We are honored to present this multi-part paper from Andrew Korybko into the emerging New Cold War between China and India. This research will be released over a number of days to facilitate discussion and conversation, with a compiled briefing paper being provided at the end of the series.
- Part I – The Chinese-Indian New Cold War – Background
- Part II – The Chinese-Indian New Cold War – Southeast and South Asia
- Part III – The Chinese-Indian New Cold War – Southeast and South Asia – Part II
- Part IV – The Chinese-Indian New Cold War – Middle East and Central Asia
Relations between China and India have been souring over the past year since New Delhi agreed to an unprecedented military-strategic partnership last summer with Washington through LEMOA. The US long planned to use India as its “Lead from Behind” proxy in countering China, hoping to set the two Asian Great Powers against one in the ultimate divide-and-rule strategy of the 21st century.
Just as Washington courted Beijing against Moscow in the Old Cold War, it has revised the strategy with New Delhi against Beijing in the New Cold War. This policy has been largely successful through the US exploiting the Modi-Doval-Hindutva Deep State’s obsessive fear and paranoia over China and Pakistan turning India into the unipolar vanguard against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and accordingly, the rest of Beijing’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) global vision of New Silk Road connectivity.
The Indian-Japanese Alliance Against China
India recently announced that it opposes both game-changing ventures on supposed sovereignty violations, relying on a maximalist approach to the Kashmir conflict to “justify” this position. This amounts a declaration of strategic war against China, which in turn can be seen in hindsight as formalizing the New Cold War between them. This indirect competition for influence began to unfold in 2015 and was responsible for the dynamic events which occurred in Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives at that time, but it now takes a qualitatively different form because India is also teaming up with Japan in order to boost the effectiveness of its efforts.
The two anti-Chinese states have joined forces to develop the “Freedom Corridor,” a Japanese-assisted expansion of India’s proposed “Cotton Road” all across the Indo-Pacific Rimland of Afro-Eurasia, and rival China’s New Silk Road. The name – the “Freedom Corridor” – evokes the type of language commonly employed by the US, further signifying this initiative is in reality an American-inspired proxy strategy for the 21st century. In fact, the Chinese-Indian New Cold War in Afro-Eurasia is a major part of the global New Cold War playing out between the multipolar and unipolar worlds, respectively, but instead of being fought over ideology like the previous one in the last century, this rivalry is over connectivity corridors.
The Significance Of CPEC
The multipolar forces want to break through the stranglehold the US and its allies have over trade routes, while the unipolar ones want to reinforce this state of affairs in order to perpetuate their global systemic dominance. CPEC is the spine of the emerging Multipolar World Order, precisely because it allows China to acquire a reliable non-Malacca access route to the Indian Ocean, and from there to the European, Mideast, and increasingly, African marketplaces. There are, of course, other Silk Roads being built, notably the overland routes that China wants to construct to the Mideast and EU by means of Central Asia and Russia, respectively, but these are very vulnerable to the Hybrid War template of externally provoked identity conflict in the geostrategic transit states.
With CPEC, however, there’s only one transit state to go through and it’s a nuclear-equipped and militarily powerful one, which single-handedly defeated terrorism through the legendary Operation Zarb-e-Azb, hence Beijing’s focus most of its efforts on prioritizing this route above all others, making it the top target of the US’ destabilization efforts against OBOR.
This part of the New Cold War and its related Chinese-Indian component were comprehensively examined by the author in a series of articles enumerated in his 2017 forecast for South Asia and a video interview given late last year on this topic.
Readers should refer to these two sources, if they’re interested in learning more about this.
Thalassocracy vs Tellurocracy
Before proceeding any further, we must present a broad theoretical understanding of the larger geopolitical themes playing out in the Chinese-Indian New Cold War, as the rest of the research will explore their specificities more in depth and explain their particular relevance in various regional theaters.
Renowned Russian thinker Alexander Dugin conceptualizes geopolitics by “the struggle between thalassocracies and tellurocracies,” or sea-based and land-based powers, respectively. According to him, thalassocracies have historically employed a combination of diplomatic, economic, and military force to keep the Eurasian supercontinent divided, which therefore had the effect of weakening the tellurocracies and perpetuated the global dominance of the sea-based powers. The US understood as being the premier leader of the thalassocracies, by virtue of its “global island” geography, and its allies all across the Eurasian Rimland, including the UK, India, and Japan.
Russia, on the other hand, is the epitome of a tellurocracy, strengthening its geostrategic significance through revolutionary partnerships with China, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey, all of which are fellow land-focused powers.
To simplify everything into the contemporary geostrategic parlance, the thalassocracies are generally unipolar and want to retain or mildly tweak the existing world system which works out to their real or perceived benefit, while the tellurocracies are multipolar and want to fundamentally change the global balance of power in order to make it more equitable and thereby bestow other states with a fair chance to succeed.
To channel the geopolitical-philosophical teachings of Professor Dugin, the New Cold War boils down to the tellurocracies seeking to tighten their integration with one another through groundbreaking infrastructure projects and collaborative diplomacy, while the thalassocracies are working overtime to undermine the strategic consolidation of Eurasia. The latter can skillfully employ the methods of Hybrid War disrupting mainland Eurasian integration (as witnessed through the Wars on Syria and Ukraine), the tellurocracies are forced to rely on unipolar-dominated maritime trade routes across the Strait of Malacca, the Indian Ocean, Bab-el-Mandeb, and the Suez Canals until all of their continental connectivity projects become a reality.
This forced China, the most economically powerful of the land powers, to improve its maritime capabilities, explaining Beijing’s aggressive territorial defense of South China Sea over the past few years.
In response, the US encouraged its two thalassocratic allies on China’s flanks, India and Japan, to enhance their naval power in kind and enter into an anti-Chinese partnership, explaining their cooperative maritime efforts in the Bay of Bengal and South China Seas, on both sides of the Indo-Chinese Peninsula, as well as their recently unveiled “Freedom Corridor,” aiming to reduce the attractiveness of China’s New Silk Roads. The US keenly understands China’s need to urgently develop new markets and associated transport corridors in order to offload its overproduction, as failure would lead to the closing of state-supported factories and a resultant economic slowdown inside the People’s Republic. Correspondingly, this could prompt socio-political unrest which might threaten China’s stability and undermine the emerging Multipolar World Order, right inside one of its core territories.
For these pressing reasons, the tellurocratic powers have no choice but to support China’s OBOR efforts – especially its CPEC and other maritime-related components – until the time comes, if ever, that complete and dependable mainland trade corridors are constructed all across the Eurasian landmass. This translates into the tellurocracies being compelled to engage in a naval counteroffensive against the thalassocracies to counteract the latter’s disruptive Hybrid War plans inside the supercontinent, without involving military dimensions. The ‘counteroffensive’, for all intents and purposes, takes the form of OBOR, especially its existing maritime manifestations, and thalassocracies also shrewdly understand that any conventional military attack against their rival’s trading assets on the high seas could set in motion a chain reaction that also undermines the viability of their own sea-dependent routes.
Therefore, the most pragmatic response for the time being is to compete with China’s Silk Roads through the “Freedom Corridor” initiative.
The nature of the Chinese-Indian New Cold War is that both actors are poised to engage in competitive connectivity projects across the Indo-Pacific region of Afro-Eurasia, essentially expanding their previous South Asian-focused rivalry across a broad swath of the Eastern Hemisphere. India is utterly incapable of remotely presenting any sort of challenge to China, without receiving immense assistance from its American and Japanese allies. As a counter-measure, Washington constructed the “Containment Triangle” between itself, New Delhi, and Tokyo and encouraged their underlings to unveil the “Freedom Corridor” as the soft power cover for their designs. While giving the impression this joint Indian-Japanese counterproposal is strictly relegated to the economic and soft power realms; however, there’s no escaping the fact that both parties’ American overseer is a master at military and hard power projection, suggesting that the “Freedom Corridor” will have an unstated Hybrid War component backing it up.
The remainder of the research examines the three geographic domains of competitive connectivity between China’s OBOR and India-Japan’s “Freedom Corridor,” outlining the rival infrastructure projects and forecasting how the US could employ various forms of Hybrid Warfare, in select theaters, to decisively disrupt China’s projects, giving the advantage to its allies’.
We will prove, through the remainder of the research, that the Indian Ocean Region at the center of “Greater South Asia,” is becoming the focal point of rivalry in the New Cold War, as the American thalassocratic hegemon harnesses all of its capabilities in confronting the rising hemispherically-influential, tellurocratic Chinese power in this key part of the world. The implications of the US’ Indo-Japanese proxy face-off against China are expected to reverberate throughout all of Afro-Eurasia, therefore being of heightened consequence for Russia, envisioning itself as the supreme super-continental balancer.
Understandably, this makes the research relevant not just for Russia, but also each of its partners in the Southeast-South Asian, Mideast-Central Asian, and East African realms of rivalry between the US and China.
The forthcoming sections will analyze each of these theaters individually within the New Silk Road and “Freedom Corridor” projects, as well as the Hybrid War scenarios, which could be hatched by the US.
Finally, the last part of the study will conclude with some key insights into the geo-economic convergences between these two camps, including forecasted consequences that this will have on each of the host countries, as well as other overall details about the wider New Cold War in general.
We believe that this work can serve as an enlightening guide to understanding the contours of the emerging Multipolar World Order and the unipolar challenges which will continue to afflict it for the foreseeable future.
Going forward, readers should the additional sections rely heavily on the author’s own Hybrid War research across the past year in Southeast Asia, the “Greater Heartland” of Iran and Central Asia, and Africa, containing a multitude of detailed analyses and maps, more poignantly outlining some of the deeper concepts that will be introduced in this present research series.
For the sake of brevity and scope, they all can’t be individually expanded upon in each pertinent chapter, therefore, the reader must reference them at their own leisure at www.orientalreview.org, if they wish to learn more about them.
In addition, the basis for the “Freedom Corridor” rests in the author’s own analysis of the “Cotton Route” and an article in the India-based Economic Times online news outlet, with the former laying out the genesis for the project and the latter authoritatively reporting on some of its confirmed geographic components of this initiative. As such, just as with the author’s Hybrid War works, readers are strongly encouraged to reference these two aforementioned sources before embarking on the rest of the research.
Part II continues tomorrow.