Responding to China’s New Silk Roads Initiative

Originally published as ‘China’s New Silk Road Diplomacy’The Organiser (Delhi), Vol. 66, No. 46, 17 May 2015.

Launched in 2013, the so-called ‘new Silk Roads’ trace both land and sea routes from China to Europe and Africa respectively, and form an ambitious Chinese project to win friends and influence people. Where a section of India’s China analysts and policymakers across two different political dispensations have been remiss, is in anticipating the ambition and scale of the Chinese initiative. It goes without saying therefore, that devising a suitable response has been accordingly wanting.

OBOR – What India Should KnowRead More »

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Interpreting Prime Minister Modi’s China Approach

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 ModiRead More »

Regional Hegemony or Peaceful Rise? China’s New Silk Roads and the Asia-Pacific

Based on a presentation made at a conference on The US Rebalance and Asia Pacific Region, organized by the Centre for Public Policy Research, Kochi, Kerala, 7 March 2015.

The questions asked of China about whether it is engaged in a regional hegemony project in the Asia-Pacific are deeply problematic. For one, there is a great deal of ignorance about China and so the starting assumptions are underlined by misinformation or lack of knowledge of China’s internal political dynamics, its external concerns as well as of its policy processes. For another, similar questions are not asked of the United States. Is the United States engaged in hegemony or is it a power that maintains peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific? Or is it both? Can the responsibility to maintain regional or global peace be separated from the need to also be hegemonic in order to actually successfully carry out that role? These are big questions but the more interesting one from an Indian point of view is why this question today is asked more of China than of the United States.Read More »

China’s ‘New Tianxia’ and the Indian Response

This is an updated version of a paper presented on 28 February 2015 at a conference, India’s Foreign Policy Strategies through the 21st Century, organized by the University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Following the ascension of a new leadership at the 18th CPC Congress in 2012, China has conducted a dynamic foreign policy – on the one hand asserting itself on territorial issues from the East and South China Seas to Line of Actual Control with India and on the other, coming up with new initiatives to draw the Asian continent first and then further afield into an ever closer economic and political relationship with China. It is this latter aspect of that is the subject of this paper. Two parts of this form of Chinese foreign policy are examined – one, China’s frequent hosting of international conferences and seminars and two, its promotion of new ideas and new organizations as a way of shaping a common narrative for Asia with China in the lead. Alongside, this paper also highlights how India lags behind China in terms of organizing principles and institutional capabilities. By way of conclusion, I suggest that China is harking back to ancient principles and the worldviews of an imperial power as a framework for its foreign policy that continues to evolve in a world where its economic power is growing stronger, the influence of the West appears to be declining and calls for China to take greater international responsibility are also increasing.

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China’s New Silk Roads: Reinterpreting History

Originally published as ‘Pothole potential on China’s silk roads’, Asia Times Online, 13 March 2015.

Communist Party of China (CPC) General Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Silk Road Economic Belt (sichouzhilu jingjidai, 丝绸之路经济带) in a speech on 7 September 2013 at the Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan[1] and the Maritime Silk Road (haishang sichouzhilu, 海上丝绸之路) during his visit to Indonesia, the following month.[2] The two initiatives – collectively termed the ‘one belt, one road’ (yidai yilu, 一带一路) initiative – taken together with his declaration of a new neighbourhood policy in October 2013 at the first work forum (zuotan, 座谈) on diplomacy towards China’s periphery(zhoubian, 周边),[3] constitute a major Chinese foreign policy initiative. It is designed not just to increase China’s influence but also to put forward a new way of doing business, different from the Western/American approaches and tries also to assuage fears of an impending Chinese regional and global hegemony.

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