China and North Korea: A Convenient Arrangement

China has gone around Asia, particularly, Southeast Asia telling countries to behave because they are smaller than China.[1] Beijing however, is strangely more diffident when it comes to Pyongyang’s consistently cocking a snook at it and also complicating China’s regional security environment at the same time. As opposed as they are to the DPRK’s nuclear status, the Chinese also do not seek a US-led regime change through military meansand to see either North Korean refugees or American troops on its borders.[2]

Chinese Views on North Korea’s Nuclear Programme

Chinese scholars also view the DPRK as feeling genuinely threatened by the US and that its development of nuclear weapons is for regime survival.[3] The huge US-ROK joint military exercises in March-April 2016[4] according to the Chinese caused major worry in Pyongyang, which sees such exercises as disguising potential military invasion. Read more

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Indian States and Foreign Policy: Lessons from Chinese Provinces

Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘China’s Provinces and Foreign Policy: Lessons and Implications for India and its States’ in Subir Bhaumik (ed.), Agartala Doctrine: A Proactive Northeast in India Foreign Policy (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 253-70.

Extracts

Even without their rising world profiles as a starting point, it has long been a common enough exercise to compare and contrast India and China at various stages since the end of the Second World War. While the two nations started out under their new leaderships as developing nations united against colonialism and attempted for a time to work together as beacons for Asian rejuvenation, the realities of geopolitics, differing viewpoints about history and civilization and the remnants of imperial legacies soon resulted in a short border conflict in 1962 that however has cast a long shadow on their relations.

During the Cold War, the contrast between the two countries was also political and ideological and for a time, especially in the wake of revelations about Chinese communist excesses of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, it was assumed that India with its regular elections was doing much better than China was. However, despite its problems, communist China also raised considerably the social and human development indicators of its people while India continued to remain mired in poverty, illiteracy and various forms of social backwardness. There was also the brief interregnum of Emergency, which also tarnished India’s reputation as a paragon of democratic virtues in the developing world.

However, none of these developments and contrasts was nearly as consequential as those that would come following the beginning of China’s economic reforms and opening up in the late 1970s. By the time India started its own economic liberalization programme in 1991, China had started opening up a gap with India on the economic front in addition to the lead in social indicators that it already held. At the turn of the millennium, China could genuinely claim the mantle of a rising world power in both political and economic terms, while India was struggling to shake off the international opprobrium that came in the wake of its 1998 nuclear tests and to get into the same high economic gear as the Chinese had. Both its growing economy and a combination of international circumstances involving worries about China’s perceived challenge to the United States as well as its rapid military modernization combined to make India attractive again to the world at large before the 2008 financial crisis and government paralysis combined to put the brakes on India’s economic growth again, if not quite its political importance. Nevertheless, the India story also now appears to have a momentum of its own with a young demographic, active state governments and an economy unburdened by the shackles of an earlier command economy and free to make the adjustments to domestic and global circumstances as necessary.

The purpose of this chapter is to examine in more detail the role of Chinese provinces in the country’s growth story and to see how this experience can be a learning experience for Indian states. Read more

Chinese Provinces and Nepal: The Case of Tibet Autonomous Region

Originally published on the ICS Delhi Blog on 29 April 2016.

The Chinese government might not be able to play a prominent role in Nepal for now, given both Indian dominance and sensitivities. However, China appears to be using its provinces such as Tibet, Yunnan and Sichuan to exercise influence in a different, apparently less threatening way.

The major objective of China’s diplomatic strategy in Nepal has been to ensure that Kathmandu blocked the flow of Tibetan refugees into its territory. In November 2014, the frontier police force in Tibet and the armed police and fire department of Nepal conducted a joint exercise and during his visit to Nepal the following month, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi also laid the foundation stone for a police academy gifted to Nepal to train officers of its Armed Police Force that guards districts bordering Tibet. The number of Tibetans entering Nepal from China, it must be noted, has fallen from about 2,500 in 2008 to just about 200 in 2014.[1] Read more

People-to-People Connectivity in the BCIM Region: Principles and Practicalities

Original presentation titled, ‘People-to-People Connectivity’, Stakeholders’ Consultative Workshop on the BCIM Economic Corridor, organized by the Institute of Chinese Studies with the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (MAKAIAS) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Kolkata, 2 May 2014.

Outline

A. What are your governing values/principles in which you see people-to-people connectivity?

B. What are you trying to achieve?

C. What are you trying to avoid?

D. What are the practical issues involved in implementing these principles and achieving these objectives? Read more

Mukherjee in Arunachal: Of China and Other Matters

Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, Doing Business with the Dragon’, Hindustan Times (New Delhi), 4 December 2013, p. 14.

Another high-level official visit to Arunachal from New Delhi and another protest from China. So what’s new, one might ask.

As President Pranab Mukherjee noted in his convocation address at the Rajiv Gandhi University in Arunachal, the state “is on the threshold of a major economic transformation.” This transformation has both domestic and international implications and the Sino-Indian contretemps around the President’s visit provides an opportunity to examine these in some detail. Read more

India and Myanmar: Some Chinese Perceptions and Linkages

Manmohan Singh’s visit to Myanmar in late May – the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 25 years – inevitably brings up comparisons to what China does in Myanmar. It is therefore interesting to see how the Chinese themselves perceived the visit.

While the Chinese Foreign Ministry did its job by being diplomatic and welcoming the Indian visit, the state-run Global Times – known for its vituperative comments about China’s rivals – had an editorial titled “Myanmar trip shows India’s deluded mindset,” (29 May) that seemed designed to offend. Yet, the article also captures the many lines of thinking that operate simultaneously in China when it comes to India. Read more

Institutionalizing the BCIM: The Next Steps

Presentation made in Session 5: Institutional Arrangements at the 10th Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Regional Cooperation Forum, Kolkata, 19 February 2012.

There has been a constant debate between India and China about bringing the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Regional Cooperation Forum up to the full Track-1 level. There is the example of the Russia-India-China Track-2 dialogue that has a parallel Track-1 process starting with meetings of the three foreign ministers and later followed by regular meetings of the heads of government. This was no doubt inspired also by the post-9/11 scenario of unilateral US actions and the need for an alternative global order formulation. The point is that this can be done.

Today, the BCIM is in effect a Track-1.5 process, involving both scholars as well as officials even if the level of official participation varies from country to country. It is understood that for all the flexibility of the Track-2 mechanism, any real action is only possible if government officials are involved.  But since the flexibility is useful, a case can be made for Track-1.5 plus Track-1 level interactions, so that governments have a role to play at all stages. Read more

Reimagining Tibet in Sino-Indian Relations

The Tibetan government-in-exile has a new political leader. Lobsang Sangay took over not only as the new Kalon Tripa or Prime Minister but also stepped into the Dalai Lama’s shoes as political leader of the Tibetan exile movement. This handover of power to a younger generation of Tibetan leaders – democratically elected by the Tibetan community in exile – is an important milestone in the Tibetan struggle and has significant implications for China. Read more

Learning Chinese, Understanding China

This is a presentation, I made at the Department of Chinese Language, Foreign Languages Wing, Army Education Corps Training College and Centre in Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh in early July 2011.

The officers and other ranks learn in Chinese in a 96-week course starting at the beginner’s level. I basically, shared with them my own experiences of studying Chinese in Taiwan and given that most of the students will be frequently posted in Sino-Indian border also gave them a broad overview of the Chinese political and administrative system and of Sino-Indian border relations.

Download the full presentation here: JabinJacob-2011Jul8-ArmyEdnCorps-Learning Chinese, Studying China