China’s ‘New Tianxia’ and the Indian Response

This is an updated version of a paper presented on 28 February 2015 at a conference, India’s Foreign Policy Strategies through the 21st Century, organized by the University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Following the ascension of a new leadership at the 18th CPC Congress in 2012, China has conducted a dynamic foreign policy – on the one hand asserting itself on territorial issues from the East and South China Seas to Line of Actual Control with India and on the other, coming up with new initiatives to draw the Asian continent first and then further afield into an ever closer economic and political relationship with China. It is this latter aspect of that is the subject of this paper. Two parts of this form of Chinese foreign policy are examined – one, China’s frequent hosting of international conferences and seminars and two, its promotion of new ideas and new organizations as a way of shaping a common narrative for Asia with China in the lead. Alongside, this paper also highlights how India lags behind China in terms of organizing principles and institutional capabilities. By way of conclusion, I suggest that China is harking back to ancient principles and the worldviews of an imperial power as a framework for its foreign policy that continues to evolve in a world where its economic power is growing stronger, the influence of the West appears to be declining and calls for China to take greater international responsibility are also increasing.

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China’s New Silk Roads: Reinterpreting History

Originally published as ‘Pothole potential on China’s silk roads’, Asia Times Online, 13 March 2015.

Communist Party of China (CPC) General Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Silk Road Economic Belt (sichouzhilu jingjidai, 丝绸之路经济带) in a speech on 7 September 2013 at the Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan[1] and the Maritime Silk Road (haishang sichouzhilu, 海上丝绸之路) during his visit to Indonesia, the following month.[2] The two initiatives – collectively termed the ‘one belt, one road’ (yidai yilu, 一带一路) initiative – taken together with his declaration of a new neighbourhood policy in October 2013 at the first work forum (zuotan, 座谈) on diplomacy towards China’s periphery(zhoubian, 周边),[3] constitute a major Chinese foreign policy initiative. It is designed not just to increase China’s influence but also to put forward a new way of doing business, different from the Western/American approaches and tries also to assuage fears of an impending Chinese regional and global hegemony.

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