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China-US Cold War: Implications on India and Pakistan

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What is cold war? The term ‘cold war’ was used for the first time by a famous British writer George Orwell in his essays on the tensions between the USA and USSR, now Russia. The indirect confrontation between USA and USSR started after World War II, when Truman presented his doctrine in which he argued that the communist ideology of Soviet Union was expanding to various parts of the world and that it needed to be stopped. The cold war between USA and USSR lasted almost 5 decades in which a number of significant events occurred. 

In 2020, a new conflict arose between USA and China. In the 3rd week of May, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused the US for trying to initiate a new cold war, in response to the US allegations over corona. This is a misunderstanding; the cold war between the two nations was initiated long before Trump’s era, during the Obama administration. A number of political analysts, such as Henry Kissinger, have mentioned in their writings that if China adopted liberal democracy and stepped back from socialism and ideas of Marxism, the US would have no problem with China's economy.

The US may not have any issues with China in terms of producing goods like laptops or mobiles, what it wants from China is to adopt a western order of government. The USA wants a unique domination of the world, a domination in which China can't challenge its geostrategic and scientific influence. The rivalry between the two major powers is growing, but this cold war is different from that of USSR and USA. Back then, both states used a number of proxies and assassination tactics to weaken one another. This time, the focal point is trade. Both the United States and China are trying to contain their exports by executing tariffs on goods. USA is trying to decrease the production capability of China by applying a number of hurdles.

There are several components of this rivalry. One of the main components is the containment of China’s military dominance in South China Sea. The main reason behind this is that China’s main commercial areas exist along the South China Sea. The USA knows the geostrategic and economic importance of the sea, therefore its main aim is to build an anti-China narrative in the principal littoral states of the South China Sea like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam etc., to prove that the rise of China is not a result of a peaceful process.

Like the rest of the world, there is a direct implication of these tensions on India and Pakistan. In this regard India is split in two thoughts strategically; one school of thought argues that India should let go its non-alignment policy and should go to the block of USA. They think that from this they will not only get a huge advantage militarily and economically, but will also be in position to challenge the status quo of China regionally through new technologies. Moreover, India can not only have access to the said technologies but also get membership of G7 and G8. These are the thoughts of those thinkers that are more inclined towards BJP and have strong beliefs in nationalism. Others think that India should keep its approach of neutrality, despite the fact that China has given a tough time to India in Ladakh. According to them, India has a rich history of culture and civilization, therefore India should not become anyone’s proxy and it should handle the situation in its own way.

On the other hand, Islamabad doesn't want its relations to be affected by the said rivalry. In near past, the United States of America has shown its reservations over the China’s investment in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan has strongly rejected US objections over China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but Pakistan needs a proactive policy to convince the US in this regard. Pakistan should make them realized that this economic project is purely based on the principles of bilateral cooperation. Furthermore there are no such intentions to hurt anyone’s interests with this project; it will help to enhance the overall infrastructure of Pakistan.

One of the main drawbacks of Pakistan's foreign policy that Pakistan is still suffering from is that it has picked sides numerous times in the past in international disputes. Considering either the decisions taken during the cold war or the initiatives taken in the war on terror, the stakeholders in Pakistan reacted in a hurry which caused serious consequences to the interests of the state. Currently, although Pakistan has a close relationship and economic partnership with China, Pakistan can't deny the fact that it has a vital strategic partnership with the USA too. Pakistan has an alliance with the USA in containing terrorism, and it is playing a crucial role in bringing peace back to Afghanistan. The Foreign Office of Pakistan should keep all these factors in front and try make a comprehensive, goal-oriented foreign policy towards the USA.

The most vital point is that Pakistan cannot ignore the US factor, especially when Pakistan is experiencing a tough relationship with India, and India is already a strong ally of the US in South Asia. The government of Imran Khan has smartly engaged the US, and relations between Khan’s administration and Trump’s government have entered a healthy phase. The president of the USA, Donald Trump, has expressed his desire to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue. Therefore, Islamabad has to play a proactive role in this regard not only to further these minor positive points, but also to engage China equally.