Emerging Regional Architectures in Asia

This is a presentation I made during the 11th Russia, India and China (RIC) Trilateral Conference held from 15-16 November 2011 at Beijing, China. The RIC is a Track-II initiative that involves the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi, and the China Institute of International Studies, Beijing.

The presentation titled, “Emerging Regional Architectures in Asia-Pacific and the Greater South Asia” is presented here in a slightly modified version and divided into five parts:

A. Regional Architecture

B. New Regional Architectures Emerging in Asia

C. What are the Fundamental Bases of an Effective Regional Architecture?

D. Domestic Political Systems and Regional Architectures

E. Conclusion

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China’s Defence White Papers: A Political Reading

An extract from Jabin T. Jacob, “China’s Defence White Papers: A Political Reading,” in Gurmeet Kanwal and Dhruv C Katoch (eds.) China’s Defence Policy: Indian Perspective (New Delhi: Lancer Publishers, 2011), pp. 33-42.

China’s white papers on national defence (WPs) are intended to shed light on the country’s defence capabilities and plans. However, just as importantly, these are documents that reflect the current thinking within the corridors of power in China on important political considerations – domestic and international. While the WPs are ostensibly released by the State Council, that is, the government of the People’s Republic of China, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that represents China’s armed forces is not beholden to the state but to the Communist Party of China (CPC).

By virtue of being the Party’s army rather than the state’s, the PLA is a far more important actor in China’s foreign and security policymaking than counterparts in democratic countries such as India. At the same time, given that it seeks popular legitimacy by association with the masses and by implication the CPC, the PLA is also not as overwhelming a presence as armies in straightforward military dictatorships or in military-dominant countries like Myanmar or Pakistan.

Each of these distinctions is important and needs to be kept in mind while reading the WPs or trying to understand civil-military relations in China. This short essay examines a few political aspects of China’s WPs from both the external and internal angles. Read more

Integrating the Outlier: Arunachal Pradesh as Development Project and Dilemma

What follows is a summary of a presentation that I made at the 4th All India Conference of China Studies held from 8-9 November 2011 at the University of Hyderabad:

Arunachal Pradesh’s disputed status, unique socio-cultural makeup and difficult geographic location have elicited multifaceted responses from Indian policymakers. First, its disputed status and the shock of the 1962 border conflict have given it some features in common with other disputed territories bordering China, namely, a legacy of poor physical and communications infrastructure. Second, Arunachal’s demographic composition of minority ethnic groups has meant that it has like other states in Northeast India been protected from a demographic influx from the rest of India and its citizens enjoy special economic rights. Finally, the difficult geographic location of the Arunachal Pradesh has meant that it largely remains exoticized in the mainstream Indian imagination and hence little studied, and even lesser understood by those in government and those outside. Read more

The Age of the Lilliputians

There has been a flurry of visits over the past few months by leaders of the smaller South and East Asian nations to either or both of the Big Two of Asia, namely China and India.

In the space of a few weeks, the presidents of Vietnam and Myanmar and the Prime Minister of Nepal have come visiting India. Pakistan’s top ruling elite have increased the frequency of their visits to China in recent years while in August, the Sri Lankan President made his second trip to Beijing in less than a year.

What is interesting about these visits as well as return visits by Chinese and Indian leaders is that the old paradigm of the smaller countries being the supplicants is changing. Read more