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Foreign Policy Political Parties

From Akshayapatra to Begging Bowl

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced India to accept foreign aid – including from the Chinese Red Cross[1] – for the first time in 16 years. For Indians of a certain persuasion, there is a particular shame in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Indian government having to seek foreign aid. For their worldview comprises a mix of various resentments against the perceived outsider – Muslims, Westerners/Christian missionaries, Chinese/atheists. Indeed, the strength of articulation of the vishwaguru trope lies precisely in this reality and the need to have something that is apparently of India’s ‘own’ to offer. 

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Foreign Policy

China’s Vaccine Diplomacy and India

China recently made it mandatory for people coming from India and 19 other nations to received Chinese-manufactured COVID-19 vaccines if they wanted to enter the country.[1] The problem is, of course, that there are no Chinese vaccines available in India and nor are they likely to be given that India is a major producer of vaccines itself. It is tempting to call the Chinese decision a thoughtless act and one of wanton malice towards the thousands of Indians – students, professionals, family members – waiting to return to China, over a year after many left the country to visit their homes for the long Chinese New Year holidays.

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Foreign Policy

China’s Possible Approaches to the US under Joe Biden

With a new administration taking over in the US, how will China deal with the legacy of hard-line China policies left behind by Donald Trump?

For one, expect Beijing to try deflection. It will talk about being misunderstood and of overriding “common interests” as Foreign Minister Wang Yi did in December 2020,[1] and his deputy Le Yucheng[2] as well as Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan[3] did at the end of January 2021 or to spout vague inanities as “cooperative competition” as former Chinese diplomat Fu Ying did earlier in November in The New York Times.[4] The objective is to sound conciliatory even as China puts forward its interests clearly. For instance, the People’s Daily’s Zhong Sheng column, which during the Trump years did not mince words in attacking the US and its actions, welcomed the Biden administration with a toning down of language and offers of cooperation.[5]

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Borders Foreign Policy War and Conflict

Chinese Transgressions on the LAC Deserve a Punitive Response

Reports have emerged that China has increased its troop strength along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh breaking its agreement made at the sixth round of talks on 21 September 2020.[1] Earlier in December, videos emerged of Chinese civilian vehicles transgressing into the Demchok area also in Ladakh.[2] Meanwhile, the Indian Army referred to a confrontation last week between Indian and Chinese troops in the wake of a transgression by the latter at Naku La in northern Sikkim, as a “minor face-off”.[3]

Essentially, what we are seeing since the Galwan clash in June 2020, is the steady normalization of confrontations and tensions along the LAC as well as of fruitless bilateral talks. This was predicted.[4]

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Comparative Politics Foreign Policy

Biden’s China Agenda: Two Missteps Require Repair

It is not surprising that American president-elect Joe Biden wants to reverse much of the incumbent Donald Trump’s shambolic and disruptive foreign policies. But on at least one aspect of Trump’s foreign policy – China – Biden should be building on and staying the course. 

The only change required is to forego Trump’s propensity to cut deals with the Chinese in favour of short-term gains. Biden can bring in consistency and firmness and be willing to make it costly for China to renege on promises. But there are already at least two Biden moves with implications for China policy that raise some concerns about how well the incoming administration understands China or America’s partners. 

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Comparative Politics Foreign Policy Uncategorized

Recalibrating India’s Foreign Policy in South Asia: The China Factor

China has long adopted a foreign policy of undermining Indian influence in South Asia. Beijing’s assertive approach has included regular high-level official visits, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the sale of military weapons and platforms to India’s neighbours. The Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh in the summer of 2020 is only the latest form of such a policy.

Clearly, there is little let-up in China’s pace despite the fact that the Chinese economy is struggling on a number of fronts. One of these is the impact of COVID-19 but this might be said to be a common problem across the world. What is noteworthy is that China is currently also contending with the consequences of an ongoing and sharpening conflict with the United States in the form of a ‘trade war’ since January 2018, and what is being described as a new cold war on the political front. What is more, the chances of an outbreak of kinetic conflict because of a mistake or heightened tensions cannot be ruled out either. How is it then that China has opened up a new front of conflict on its borders with India at this juncture? 

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Comparative Politics Foreign Policy

China’s post-COVID19 image problem

Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping’s objective is to make China great again. He is not unaware of the challenges but he is also counting on the leaders of nations competing with China being too cautious, making mistakes, being plain incompetent or all of these things combined. And in varying degrees his gamble has paid off from Germany to India to the United States. 

While the going mantra in India – not without reason – is that Xi has through his actions only strengthened coalitions against China, there are at least two other ways to look at this. 

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Comparative Politics Political Parties

Chinese Communists in in India: Much Ado About Nothing?

A recent Indian news report pointed to the presence of Communist Party of China (CPC) members serving in several institutions that operated in India or had a connection with India. In one instance, at least one former employee of the Indian Consulate in Shanghai was clearly identified as a CPC member.[1] A report in September this year had referred to a Chinese technology firm collecting open-source information about prominent Indians from all walks of life.[2]Both reports are the result of a multi-country investigation by an international consortium of journalists.

Neither report should be the subject of such surprise or alarm as has been the case in India.

Categories
Borders Foreign Policy War and Conflict

A ‘New Normal’ Emerges in India-China Relations

Since May this year, India and China have been involved in a serious confrontation along their disputed boundary known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). China has pushed its version of the LAC further westwards at multiple locations in the Western Sector of the dispute in eastern Ladakh/Aksai Chin. This, it has done, in clear violation of existing bilateral agreements and Chinese troops now occupy vast swathes of territory previously falling within Indian control.

On the night of 15 June 2020, 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers lost their lives in a fierce and brutal physical fight at high altitude in the Galwan Valley. The casualties are all the more notable because the clash involved not firearms but an almost medieval-era array of clubs and assorted weapons. These are the first casualties on the disputed boundary since 1975 and brings to a close an era of relative peace guided by a series of bilateral agreements on confidence-building measures and protocols on troop behaviour along the LAC.