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Book : China’s Search for ‘National Rejuvenation’: Domestic and Foreign Policies under Xi Jinping

Jabin T. Jacob and Hoang The Anh (eds), China’s Search for ‘National Rejuvenation’: Domestic and Foreign Policies under Xi Jinping (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

This volume discusses a range of key domestic forces driving the current Chinese growth ranging from economic reforms to governance practices to analyze their impact and influence at home as well as on China’s foreign and security policies in its near and extended neighbourhood. At the same time, the volume also looks at specific themes like technology, agricultural development, reform of state-owned enterprises and the use of Party bodies to engage in foreign propaganda work among other things to offer examples of the merging of Chinese domestic political and foreign policy interests. In the process, the book offers its readers a better idea of China’s place in the world as the Chinese themselves see it and the implications over time for China, its neighbourhood and the wider world.

For more details see publisher’s website.

CONTENTS

1. ‘National Rejuvenation’ as Panacea for China’s Domestic and External Challenges

Jabin T. Jacob and Hoang The Anh

Domestic Developments

2. Reform of Party and State Structures in China

Nguyen Xuan Cuong

3. Changes in China’s Economic Development Model after the 19th National Congress

Nguyen Quang Thuan & Tran Hong Viet

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Foreign Policy War and Conflict

Looking Beyond China: Strengthening Bilateral Relationships in the Quad

In early June, a “virtual summit” between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, led to the signing of several agreements that have significant implications for regional security. The call for a deeper maritime partnership between the two countries and an important agreement on mutual logistics support in each other’s military bases come against a backdrop of bilateral tensions in both the India-China and Australia-China relationships.

Chinese transgressions on the Line of Actual Control between India and China have been ongoing over the past month and while this is not a new phenomenon what was notable was that these transgressions took place at multiple locations in Sikkim and Ladakh, indicating perhaps, a new phase in bilateral tensions. Australia-China relations, meanwhile, are in a particularly difficult phase. Canberra’s push for an independent international investigation into the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic attracting furious reaction from Beijing which accused the Australians of playing proxy for the United States. In the inflated Chinese view of themselves, no country accusing China of wrongdoing has any agency or rationale of its own but is always serving American interests.

Talk of a post-Covid world order often centres around the decline or the retreat of the US from global leadership implying that the field is clear for China to pursue its ambitions to take over with even greater speed. However, as countries like Australia and others like France and Germany – despite the general failure of a collective response from the European Union – have shown, a vacuum created by the US does not necessarily mean that liberal democracies elsewhere will not stand up to China.

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Foreign Policy War and Conflict

Let the Quad Die: Towards Greater Indian Leadership in the Indo-Pacific

The Indian invitation to leaders of the BIMSTEC grouping to attend the second swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a number of significant implications. For one, it is a sign that the current Indian establishment thinks that the SAARC framework continues to underperform and is simply not enough to facilitate India’s ambitions. For another, the attention to BIMSTEC, with location around the Bay of Bengal as its central organizing principle, can also be read as a sign of the return of a maritime focus in Indian foreign policy.

The challenge, however, is to ensure that any renewed focus on the maritime domain does not go the way of the ‘neighbourhood first’ approach of the first Modi administration.

To this end, it is important to consider afresh some of the approaches the Indian policy establishment has adopted to maritime concepts and groupings over the past decade and more. In recent years, the Indian government has been part of significant maritime groupings such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) including its earlier iteration as the Quadrilateral Initiative, and begun using concepts like the ‘Indo-Pacific’. While these initiatives could form part of New Delhi’s ‘Act East’ Policy, it must be noted that neither the QSD nor the concept of the Indo-Pacific, as currently promoted, have India in a leadership role or even as an enthusiastic partner. Even as large sections of the strategic community in India see great promise in the QSD, there is an equally great reluctance by the government to actually declare any consistent or regular interest in the initiative.

This essay argues that rather than form groupings based only on India’s comfort level with certain countries or individuals leading them, as is the case now, New Delhi must push to create, as well as institutionalise, groupings based on certain clear principles. While membership can be ‘open’, it is only if these principles are accepted that membership should be possible. And the central organising principle of any new grouping in the Indo-Pacific must be that of respect for the idea of a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’, which, in turn, must be based on respect for international law, including UNCLOS. The essay uses a Chinese prism – specifically, Chinese views of the Indo-Pacific and the Quad – to argue why such an Indian approach will be more effective in deterring aggressive Chinese behaviour in the region and perhaps, even further afield.

Download the rest of the article here

This article was originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘Let the Quad Die: Towards Greater Indian Leadership in the Indo-Pacific’, National Maritime Foundation, 17 July 2019.

A shorter version of this article was also published earlier as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘India must create and lead a new regional grouping to replace Quad’, Moneycontrol.com, 12 June 2019.

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Comparative Politics Foreign Policy

The Second BRI Forum: Signaling Change?

China hosted the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing from 25 to 27 April 2019 with a few dozen heads of state/government and of international organizations in attendance. Seen as a key event of the Chinese diplomatic calendar, international participation at the BRI Forum is seen by Beijing as some sort of validation of its attempts at regional and global leadership using the mantra of economic growth through infrastructure development.

This infrastructure development provided by Chinese enterprises around the world has come under increasing scrutiny since the launch of the BRI in 2013 and the Chinese appear to have used the 2nd Forum both as a sort of reality check for themselves as well as a fresh attempt to convince countries hosting BRI projects and those not yet on board that there is still much on offer.

Problems with Chinese Infrastructure

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Foreign Policy War and Conflict

North Korea’s Nuclear Test: Regional Reactions and the Chinese Responsibility

A shorter version of this piece was published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘North Korea hasn’t gone rogue. Nukes are its geo-political trump card’, Catch News, 16 January 2016.

 

Following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test since 2006,[1] the world led by the UN Security Council has condemned Pyongyang’s action.[2] The DPRK for its part blamed South Korea’s propaganda broadcasts in the Demilitarised Zone – which includes K-pop songs, by the way – and deployment of military assets, saying these were pushing the two countries to the ‘brink of war’.[3]

The UNSC’s resolutions since 2006 imposing and strengthening sanctions on North Korea for continuing to develop its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles have however not been very effective, even if they have slowed down the pace of development of these programmes. This is because Pyongyang views nuclear weapons as a guarnator of its regime security. Given American efforts at regime change in West Asia, Pyongyang clearly sees nuclear weapons as the ace in its pack. The Americans reminded Kim Jong-un’s regime of that threat by flying a B-52 over South Korea in a joint response to the North Korean test. The bomber that took off from far-away Guam, can carry precision guided conventional ordnance as well as nuclear weapons.[4]

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Foreign Policy War and Conflict

India-Japan Ties in the Sino-Japanese Mix

Contemporary Sino-Japanese relations have long crossed the line from foreign policy to becoming an active domestic issue, particularly in China and now increasingly so, also in Japan. China appears to believe both that nationalist passions can be controlled and that time and demography are on its side. The first assumption is questionable though evidence till now shows that Beijing has been successful while the second is correct. India will then have to manage its relationship with Japan keeping both realities in mind.

Given their long history of exchanges, it was always unlikely that the legacy of World War II would be forgotten or forgiven as in the European case but in both countries this past is now being used to rake up and create fresh reasons for discord and enmity. In China, the humiliation of being overrun and subject to the depredations of the Japanese was the worst of the ‘century of humiliations’ while for the Japanese, their brief dominance over China allowed them to finally emerge from the long historical and civilizational shadow of their larger neighbour.

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Foreign Policy War and Conflict

India and China’s Neighbours: Carefully Does It

(Published as जबिन टी. जेकब, “संबंधों में साहस और सतर्कता जरूरी,” Business Bhaskar, 24 January 2013, p. 4.)

The recent visits of Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Vietnam are signs of a growing convergence of concerns that these countries have about China. China’s rapid military modernization and its assertiveness in the last few years on various territorial disputes have belied the hope that China’s regional and global economic integration would also ensure a more peaceful China.

In China’s own view, its actions are reasonable and justified in the face of provocations from its neighbours. Leaving aside the veracity of China’s claims, the object here is to examine the strategic coming together of India, Vietnam and Japan vis-à-vis China.

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Foreign Policy War and Conflict

A US-India-China Trilateral? Big Promise but Dim Prospects

(original text in English follows below the Hindi text)

पिछले महीने तीसरे इंडो-यूएस रणनीतिक वार्ता के बाद दक्षिण और मध्य एशिया के लिए अमेरिकी सहायक विदेश मंत्री रॉबर्ट ब्लैक ने कहा, अमेरिका चीन और भारत के साथ एक त्रिपक्षीय वार्ता करना चाहता है ताकि अफगानिस्तान समेत तमाम दूसरे मुद्दों पर मिलकर काम हो सके। हालांकि मौजूदा अंतरराष्ट्रीय माहौल में यह देखने वाली बात होगी कि इस तरह की त्रिपक्षीय वार्ता की गुंजाइश बनती भी है या नहीं?

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Foreign Policy War and Conflict

Hillary Clinton’s India Visit: Chinese Elephant in the Room

During her visit to India for the 2nd Indo-US Strategic Dialogue, last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called upon India to “not just to look east, but to engage east and act east as well”. But the problem in New Delhi might well be an incapacity to ‘think east’ beyond the boundary dispute with China or trying to retain a toehold against Chinese dominance in Myanmar.  What engagement there is occurs in the economic domain but India remains overcautious in its political and military outreach to the Asia-Pacific.