In recent years, the U.S. has been trying to form and lead an international anti-China coalition. In the past few months it has become more explicit and public about this than ever before.
The country’s closest allies — the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — are also members of the Five Eyes alliance. Before the start of the Cold War, the U.S. and UK had already agreed secretly to exchange intercepted and deciphered coded telegrams from the Soviet Union.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand joined the secret intelligence system after the start of the Cold War. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, America’s secret intelligence system covered almost every aspect of international affairs, but the existence of the Five Eyes was virtually unknown in the international community before 2003.
Only in 2013, when Edward Snowden released a trove of National Security Agency secrets, did people start to learn more about the Five Eyes. It has also become known that the Five Eyes evolved to become the Nine Eyes alliance with Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway, and in turn led to the Fourteen Eyes, including Belgium, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Spain, with Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore at the periphery.
NATO members are also U.S. allies under a unified military command that in effect operates subordinate to the U.S. military, which has many bases in Europe. Many members of the European Union are also NATO members. Since the military and intelligence systems are controlled by the U.S., these countries oftentimes answer to the U.S. on major foreign policy issues.
There is a master-slave relationship between the U.S. and its allies. For a long time, the U.S. has not only collected and analyzed political, economic and military intelligence on major adversaries, including China and Russia, but also tapped the allies’ diplomatic cables and leaders' communications. It is very good at using the various mainstream media controlled by its intelligence agencies to skillfully disseminate all kinds of sensitive information, whose truth or falsehood is difficult to distinguish. It bribes and intimidates high-level political figures in allied countries to control and manipulate their political, economic and foreign policies. The U.S., determined to do its utmost to contain China, will naturally try to draw its allies into a new anti-China coalition.
India is not an ally of the U.S. and has no obligation to bow to American leadership. With nuclear weapons and a population nearly as large as China’s, India has unlimited economic potential. For the U.S., the importance of drawing India into its anti-China coalition is self-evident, especially given the country’s privileged geographical position and its stranglehold on the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. The Indo-Pacific concept proposed by the U.S. was intended to elevate India’s status, including adoption of the Indo-Pacific strategy and renaming the Pacific Command the Indo-Pacific Command.
Relations between India and the U.S. have warmed up significantly in recent years. The Indian government has in the past few months introduced a number of policies to decouple from China, such as banning Huawei 5G devices and Chinese apps such as TikTok. Western media described recent border conflicts with China as pushing India to the U.S. side. The analysis is rather simplistic, as China and India share a border of 2,000 kilometers and dispute an area of just 120,000 square kilometers involving the western, central and eastern sections of the border. These disputes are the legacy of British colonialism. China and India have long agreed that a proper and gradual settlement can be reached as they develop a neighborly and friendly relationship of long-term stability, mutual benefit and mutual trust.
Indian politics have been unique. To borrow terms used by Canadian political economist Wallace Clement, the early Indian political elites were mostly “comprador elites” working for the British “parasite elites” and supporting the British Empire. In post-independence India, there are both nationalist “indigenous elites” and “comprador elites” serving “foreign elites” and representing large Western multinational corporations in India.
For years, the elite circles have faced a diplomatic dilemma. On one hand, they believe that higher international status will be gained by joining the core countries, such as the U.S. and UK. On the other, it is a bitter recognition that such a policy means abandoning Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s strategic independence and non-alignment line and becoming an American vassal.
The U.S. still has strong military power and political influence, which no country can ignore. But its political, economic and moral credibility is on the verge of bankruptcy at a highly unstable and dangerous moment in history, which the Indian political elite cannot fail to see.
Some influential Indian strategists point to the fact that the U.S. has gone to great lengths to form an anti-China coalition as evidence of the emergence of a multipolar world order. But as one of the new centers of power in this world order, India does not need to join an anti-China alliance with the U.S. at its core. The right thing for India to do right now is to be vigilant, act cautiously, get well prepared for an upcoming China-U.S. conflict — or any world crisis — and wait patiently for new forces to emerge on the American political stage.