India and China in Afghanistan: A Tangled Skein of Choices

Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘India, China and the Coming US Drawdown in Afghanistan: A Choice of Dilemmas’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLIX, No. 14, 5 April 2014, pp. 24-27. 

 

The post-US drawdown situation in Afghanistan throws up a number of national and regional political and security challenges for India and China. This essay outlines some of these challenges and prospects for joint Sino-Indian action to tackle them.

China and the US Drawdown in Afghanistan

Beijing is convinced that the US will actually not quit Afghanistan entirely. It takes this view from a realpolitik perspective; given the blood and treasure that the Americans have expended on Afghanistan for a decade, to leave giving the impression that they have been defeated or without adequate protection for what little assets they have created during this time, is in the Chinese view, unlikely. Read more

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Chinese Defence Minister’s Visit to India: Seeking opportunity amid crises

The visit to India by the Chinese Defence Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie last week, needs to be examined for what it says about four important or potentially important issues in the Sino-Indian bilateral relationship – the AfPak situation, the boundary dispute, bilateral military cooperation, and Chinese views about the Indian media. Read more

A US-India-China Trilateral? Big Promise but Dim Prospects

(original text in English follows below the Hindi text)

पिछले महीने तीसरे इंडो-यूएस रणनीतिक वार्ता के बाद दक्षिण और मध्य एशिया के लिए अमेरिकी सहायक विदेश मंत्री रॉबर्ट ब्लैक ने कहा, अमेरिका चीन और भारत के साथ एक त्रिपक्षीय वार्ता करना चाहता है ताकि अफगानिस्तान समेत तमाम दूसरे मुद्दों पर मिलकर काम हो सके। हालांकि मौजूदा अंतरराष्ट्रीय माहौल में यह देखने वाली बात होगी कि इस तरह की त्रिपक्षीय वार्ता की गुंजाइश बनती भी है या नहीं? Read more

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

  Read more

China-Pakistan Relations after Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden’s death and the circumstances of his killing continue to provoke plenty of comment and analyses as to what it means for the future of US-Pakistan relations. By contrast, there has been considerably less attention paid to the implications for Sino-Pakistani relations. This paper argues that the killing of bin Laden, while increasing frictions in the US-Pak relationship, does not necessarily also mean a warming of Sino-Pak ties. The latter relationship is, in fact, bound up in a number of issues over and beyond the US-Pak equation. These include Chinese concerns over ethnic separatism in its Xinjiang province and the post-US drawdown stability of Afghanistan, the Sino-Indian equation, the Sino-US relationship and Chinese economic interests in Pakistan.

Read the full article here: Jabin T. Jacob, “The Future of China-Pakistan Relations after Osama bin Laden,” Associate Paper, Future Directions International (Perth), 8 August 2011.

Hillary Clinton’s India Visit: Chinese Elephant in the Room

During her visit to India for the 2nd Indo-US Strategic Dialogue, last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called upon India to “not just to look east, but to engage east and act east as well”. But the problem in New Delhi might well be an incapacity to ‘think east’ beyond the boundary dispute with China or trying to retain a toehold against Chinese dominance in Myanmar.  What engagement there is occurs in the economic domain but India remains overcautious in its political and military outreach to the Asia-Pacific. Read more

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?”).

Read more

Interpreting China’s Defense White Paper 2011

When the People’s Daily announced the release of China’s seventh Defense White Paper at the end of March, it began by stating that one of the aims was to “boost the world’s trust in [China’s] commitment to peaceful development.” Besides indicating how increasingly important the world’s opinion is to China, this was also a clear acknowledgement by Beijing that the world and its neighbours in particular, continue to view its military modernization as threatening. For India in particular, the Chinese document holds several implications. Read more

China’s ‘Forward Policy’ on Kashmir

Presentation: Jabin T. Jacob, “Interpreting China’s ‘Forward Policy’ on Kashmir,” Conference on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir: Internal Dynamics and Externalities, Department of Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, 28 March 2011.

Summary: While Pakistan remains a vital cog of China’s South Asia policy it is important to note that the superlative is not applicable in Sino-Pak relations; rather, a range of factors influence Chinese policy including India, the United States and now the progress and consequences of the American drawdown in Afghanistan. Kashmir is but one factor in the larger Chinese calculus.

Further, as important as China’s geopolitical interests in the region are, it has other wider interests globally on which India, more than Pakistan, is an important actor. Thus, whether on climate change or global trade negotiations and in a variety of multilateral organizations ranging from the Kunming Initiative to the Russia-India-China trilateral and the BRICS grouping, India is a key player that China has to engage with. Against such a backdrop, China tries both to prevent India from truly rising to challenge China as well as to ensure that it can work together with India when necessary. Given Indian sensitivities over Kashmir, China’s Kashmir policy forms a useful leverage with India. But there is a fine balance that China needs to achieve which will be increasingly difficult as India grows more powerful on the world stage and if Pakistan continues to remain unstable. China will therefore, have to make some important choices in this regard, in the future.

Meanwhile, India too can contribute to modifying China’s Kashmir policy in its interests. On the positive side of things, showing greater interest in border trade across the LAC with both Tibet and Xinjiang and through them with the rest of China is one way. But most measures will have to be non-Kashmir-specific in nature including greater openness of the Indian economy as a whole to Chinese investments and trade with China. In the more negative set of actions are of course, classic geopolitical games such as balancing with the US or a host of China’s smaller, neighbours fearful of its rise.

What methods China or India will adopt, however, remain to be seen.