Following the imposition of the new ‘National Security Law’ by the Chinese on Hong Kong, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has done the right thing by expressing willingness to allow as many as 2.8 million residents of the former protectorate the right to live in his country and, later, even apply for citizenship. This is backing up principle with practice. It is also indicative of how unacceptable most countries of the world are finding Chinese actions in the present day. Australia, too, has decided to suspend its extradition treaty with China and extended the visas of people from Hong Kong after the recent developments. This is despite the threats by China that it would adversely impact the number of students studying in Australian universities. The universities make a considerable amount of money from such students. (Australia can, however, more than compensate by giving Indian students the vacated seats.)
These are just a couple of examples of how China’s recent actions have aggravated much of the democratic world. They are willing to suffer severe economic damage rather than allow such disruptive behaviour. This brings to the fore, once again, the perils of making deals with the devil. All the profits that have been made by the multinational mega corporations, which overlooked China’s damning human rights record, have come home to roost. China is calling in the debts on all those who have engaged with it for what were considered lucrative deals. It is now a test for the world order – whether it succumbs or stands up to the pressure.
India’s tough stand on its borders, despite its present troubles with the pandemic and economic downturn, has given heart to other countries. Many of those who were willing to co-exist with China in what was thought to be controlled international environment have woken up to the reality. Unless China backs down quickly, there are going to be immediate repercussions with consequences for the future. The United States under Trump has, anyway, been willing to pay the price for ‘bringing the jobs home’ that had gone to China. Whether it is cold turkey or gradually weaning away from the dependence, most nations – except those that are beyond the pale, like Pakistan – are willing to consider the alternatives. So, while India is willing to stay cool on the LAC, it has already launched several initiatives at several levels to woo corporations and investors. The more China misbehaves, the more it makes the case for India.