Tsai Ing-wen’s Visit to Central America

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Central America from 7-15 January 2017 came amidst the tensions set off by US President-elect Donald Trump publicly tweeting about his phone conversation with her soon after his election. Over time, Trump’s tweets on China have gotten ever more provocative, and questions are now being raised about his administration’s willingness to adhere to the one-China policy, which the Chinese have called the fundamental basis of US-China relations, never mind the fact that in reality China has also never supported the one-China policy as the Americans themselves interpret it which is of Taiwan joining the PRC only with the free will of the people of Taiwan themselves. China insists on maintaining the threat of the use of force if the decision of the Taiwanese does not go its way.

Against this backdrop, Tsai’s visit to four of the dwindling flock of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies came under more than the usual international scrutiny. The visits to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador were part of Tsai’s only second overseas trip after taking office in May 2016; her visits to Panama and Paraguay in June last year went comparatively unremarked by the international press.Read More »

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Interpreting Ma Ying-jeou’s Visit to Taiping Island

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s visit to Taiping/Itu Aba Island in the Spratly Islands on 28 January 2016 was justified among other things on the grounds that he visited men and women in uniform before every Lunar New Year and that he was seeking to clarify the legal status of the island.[1]

 

Omissions

There are however, some issues that need to be considered.

For one, Ma did not mention the visit to Taiping of his predecessor Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in February 2008. Standing before military personnel this omission perhaps weakened Taiwan’s/Republic of China’ (ROC) image and position, which is to say that there is an element of dissonance between the Kuomintang’s (KMT) position and that of its political rival.Read More »

The Why of China’s Actions in the South China Sea

Shorter version published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘China’s “moral code”’, The Hindu, 1 July 2015.

In mid-November 2006, Chinese television broadcast a documentary series titled, ‘The Rise of the Great Powers’ (Daguo jueqi) that studied the rise of nine world powers starting with Portugal and ending with the United States in the present with Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia/Soviet Union in between. Produced by a group of eminent Chinese historians, the series was telecast during primetime and took the country by storm with its bold, impartial look at the reasons behind the rise and fall of powers in the modern era.

The broadcast of the series opened up the discussion of China’s rise to a wider domestic audience; in hindsight, it might have been the beginning of China’s move away from Deng Xiaoping’s 24-character strategy, that enjoined it to “…hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.” Read More »

India and China in Afghanistan: A Tangled Skein of Choices

Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, ‘India, China and the Coming US Drawdown in Afghanistan: A Choice of Dilemmas’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLIX, No. 14, 5 April 2014, pp. 24-27. 

 

The post-US drawdown situation in Afghanistan throws up a number of national and regional political and security challenges for India and China. This essay outlines some of these challenges and prospects for joint Sino-Indian action to tackle them.

China and the US Drawdown in Afghanistan

Beijing is convinced that the US will actually not quit Afghanistan entirely. It takes this view from a realpolitik perspective; given the blood and treasure that the Americans have expended on Afghanistan for a decade, to leave giving the impression that they have been defeated or without adequate protection for what little assets they have created during this time, is in the Chinese view, unlikely. Read More »

Foreign Policy under China’s New Leaders: What India can Expect

(original version in English follows below Hindi text)

चीन में नेतृत्व परिवर्तन की एक बड़ी कवायद पूरी हो चुकी है। कुछ दिनों पहले 18वीं नेशनल कांग्रेस में शी जिनपिंग को चीनी कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी का महासचिव बना दिया गया। अब तक यह कमान हू जिंताओ की पास थी। शी ने सेंट्र्ल मिलिट्री कमीशन (सीएमसी) के चेयरमैन का भी पद संभाल लिया है। यह एक अहम पद है और इसके जरिये वह चीन की पीपुल्स लिबरेशन आर्मी के प्रभारी हो गए हैं। इसके साथ ही शी तीसरे अहम पद के तौर पर मार्च, 2013 में राष्ट्रपति का भी पद संभाल लेंगे।

अब सवाल यह है कि नए नेतृत्व के तहत चीन की विदेश नीति कैसी होगी?Read More »

A US-India-China Trilateral? Big Promise but Dim Prospects

(original text in English follows below the Hindi text)

पिछले महीने तीसरे इंडो-यूएस रणनीतिक वार्ता के बाद दक्षिण और मध्य एशिया के लिए अमेरिकी सहायक विदेश मंत्री रॉबर्ट ब्लैक ने कहा, अमेरिका चीन और भारत के साथ एक त्रिपक्षीय वार्ता करना चाहता है ताकि अफगानिस्तान समेत तमाम दूसरे मुद्दों पर मिलकर काम हो सके। हालांकि मौजूदा अंतरराष्ट्रीय माहौल में यह देखने वाली बात होगी कि इस तरह की त्रिपक्षीय वार्ता की गुंजाइश बनती भी है या नहीं?Read More »

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.

Read the rest here