By: Kritika Kaushik, Research Analyst, GSDN Network
The recent visit of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia for the first-ever China-Arab Summit is becoming Xi’s new style of diplomacy, raising concerns in the Indian subcontinent. Earlier, the first thing that came to the minds of Indian observers was the former Soviet Union & the US, when the question of the Cold War came. But, as now we are living in a state of affairs where the current world order is in constant friction and is difficult to be defined by seeing only one event or a bipolar competition in isolation, the China-Arab Summit is an important development for expanding our understanding about the Cold War itself.
Therefore, let’s see the China-Arab meeting from a multidimensional perspective. On one hand, India and China’s relations have got crippled in the recent past owing to the continuous cartographic and military aggression by China against India, it is important that we see the development of the Chinese inroads towards West Asia with a critical understanding. While India’s Presidency at the G20 is a moment of celebration, we must keep an eye on how China is not spearheading cold wars per se but is manipulating the cold war dynamics for its own benefit. In other words, Xi is meeting the Saudis, it is business as usual for Xi but with a greater force and a bird’s eye view in a manner that Xi’s foreign policy choices are not just nudging the state of the present world order but putting so much friction and chaos in the same.
For instance, Saudi Arabia is a traditional ally of the US and Russia is going to have discomfort with China’s Arabian engagement. Earlier it was thought that China is an all-weather partner and full-time ally of Russia, but China is now unshackling such baggage and moving towards its own version of ‘strategic autonomy. The present state of world order was described as the US-China Cold War or Cold War 2.0, but what is remarkably different here is how China is making itself indispensable to the world powers but rather giving them a tough time.
When we compare the position of China with that of India, India has been very cautious about the foreign policy stance it has taken since Cold War 2.0 and has made some tough choices like abstaining to vote against Russia with regard to the Ukraine war, something that didn’t augur well with the US and the world in general, etc. But we are seeing how China is spreading its geopolitical wings with relatively greater ease which is a cause of concern because China is not a country that champions peace, democracy, human rights, human security, etc. like India does. The concern is that a democratic and global power like India has to face this Chinese dilemma as an immediate concern both as a neighbour and as a great power competitor, a country with whom India cannot afford to be either a full-time enemy or a full-time friend.