The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is modified and extended.
Global Times, China’s official mouthpiece, has called for an increased Chinese role in South and Southeast Asia. Citing Chinese mediation between Myanmar and Bangladesh over the Rohingya refugees issue, in an article published today, it says that it is imperative that China protects the interests of its organizations with their increasing global footprint across the world, saying that ‘Beijing cannot turn a deaf ear to such demands’.
Taking its argument to the next level, the article further says that China has made huge investments in many countries under its ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative and therefore it has ‘vested interests’ to mediate in regional conflicts including the ‘Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan’. According to the article, the Chinese experience over the Rohingya issue should serve as a template for the larger Chinese role in South and Southeast Asia.
Such provocations by the official media in China are gradually becoming a trend. Recently, an editorial had suggested that China should intervene in the Kashmir issue actively after India had declined illegitimate Chinese demands of clamping down on the Dalai Lama’s Arunachal Pradesh visit. China claims Arunachal Pradesh is South Tibet and even went on to rename six Arunachal Pradesh cities in maps released by it.
India has made it amply clear that the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan, is an integral part of India and if there has to be a dialogue, it has to be bilateral in nature and would focus on Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. If the official Chinese media is still hell bent on advocating increased Chinese mediation in the Kashmir dispute, it should be construed as an extension of the official Chinese propaganda that tried to demean India whenever it gets a chance.
A significant part of China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ passes through PoK where China is making huge investment and which India has objected to as it is ideally an Indian land.
It also exposes the Chinese double standards. China’s considers Arunachal Pradesh its own territory and therefore disputed and cannot tolerate even an exiled Tibetan person, even if the person is the Peace Nobel Laureate, to venture there, whereas it sends an army of its organizations, workers and, in turn, its forces, in the name of safeguarding them, to a disputed territory that has historically been a part of India.
Though some reports say that Myanmar has turned down the offer of Chinese mediation, Myanmar may finally succumb to the Chinese pressure of meddling into its affairs. China has gradually increased its investments in Myanmar to a significant level including an oil pipeline through Myanmar that gives China direct access to crude oil from Middle East and Africa. The oil pipeline was an important piece of China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ map.
China may be the world’s second largest economy but its global reputation is still of an autocratic country with an expansive mindset that is involved in multiple territorial and sea disputes. China’s one party rule has become synonymous with human rights abuses and meddling in global affairs to protect other autocratic regimes like Syria and North Korea.