A Framework for Understanding Sino-Indian Ties

Presentation titled, ‘India and China:Competition or Cooperation?’ at International Workshop on Recent Security Challenges in the Asia Pacific and India-China Relations, Institute of Chinese Communist Studies, Taipei, Taiwan, 30 July 2013.

Outline

What framework can we use to understand the current Sino-Indian relationship?

A.  two bookends of the relationship

  • the boundary dispute
  • the need for bilateral cooperation to both transform the current global order and to tackle their own internal problems

B.  the regular stuff in the relationship

  • regular ‘incursions’ at the Line of Actual Control
  • frequent high-level visits between leaders

C.  the irregular stuff in the relationship

  • infrequently organized people-to-people exchanges in the form of cultural shows, film festivals, etc.
  • sporadic attempts at military-to-military exchanges

D.  the framework Read more

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India’s China Policy: Time to Overcome Political Drift

Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, “India’s China Policy: Time to Overcome Political Drift,” RSIS Policy Brief, June 2012.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

A foreign policy without competent and visionary political direction, especially in a democratic dispensation, is a serious shortcoming. The Indian government’s policy towards China in recent years has been driven more by bureaucratic expertise and military demands than by political vision. Such a foreign policy risks either missing opportunities provided by the global situation or diverting and wasting limited national resources. As a rising global power, New Delhi can scarce afford the current drift in its foreign policy. With China as neighbour and one that has a head start in many aspects of national and global power and influence, the lack of initiative and boldness in its China policy are likely to be even more costly for India.

RECOMMENDATIONS

• India will have to develop its own expertise and viewpoints on China instead of relying only on Western sources and perspectives. The rapid establishment of centres for the study of China now under way in India needs to be better planned and coordinated. Resources promised by the government must both be made available on time and increased.

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China’s ‘Forward Policy’ on Kashmir

Presentation: Jabin T. Jacob, “Interpreting China’s ‘Forward Policy’ on Kashmir,” Conference on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir: Internal Dynamics and Externalities, Department of Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, 28 March 2011.

Summary: While Pakistan remains a vital cog of China’s South Asia policy it is important to note that the superlative is not applicable in Sino-Pak relations; rather, a range of factors influence Chinese policy including India, the United States and now the progress and consequences of the American drawdown in Afghanistan. Kashmir is but one factor in the larger Chinese calculus.

Further, as important as China’s geopolitical interests in the region are, it has other wider interests globally on which India, more than Pakistan, is an important actor. Thus, whether on climate change or global trade negotiations and in a variety of multilateral organizations ranging from the Kunming Initiative to the Russia-India-China trilateral and the BRICS grouping, India is a key player that China has to engage with. Against such a backdrop, China tries both to prevent India from truly rising to challenge China as well as to ensure that it can work together with India when necessary. Given Indian sensitivities over Kashmir, China’s Kashmir policy forms a useful leverage with India. But there is a fine balance that China needs to achieve which will be increasingly difficult as India grows more powerful on the world stage and if Pakistan continues to remain unstable. China will therefore, have to make some important choices in this regard, in the future.

Meanwhile, India too can contribute to modifying China’s Kashmir policy in its interests. On the positive side of things, showing greater interest in border trade across the LAC with both Tibet and Xinjiang and through them with the rest of China is one way. But most measures will have to be non-Kashmir-specific in nature including greater openness of the Indian economy as a whole to Chinese investments and trade with China. In the more negative set of actions are of course, classic geopolitical games such as balancing with the US or a host of China’s smaller, neighbours fearful of its rise.

What methods China or India will adopt, however, remain to be seen.

Guns, Blankets and Bird Flu

Original Article: Jabin T. Jacob, “The India-Myanmar Borderlands: Guns, Blankets and Bird Flu,” SPIRIT Occasional Papers, No. 6, Sciences Po (Bordeaux), October 2010.

Abstract: The India-Myanmar border regions form a forgotten frontier in the Indian and global imagination. India’s frontiers to the west (Pakistan), to the north (Tibet/China) and to the south (Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean) have always received greater attention. Today, however, the region representing the conjunction of India, China and Myanmar is returning to the centre of attention for a number of reasons both old and new. Violence (‘Guns’) has been endemic in the region since communities and peoples were rent asunder by the imposition and policing of officially demarcated borders between India and Myanmar. Yet, trade (‘Blankets’) – both formal and informal – has managed to carry on. What has added to the importance of the region in the eyes of the national capitals, is the increasing severity of transnational challenges such as drug-trafficking and the spread of diseases (‘Bird Flu’). Together, these three factors have kept both a regional identity as well as specific community identities alive. This paper examines the region-building properties of these factors.

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European Integration and Lessons for China

Originally published: December 2006

Abstract: The European Union and the People’s Republic of China can be compared by viewing them primarily as conglomerates of smaller constituents, each with their own political and economic significance in relations with their respective political centres. While this is a perspective that is more easily applied to the EU given that each of its members enjoys sovereignty and also the Union’s rather short history, Chinese area studies have only recently begun viewing China as a sum of its parts. The present study while conscious of the huge differences in the historical development and present realities of both the EU and China, posits that the similarities in the centre-constituent as well inter-constituent relationships developing in both the EU and China allow for important lessons to be drawn. A key focus is the differentiated set of relationships developing between Brussels and the latest entrants to the EU and between the older and newer members of the EU. In China, too, the nature of relationships between the central government and the better-developed coastal provinces is different from those that Beijing has with the central or western provinces, with implications also for the relationships among these different sets of provinces themselves. The tensions and charges of unfair treatment seen in the accessions of the Central and Eastern European nations to the EU, have an echo in the similar complaints that have been coming from the interior provinces of China since the beginning of economic reforms in that country, and perhaps, provide pointers to the future direction of the development of centre-province and inter-provincial relationships in China.

Original Article: “European Integration and Lessons for China,” Asia Europe Journal (Heidelberg), Vol. 4, No. 4, December 2006, pp. 511-21.