The diplomatic limitations


China's failure to intervene during the visit of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, to Taiwan, notwithstanding the threats dished out by the Communist regime, including President Xi Jinping, is a serious diplomatic setback for the country. Beijing's failure to act despite its dire threats-and this included threatening to shoot down the aircraft carrying Pelosi-is easy to understand but difficult for the Communist regime to explain. The Chinese leadership is not mature enough to play on the world stage, leave alone be any sort of world leader. India and its politicians till recently had been treating the Chinese with far more deference than they deserve. The last war the People's Liberation Army (PLA), as the army in China is called, fought was against Vietnam in 1979, in which it was roundly defeated and chased out of Vietnamese territory. Thereafter, for more than 44 years, the PLA has been untested on the battlefront. On the other hand, the Indian army has participated in many an encounter in different terrains. Unfortunately, the memories of the 1962 humiliation continued to have a disproportionate influence on the Indian psyche all these years.
A closer look tells us that China's future isn't all that bright. Its growth had already slowed dramatically. Farmland and energy resources are becoming scarce while the country is already grappling with water shortages. Thanks to its forced one-child policy of the Mao years, China is approaching a demographic catastrophe: It will lose 70 million working-age individuals over the next decade while gaining 120 million senior citizens. From the US to Taiwan, India to Japan, democracies are kicking Chinese firms out of their markets and creating multilateral coalitions to check Chinese expansionism. Also, China cannot ignore the surging anti-Chinese sentiment abroad. If China's troubles make it less able to fulfill its dreams, the world must prepare for a more dangerous China. History tells us that such powers attempt to reshape the balance of power before the window of opportunity closes. Taiwan is the most likely target of this Chinese anxiety.

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