With this, Xi will continue, perhaps for life, as a new powerful leader of the world’s second largest economy.
Xi will be heading the Communist Party of China, the military and the Presidency, which observers say will have wider implications for China internally and externally.
The 69-year-old’s elevation will definitely have an impact on immediate neighbour India, considering the aggressive postures struck by the Chinese military in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in recent years.
Besides India, the “coronation” of Xi will also have significant ramifications on US-China ties as the President pursues his hyper-nationalistic agenda of building China into the top political, military and economic rival to US and the chief authoritarian challenge to the Washington-led democratic world order.
Under Xi, China’s ties with India have been on a downslope due to rising border tensions between the two countries, exacerbated by the deadly LAC clash in 2020.
India and China have witnessed several standoffs and skirmishes along the border in recent years due to Beijing’s salami-slicing tactics and multiple attempts to change the status quo.
President Xi Jinping has taken a firm stance on this issue and has been less willing to compromise than previous Chinese leaders. This has made it challenging for India to find a resolution to the dispute.
With Xi consolidating power in China, there is a worry that it could lead to fewer checks and balances in the use of Chinese military power.
“In retrospect, the biggest casualty of the Xi Jinping era has been the collapse of the patiently created climate of trust in managing LAC by the two sides,” according to a report in think-tank ORF.
It said that a third term for Xi will only reinforce the trends associated with his tenure — “assertiveness abroad, no compromises on issues relating to China’s boundaries and willingness to use the military as an instrument of policy”.
Moreover, Xi’s tightening grip on power could further fan geopolitical tensions arising due to China’s expansionist behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.
Under Xi, China has been acting like a bully in the strategic region and India is seen as the only regional counterweight that could match its neighbour’s heft and might.
That’s why it is seen as the unifying force behind the Quad security dialogue – four-nation alliance between India, US, Japan and Australia which aims to create a “free and fair Indo-Pacific”.
Challenges & opportunities
China’s economic dominance under Xi also presents opportunities and challenges for India.
With Xi pushing for an aggressive economic policy, most companies around the world are now consciously looking to diversify their manufacturing operations by investing in China and at least one other country.
This strategy is often used to reduce dependence on China as a manufacturing hub, diversify supply chains, and mitigate risks associated with political, economic or natural disasters in any one country.
We have already seen the business significant impact of it on the global supply chain during China’s strict Covid-zero policy.
With companies looking to diversify their manufacturing operations, India presents a significant investment opportunity.
The country has a large and growing workforce, a competitive cost structure and a rapidly expanding consumer market, making it an attractive destination for foreign investment.
For instance, Apple supplier Foxconn is already looking to boost its operations in India with a new facility coming up in Karnataka.
This comes amid Apple and other US brands leaning on their Chinese-based suppliers to explore alternative locations such as India and Vietnam.
It’s a rethink of the global supply chain that’s accelerated during the pandemic and the war in Ukraine and could reshape the way global electronics are made.
Foxconn’s decision would be a coup for Modi’s government, which sees an opportunity to close India’s tech gap with China as Western investors and corporations sour on Beijing’s crackdowns on the private sector.
India has already offered financial incentives to Apple suppliers such as Foxconn, which began making the latest generation of iPhones at a site in Tamil Nadu last year. Smaller rivals Wistron and Pegatron have also ramped up in India, while suppliers such as Jabil have begun making components for AirPods locally, according to a Bloomberg report.
Ties between China and US have plummeted in the recent years over a range of issues, right from security challenges to trade to global supply chains.
This year, they almost hit rock bottom due to America’s support to Taiwan, the democratically governed island Beijing claims as its territory, as well as US accusations that China operates a fleet of spy balloons, a claim Beijing has denied.
Xi’s recent speech suggested they are likely to remain tense in the coming years.
Earlier this month, ahead of officially winning a third term, Xi had signaled that he will take a harder stance against what he perceives as an effort by the United States to block China’s rise.
And he did so in uncommonly blunt terms.
“Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-around containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development,” Xi said in a speech, according to China’s official news agency.
“This is the first time to my knowledge that Xi Jinping has publicly come out and identified the US as taking such actions against China,” Michael Swaine, a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told The New York Times.
Avril Haines, the US director of national intelligence, told a Senate hearing Wednesday that Xi’s speech was “the most public and direct criticism that we’ve seen from him to date.”
It “probably reflects growing pessimism in Beijing about China’s relationship with the United States, as well as Xi’s growing worries about the trajectory of China’s domestic economic development and indigenous technology, innovation challenges that he now blames on the United States,” she said.
Haines said that Chinese policymakers increasingly believe they can only advance Xi’s vision of a powerful China “at the expense of US power and influence.”
Meanwhile, China’s ambitions have also fueled pressure and scrutiny from the United States on trade and technology.
And there are many other triggers on the horizon, such as China’s decision to raise its defence budget, feeding the spectre of a Ukraine-like invasion of Taiwan; a potential US ban on blockbuster Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok; and a US intelligence report suggesting that Beijing is considering military aid to Russia to help its war in Ukraine.
Li Mingjiang, an associate professor of international relations at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said that Xi’s comments suggest that the Chinese leadership believes the US and the West do not have any good intentions towards China.
“It clearly indicates that they understand that China’s relations with the Western world will be very difficult in the coming years,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)
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