Reading between Chinese Lines

China’s new ambassador to India, Sun Weidong has been busy in the op-ed pages of major Indian newspapers since his arrival. The first of these articles came even before he had formally presented his credentials at Rashtrapati Bhavan.[1] This piece in The Hindu[2] talked about the long historical connections between the two countries represented by the ancient Buddhist site of Dunhuang in China’s Gansu province, the ‘pearl on the Silk Road’. While ostensibly about promoting people-to-people ties, the essay also regularly repeated such concepts and phrases as the ‘Silk Road spirit’, ‘harmony’ and ‘win-win cooperation’ seen as Chinese contributions to the lexicon of international relations, never mind that they remain poorly or vaguely defined. There is also, of course, the not so small matter of the rhetoric seldom matching the reality as both India’s own experiences and those of any number of China’s other neighbours show.

Spouting vague generalities of civilizational ties are however only a warm-up to the practical needs of ensuring the rest of the world accepts and backs Beijing’s positions on both the ongoing Hong Kong protests and the US-China trade war. Continue reading Reading between Chinese Lines

Hong Kong’s Occupy Central: Of Democracy, ‘Law’, and Identity

Every time Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protests appear to have died down or been erased from the public consciousness, there has been a government or police action that gave it fresh life or attention. Two months after the protests started in late September 2014 however, Hong Kong police’s latest attempts to clear the protesters and the arrests of prominent leaders[1] might actually prove the beginning of end of the protests in their current phase. Indeed, this was to be expected as the protests have been losing steam, if not support, owing to fatigue, the violence unleashed by pro-Beijing elements and/or the seeming lack of progress on their demands. The problems that were the cause of the protests however, are far from being resolved.

The ‘Law’ and the Protesters Continue reading Hong Kong’s Occupy Central: Of Democracy, ‘Law’, and Identity