Divide and Rule: China Woos Southeast Asia

At the 17th China-ASEAN leaders’ meeting in Naypyitaw, Myanmar in November 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for the formulation of a Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2016-2020)[1] to ensure good neighbourly relations. A Global Times commentary has pointed out that while the Chairman’s Statement of the 24th ASEAN Summit on the South China Sea disputes ‘expressed serious concerns over the ongoing developments in the South China Sea’, the statement at the 25th Summit that concluded in Naypyitaw on 13 November, only mentioned that it was ‘concerned over the situation in the South China Sea’.[2] Clearly, the Chinese are working on the ASEAN members to moderate their views on the seriousness of the impact of the South China Sea disputes, and by extension, China’s actions, on regional stability.Read More »

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India and China’s Neighbours: Carefully Does It

(Published as जबिन टी. जेकब, “संबंधों में साहस और सतर्कता जरूरी,” Business Bhaskar, 24 January 2013, p. 4.)

The recent visits of Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Vietnam are signs of a growing convergence of concerns that these countries have about China. China’s rapid military modernization and its assertiveness in the last few years on various territorial disputes have belied the hope that China’s regional and global economic integration would also ensure a more peaceful China.

In China’s own view, its actions are reasonable and justified in the face of provocations from its neighbours. Leaving aside the veracity of China’s claims, the object here is to examine the strategic coming together of India, Vietnam and Japan vis-à-vis China.Read More »

Sino-Indian Cooperation: Will Oil Companies Show the Way?

(original version in English follows below Hindi text)

दक्षिण चीन सागर में स्प्रेटली और पारासेल द्वीप समूह पर कब्जे को लेकर चीन का अपने पड़ोसियों के साथ झगड़े के इस दौर में जो हलचल मची है उसमें भारत की क्या भूमिका रही है? भारत का मानना है यह विवाद शांतिपूर्ण बातचीत और अंतरराष्ट्रीय कानून के तहत सुलझा लिया जाना चाहिए। लेकिन वास्तव में इसमें इसकी भूमिका किसी दर्शक से ज्यादा की है।

भारतीय तेल कंपनियां दक्षिण चीन सागर में 1980 के दशक   के उत्तराद्र्ध से ही सक्रिय रही हैं। Read More »

The Age of the Lilliputians

There has been a flurry of visits over the past few months by leaders of the smaller South and East Asian nations to either or both of the Big Two of Asia, namely China and India.

In the space of a few weeks, the presidents of Vietnam and Myanmar and the Prime Minister of Nepal have come visiting India. Pakistan’s top ruling elite have increased the frequency of their visits to China in recent years while in August, the Sri Lankan President made his second trip to Beijing in less than a year.

What is interesting about these visits as well as return visits by Chinese and Indian leaders is that the old paradigm of the smaller countries being the supplicants is changing. Read More »

Hillary Clinton’s India Visit: Chinese Elephant in the Room

During her visit to India for the 2nd Indo-US Strategic Dialogue, last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called upon India to “not just to look east, but to engage east and act east as well”. But the problem in New Delhi might well be an incapacity to ‘think east’ beyond the boundary dispute with China or trying to retain a toehold against Chinese dominance in Myanmar.  What engagement there is occurs in the economic domain but India remains overcautious in its political and military outreach to the Asia-Pacific.Read More »