Xi Jinping's dream envisages restoring China to its imperial glory

China's hardening stand over the standoff with India in Doklam appears to be of a piece with President Xi Jinping's stated aspirations of turning his country into the world's leading superpower. Xi has been vocal about his objectives ever since he came to power in 2013 and he clearly does not want to be seen as failing in his endeavour. Especially so since he is seeking re-election as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China ahead of its 19th National Congress scheduled to be held in late October and early November. He would also like to pack the party's politburo and standing committee with his supporters. Therefore, he is unlikely to end the standoff in Doklam in the near future at any expense to his image.

Xi's “Chinese dream“ envisages restoring China to its imperial glory. According to San Hongnian, a researcher with the Research Centre of China's Borderland History and Geography under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan had been vassal states of the Qing Empire (1644-1911). The British Empire took over control of these countries to expand its influence in Tibet, and India wanted to inherit these assets.

China appears upset over India's decision not to join its One Belt One Road initiative and skip the two day OBOR summit in May. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship of OBOR, which is now known as the Belt Road Initiative is not progressing as smoothly as China would have wanted.

Sections of Pakistan's civil society and media have claimed that Pakistan is destined to be mortgaged to China following OBOR . While Myanmar appears unsure about the initiative, Sri Lanka is reportedly rethinking about it, even as it is already caught in China's “debt trap“. Besides, BRI has not made any progress in Bangladesh. 

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