A Framework for Understanding Sino-Indian Ties

Presentation titled, ‘India and China:Competition or Cooperation?’ at International Workshop on Recent Security Challenges in the Asia Pacific and India-China Relations, Institute of Chinese Communist Studies, Taipei, Taiwan, 30 July 2013.


What framework can we use to understand the current Sino-Indian relationship?

A.  two bookends of the relationship

  • the boundary dispute
  • the need for bilateral cooperation to both transform the current global order and to tackle their own internal problems

B.  the regular stuff in the relationship

  • regular ‘incursions’ at the Line of Actual Control
  • frequent high-level visits between leaders

C.  the irregular stuff in the relationship

  • infrequently organized people-to-people exchanges in the form of cultural shows, film festivals, etc.
  • sporadic attempts at military-to-military exchanges

D.  the framework

  • policy outsourced!
    • the Indian political class largely has little interest in and limited competence to deal with issues related to China
    • as a result, much of China policy appears to be run by the bureaucrats
  • media wars
    • the tone for the relationship is usually set by a practically unfettered media on the Indian side and a strongly state-oriented media on the Chinese side
    • Indian can be quite misinformed and irresponsible in the reports it puts out
    • Chinese media makes a stab at being value neutral but can never quite get the hectoring tone out of its analyses/editorials
a road under construction in Assam
a road under construction in Assam –
could China help support India’s huge infrastructure development programme?

 E.  game-changers?

  • trade
    • despite the Indian trade deficit, there is much potential in the relationship if both Indian industry can get its act together and the Chinese get rid of their multiple non-tariff barriers
  • technology
    • there is much in bilateral MoUs that talk about scientific collaboration but little seems to have actually come to fruition
  • infrastructure development
    • India’s requirement for rapid physical and telecom infrastructure development provide an opportunity for Chinese companies that suffer from excess capacity as well as their government’s own desire to tamp down on economic growth
  • security relations
    • while joint counter-terrorism operations are problematic (the two countries use different definitions of terrorism; China is reluctant to acknowledge Pakistan-sponsored terrorism as affecting India), there are other potential areas of cooperation/a fresh start such as joint anti-piracy operations, HADR, and peacekeeping operations.
  • sub-national ties
    • the number of visits by central government leaders of the two countries to the other’s provinces/states and the visits of these provincial/state government leaders to the other country (at both national and provincial/state levels) has increased manifold
    • these interactions are primarily trade and business oriented and provide a new and exciting foundation Sino-Indian relations to grow
    • the BCIM Economic Corridor announced during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India in May 2013 cannot succeed without active involvement of provincial/state governments and their peoples

See p-13Jul30-Jabin Jacob-Taipei-India-China Relations

Published by Jabin T. Jacob

China analysis from an Indian perspective

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