Is it a coincidence that the battle between ideologies of the Left and the Right has become exacerbated around the world at this crucial time in world history? The having to choose sides between China and the ‘free’ world has drawn lines between societies that were, hitherto, comfortable with contending sets of ideas. It has come to the point where members of any communist party in any part of the world will be prevented from immigrating to the United States. The reasons for this are many, but the history of China using its citizens and supporters to spy on and undermine the United States, as well as steal industrial and defence secrets, is a long one. Commitment to various democratic freedoms is pointless if these are used to destroy the very society that upholds them.
India, too, has increasingly faced this challenge on several fronts – not just the ideological one. The first strike was when it was partitioned on religious lines and, yet, felt required to deal with newly born Pakistan as a legitimate, modern entity. It was the same with China, which was accepted as a fellow civilisational state while ignoring entirely the beliefs of those who had taken over power. Instead, Taiwan, which represented the more open and democratic strain in Chinese politics was treated as a pariah. It would have been one thing to have civilised relations with them, even acknowledging their right to exist and evolve, but to actually believe they were benign in their intentions towards India was naïve, to say the least.
With the advent of ‘Trumpism’ in the US, a more ‘transactional’ policy has been adopted. This is more or less the approach being taken by leaders who have strong mandates in other countries. The enormous economic clout that China commands, today, as well as the continued growth of radical Islamism, has only enhanced the ability of such forces to undermine democratic and diverse societies by exploiting their existing ‘contradictions’. This makes it all the more important to have clarity of vision among democratically elected leaders, and unanimity in the manner of response. The voters, who ultimately decide, should be able to distinguish between those serving the foreign cause and those truly interested in the people’s well-being. It is not a surprise that democratic nations are gradually developing a ‘united’ response to the Chinese threat – such as through the Quad. A similar unity must also be developed within each nation, too, if the threat is to be effectively met.