New Delhi: It is odd, sad and replete with cynicism that the West differentiates and discriminates between various threats to world peace. A direct threat to the Western world is always fought more readily than one to Asia. In some ways the world is still Euro-centric as it was in the beginning of Modern history.

Consider the dominant historical portrayal of World War II. You would be excused for thinking that the war was predominantly fought in Europe while the Asia-Pacific theatre was a sideshow. It places the Nazi threat on a higher scale of devilry than the terror inflicted by fascist Japan on conquered nations and subject people. There is a strain of racism here: White suffering mattered more than the coloured/ Asian tragedy. Mind you, though, when the Bombs were dropped, Japan was the target, not Germany.

You see glimpses of geopolitical imbalance and double standards once again in the redress of threats posed by Russia and China. The United States, or at least non-White House United States, and all of Western Europe, without discrimination, have come together against Russia. Russia is accused of imperialism and of stoking a new Cold War. Its hand in the chemical weapon poisoning of a Russian double agent and his daughter in the UK is prejudged without conclusive forensics. Its allies in the Middle East are targeted arguably less for their crimes than for the Russian protection they enjoy.

And in all this, the real enemy of world peace, China, is getting away. For over a month, the United States has been sitting on intelligence of Chinese missile deployments on disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Belatedly, there is talk of “consequences”. Their nature has not been indicated, and the threat of punitive action still seems unreal. China has refused to stand down and reiterated its ownership of the South China Sea.

The United States has, at least, spoken up. Barring France, few others in Western Europe have shown concern of Chinese expansionism. The French president was in Australia and tut-tutted at the Chinese belligerence. It is not just not enough: it is wholly inadequate. Emmanuel Macron spoke of an Indian role but India is too hemmed in in South Asia to contribute. General elections are due next year and India needs peace on the frontiers with China and Pakistan. Doklam was one misadventure too many.

France, instead, has to focus on building an East Asian-Western alliance against China. The alliance must aim to contain China. At the core of the alliance has to be the ASEAN states whose islands in the South China Sea are ahistorically claimed by China. The West and Japan have to come together in an alliance to strengthen the core states in their battles against China.

China says it will only deal individually with the core nations. As a major power, China will walk all over them. The South China Sea dispute is really two disputes. One dispute concerns ownership of the islands. China’s expansive claims are quite bogus and have to be rejected. As one, the world has to compel China to see reason and withdraw. The second dispute concerns freedoms of navigation and overflight. Irrespective of ownership, the South China Sea is a commons. China cannot claim special rights for itself to police it.

However, China is not amenable to persuasion. It perceives world leadership to be divided. It is. The United States is in decline and a divisive and hugely unpopular president is blunting American power projected overseas. Russia, on the other hand, is in China’s pocket: At any rate, that is how the Chinese perceive the situation. Having made a mess of the economy, the Kremlin has no choice but to follow the line of its chief financier, China, although China is careful not to publicly abase a proud power like Russia.

China draws its biggest solace by far from the divisions in the Western alliance. One major cause of the divisions is Donald Trump. Aside from the Right-wing governments mushrooming in Europe, everyone else treats Trump with disdain. The big three of Western Europe, the UK, France and Germany, agree on nearly nothing with Trump, including Russia. This leads to the second factor in favour of China: the Russian bogey has blinded Western Europe to the dangers of China.

Possibly even without the Russian threat, Western Europe may not readily have recognized the Chinese evil. China is on the other side of the globe, in East Asia, a whole continent away. In the West European mind, China and East Asia occupy the position of the forgotten Far East of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. If the British-Japanese alliance against Russia was most astonishing then, it would still remain a matter of ceaseless wonder to Western Europe to accept an adverse geopolitical shift in favour of China. Western Europe grumbled to be part of the Korean War and refused participation in Vietnam. Vietnam was idiotic but the French pleaded for the Americans to take over their war. China knows this part of history very well. It knows it has a victory to hand because the United States and the rest of the Western alliance refuse to recognize the threats to the world order from China while misguidedly fixated on Russia.