Foreign Policy War and Conflict

China and India: Two Rising Powers at Loggerheads

Original Article: “Chine et Inde: deux puissances émergentes antagonistes,”  Société de Stratégie – AGIR (Paris), No. 44, December 2010, pp. 43-56.

Abstract: Despite being among the fastest growing world economies, interactions between China and India remain limited owing to their unresolved boundary dispute. Concerns have grown over rapid military and infrastructure development by the two countries along the disputed boundary as well as over perceived and potential competition between them, both in their immediate neighbourhood as well as elsewhere in the world. Nevertheless, there have also been instances of international cooperation such as at the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009. Thus, the key question of the ‘Asian century’ will be if these two rising powers and neighbours can manage their relationship in a manner that promotes peace, stability and economic development both regionally and globally.

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Foreign Policy War and Conflict

Sino-US Relations in the 21st Century

Original Presentation: “Sino-US Relations in the 21st Century,” The Contours of Sino-US Competition in the 21st Century and Implications for India, organized by the HQ Integrated Defence Staff, Ministry of Defence, Government of India and the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), 24 November 2010.



“They’re not enemies, but frenemies, with codependent economies…”

The Sino-US relationship is without doubt the most important bilateral relationship in the world. It is also one of the most complex and difficult ones.

US policy on China appears to be one of whatever works, of “crossing the ocean by feeling the stones”, and it is difficult to say explicitly whether it is one of engagement, or containment or ‘congagement.’ As Kenneth Lieberthal puts it, the American dilemma is that “if China ends up being the one to really capture the economic upside of the region and we capture the security needs of the region, then China captures the [Asia-Pacific] region as a profit center and we capture the region as a cost center.” The Chinese for their part are confused is about the place of China in the world, especially if compared with the US, India, Japan, Russia or Europe and fear that the US could disrupt China’s rising regional influence.

In 2005 Robert Zoellick declared, “China has a responsibility to strengthen the international system that enabled its success.” Implicit in this statement is the US’ central role in creating that system and in running it. The question for the future is whether China does not think the international system required for its continued success might have to be a different one altogether.


A. Understanding Chinese Self-perceptions – What is the Chinese Worldview?

B. China Watching the US

C. China Watching the US Watching China

D. Principal Actors on the Two Sides

E. Fundamentals of Sino-US Competition – “Frenemies”

F. What to Watch Out For in Future Sino-US Relations

Foreign Policy War and Conflict

Chinese National Security and International Relations

Original Lecture: “Chinese National Security and International Relations,” Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 29 October 2010.


Summary: An essential first step to understanding Chinese national security imperatives from the outside is to shed stereotypes and preconceived notions of China as a monolithic, monochromatic or well-ordered unitary entity. As a country of over a billion people, politics and implementation issues are incredibly complex in China and Indians should if anything, be able to better grasp this complexity.


Chinese national security policy is influenced by a number of internal issues, of which history and strategic culture are important variables, together with the overwhelming priority that Chinese leaders accord to maintaining political and social stability and thereby, their legitimacy and grip on power. Maintaining economic growth is a key national security consideration in this respect which then has implications for the way China looks at its external relations. Thus, traditional security issues such as its relations with Taiwan or non-traditional security issues such as energy security can both be affected by internal considerations. Meanwhile, China’s security policymaking process displays great complexity in terms of actors and interest groups ranging from the Communist Party, the PLA, and the MoFA to the state-owned enterprises and provincial governments. What is more, there are frequent conflicts of interest among the various players.


China has certain key concepts that it uses frequently in its external discourse that have specific meanings and need to be understood carefully. These include among others such concepts as ‘core interests’ – interests that China will go to war over – and the three ‘evils’ – extremism, terrorism and separatism. There is also a changing terminology used to describe China’s intentions such as ‘peaceful rise’ / ‘peaceful development’ / ‘harmonious world,’ each of which has different emphases. Finally, how China implements these concepts in practice is a different issue altogether.