The States in Indian Foreign Policy

Original Presentation: “The States in India and Foreign Policy: Interests, Influence and Implications,” L’équipe  Politiques comparées et études européennes, SPIRIT, Sciences Po, Bordeaux, 9 April 2010.

Summary: This presentation focuses on an important political dynamic that while in play for some time now, has begun to have visible impact only in recent years. I am referring to the growing power and influence of the provinces/states in India with respect to national decisions, including foreign policy. The presentation actually begins with a short examination of the same phenomenon in China because it has in a sense been going on in that country for much longer.

And I hope that what I say will sort of ring a bell or remind you of some experiences that you know of in your own countries, while remembering the differences in context and historical development, when things sound either very obvious or very different. In India, meanwhile, there is increasing work being carried out on centre-province relations in India in the post-1990 or post-liberalization/economic reforms phase but a lot of this work is related to fiscal transfers and the like and much of the attention is also focused on matters such as countering terrorism and left-wing extremism (because law and order is actually, a provincial or state subject) and more recently on education (Right to Education legislation; education too, is a state subject).

This presentation however, focuses on only one aspect of the centre-province relations in India and that is the nature of influence that provinces exercise on national foreign policymaking.

See the full presentation at:

JabinJacob-2010Apr9-ScPoBordeaux-States in India-FP

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The EU, China and India

Original Article: “The EU, China and India: The Promise of Trilateral Engagement,” Asia Forum, Clingendael Institute (the Hague), 1 February 2010.

Abstract: In the Asian century, the dynamics created by the simultaneous rise of China and India will have important political, economic and security implications for the world. There are both new and old problems between the two countries, ranging from those of a bilateral nature to conflicts of interest that are engendered by larger global ambitions, as well as those caused by differences in political systems and values. While China’s ‘peaceful rise’ is much talked about, its legitimacy as the United States’ successor has not hitherto been questioned. India’s rising global economic and political profile means, however, that it will become an increasingly serious challenger to China. How can the EU intervene in a positive and creative manner to ensure that a ‘new cold war’ does not develop between the two Asian giants? While the EU does engage with China and India in multilateral forums that it promotes, such as the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM), a more focused and regular trilateral engagement is likely to be more effective over the longer term in influencing and shaping the Sino-Indian relationship.

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Provincial Interests and Foreign Policy

Original Article:  “Provincial Interests and Foreign Policy: Indian States’ Responses to the Malaysian and Kenyan Ethnic Crises,” in Amitabh Mattoo and Happymon Jacob (eds.), Shaping India’s Foreign Policy: People, Politics & Places (New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications Pvt. Ltd., 2010), pp. 141-171. (co-authored with Vibhanshu Shekhar).

Extract: It is now widely accepted that coalition politics in India is here to stay. While national parties such as the Congress (I) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will likely continue to be at the centre of any coalition for a while yet and there are parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) that are beginning to advertise national ambitions by reaching out beyond their traditional provincial bastions, regional parties – parties that are primarily located and have their power bases in particular Indian provinces – will remain agenda-drivers in national governments at the centre. In addition, economic globalization and the processes it has set in motion have led to growing linkages between provincial and global entities, have provided actors at the subnational level further opportunities to involve themselves in global affairs. It is perhaps, natural therefore, to argue that regional parties will also increasingly, seek a say in the nation’s foreign policy.

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Disaster Relief Politics

Original Presentation: “Disaster Relief: Politics, Security Implications and Foreign Policy,” 4th Berlin Conference on Asian Security 2009, 28-30 October 2009, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP, Berlin).

Extract:

This essay highlights some key characteristics of disaster relief operations in Asia, with a particular focus on the southern Asian region. The thrust of the paper is not so much at the mechanics of disaster relief as at the politics of disaster relief. That there is clearly politics – foreign policy interests and domestic factors of both donor and recipient nations – involved in humanitarian relief and assistance has been well documented.[1] In Asia certainly, as important as the aid itself is, is who provides it and how. As a continent of mostly developing countries it is inevitable that disaster-struck nations often find themselves short of the capacity required to deal with the aftermath. What capacity exists is usually state capacity, often acting through the agent of military forces rather than adequate civilian response. Often, there is foreign military support required as also the resources and capabilities of international NGOs (INGOs).

Beginning with a brief exercise in defining what constitutes disasters, the essay draws attention to three key factors affecting disaster relief operation in Asia – prestige or image issues, security implications and foreign policy goals.

Defining Disasters in Asia

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Chinese Presence in the Indian Ocean

Original published: “Not India’s Ocean: Perceptions of Chinese Presence in the Indian Ocean,” Paper, Asia Centre Conference Series, Centre d’études Asie (Paris), 22 October 2009.

Extract: It is important to start with that oft-repeated statement made by a Chinese admiral, “We can no longer accept the Indian Ocean as an ocean of the Indians.”[1] Apart from a sense of nationalist hurt that Indian reactions to the statement portrayed and continue to portray, the statement succeeded also in evoking a realization hitherto largely ignored or even suppressed that the Indian Ocean which had long ago ceased to be India’s ocean – traversed by international shipping, crisscrossed by US and Soviet naval vessels – was now also viewed as a legitimate area of interest by not just the superpowers of the world, that India had in reality, little capacity to influence events on the high seas.

 

Another expression that animates security-related discussions on the Indian Ocean is that of the ‘string of pearls,’[2] originally put forward by American naval strategists. Together, these two expressions have provided the epistemological basis for India’s energetic drive in recent years towards asserting itself in “its” ocean in a multiplicity of ways.

China’s Strategy in the Indian Ocean

Clearly, the Indian Ocean through which almost all of China’s oil supplies pass is too important a strategic space for Beijing to leave unattended; hence, its efforts beginning in Pakistan and Myanmar to build naval outposts, to be upgraded eventually, to increase its presence in the Indian Ocean region. With time, the Chinese presence it was observed had extended to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even the Maldives and perceived to form the so-called ‘string of pearls.’ There are several problems with such a simplistic perception of the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean.

 

One, China was not the only nation that was shipping the majority of its oil supplies and a good deal of its trade through the Indian Ocean, most Southeast Asian nations and Japan and South Korea were in a similar position. While China had especial concerns from the less than friendly attitudes of the world’s only superpower that guaranteed the safety of the shipping of the other nations mentioned, these concerns were perhaps exaggerated or overstated by the then Chinese leadership. The fact was that China’s oil imports and its trade were also tying it ever more closely into the international trading system at the heart of which were the US and its European allies. As such, there was and is little to be gained by the US from militarily threatening Chinese maritime interests. American or European threats are far more feasible and effective when they come in the form of trade-related measures such as sanctions, tariffs or the continued withholding of the market-economy status for China.

 

Two, while the PLA Navy has received the larger share of China’s military budget since the 1990s,[3] it still has a long way to go to in matching up to even any of the regional navies, leave alone the US Navy. Therefore, a naval expansion of the kind that would allow China set up substantial assets overseas is also likely a long way off. Two related facts also need to be considered when talking of the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. First, China’s primary maritime security threats originate from its east, from the US presence in the Pacific, in Japan and in South Korea and from the continuing separate status of Taiwan. Thus, most of the PLAN’s attention and resources have been focused here rather than elsewhere. Second, setting up foreign military bases in a third country is not the easiest of endeavours even for a country with overwhelming international clout like the US, no matter whether the host country has an authoritarian dispensation or is a democracy. Most US bases originated in the wake of the Second World War and during the Cold War. Post-Cold War, and it has often found it difficult to justify its military presence abroad both domestically as well as to its host governments; one needs to look no further than the constant controversy that dogs American presence in Japan and South Korea. Under the circumstances, China is unlikely to be given anywhere near the same free hand that the Americans had, even by regimes that consider China their closest ally – and this includes Pakistan – for a number of reasons ranging from simply the fact that the Chinese simply do not have the same degree of political and monetary clout that the Americans have to national sovereignty issues, something that the Chinese themselves are extremely sensitive to.

 

Three, China main concerns in the Indian Ocean might not be military ones as much as they are economic ones and these are the only concerns that can allow it to overcome the two limitations mentioned above. If one were to view the so-called pearls in the string as commercial enterprises, this would allow, first, investment and resources that can be generated from the both Chinese and international sources and next, the rationale for a substantial Chinese presence on foreign soil that is acceptable both internationally and to the host government. Indeed, the biggest ‘pearl,’ namely, Gwadar in Pakistan, can be viewed precisely through such a commercial prism. The port was built with substantial Chinese investments[4] but has been managed by the Port of Singapore Authority since it was opened in 2007.[5] Gwadar’s commercial aspect was premised on it serving as a strategic hub for the transport of oil from West Asia overland through Pakistan into western China. Similar interpretations are possible about the other ‘pearls’ in question. Hambantota in Sri Lanka which to all intents and purposes is a case of expansion of a commercial port while there are several inconsistencies and likely exaggerations about the whole issue of Chinese listening posts/naval bases in Myanmar.[6]

 

Returning to Gwadar, the question can be legitimately asked – how feasible a commercial enterprise was this port ever going to be? The Chinese must surely have had a military angle to this endeavour, as part of the close Sino-Pak partnership that was aimed against India. This is perhaps true but it is also perhaps not the only truth. As mentioned above, the Chinese leadership probably had an exaggerated view of the threats posed to its energy supplies and SLOCs from being exposed for so long through the Indian Ocean. Chinese strategists probably sought to insure their supplies and trade by diverting them through a steadfast ally. It is difficult to state just how much of a military component there was to the plan, whether geostrategic concerns justified the economics or whether, the plan was purely an economic endeavour to start with.

 

Whatever the case, from an economic point of view, once the decision had been taken, there were certain gains to be made… Read more


[1] Quoted in Yossef Bodansky, “Beijing’s Surge for the Strait of Malacca,” Freeman Center for Strategic Studies, 1995. http://www.freeman.org/m_online/bodansky/beijing.htm. Bodansky however, provides no sources for his quote, other than saying it is from a top-secret Chinese memorandum.

[2] For a detailed exposition, see Christopher J Pehrson, “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power Across the Asian Littoral,” Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, July 2006. http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB721.pdf. The expression however, is much older.

[3] “China’s Defense Budget,” GlobalSecurity.org, 20 April 2009, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/budget.htm.

[4] By the China Harbour Engineering Company, funded with a US$198m Chinese loan. See Stephen Marks, “Understanding China’s Strategy: Beyond ‘Non- Interference’,” Global Policy Forum, 5 November 2008. http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/152/25829.html.

[5] “Gwadar port opens today,” Dawn, 20 March 2007. http://www.dawn.com/2007/03/20/ebr6.htm. See also Saleem Shahid, “Gwadar port accord to be reviewed, says Gabol,” Dawn, 21 December 2008. http://www.dawn.com/2008/12/21/top2.htm.

[6] See Andrew Selth, “Chinese Military Bases in Burma: The Explosion of a Myth,” Regional Outlook Paper, No. 10, Griffith Asia Institute, 2007 and Andrew Selth, “Burma’s Coco Islands: rumours and realities in the Indian Ocean,” Working Paper Series, No. 101, Southeast Asia Research Centre, City University of Hong Kong, November 2008.

 

China and Taiwan in 2030: Conflict not Inevitable

Originally published: 12 October 2009

Prediction is an inherently hazardous business but by virtue of the fact that history is so often key to understanding China and its actions, prediction is also perhaps a lot easier in the case of matters related to China.

The China-Taiwan issue at its very basic, is still a matter between two sets of Chinese, an ‘internal’ affair. This is all the more true with the return of the Guomindang (KMT) to power in Taiwan in 2008. However, the eight-year rule of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) before that did reflect the reality that certain new aspirations had emerged among the people of Taiwan. Indeed, the KMT has itself been transformed by such aspirations and can no longer talk glibly about ‘reunification.’ That said however, the overwhelming majority of Taiwanese also do not want to engage in a military conflict with China over the issue. This too, the KMT understands, and it is the acknowledgement of these twin realities that brought the KMT back to power – Taiwan is different from China but Taiwan is also closely linked to and dependant on China. There is evidence that the DPP, too, is beginning to understand the need to acknowledge the latter fact. As the island’s two major political formations veer around to occupying the same centre on relations with China, the possibility of conflict – with causes originating in Taiwan – is reduced and the matter becomes essentially a political one. Meanwhile, given its rise in the international system and the consequent expectations of it in the world order, China too, is unlikely to engage in armed action, even if it is unwilling to discount the possibility in official statements.

As a political issue, the Sino-Taiwanese question takes on a different pace. Both Beijing and Taipei, have the opportunity to discuss each issue at length, to look for breakthroughs where possible, and to postpone resolution or prolong discussions on contentious issues. Both sides can avoid resorting to armed conflict and each side can believe that the situation might turn to its advantage over time.

This waiting game is, however, premised differently for each of the parties involved. For China, the belief is that it is too big and too crucial to Taiwan’s fortunes, for the latter to ignore it. Taiwan must eventually come around to rejoining the ‘motherland,’ given the size of its economy, armed forces and population and the steady loss of its diplomatic allies. From Taiwan’s perspective, it is not as if these realities were not evident before, but the waiting game has suited the island just as much and can only further improve the terms of ‘reunification’ – if that is indeed, the future. As far as the Taiwanese are concerned, communist China has certainly ‘progressed’ from its original avatar in 1949, to the extent that today the economic systems of the two entities are increasingly in sync with each other. It only remains for China to move into greater political sync with Taiwan, and of this too, there is increasing evidence, as communist China tries to separate the functions of the Party from those of the state and to increase accountability and transparency within the political system by resort to the rule of law, rather than to rule by diktat.

The military/security complications that arise from the China-Taiwan question may have international repercussions, but this aspect while at the forefront of Western understandings of the dispute, is by no means considered central by the affected parties themselves. In other words and to put it bluntly, the possibility of war or armed conflict of any kind between China and Taiwan in the future can be ruled out because that is not what either party desires. Even if American arms sales to Taiwan were to carry on and Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan were to increase in number, these are essentially tactics to improve the respective bargaining positions at the negotiating table.

This does not however, rule out the possibility of conflict arising out of a mistake or because one side overplays its hand. An accidental conflict is always possible simply because of the huge numbers of weaponry involved or lack of proper oversight but this is true of countries anywhere in the world that are in a state of cold peace. If anything, the fact that the two sides are talking to each other, only reduces the chances of such accidental conflict.

There is also the possibility of one side overplaying its hand because of a political miscalculation or overt external influence. In the case of Taiwan, it is unlikely that it could overplay its hand, knowing full well that it does not have the capacity to outlast China in a military conflict. One possibility is that Taipei is egged on by the United States or possibly even Japan, and that it believes it can rely on sustained support from these external actors. However, this is an extremely unlikely scenario.

From the Chinese point of view, meanwhile, its growing military prowess and a rising nationalist tone in its politics could move it in the direction of precipitate action vis-à-vis Taiwan. This action could conceivably originate at the level of the political leadership but is more likely to originate from the Chinese military itself. The evolution of the nature and influence of the PLA in the Chinese political system, therefore, bears close watching for the future.

Meanwhile, ‘reunification’ or some similar future reality is very likely, even if it might not come to fruition by 2030. However, ‘reunification’ in the future, might not necessarily mean the same thing as it does today. Certainly, it will not hold as much fear for the Taiwanese as it once did, if China continues down its present path of greater economic liberalization and if the signs are to be believed that political reforms and opening up of some sort on the mainland too, are slowly but surely underway. In this understated Taiwanese confidence, also lies the way forward for the rest of the world to deal with China-Taiwan relations.

Original Article: “China and Taiwan in 2030: Conflict not Inevitable,” IDSA Opinion, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (New Delhi) 12 October 2009.

Referendums in Taiwan

Originally published: 2009

Extract: Competing for significance with the Taiwanese presidential elections held on 22 March 2008, were two referendums on Taiwan’s entry to the UN, one each sponsored by the rival Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Kuomintang (KMT). In the election for president, the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou emerged victorious by a huge margin winning 58.45 per cent of the total vote compared to the DPP candidate, Frank Hsieh’s 35.82 per cent. However, both the referendums failed to win enough votes – falling short of the 50 per cent turnout required – for their results to be considered valid. The DPP referendum had sought to win support for entering the UN under the name, “Taiwan” while the KMT sought to achieve the same goal using the country’s official title, “Republic of China” (ROC), or any other title that would assure Taiwan’s “dignity.”

Focusing on the UN referendums, this essay looks at the meaning and significance of referendums generally, in the Taiwanese context, despite their repeated failures. Earlier in the year, too, during the Legislative Yuan elections in January, the Taiwanese public had failed to turn up in sufficient numbers for the results of two rival referendums on anti-corruption to be treated as valid. The previous instance of a referendum being held during the presidential elections was in 2004 when the DPP-sponsored ‘defensive referendums’ on how Taiwan should pursue its relations with China in the face of the Chinese missiles aimed against the island, also failed due to insufficient voter turnout.

Referendums in the East Asian/Chinese context have a particular relevance, not so much because they are happening in Taiwan but because they involve China and this, at multiple levels. First, of course, the threat posed by Chinese actions to Taiwanese ‘sovereignty’ form the primary causes for the referendums held during the presidential elections in 2004 and 2008; second, as a rising global power, China’s responses are a matter of interest to the rest of the world; and finally – and this is related to the second – China is a large civilizational state that is finding its way once more to the forefront of innovation in a host of fields. To explain the last point a little further, China is presently engaged in a gigantic task not just of economic development and military modernization – these and their corollaries such as the energy resources-related mercantilism that China is engaged in are the most obviously visible characteristics of a rising China. But also, China is a country that is engaged in a massive rethink, a reformulation of not just Marxist thought but also traditional Chinese thinking as well as Western political philosophy. ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ is of course now well-known, but there are several ideas that China is giving Chinese characteristics to and democracy is one of them. It is in this context that Taiwan’s democratic experience is important. Without doubt, China has learned and is learning from Taiwan as it is from other parts of the world.

Original Article: “The Politics of Referendums in Taiwan,” in Ger Yeong-kuang, Vinod Joseph and Surendra Kumar (eds.), Taiwan in the 21st Century (New Delhi: Viva International, 2009), pp. 12-36.

Towards a New Asian Architecture: India and Ideology

Originally published: August 2008

Extract: Current realities including the US presence in Asia as well as China’s global emergence will need to be addressed in any new Asian security architecture. For the new architecture to also acknowledge India’s rise and its interests, India will however need to provide something much more than military or economic might. There must be an Indian idea that can motivate the security discourse on the Asian continent.

 

Towards this end, India must ask itself some hard questions. What does India view as the foundation for its relations with other countries? Why for example, should any country consider India’s rise as benign in comparison to that of China’s and why therefore, should any country buy India’s argument that an open and inclusive system with the widest possible membership is the most effective and useful way forward for Asia?

 

It is about time India answered these questions and (re)examined the nature of its engagement with the world. No matter what its current limitations or perceived advantages, India needs to embark on an exercise of basing its foreign policy on strong domestic fundamentals, before it can truly rise in Asia and the world.

 

Original Article: “Towards a New Asian Architecture: India and Ideology,” IPCS Issue Brief, No. 80, August 2008.

Chinese Strategic Interests in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

Originally published: 2008

Extract: 

When the Northern Frontier of Kashmir was partitioned in 1947, the two routes connecting India with Xinjiang in China were distributed between the successors to British India. The Ladakh route connecting Leh via the Karakoram Pass and via routes east of it to Kashgar (Kashi), Yarkand (Shache) and Khotan (Hotan) went to India while the western route from Gilgit to Kashgar via Hunza, the Mintaka Pass and the Khunjerab Pass went to Pakistan. India’s portion is now a part of its dispute with China, while the Pakistani portion is now part of a cooperative arrangement with China in the form of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). Other than the events preceding the conflict with India in 1962 and the consequent occupation of Aksai Chin, the Chinese are only in the news on the Indian side for occasional border intrusions and clashes along the LAC. In Pakistan, meanwhile the Chinese have managed to engage in a substantial military and strategic partnership as well as a small but significant economic relationship.

 

The Karakoram Highway (KKH) is today a strategic and commercial asset for both China and Pakistan but it has also been responsible for transporting terrorism, drugs and disease. Indeed, for Pakistan, the resultant Chinese concerns are no small matter. Its policy towards the Northern Areas invariably invokes the link that the region provides with China and the importance of the trade with that country. Pakistani Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz for example, did precisely this while speaking to newly elected members of Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) in late 2004 saying that their region was significant for the KKH that provided a vital link to China and asking them, therefore, to promote unity and maintain sectarian harmony to ensure the development of the area.[1] Another important detail in the Sino-Pakistan relationship that is embodied by the KKH is the fact that there have been extensive historical contacts between the Northern Areas and Xinjiang, formerly known as Eastern Turkestan and that while Xinjiang is increasingly coming into its own as a substantial economic entity, the same cannot be said of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK).


[1] “Government paying attention to Northern Areas uplift: PM,” Business Recorder, 1 November 2004, accessed at http://www.northernareas.org.pk/ndetail.cfm?ID=374.

 

China’s Strategic Interests in POK

 

The shift in the strategic nature of POK that the construction of a highway between China and Pakistan through the Northern Areas would entail was apparent to India which in June 1969 accused Pakistan of making it easier for Chinese troops to access occupied territory in Aksai Chin and from Tibet to the Gilgit area which lay immediately to the north of the ceasefire line in Kashmir. It stated that the road posed a threat to the peace and tranquility in the region.[1] Years later, on the completion of the KKH, China’s deputy Premier Li Xiannian would publicly declare that the Highway “allows us to give military aid to Pakistan.”[2] The KKH has also increased China and Pakistan’s control over their frontiers and ability to deal with security threats emanating from India and elsewhere.

 

The KKH, it is believed has been used for the transfer of nuclear and missile equipment to Pakistan.[3] Meanwhile, Chinese and Pakistani plans to link the KKH to the southern port of Gwadar in Balochistan through the Chinese-aided Gwadar-Dalbandin railway, which extends up to Rawalpindi are being carried out with the intention would be that in the case of hostilities between India and China, the PLA Navy would find Gwadar the most convenient logistic location on the Indian Ocean. Prior to hostilities actually breaking out, it would be supported by material transported over the 1300km long Highway and stockpiled at the port. Once conflict had started however, the highway would in many stretches, especially in Gilgit and Hunza be vulnerable to disruption by air attacks.[4] In addition, no traffic occurs from January to June because of the winter snowfall.

 

The link between the KKH and Gwadar however, has constantly been reinforced. In August 2004, a message on the renaming of a bridge on the KKH in honour of the Pakistani and Chinese workers involved in the construction of the highway, Pakistani Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain referred to Gwadar and in particular the killing of three Chinese engineers engaged in that project.[5]

 

It also needs to be noted that there were reports that China was upset with Pakistan for allowing the US to establish listening posts in Pakistan’s Northern Areas and was unwilling to provide financing for the Gwadar port as a result.[6] Among China’s overall strategic aims could be access to the air base in Gilgit and listening posts for itself. In a competitive game of acquiring bases and listening posts that has been underway between the major powers in Central Asia, Gilgit and Skardu airfields provide ideal locations for expansion and upgradation and China must fancy its chances. Indian strategic thinkers have long worried about China’s string of pearls in the Indian Ocean. An arch of land bases from Pakistan through Tibet to Myanmar should be just as big a worry.

 

From this brief outline of Chinese strategic interests in POK, three implications might be considered. One, while the Chinese claims to Hunza appear to have been settled by the treaty of 1963, the region is of increasing importance to China for the reasons stated above. Here, considering the Indian experience vis-à-vis the Sino-Indian boundary dispute might be instructive. The Chinese position on the issue has changed over the years with the mid-1980s witnessing a hardening of the Chinese position on the eastern sector. The western sector is no longer considered as the main area of dispute owing perhaps to the fact that the road through Aksai Chin is no longer as critical to China as it had been in the 1950s. The eastern sector meanwhile with its rich natural resources is now considered too valuable to give away in addition to significant political and strategic reasons. Given, the fact that the 1963 treaty is subject to revision depending on the eventual resolution of the dispute over Kashmir and given the recent improvement in Indo-Pak relations, the possibility of Chinese revising their position or strengthening their interests in POK must be considered. Moreover, the current status or the lack thereof, of the Northern Areas within the Pakistani constitutional framework could complicate the situation still further.

 

Two, access to the Northern Areas also provides another route by which the Chinese might approach Afghanistan. Besides military goals, western intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq also has nation-building goals military operations, and it is therefore, not unrealistic to expect that China will have an interest in getting its own say in such projects where possible. And, in the case of Afghanistan, POK is as close as it gets. As mentioned above it has already once used the KKH to supply arms against the Soviets. Today, perhaps it is taking a longer-term perspective combining strategic aims, historical links and modern infrastructure.

 

Three, China is also discovering that expansion beyond its boundaries is a two-way street. China not only exports influence, but is influenced in turn and not always for the best – Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism and separatism are problems that China has begun to contend with increasingly following the opening of its overland links to Pakistan and other Central Asian countries. China will, therefore, be increasingly interested in how Pakistan and by extension, Afghanistan deal with rising Islamic sectarianism and fundamentalism, in order to safeguard its own domestic interests.

 


[1] Alastair Lamb, Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy, 1846-1990 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 275 and John Garver, Protracted Contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Twentieth Century (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 207.

[2] Ziad Haider, “Clearing clouds over Karakoram,” Daily Times, 4 April 2004, http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_4-4-2004_pg3_3.

[3] B. Raman, “Gilgit & Baltistan, China & North Korea,” SAAG Paper, No. 289, South Asia Analysis Group , 7 August 2001, http://www.saag.org/papers3/paper289.html.

[4] John Garver, Protracted Contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Twentieth Century (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 289-91.

[5] “Bridge on Karakoram Highway renamed,” Dawn, 18 August 2004, http://www.dawn.com/2004/08/18/nat18.htm.

[6] Tarique Niazi, “Gwadar: China’s Naval Outpost on the Indian Ocean,” China Brief, The Jamestown Foundation, Volume 5, Issue 4, 15 February 2005, http://www.jamestown.org/publications_details.php?volume_id=408&issue_id=3232&article_id=2369262.

Original Article:  “Chinese Strategic Interests in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir,” in P Stobdan and D Suba Chandran (eds.), The Last Colony: Muzaffarabad-Gilgit-Baltistan (Jammu: Center for Strategic and Regional Studies (CSRS), University of Jammu, 2008), pp. 125-56.