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TematicheCina e Indo-PacificoXi’s rule to aggravate Chinese coercive politics

Xi’s rule to aggravate Chinese coercive politics


Xi Jinping’s smooth appointment for the third term as China’s president has hinted at the continuation or rather aggravation of Beijing’s coercive policies in global politics. It seems to be at the core of Xi’s global agenda. This can be gauged from the fact that China continues to practice military and economic coercion even after Covid-19 disrupted conventional ways of politics and necessitated cooperation among nations. However, Chinese coercion has rather escalated in its intensity and reach. Taiwan and countries in the South China Sea and the East China Sea are victims of China’s egregious behaviour. But Xi’s tenure saw China’s coercive policies extending to Australia, India, Sri Lanka, some European countries, and even its ally Pakistan. 

Two years ago, the bilateral trade between Australia and China was robust, and Australia was being seen as closer to China than to the traditional ally the US. However, it became the biggest target of Chinese economic coercion in no time for seeking an inquiry into the origin of novel coronavirus infections. Now bilateral relations between the two countries have been restored, China has continued with its coercive policies. According to the international policy think tank Lowy Institute, coercion would increase in the near future as China’s economy becomes less resource intensive. China has banned imports of Australian goods as a punitive action and is set to do away with iron ore by diversifying its supplies. China is using its monopoly in rare earth metals as a weapon against its rivals and an instrument of domination. China has stopped its supply to Japan and is threatening to do the same with the US and Australia. Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology carried out discussions to this effect in 2021. China possesses 30 per cent of known reservoirs of rare critical earth metals and the largest supplier with a share of 70 to 88 per cent in global production. These rare metals are used in modern industry as they are crucial for a wide range of goals, from the production of iPhones to EV batteries to Covid testing kits. 

Emily de La Bruyère, a China expert with the think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Beijing was using rare earth metals as a strategic input in global power contests. According to her, Chinese sources discuss leveraging rare earth dominance against the US for coercive ends. When China restricted supplies to Japan, it revealed China’s predatory and non-market economic behaviour as it wanted to maintain its dominance, she added. This made the US act swiftly to avoid the Chinese trap. US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said the world realised how China used coercion for economic, military and political gains. Japan and Australia have signed a security agreement to resist “economic coercion and disinformation” by China. The US National Defence Strategy (NDS) slammed China for using its military and economic capabilities to “coerce neighbours and threaten their interests.”

Even its immediate neighbour South Korea was punished by China by suspending group tours to the country. Beijing has tried to use coercion for any reason it finds fit to cater to its interests. It banned salmon fish from Norway after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. China’s coercive politics in Indian Ocean Region has even hurt the interest and sovereignty of friendly nations like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Many European countries including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic became the victim of China’s economic coercion for supporting the democracy and independence of Taiwan. Beijing tried to punish these nations by restricting imports. Experts warned that China may take unconventional and unprecedented steps as it continues to use economic coercion in the future. China’s coercive politics has called for collective action, and the countries that were subjected to Chinese coercion are supporting each other. As a matter of facts, the US-backed India and Taiwan against Chinese coercion on the border conflict and sovereignty respectively. Inter-governmental forums such as G7 and QUAD are trying to prevent China from issuing threats and coercion.

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