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 Continue reading The Second BRI Forum: Signaling Change?
The annual Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC) in China that lays down economic policy priorities for the coming year took place from 19-21 December 2018. The effects of the trade war with the US was apparent with Xi Jinping noting that the ‘The achievements we have made have not come easily’ and that ‘the external environment is complicated and severe, and the economy faces downward pressure’. This pessimistic note was in marked contrast to the previous year’s CEWC and when at the beginning of the trade war, Chinese official media claimed that the Chinese economy was ‘resilient enough to cope’.
Continue reading China’s 2018 Central Economic Work Conference
Pickpockets are not uncommon in crowded places in India. Victims are generally realists and tend to resign themselves to their misfortune quickly often not even bothering to go to the police. Not so, however, actor-turned-politician Manoj Tiwari, head of the Delhi unit of India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. When he lost his iPhone Seven Plus at a demonstration, he promptly complained at the local police station. Politicians in India are often able to get the police to expend extra effort on their behalf, so Tiwari’s response was not really surprising.
What was surprising was the fact that the politician had lost his phone at a protest against Chinese-made goods organized by an affiliate of the BJP’s parent organization, the right-wing hyper-nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. And as American as Steve Jobs might have been, the iPhone is the quintessential made-in-China product.
Such ironies are a dime a dozen in the India-China relationship. Continue reading The Many Ironies of India-China Economic Relations
There are several aspects of the recently concluded 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that are noteworthy for India.
First, CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping has attempted to redefine what acceptable economic growth is in China. The expression ‘contradiction’ is an important one in the Chinese communist lexicon and until the 19th Party Congress, the ‘principal contradiction’ was the one between ‘the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people and backward social production’ or, in other words, China’s inability to provide for the basic material needs of its people. Following nearly 40 years of economic reforms, this challenge has now been met with China eradicating poverty at the most massive scale and at the quickest pace in human history.
This process has, however, also resulted in rising income inequalities between individuals and between regions in China, and massive environmental damage and health crises across the country. Continue reading China’s 19th CPC Congress: Redefining Economic Growth
Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘Xi Jinping visit: High on expectations, low on delivery’, Hindustan Times, 22 September 2014, p. 12.
Nobody expected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping to wrap their arms around each other in a bear hug. A rightwing nationalist BJP-led government in India and a Communist Party of China that relies heavily on nationalism as a crutch for continued legitimacy at home were not expected to have it easy at the first formal summit of their leaders, especially on political and strategic issues.
Expectations however, were sky-high on the economic front. Continue reading The Modi-Xi Tango: Missteps and Fluffed Lines?
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
First published as जेबीन टी जैकब, ‘सीपीसी के विरोधाभासी संदेशों का बंडल’, Business Bhaskar (New Delhi), 28 November 2013, p. 4.
(Original text in English follows below)
कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी ऑफ चाइना (सीपीसी) की 18 वीं सेंट्रल कमिटी की तीसरी प्लेनरी (विशेषाधिकार प्राप्त महत्वपूर्ण और वरिष्ठ सदस्यों की सभा) इस महीने आयोजित हुई। इस प्लीनम (महासभा) में सेंट्रल कमिटी के 205 सदस्यों के अलावा 171 अन्य सदस्य होते हैं जो महत्वपूर्ण नीतिगत मसलों पर चर्चा कर किसी नतीजे पर पहुंचते हैं। किसी भी सेंट्रल कमिटी की तीसरी प्लीनम का महत्व इसलिए है कि नया नेतृत्व प्राय: इसका उपयोग अपनी नई आर्थिक नीतियों की घोषणा करने के अवसर के रूप में करता है। Continue reading 3rd Plenum, 18th CC: A Reformist Agenda but Challenges Ahead