[Editorial Analysis] Belligerence and pushback

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Quad group
Mains level: International Organisation groupings and their mandate

Context:

• Under it’s ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy, China issued a strange warning to Bangladesh, a nation that it has tried to cultivate assiduously over several years.
• China considers the Quad to be a minor anti-China initiative, the Beijing, warned Dhaka that there will be “substantial damage” in bilateral ties between China and Bangladesh if the latter joins the Quad.

Revealing fault lines:

• Bangladesh promptly and publicly challenged the Chinese envoy’s statement, underlining categorically that Dhaka pursues an independent foreign policy
• China continued to target Quad “as a small clique against China” and said that “remarks expressing opposition to this mechanism are not about interference but about expressing opposition to small cliques and bloc politics.
• They also reflect the aspiration for maintaining regional peace and stability.” That China’s remarks would reverberate far beyond South Asia was expected and perhaps intended by Beijing itself.
• U.S. remarked, “What we would say is that we respect Bangladesh’s sovereignty and we respect Bangladesh’s right to make foreign policy decisions for itself.”
• This episode captures the emerging fault lines in South Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific in ways that are both revealing and challenging.
• For all its attempts to play down the relevance of the Quad, Beijing realises that the grouping, with all its weaknesses, is emerging as a reality and there is little it can do to prevent that.
• China is agitated about Quad’s future role and its potential success in offering the regional states an alternative to its own strong-arm tactics.
• The Quad member states are busy in figuring out a cohesive agenda and there are no plans for an expansion. The success will come only if Quad can build a credible platform first.
• No one is sending out invitations to join Quad and no one has shown an interest.
• But Beijing wants to ensure that after failing in its initial attempt to prevent the Quad from gaining any traction, its message is well understood by other states who may harbour any desire of working closely with the Quad members to uphold a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.
• With its message to Dhaka, Beijing was laying down a marker that nations should desist from engaging with the Quad.

Growing momentum of Quad

• This aggressive diplomacy is likely to have the opposite effect, in the near future.
• Beijing has failed to prevent nations from the West to the East from coming out with their Indo-Pacific strategies, it has failed to prevent the operationalisation of the Quad, and now it might be worried about other nations in the region thinking of engaging with the Quad more proactively.
• Bangladesh is planning to come out with its own Indo-Pacific strategy and Beijing has now warned Dhaka that a close cooperation with the Quad should not be part of the policy mix.

Conclusion:

• As the Quad gains more momentum and the churn in the waters of the Indo-Pacific leads to new countervailing coalitions against China.
• For all the criticism China has heaped on the Quad’s members for trying to create an exclusive clique, it will be Beijing that is likely to demand clear-cut foreign policy choices from its regional interlocutors.
• And states are more likely to push back than become subservient to Chinese largesse.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Maratha reservation, consider the following statements:
1. Maratha community recently brought under Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota in Maharashtra.
2. 92nd Constitutional amendment Act 2019 introduced 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of society.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: A

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