There is no comparison between how extensively the Communist Party of China has been researching on multiple aspects of India, which it has used to make innumerable territorial claims, and what India has been doing or not doing to protect its territorial integrity. At long last, it is welcome that, in the last few years, there has been a remarkable increase in the literature focused on China, particularly on India-China ties. One such book in this genre is Blinkers Off: How Will The World Counter China, authored by senior journalist Gaurie Dwivedi. The well-researched book takes a bird’s eye view of the challenges that a rising and basically belligerent China presents to the world. Taking the reader through China’s growth story and the geopolitical realignments that it has created, this book is unapologetic in its assessment that Beijing’s continued rise poses security threats to the liberal world.
China’s acts to undermine the world order pose a greater threat due to its economic might, military capabilities and vast influence spanning across Asia, Europe and Africa thanks to its BRI programme. Its hurry to alter global governance is driven by an ambition to dictate rules on issues like food security that affect the entire humanity. And Beijing’s expansive strategy is not just limited to planting its proxies but having its own version of human rights to be normalised by international agencies. China’s hunger for mineral resources is another key driver for its ambition to be a modern-day colonial power.
With China expected to eclipse America as the world’s largest economy in 2028, the latter is not as powerful as it was in the 1950s and 1960s to be able to successfully address the present geopolitical tensions. It is only the collective response of the liberal world, America and its allies and partners, which will together decide the future and shape of the post-pandemic world order. After allowing China to successfully subvert the rules-based world order for three decades, the world is now in a precarious phase. Multi-polar solidarity is the best bet to counter the challenge that China poses. India and Japan, along with America, will play a vital role in checking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s propensity to change the status quo. India’s geo-strategic location, which allows it to be a possible counter to China in the Indo Pacific, and its geo-economic clout will be a major factor in countering China. For this, it needs to build more economic heft. It will not suffice to match frigates and submarines, but the world must defeat China’s plans to weaponise trade and information, and lessen its global clout, which has turned even the UN Secretary-General into one of its cheerleaders. Joe Biden does not have the luxury of Barack Obama to respond to China’s island-building activity with few public statements and a “pivot” that yielded little by way of deterrence. Instead, the US President will have to act fast and in tandem with Narendra Modi and Yoshihide Suga.
The book makes a case for an all-around approach towards understanding the China challenge and a commensurate multi-dimensional response to tackle the same. The author has identified technology and economy as two clear areas where Chinese desire for supremacy could play out, requiring proactive response by world powers. Blinkers Off suggests creating powerful deterrence across traditional and new age mediums of warfare like cyber and trade. The recommendations in the book, which encompass all aspects of engagement with China, also include focus on checking the disproportionate clout Beijing now holds over global governance. WHO didn’t develop feet of clay in one day, it reached its present moribund state after years of consistent Chinese push to undermine what were once beacons of liberal hope.
Provocatively titled, the book is a refreshing change from the largely one-sided narrative of a pathbreaking reform-led growth story of China, whitewashing its efforts to create its power axis by relying on other authoritarian countries like Iran and Russia. Instead, the author presents a compelling argument for the world to view China through the prism of its ancient military and strategic thought woven into CPC’s desire for hegemony and upending the present world order.