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Borders Foreign Policy War and Conflict

Arunachal Pradesh in the Sino-Indian Boundary Dispute: Constant Claims, Changing Politics

Published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘Arunachal Pradesh in the Sino-Indian Boundary Dispute: Constant Claims, Changing Politics’, in Gurudas Das, C. Joshua Thomas and Nani Bath (eds), Voices from the Border: Response to Chinese Claim over Arunachal Pradesh (New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2015), 48-62.

Abstract

The main point of contention in the Sino-Indian boundary dispute was originally the Aksai Chin area in the Indian northwest. In the mid-1980s, however, the core of the dispute shifted eastward to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. This essay makes the argument that while Arunachal Pradesh remains central to the boundary dispute its significance for the two parties to the dispute has varied over time. For China, the shift in emphasis to Arunachal was in large measure tied to the Tibet question, and this emphasis has, if anything, become more important in recent years as instability and protests in Tibet have increased. For India too, Arunachal’s significance has grown, owing mostly due to the increased Chinese attention. But India also appears to be moving from defending Arunachal militarily within a purely bilateral context to defending Arunachal and strengthening Indian claims in the international context.

This essay also argues that Arunachal ought to be seen in the Sino-Indian relationship not only within the context of the boundary dispute but also within the framework of centre-periphery relations in China and India and in the larger context of the differences between the Chinese and Indian political systems. The nature of Arunachal Pradesh’s relations with the rest of India, including the Indian central government, is important not just for the Indian body politic but also for Sino-Indian relations and for Beijing’s relations with Tibet. If in India, this centre-periphery relationship is a just and equitable one, maintaining a fair and necessary balance between local aspirations for peaceful and sustainable development alongside national security considerations, then India and Arunachal can become the model to follow for China and Tibet – it is in this way that Arunachal will best fulfill its role as the ‘first line of defence for India.’

This essay is divided into four sections including a conclusion. The first section looks at how Arunachal Pradesh is currently involved in the Sino-Indian boundary dispute, the second, looks at how China’s stress on Arunachal is a part of its inability to stabilize Tibet; and the third section looks at India’s own relationship with Arunachal.

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Categories
Foreign Policy

China and the Modi Visit to Bangladesh

China-Bangladesh relations have progressed significantly over the years. China has been Bangladesh’s largest trading partner for several years now and is also increasingly a major investor in the country with commitments to various physical infrastructure projects ranging from bridges and railways to water and sewage treatment plants. After the World Bank withdrew from the project of building of a bridge over the River Padma in Bangladesh’s southwest, it is the Chinese that have agreed to step in.

There was little coverage of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in June this year but it is worth noting that China sent Vice Premier Liu Yandong to Bangladesh in late May to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Bangladesh.

Categories
Borders Foreign Policy Sub-nationalism

Assessing the Xi Visit: After the Optics, A Reality Check

Published as जबिन टी. जैकब, ‘नाजुक रिश्तों की नई दिशा’, Dainik Jagran (New Delhi), 20 September 2014, p. 10

Original text in English follows below.

चीन के राष्ट्रपति शी चिनफिंग का तीन दिवसीय भारत दौरा संपन्न होगा। इसे कई कारणों से खासी ख्याति मिली। हालांकि ठोस नतीजों की बात करें तो इससे कोई बहुत महत्वपूर्ण दिशा उभरती दिखाई नहीं दी। सालों से चीन ने जिन चीजों के लिए प्रसिद्धि हासिल की है वे हैं इसकी परियोजनाओं का वृहद आकार, तीव्र महत्वाकांक्षाएं और इन्हें पूरा करने की तेज रफ्तार। इन तमाम मुद्दों पर चीन के राष्ट्रपति का भारत दौरा खरा नहीं उतरता।

शी चिनफिंग और नरेंद्र मोदी, दोनों नेता अपने-अपने देश में मजबूत माने जाते हैं और इसलिए लंबे समय से लंबित सीमा विवाद का राजनीतिक हल निकालने की स्थिति में नजर आते हैं। हालांकि विश्लेषकों ने चीन के राष्ट्रपति की इस यात्रा के दौरान सीमा विवाद पर किसी बड़ी सफलता की उम्मीद नहीं की थी। हालांकि इस दौरे से आर्थिक मोर्चे पर बड़ी उम्मीदें थीं, क्योंकि यात्रा से पहले मुंबई में चीनी महावाणिज्य दूत ने चीन द्वारा भारत में सौ अरब डॉलर के निवेश की उम्मीद जताई थी।

Categories
Borders Foreign Policy Sub-nationalism War and Conflict

Xi visits India: Great Expectations

co-authored with Alka Acharya and originally published as , ‘Modi, Xi and Great Expectations’, Rediff.com, 17 September 2014.

Symbolism is often as important as the essentials in conveying the magnitude of an event – especially when the eyes of the world are focused on it. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to receive the Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad and establish a personal rapport in a culturally resonant setting with brisk economic undertones, before moving on to the capital, New Delhi, has certainly added the element which elevates the tenor and adds a dash of élan to this meeting between two of the most important leaders of Asia today. It will likely set the template for the relations between the two countries, at least for the next five years. The statements and body language of both these leaders will thus be closely scrutinized.

Categories
Comparative Politics Foreign Policy Political Parties

China and Narendra Modi

Chinese views of Narendra Modi’s election victory are interesting for a number of reasons. One, there are implications for China’s own political system about a democracy’s ability to provide a clear majority to a ‘decisive’ leader. Two, there are hopes for a more pragmatic relationship and greater speed on the economic side of the relationship. And three, there is evidence of an increasingly sophisticated understanding of India’s internal politics. Prime Minister Modi, meanwhile, has an advantage in having visited China before in his capacity as Chief Minister of Gujarat but the Chinese are still unsure if this necessarily means either greater friendliness or an ability to better understand China and its national interests.

Categories
Foreign Policy

How does India Think about China?

Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘Friend, Foe or Competitor? Mapping the Indian Discourse on China’, in Happymon Jacob (ed.), Does India Think Strategically? India’s Strategic Culture and Foreign Policy (New Delhi: Manohar, 2014), pp. 229-272.

 

Abstract*

This paper attempts to answer three questions: what is the content of Indian thinking on China? Who is it in India that thinks about China or is affected by China? And finally, how does thinking on China manifest itself in a strategic policy framework? The continuing lack of knowledge and expertise on China at a broad societal level in India has led to ignorance, fear, and prejudice about the northern neighbour. Further, the inability so far, to achieve a national-level closure on the brief border conflict of1962 – in the form of a consensus on what went wrong or who to hold responsible, for example – and indeed, the failure to achieve a resolution of the boundary dispute, have perpetuated a general tendency in India to ascribe malign motives to China and the masking of prejudice or ignorance under a framework of ‘realism’ in international relations. The work identifies three broad lines of Indian thinking on China are identified along with seven different kinds of actors or interest groups with varying degrees of influence on the country’s China policy. The consequences of Indian thinking on China are also examined through the use of examples from current policy.

 

China has always been independent India’s largest neighbour but it has not always been its most important neighbour. That privilege for a long time belonged to Pakistan on two counts. First, Pakistan was the representation of a competing and opposite philosophy of state formation, namely a nation justified by religion, and second, Pakistan was a security threat both in conventional terms and in the form of a supporter and instigator of secessionist movements and terrorism in India. However, it is debatable if Pakistan was or is ever actually seen as an existential threat to India, even as a nuclear power. Rather, it would appear that a belief exists in India that it could, if push came to shove, defeat Pakistan if things were to go that far. It is perhaps not just the record on the battlefield that justifies such a belief but something akin to a deep self-belief that India ‘understands’ Pakistan and its weaknesses as no other country can.[1]

Categories
Foreign Policy War and Conflict

What the Henderson Brooks Report Really Says

Originally published as जबिन टी. जैकब, ‘नाकामी पर नई निगाह’, Dainik Jagran (Delhi), 23 March 2014, p. 10.

Large sections of the Henderson Brooks-Prem Bhagat Report of the inquiry into the Indian army’s 1962 defeat were recently released online by Neville Maxwell, a former India correspondent of a British newspaper. The release affords us an opportunity to reconsider some questions about both the Indian conduct of the conflict and the nature of policymaking in this country.

Categories
Borders Foreign Policy Sub-nationalism War and Conflict

Infrastructure Development along India’s Borders with China

Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘Political Economy of Infrastructure Development in the Sino-Indian Border Areas’, China-India Brief #22, Centre on Asia and Globalisation, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, 12–25 February 2014.

China occupies a growing space in the daily imagination of ordinary Indians. While they might be not be conscious of the presence of Chinese components in their mobile phones, Indians are increasingly aware of the wide gulf that exists with China in the provision of such essentials as good physical infrastructure. And nowhere perhaps, is this consciousness stronger than along India’s underdeveloped borders areas with China. From Ladakh in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, border communities are aware of the stark differences in road, telecom and other forms of physical and social infrastructure between what is available on the Indian side and in Tibet.

Categories
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।