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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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Borders Foreign Policy Uncategorized War and Conflict

Sino-Indian Relations: Beyond Symbolism and Beyond Belligerence

Published as जैबिन टी जैकब, ‘युद्धोन्माद से परे देखें भारत-चीन रिश्ते को’, Business Bhaskar, 13 November 2013.

Original text in English follows below

भारतीय प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह की अक्टूबर मध्य में चीन की यात्रा और चीनी प्रधानमंत्री ली केक्यांग की मई में भारत की यात्रा पर गौर करें तो यह पहली बार हुआ है कि दोनों देशों के शीर्ष नेता एक ही साल में एक-दूसरे के यहां गए हैं। ली की यात्रा के समय देपसांग में करीब तीन हफ्ते तक जारी घुसपैठ का मामला सामने आया था,

तो सिंह के दौरे के समय दो अरुणाचली तीरंदाजों तीरंदाजों (खिलाडिय़ों) को चीन में एक प्रतिस्पर्धा में हिस्सा लेने के लिए जाते समय नत्थी वीजा दिए जाने का मामला सामने आया। लेकिन सच तो यह है कि भारत-चीन रिश्ते को न तो इस तरह के प्रतीकवाद और न ही युद्धोन्माद सही मायने में पेश करते हैं।

उदाहरण के लिए यह याद रखना महत्वपूर्ण है कि चीन में कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी के महासचिव और चीन जनवादी गणतंत्र के राष्ट्रपति के रूप में शी जिनपिंग का ओहदा ली केक्यांग से ऊंचा है। इसी प्रकार यह तथ्य भी ध्यान रखना चाहिए कि चीनियों ने मनमोहन सिंह का अच्छा स्वागत किया है जिनकी शायद प्रधानमंत्री के रूप में यह अंतिम चीन यात्रा साबित हो।

यह तथ्य किसी से छुपा नहीं है कि सिंह ऐसी सरकार का प्रतिनिधित्व कर रहे हैं जो अपने घर में विश्वसनीयता के संकट का सामना कर रही है, इसे देखते हुए भारत एवं चीन के बीच किसी तरह की सौदेबाजी कठिन और दुष्प्राप्य थी।

दोनों महाशक्तियों के बीच रिश्ते को स्थानीय घटनाओं, क्षेत्रीय पर्यावरण और वैश्विक परिस्थितियों, इन सबका एक साथ असर होता है।

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Comparative Politics Political Parties Uncategorized

New Leadership in China: Quo Vadis Political Reform?

Xi Jinping has, as expected, taken over as the new General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at its 18th National Congress.  The new Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) also includes Li Keqiang (like Xi, a member of the previous PBSC), Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan, and Zhang Gaoli.

Representing the fifth-generation of China’s communist leaders after Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, Xi and his team have some onerous tasks to gear up to. While the rest of the world, including India, can often focus only on China’s increasing global economic imprint and its rapid military modernization, for China’s leaders themselves the most important concerns have always been domestic ones. And of these, none are as important as the ones about maintaining social stability and the necessity of political reform.

The new PBSC is widely perceived by Western and Chinese observers as being short of genuine political reformers. Further, quite a few on the new PBSC – including Xi himself – have depended on their identity as members of elite communist families to rise to their current posts. In this sense, there is much similarity with the Indian political scene. The cabinet reshuffle by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month for example, had several young representatives of India’s own elite political families climbing into more senior positions.

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Political Parties Uncategorized

Post-China’s 18th Party Congress: Socioeconomic Challenges Paramount

(original version in English follows below Malayalam text)

ദശാബ്ദത്തിലൊരിക്കല്‍ നടക്കുന്ന നേതൃമാറ്റം പൂര്‍ത്തീകരിച്ച് ചൈനീസ് കമ്യൂണിസ്റ്റ്പാര്‍ട്ടി (സി.പി.സി.)യുടെ 18-ാം കോണ്‍ഗ്രസ് ഈയിടെ ബെയ്ജിങ്ങില്‍ സമാപിച്ചല്ലോ. ഹു ജിന്താവോയ്ക്കുകീഴില്‍ പ്രവര്‍ത്തിച്ച നാലാംതലമുറ നേതൃത്വം ഷി ജിന്‍പിങ്ങിനുപിന്നില്‍ അണിനിരക്കുന്ന അഞ്ചാംതലമുറയ്ക്ക് ചുമതല കൈമാറി. ചൈനയുടെ രാഷ്ട്രീയവും സാമ്പത്തികവും സൈനികവുമായ വളര്‍ച്ചയെ ലോകം ആരാധനയോടെയോ അങ്കലാപ്പോടെയോ നോക്കിക്കാണുമ്പോഴും രാജ്യം നേരിടുന്ന നിരവധി ആഭ്യന്തര വെല്ലുവിളികളിലാണ് സി.പി.സി.യുടെ 18-ാം കോണ്‍ഗ്രസ് ശ്രദ്ധയൂന്നിയത്.

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Uncategorized War and Conflict

China and the end of Osama

Osama bin Laden finally met his end in Pakistan in May 2011. While the world and Pakistan have not changed all that much since then, the killing of bin Laden did shake the Chinese up in more ways than one. From ordinary netizen to government-run media, there was disbelief (“Impossible! I don’t believe it”), sarcasm (“Sigh! Bin Laden has died once again!!”) and worries of a geopolitical sort (“After Bin Laden, will China become US foe?”).

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Political Parties Uncategorized

China and the Arab Revolutions

“Go ahead sue me, my father is Li Gang!” shouted the unrepentant young son of a senior police officer in a provincial Chinese city last October. His car had just been forced to a stop by passersby after he had mowed down two young girls, killing one. Today, “my father is Li Gang” is a widely used expression in China, to refer to the impunity with which those connected to halls of power, can get away with their crimes. It is an impunity that is familiar to the people of Tunisia, where Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in desperate protest.

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Hello world!

For one Indian’s views of China, and India-China comparisons