A Case for the Useless and Things Unsaid

Cidarth Sajith, Research Intern, ICS

The 2012 documentary ‘The Act of Killing’, in which the perpetrators of the 1965 anti-communist purge of Indonesia, re-enact and dramatize their killings is not only held by many as an audacious documentary that oversteps into the obscene due to the very gleefulness with which the protagonists oblige, but also draws consternation over the impunity and reverence with which they are held. Nevertheless, it earned an Oscar nomination and subsequently managed to reignite the debates over Indonesia’s denial and reluctant embrace of its past. But, what makes the documentary truly fascinating and relevant is how it captures the unravelling psychosis of its protagonists, their fractured realities and most importantly, what art and theatre portend for societies reeling under trauma and supressed memories. Continue reading “A Case for the Useless and Things Unsaid”

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China’s 19th CPC Congress: Redefining Economic Growth

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

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”

19th CPC National Congress: An Analysis

Bhim Subba, ICS-HYI Doctoral Fellow, University of Delhi

The 19th CPC National Congress convened from 18-24 October 2017. As the established norm, a congress has two functions: a political report, and personnel arrangement. Likewise, the congress also makes substantive policy guidelines for the party-state. In this session too, General Secretary Xi Jinping, in his role as ‘core’ leader, put forward important policy guidelines, which was endorsed by the Central Committee. However, the most important is the canonization of Xi Jinping Thought in the party charter alongside Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, which has made Xi the most powerful leader in present-day China. Thus, questioning Xi will mean questioning the CPC!

 

Xi Jinping Thought – Part of a Continuum

Xi Jinping’s more than three hour-long speech outlined achievements of the last five years of his tenure, and announced that China is entering a ‘new era’, and laid a new guiding ideology as ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’ which subsequently was added to the party charter in power.

Looking at the report, one can analyze that this formulation is not ‘new’. Continue reading “19th CPC National Congress: An Analysis”

19th National Congress of the CPC: Xi Jinping Firmly in Charge

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

Xi Jinping is officially China’s strongest leader in decades. The Communist Party of China’s Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) was unveiled at the end of the 19th National Congress of the CPC in Beijing yesterday with Xi Jinping reelected General Secretary for a second term. The 7-member PBSC includes besides Xi and his Premier Li Keqiang, at least four of Xi’s close allies in key positions. Also, in a departure from Party norms it offers no choice of potential successors to take over from Xi in 2022 when again according to norms, he is supposed to step down from power.

This composition of the PBSC in favour of Xi is the culmination of a series of steps he has taken over the past five years, foremost of which was a popular and far-reaching anti-corruption campaign that netted hundreds of senior Party and military officials including a potential rival and a former PBSC member, no less. Continue reading “19th National Congress of the CPC: Xi Jinping Firmly in Charge”

The Doklam Standoff and After: Whither India-China Relations?

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

The standoff between China and India in the Doklam area of Bhutan has been resolved with each government putting out differing versions of the exact terms of the settlement. But it is certain that status quo before 16 June this year has been restored. The Chinese have stopped their road construction in the area, which had led to the Indian action in the first place and Indian troops have pulled back to their positions.

The Chinese government has sought to sell the deal as a case of the Indians having blinked, of having bowed to Chinese threats and coercion. It is doubtful that the line has much purchase even within China where the netizen community might have constraints on their conversations but are not stupid and not entirely without access to information from the outside world. Continue reading “The Doklam Standoff and After: Whither India-China Relations?”

China in the Afghan Imagination

Rustam Ali Seerat, Research Scholar (International Relations), South Asian University, New Delhi

China though geographically close to Afghanistan, has been a distant land, politically and socially . The Afghan people have little knowledge about China. The socio-political distance extends to the era prior to the decline of China in the 18th century. Though the Silk Road had connected Central and West Asia to Chinese lands and commodities were flowing along the Silk Road, from China to Europe, passing through the Muslim world of present-day Afghanistan. However, economic exchanges brought less of China’s political influence in the region. Even with the re-emergence of China in the latter half of the twentieth century and the flow of its products into the Afghan market, the socio-political influence of China on Afghanistan remains limited. Socially, culturally and politically, China is still a far and mysterious place for Afghans. Continue reading “China in the Afghan Imagination”

A China Gazer’s Random Musings – No. 1

Amb. Kishan S. Rana (retd), Emeritus Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi

There is such a cascade of writing on China that as an oldie, I am attracted by the notion of penning personal reactions, reflections, and observations. Few of us can claim special insights into a country marked by both opacity and paradox. The longer one studies China, deeper is a typical realization that what one understands is a fraction of the things that remain unknown, even unfathomable. I plan to write this column perhaps once a month.

The 19th Party Congress Looms

For an authoritarian regime, China has a remarkable leadership transition system, which has worked smoothly for the past 30 years. Party congresses of the Communist Party of China (CPC) are held every five years. The even numbered Party Congress is when a new General Secretary and his leadership team take over; the country’s key decision-making team is the Standing Committee of the Politburo (it used to number 9, reduced to 7 in 2012). The General Secretary holds office for 10 years. The odd-numbered Congress is the one where appointments are made to the central committee and the full politburo, in preparation for the leadership change five years down the line.

Thus, the 19th CPC which meets in October 2017 is the in-between session when central committee and politburo members are appointed. It is crucial because that team plays the key role in the appointment of the next leader at the 20th Congress.

Recent months have seen sizeable re-shuffle in the top positions in the 31 provinces, Continue reading “A China Gazer’s Random Musings – No. 1”