Quick Take

No mistaking China’s superpower status

Updated on: Dec 06, 2021

The military spectacle on October 1 sends out a clear message to the US that it should not overstep boundaries. India is simply not in the same league as China.    

Two gigantic nations set out on a new path in the aftermath of World War II. India had fought for Independence and had been led there by Mahatma Gandhi with his utopian ideas of non-violence and village-level development that might have changed the course of history had he not been assassinated.

The other sleeping giant that awakened achieved power by more conventional resort to arms, fighting both the Japanese and its own country's Kuomintang forces. China has never concealed its belief that ‘might is right’ whether under Mao Zedong with his ultra-ideological power moves or under Xi Jinping who’s made no secret of wanting his country to be the top global power.

Xi put the world on notice on October 1 on the 70th anniversary of China’s rise to power – by coincidence it was celebrated a day before the apostle of non-violence’s 150th birth anniversary.

On display in this biggest, every muscle-flexing exercise were 15,000 soldiers, 160 aircraft, and 580 pieces of military hardware, including Beijing’s ICBMs and very latest hypersonic missiles that travel at five times the speed of sound. On its 70ththanniversary, there was no doubting the message China wanted to send the world – that it’s a militarised power with huge resources and anyone who takes it on does so at their peril.

It was a clear message to President Trump that he shouldn’t overstep the boundaries when trying to cut China to size. The night before China also put on a huge and spectacularly well-choreographed cultural extravaganza. For an Indian observer, this superbly assembled, colourful show made our Republic Day floats look like unimaginative Third-World-style offerings.

The spoiler to this minutely planned exercise came on Hong Kong’s streets where protesters were out in strength once again. The protests also claimed their first casualty, a student who was shot and wounded by police. The authorities said police were perfectly justified in their action against the student who was videoed swinging a metal bar at a police officer.

Still, there’s no questioning China has progressed way beyond India in the last 70 years. Does this mean totalitarianism gets results in a way democracy cannot? Or is it that a nation like China has a will to move forward that makes it an unstoppable force? Whatever the answer, it seems clear India isn’t about to make it into the same league as China in the near future.

Published on October 02, 2019
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