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EDITORIAL: In their one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the G20 the US and Chinese leaders adopted a conciliating tone offering the assurance to all those anxiously awaiting the outcome that they would not let their tense relations to affect international stability. While President Joe Biden promised there will be no “new Cold War” with China, President Xi Jinping said “China-US relations should not be a zero-sum game in which you rise and I fall ... the wide Earth is fully capable of accommodating the development and common prosperity of China and the United States.

” However, just days after that meeting in a written speech to a business event at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok –- he did not attend it in-person due to other pressing engagements — in an indirect reference to what he sees as US’s attempt to prevent his country from attaining it rightful place in the world, President Xi averred that the Asia-Pacific is no one’s backyard, and should not become an arena for a big power contest. “Unilateralism and protectionism,” he said and added, “should be rejected by all; any attempt to politicise and weoponise economic and trade relations should be rejected by all”.

Most APEC countries are happily expanding their economic and trade ties with China. But Beijing remains suspicious of American intentions. Reinforcing its concerns, last month the Pentagon released its ‘National Defence Strategy’, declaring that the People’s Republic of China remains the US’ most “consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades.

” Tensions have already been mounting between the two countries over trade issues, Taiwan, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and the US-led Indo-pacific strategy, which is essentially aimed at thwarting the rise of China with the revival of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, (QUAD), in which India gets a place on the high table as a counterweight to China.

For the achievement of that objective the US has been helping India strengthen its military capabilities — though its recent border face-off with China resulted in a huge embarrassment for the Narendra Modi government — and also turning a blind eye, along its Western allies, to that country’s grave human right violations in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir as well as its discriminatory laws and policies against its over 200 million Muslim community.

Although no match, at least not just yet, to China’s military might or growing political influence, India has hegemonic ambitions. Assuming big power airs it has been bullying all its neighbours, and escalating tensions with Pakistan which can easily lead to an all-out war between the two nuclear-armed nations with devastating consequences for this region and beyond. It is imperative therefore that the ‘real’ great powers act rationally. Global stability demands a healthy competition from them, not confrontation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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