China’s disrespect for international norms and human rights standards has shocked the western world. Decades of unhindered economic cooperation with China was based on the assumption that it will eventually democratize and let its neighbors live in peace in order to maximize its focus on stability and economic growth. But the recent development in Asia is compelling the Biden administration to take a tough stance on China. Fortunately, this time the Europeans have also decided to coordinate their efforts and support the United States in their criticism of China’s human rights record.
Recently, the United States, the European Union, Britain, and Canada have all imposed sanctions on certain Chinese officials for human rights abuses in the Xinjiang province, the first such coordinated Western action against Beijing. This is the first major foreign policy success of President Joe Biden. America is motivating and galvanizing its allies to act together in their common interest to promote human rights.
Beijing is not keeping quiet, either. It is motivating its millions of consumers to boycott certain European Brands. It is probably a response to the US and European companies banning import of cotton from the Xinjiang province, as it was found out that cotton was plucked by forced labor and in general people in the province are suffering from gross violations of human rights.
The Biden administration is also adopting a cohesive policy of demanding the same standards of democracy and human rights in Myanmar. Here too, it is well known that the military junta in Myanmar is indirectly getting its support from China.
As China gets more authoritarian and aggressive, it is increasingly threatening its neighbors like Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan, and India.
Therefore, the role of the well-functioning democracies of Northern Europe is becoming even important in shaping the future of South and East Asia.
Denmark and India have forged a green strategic partnership and the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, is expected to visit India in a few weeks from now. Likewise, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, is expected to reciprocate the goodwill gesture of the Danish prime minister by visiting Denmark later this year.
The time for strategic global alliance of democratic nations has arrived. There is a need of a coherent and cohesive policy which rewards countries that hold regular democratic elections.
The two areas that ought to have extra focus when the prime ministers of democratic countries meet is how to strengthen people-to-people relationship and how to strengthen cooperation in the field of science and technology, which will help us address the issue of climate change. This includes issues such as how to purify water, provide green energy from windmills and how to drastically reduce air pollution in metropolitan cities.
We have to make our cities livable and make our democracies vibrant. It is not just Denmark, but all Scandinavia that needs to engage more with India in educational programs where students could come to study in Indian universities, and similarly, research students from India could join hands with researchers in Scandinavian countries to explore possibilities of making advances in the field of sustainable and viable green technologies.
As tit-for-tat sanctions are being imposed by the Chinese regime targeting European officials, and reversely, EU and US are targeting Chinese officials, a vacuum has been created, or a space for reengagement with other Asian countries has been made imperative.
As China gets more assertive, the time for European countries to engage in other Asian countries has arrived. Democracies should work together and the time for a strategic partnership between Europe, US and India has never been more ripe than now. It all depends on how our leaders are capable of exploiting this unique historical moment.
US and European interests have been waxing and waning in the Asia-Pacific region which has allowed China to exploit the situation. Often American foreign policy interests have been diverted by double games played by Jihad-supporting states like Pakistan. The test of the pudding is in the eating. Most Asian countries are eagerly waiting to see if Western allies stick to their guns and stay firm in demanding respect of international norms and human rights standards as a basic minimum before conducting business as usual.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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