India has in recent months taken some initial steps against predatory Chinese capital and technologies in its economy. Without quite naming China, the Indian government has both tweaked FDI rules to limit acquisition of Indian companies without government approval and banned a few score apps of Chinese origin on national security considerations. These are welcome decisions that have long been called for and should not have waited for either a pandemic or tensions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
National security, like other issues of national importance, is seldom determined by the actions of any one government administration alone. Both failures and successes trace their roots to strategies and policies developed and actions implemented over time by successive governments.
While national security deserves a place in the electoral discourse, in the present elections it has been reduced to simplistic binaries and an unhealthy focus on Pakistan. China has undoubtedly been a major beneficiary of this proclivity of Indian politicians and people to get carried away by emotion and prejudice.
It is only the Indian National Congress so far that has come out with a full-fledged ‘Plan on National Security’.
China has many ways of affecting Indian politics. Indeed, an India-China ‘reset’, as envisaged by the Narendra Modi government and represented by the “informal summit” between Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has the very strong domestic context of several major state-level elections later this year and the general elections next year.
There are two big expectations that the Modi government appears to entertain here — both of which rest on shaky foundations.
In May, China hosted its first heads of government/state-level event under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI Forum represents the culmination of over three years of intense Chinese diplomatic activity trying to sell what is likely going to be Chinese president Xi Jinping’s most significant foreign policy legacy.
For this reason alone, there should be no doubt that the Chinese initiative is strategic in nature – not just in economic terms or militarily but also in terms of setting regional and global political agendas.
Western notions of China’s models of economic development and global engagement or of its ambitions are possibly irrelevant today and nowhere near what the Chinese themselves seek to achieve. The BRI’s heavy stress on cultural contacts and people-to-people exchanges is often ignored but is part of a promotion of China’s soft power underlining in turn its political/ideological agenda. This agenda is a direct challenge to India’s own political values and system.
Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘India and China’s “One Belt, One Road” Initiative’, Nação e Defesa (Nation and Defense, Instituto da Defesa Nacional, Lisboa, Portugal), No. 142, pp. 56-71.
India’s response to China’s ‘new Silk Roads’ or ‘one belt, one road’ initiative is a good example of the problems that beset the India-China relationship. Neither country has quite managed to put in the effort required to pull their bilateral ties out of the deep freeze of suspicion and distrust that came about as a result of the conflict of 1962. And with China’s economic and political rise in addition to its military build-up, doubts about Chinese intentions vis-à-vis India and its South Asian neighbourhood have grown even if India too is growing and gaining economically including through its economic relationship with China. This article examines the ‘one belt, one road’ initiative and the reasons why it creates concerns in India. It looks at India’s response and the weaknesses of that response before examining two cases of Pakistan and the Indian Ocean in the context of ‘one belt, one road’ initiative and the India-China relationship.
Download full article
Originally published as ‘Interpreting Modispeak on China’, The Hindu (Chennai), 14 May 2015.
As Indian Prime Ministers and political leaders go, Narendra Modi is unique in possessing some significant experience of that country before attaining office. In fact, despite – or perhaps, because of – the differences in world views and how he has gone about understanding China, Modi is probably the first Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru, capable of shaping a uniquely different approach to China.
From Nehru to Modi
The Chinese objective will be to keep India out of the US camp in a way that prevents any substantial balancing or containment strategies against China. Chinese commentary and analyses of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India offer some clues to how they might seek to go about achieving this goal. China will employ both rhetorical devices and measures that have to be taken sooner or later such as for example, support for Indian membership of important regional and international bodies as well as substantial measures such as trade and investment opportunities from China.
Book Review: Shishir Gupta, The Himalayan Face-Off: Chinese Assertion and the Indian Riposte (Gurgaon: Hachette India, 2014).
Shishir Gupta says clearly at the beginning that the ‘book is not about China but its policies and mindset towards India as perceived by the top Indian leadership, political parties and the public’ (p. xi). Within this framework he tries to give an organized picture of the ebb and flow of Sino-Indian relations during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. While the coverage ends sometime in 2013 well before the UPA regime ended its tenure, the change of regime in New Delhi does not materially alter the nature of relations with China and Gupta by highlighting in his title, the fact that there has been an ‘Indian Riposte’ to ‘Chinese Assertion’ deserves full credit for standing out from the crowd and differing with general public perception of the UPA government’s tenure as being one of inaction and incompetence when it came to China policy. Whatever the UPA’s sins of omission or commission in its domestic politics or in its foreign policy in general, on China policy at least, a combination of focused political and military leadership and competent bureaucratic support ensured that the new NDA regime will find little to change except to provide greater direction, resources and speed and perhaps, with the backing of majority in Parliament, bolder engagement or even, out-of-the-box solutions to resolving ‘The Himalayan Face-off’.
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।