Tag Archives: Li Keqiang

China’s 2014 NPC: Long Road to Economic Restructuring

Originally published as जबिन टी. जैकब, ‘बदलाव की राह पर चीन, Dainik Jagran, 12 March 2014, p. 8.

As India announced elections to the next Lok Sabha, the annual session of China’s equivalent of the lower house of parliament, the National People’s Congress, got underway on 5 March. Premier Li Keqiang as head of the State Council, the Chinese cabinet of ministers, presented his government’s first Work Report. This exercise shares somewhat the same level of importance that the presentation of the Union Budget sees in India, but covers a wider range of issues. Continue reading China’s 2014 NPC: Long Road to Economic Restructuring

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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। Continue reading Sino-Indian Relations: Beyond Symbolism and Beyond Belligerence

The Ladakh Stand-off: What it Says (or Doesn’t) about China’s India Policy and India’s China Policy

Originally published as part of a debate at, ‘The China-India Border Issue in 2013: Point and Counter-Point’, Associate Paper, Future Directions International, 28 May 2013.

If there is just one lesson to be drawn from the recent stand-off between China and India, it is that the two sides have a long way to go to in establishing mutual trust. While the Ladakh incident was eventually resolved by a combination of military-to-military meetings and diplomatic interactions, three aspects stand out.

One, the Chinese incursion was of a qualitatively different nature from previous such incidents. Hitherto, such ‘incursions’ meant soldiers marking their presence in their claim areas by frequent patrols, painting on rocks, littering and so on. The recent escalation and the intruders’ willingness to stay put for a considerable length of time, despite the difficulties of terrain and logistics, very likely marks the beginning of a new trend along the LAC. It also puts pressure on existing bilateral mechanisms of diplomatic and military contact and procedure. There are several formal mechanisms for inter-military and inter-government interactions, including clear stipulations laid out by treaty, about the nature of military presence in the border areas and the kind of responses that the two sides are to employ if they run into each other in disputed territory. This time, however, there was clearly a degree of unwillingness to compromise or to follow those formal mechanisms and obligations. Indeed, it is possible that this has been the case for some time now. Continue reading The Ladakh Stand-off: What it Says (or Doesn’t) about China’s India Policy and India’s China Policy

Candour on the Red Carpet: Parsing the Sino-Indian Joint Statement

Published as जबिन टी. जेकब, ‘चीनी पीएम की यात्रा पर संतुलित रुख’, Business Bhaskar, 22 May 2013, p.4.

(Original in English follows below Hindi text)

देश के पश्चिमी इलाके में मौजूद दपसांग में चीनी ‘घुसपैठ’ की वजह से तीन सप्ताह का गतिरोध खत्म होने के दो सप्ताह बाद चीन के प्रधानमंत्री ली खचियांग भारत की पहली आधिकारिक यात्रा पर यहां पहुंचे। पिछले दिनों की गतिविधियों पर नजर रखने वालों के सामने यह साफ हो गया है कि भारत न तो लद्दाख की घटना की वजह से अपनी जगह से उखड़़ा और न ही ली खचियांग की पहली आधिकारिक यात्रा के दिए गए संकेत से बहुत अधिक प्रभावित दिखा। भारत ने वही किया जो एक परिपक्व, आत्मविश्वास से भरी ताकत करती है।

राजनीतिक और आर्थिक लिहाज से देखें तो चीन के लिए ग्लोबल और स्थानीय स्तर पर अपने कदमों का कोई आकलन करना तब तक मुश्किल है जब तक कि वह यह न जान ले कि भारत अपने हितों को किस तरह देखता है और इसके मुताबिक क्या कदम उठा सकता है। Continue reading Candour on the Red Carpet: Parsing the Sino-Indian Joint Statement

Li Keqiang’s India Visit: Towards Realistic Expectations

(The English version was written on the first day of the Chinese Premier’s visit to India and updated and published originally as जबिन टी. जैकब, ‘भरोसा बढ़ाने वाली भेंट’, Dainik Jagran, 22 May 2013, p. 10 (see below).)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is in India on his first overseas visit since taking over his new position in March. The visit is notable for a number of reasons.

One, it came against the backdrop of the recent Chinese ‘incursion’ in the Ladakh region and the resultant stand-off that lasted three weeks. As a result, the mood could have be decidedly indifferent if not unfriendly in terms of the public reception of Li in India.

In the case of high-level visits, however, no matter what the problems and complications in a bilateral relationship, it is always important from a diplomatic point of view to make sure the atmospherics are excellent and that warmth and enthusiasm are on full display. Continue reading Li Keqiang’s India Visit: Towards Realistic Expectations

China’s ‘Parliament’: Clear and Present Challenges

Originally published as जबिन टी. जेकब, “चीन में परिवर्तन की राह में असमंजस,” Business Bhaskar, 7 March 2013, p. 4.

The Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) together form the equivalent of China’s national parliament broadly representing a lower house and upper house respectively. The 12th NPC will ‘elect’ China’s new President and the Premier – Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang respectively – who were in fact decided by the 18th Communist Party (CPC) Congress in November last year. It is also the 18th CPC Central Committee that has approved the candidates for China’s new cabinet of ministers (or the State Council) and the heads of China’s equivalent of the Supreme Court and of its investigative and prosecution agencies.

While the Party continues to be the more powerful than the government in China, the symbols of state such as the NPC are increasingly vocal. This 12th NPC will see discussion over a variety of topics that will keep China’s new leaders engaged over the next decade. Continue reading China’s ‘Parliament’: Clear and Present Challenges

Leadership Change in China and Implications for India

Originally published: 7 November 2007

The 17th Party Congress of the Communist Party of China that took place in October was notable for the beginning of the transition to the so-called fifth generation of China’s leaders. It is important to analyze these leadership changes both for what they reveal about the Chinese domestic political system and for their possible impact on China’s external relations.

 

First, continuing in the manner by which Hu acceded to power, there is no particular leader of the fifth generation chosen as the “core.” Like Hu, the new leader will likely only be primus inter pares. However, unlike in the case of Hu, who first entered the CPC Politbureau’s Standing Committee (PBSC) as the only member of the fourth generation of leaders, this PBSC has two members of the fifth generation Li Keqiang and Xi Jinping. There has been talk that given Xi stands senior to Li in the PBSC, the former is the likely successor to Hu. It has however, to be noted that it was Li who was the first to become a full member of the CPC’s Central Committee in 1992, with Xi following only in 1997. The choice of who the next General Secretary is therefore not as clear-cut as it was in the case of Hu.

 

Leaving aside the question of seniority, it appears that given their respective backgrounds Li and Xi seem to fit neatly into the possibility of succeeding Hu and Wen Jiabao respectively. Li has served in senior positions in the agriculturally important province of Henan and in China’s most industrially significant province of Liaoning while Xi has only served in the wealthy coastal provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang and Shanghai. The major reason for Li’s ascent has been his Communist Youth League (CYL) connection with Hu but Xi, in addition to earning his spurs as an economic reformer is also a taizi – one of the princelings, as children of Party elders are known – and also considered to be more popular and successful than Li.

 

While this uncertainty, would in another era, be considered destabilizing, the CPC by choosing two members of the fifth generation of leaders, who could be potential successors to Hu Jintao, has left open the possibility of each candidate try to win political legitimacy for himself before 2012 when the next Congress takes place. This method also gels with the CPC’s claims of seeking increased “inner-Party democracy” and “consultative democracy.”

 

Second, for the first time, all members in the PBSC, except Wen Jiabao, have experience as Party Secretaries in the provinces. This indicates the increasing weight of the provinces at Beijing and of the importance of a career in the provinces for promotions to the highest leadership positions in China. The dynamics of centre-province relations – China is a far more federal entity than is commonly acknowledged – and their impact on China’s internal politics and increasingly, its external policies, are issues that are still little understood by outside observers. It will therefore be increasingly necessary for countries, and especially China’s neighbours, to tailor their foreign policies towards China, not just in terms of dealing with a centre at Beijing but also to reorient themselves to acknowledge China’s various provincial power centres.

 

Third, the two other new faces inducted into the PBSC, besides Li and Xi, namely He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang have spent significant lengths of time in departments and ministries related to China’s petroleum industry, especially Zhou, who is a former head of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). This point perhaps to the new and growing power of China’s top state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and in particular, the national oil companies (NOCs). This is another indication, if it were needed, that China will continue to emphasize public ownership of key sectors of the economy and that energy security will continue to be a top concern with the Chinese leadership in the coming years.

 

For India, the manner of leadership change and the background of the new leaders in its largest neighbour should be matters of close study. On the foreign policy front, there are two aspects India should pay attention to. One, India’s China policy should take note of the rising power of China’s provinces and pay renewed attention to sub-regional projects such as the Kunming Initiative, for example. New Delhi should also be broad-basing its China involvement and actively encourage closer ties between its states and China’s provinces. Equally significant for India is the fact that the Hu Jintao years have seen increased attention being paid to China’s interior provinces. This attention is only likely to intensify and could have important implications for the outcome of the boundary talks between India and China.

 

Two, at a much broader level, given the political instability and the ‘difficulties’ of Western-style multi-party democracy in the rest of South Asia, India must seriously consider whether, the Chinese one-party model might not increasingly come to be seen as an alternative and whether India needs to do more as a role model for multi-party democracy in the region.

Original Article: “Leadership Change in China and Implications for India,” IPCS Article No. 2411, 7 November 2007.