A major political crisis is underway in Sri Lanka following President Maithripala Sirisena’s sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, replacing him former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and finally the dissolution of parliament. There are now multiple petitions now pending before the country’s Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of Sirisena’s actions.
Meanwhile, if general elections were allowed, Rajapaksa’s chances of returning to power look good given that the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party – which he formally joined just a few days ago – came out on top in local elections in February. 
During Rajapaksa’s tenure as President from 2005 to 2015, the Chinese had begun to gradually involve themselves in Sri Lankan politics. Continue reading Political Crisis in Sri Lanka: Little Risk for China
Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘China’s Provinces and Foreign Policy: Lessons and Implications for India and its States’ in Subir Bhaumik (ed.), Agartala Doctrine: A Proactive Northeast in India Foreign Policy (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 253-70.
Even without their rising world profiles as a starting point, it has long been a common enough exercise to compare and contrast India and China at various stages since the end of the Second World War. While the two nations started out under their new leaderships as developing nations united against colonialism and attempted for a time to work together as beacons for Asian rejuvenation, the realities of geopolitics, differing viewpoints about history and civilization and the remnants of imperial legacies soon resulted in a short border conflict in 1962 that however has cast a long shadow on their relations.
During the Cold War, the contrast between the two countries was also political and ideological and for a time, especially in the wake of revelations about Chinese communist excesses of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, it was assumed that India with its regular elections was doing much better than China was. However, despite its problems, communist China also raised considerably the social and human development indicators of its people while India continued to remain mired in poverty, illiteracy and various forms of social backwardness. There was also the brief interregnum of Emergency, which also tarnished India’s reputation as a paragon of democratic virtues in the developing world.
However, none of these developments and contrasts was nearly as consequential as those that would come following the beginning of China’s economic reforms and opening up in the late 1970s. By the time India started its own economic liberalization programme in 1991, China had started opening up a gap with India on the economic front in addition to the lead in social indicators that it already held. At the turn of the millennium, China could genuinely claim the mantle of a rising world power in both political and economic terms, while India was struggling to shake off the international opprobrium that came in the wake of its 1998 nuclear tests and to get into the same high economic gear as the Chinese had. Both its growing economy and a combination of international circumstances involving worries about China’s perceived challenge to the United States as well as its rapid military modernization combined to make India attractive again to the world at large before the 2008 financial crisis and government paralysis combined to put the brakes on India’s economic growth again, if not quite its political importance. Nevertheless, the India story also now appears to have a momentum of its own with a young demographic, active state governments and an economy unburdened by the shackles of an earlier command economy and free to make the adjustments to domestic and global circumstances as necessary.
The purpose of this chapter is to examine in more detail the role of Chinese provinces in the country’s growth story and to see how this experience can be a learning experience for Indian states. Continue reading Indian States and Foreign Policy: Lessons from Chinese Provinces
Originally published: January-March 2008
Extract: Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to China from 13-15 January 2008 was the first of the year by a foreign dignitary to the country, and in a land where symbolism counts for a great deal, it may be seen as notable for just this reason. Earlier, the Indian ruling coalition chairperson, Sonia Gandhi’s trip to China in November 2007 was also considered significant for being the first visit by a foreign political leader, following the conclusion of the important 17th Congress of the Communist Party of China. The Singh visit saw the additional highlight of the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao hosting his Indian counterpart to a private dinner testifying to both the significance of bilateral ties as well as to the excellent rapport between the two leaders.
However, symbolism apart, and despite the booming trade that continues to exceed all targets, Sino-Indian relations have seen some major political incidents beginning around the time of Chinese President, Hu Jintao’s visit to India in November 2006. These include then Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi’s statement on the eve of Hu Jintao’s visit reiterating China’s claim over Arunachal, the denial of a Chinese visa to an Indian civil servant of Arunachali origin and the Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi’s statement that the “mere” fact of populated areas was insufficient reason for China to give up its territorial claims. While the first two incidents are not surprising, given that they reflect the official Chinese position – Arunachalis have been denied Chinese visas in the past as well – it was the last one that provided the real jolt as it was in apparent contradiction of the Article VII of the 2005 Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question, which statedsthat “the two sides shall safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas.”
Taken together, the Hu Jintao visit to India and the Manmohan Singh visit to China mark perhaps the beginning of a new stage in Sino-Indian ties. For one, both sides seem to have reconciled themselves to the fact that every visit will not produce a “great leap forward” in ties but that progress can only be incremental. Two, it appears now that the economic relationship is also beginning to witness increasing problems and given that the actors involved are more than governmental ones, these are likely to crop more often and more visibly in the future. While the boundary talks continue with no end in sight, the relationship is likely to be tested further by these and other newer issues.
Original Article: “Manmohan Singh’s Visit to China: New Challenges Ahead,” China Report, Vol. 44, No. 1, January-March 2008, pp. 63-70.