishing boat after it was targeted by the Chinese Coast Guard last month while survey vessels have been spotted around Indonesia over the past few days.
An assessment being pursued in New Delhi is that the current round of aggression on all borders could be linked to the fact that over 1,000 firms are in talks to relocate operations from China to India and other nations in the post-Covid scenario. Besides India, which is trying to attract work that is expected to exit China, Vietnam is another prospective destination that has shown its ability to capture the market in the past. Indonesia, a G-20 economy, is also an option for businesses exiting China.
Indonesia’s government has condemned what it calls the 'inhuman' treatment of its nationals by a Chinese fishing company that allegedly kept Indonesian fishermen as virtual slaves, leading to the deaths of at least three of them. The issue threatens to further inflame tensions between China and Indonesia, which accuses Chinese boats of poaching in its exclusive economic zone. Sources say that Beijing however risks at overplaying its hand if it continues to increase such pressure campaign, both on territorial disputes and on the negotiation table as the world looks at reducing dependency on China.