Doklam Reminder: Need for Indian Redial in South Asia

Shyam Saran, Member, ICS Governing Council and former Indian Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy

The standoff between Indian and Chinese forces at the Doklam plateau in Bhutan is now over a month old and though diplomatic efforts have continued, no early solution appears to be in sight. India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, is in Beijing for the BRICS NSAs meeting. It is possible that on the sidelines, he will be able to engage with Yang Jiechi, his counterpart in the special representative mechanism between the two countries. One should remain hopeful that these talks in Beijing will lead to a satisfactory resolution of the impasse and pave the way for relaxing tensions between the two countries. Confrontation will be damaging to the interests of both countries and is best not allowed to persist.

Such confrontation is also not in the interest of Bhutan, India’s neighbour with which there is a special relationship of mutual trust and understanding. The two countries have shared security interests, acknowledged in the revised bilateral treaty concluded in 2007. Any threat to Bhutan’s security will always be a major concern to India and similarly a security challenge to India will impact Bhutan as well. China’s encroachment on Doklam is often characterised as a security threat to India, particularly to the narrow Siliguri corridor linking India’s North-East to the rest of the country. But it is also a threat to Bhutan whose main communication links south also traverse the same Siliguri corridor. The action taken by Indian forces in Doklam is in response to a serious security threat to both countries. Continue reading “Doklam Reminder: Need for Indian Redial in South Asia”

Doklam – The Legal and the Bilateral

Jabin T. Jacob, PhD, Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies

The ongoing standoff between India and China in the Doklam area in Bhutan is the result of a disagreement over the terms of the 1890 Convention Relating to Sikkim and Tibet[1] signed by the colonial British government in India and the Qing empire in China.

Contrary to the Chinese stress today on “Mount Gipmochi on the Bhutan frontier” (Article I) as the beginning of the boundary between Tibet and Sikkim, India has pointed out that the specific trijunction point should be that point which adheres to the watershed as indicated in the same Article I of the Convention. Under the 2005 Agreement between India and China[2], the two countries agreed that “the delineation of the boundary will be carried out utilising means such as modern cartographic and surveying practices and joint surveys” (Article VIII) and that “[p]ending an ultimate settlement … the two sides should … work together to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas” (Article IX).

This clarifies several dimensions of this issue. Continue reading “Doklam – The Legal and the Bilateral”

China and the US Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement

Diki Sherpa, Research Assistant, Institute of Chinese Studies

After months of prevarication, United States President Donald Trump on 1 June 2017, pulled his country out of the historic Paris agreement on climate change – despite pressure from world leaders at the G7 summit. The agreement was adopted in 2015 by 195 nations, with 147 ratifying it—including the US, the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China. It was an initial bilateral agreement between the US and China that became a template for the Paris agreement.[1] It was built on the idea that by 2050, coal-fired power plants that contribute to half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions would be replaced by renewable energy.[2]

Being a non-binding deal, India pledged to cut its emissions by 30-35 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.[3] India, like other developing countries, is also meant to receive funds in order to switch to clean energy production. However, with America’s withdrawal,all these appear a distant dream. Continue reading “China and the US Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement”

Panama Switches Diplomatic Recognition to PRC: Understanding the Chinese Action and Strategy

Jabin T. Jacob, PhD, Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies

Taiwan has lost yet another member of the small group of countries that recognize it diplomatically with Panama in Central America making the move to build ties with the PRC instead. The last country to switch ties was São Tomé and Príncipe in December 2016. Before that it was Gambia at the beginning of the previous year. But in between it must also be recalled that there was the move in Nigeria to get the Taiwan representation to move from Abuja, the capital, to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center, an attempt to curtail whatever limited diplomatic privileges that the Taiwanese enjoyed in practice there. Taiwan is now down to just 20 countries recognizing it officially.[1]

With the latest action, there can be no doubt that China under Xi Jinping is engaged in a long-term but steady strategy of trying to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and constrain its international space. Beijing is declaring in unequivocal terms that it does not believe that it can reach any form of accommodation with Tsai Ing-wen’s pro-Taiwanese independence Democratic Progressive Party-led government and that its patience to wait for reunification is diminishing. Continue reading “Panama Switches Diplomatic Recognition to PRC: Understanding the Chinese Action and Strategy”

Artificial Intelligence and China’s Future

Shruthi Anup Kumar, Research Intern, ICS

The field of artificial intelligence or AI encompasses a number of possibilities. Ranging from autonomous driving systems and language interpretation to facial recognition and military weapons, AI comprises not only the development of a robot that can move, think and talk like a human being but also includes smart programmes that are built to overcome our shortcomings and make the job easier for a human being.

In 2015, China’s central government launched the ‘Made in China 2025’ policy,[1] whereby the shift in focus from mass producing factory goods to developing high tech manufactured products by the year 2025 was announced. The effect of this policy was especially felt in the AI sector which is expected to grow from an industry of 23.9 billion Yuan (as of 2016) to 38 billion Yuan by the year 2018.[2] Continue reading “Artificial Intelligence and China’s Future”

Why China Cannot Replace the US

Shyam Saran, Member, ICS Governing Council and former Indian Foreign Secretary

We are currently at one of those rare inflexion points in history when an old and familiar order is passing but the emerging order is both fluid and uncertain. And yet it is this very fluidity which offers opportunities to countries like India to carve out an active role in shaping the new architecture of global governance.

The international landscape is becoming chaotic and unpredictable but this is a passing phase. Sooner or later, whether peacefully or violently, a more stable world order will be born, with a new guardian or set of guardians to uphold and maintain it. This could be a multipolar order with major powers, both old and new, putting in place an altered set of norms and rules of the game, anchored in new or modified institutions. Or, there could be a 21st century hegemon which could use its overwhelming economic and military power to construct a new international order, which others will have to acquiesce in, by choice or by compulsion. This was so with the U.S. in the post World War-II period, until its predominance began to be steadily eroded in recent decades.

As we look ahead, there are three possible scenarios which could emerge. Continue reading “Why China Cannot Replace the US”

Chinese Debates on North Korea

Hemant Adlakha, PhD, Honorary Fellow, ICS & Associate Professor of Chinese at the Centre for Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies, School of Language, Literature, & Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi

Earlier this month, China voiced its unhappiness with North Korea for firing four extended range Scud missiles into the Sea of Japan. Beijing had suspended all coal imports from its neighbor earlier in February. Pyongyang responded by accusing Beijing of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” This was not the first time North Korea had thumbed its nose at China. However, Beijing was in for a surprise when several Chinese strategic affairs experts went up in arms and demanded the Peoples’ Republic “abandon” North Korea. Continue reading “Chinese Debates on North Korea”