Pressing Pause: India’s Absence at China’s Belt and Road Forum

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

The successful conclusion of the Belt and Road Forum (BARF) in Beijing, which India chose to stay away from, has led to a chorus of voices warning that in doing so, India has isolated itself both regionally and globally.

With the exception of Bhutan, all the South Asian neighbours of India participated, as did countries India regards as its partners in resisting the Chinese dominance of Asia; these include the US, Japan, Australia and Vietnam. Japan and Vietnam are also countries of South East Asia, which, like India, have territorial disputes with China, but they did not consider those disputes reason enough to stay away. It may also be argued that India itself has not let its territorial disputes with China stand in the way of cooperating with it on matters of mutual interest such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) or the BRICS Development Bank (DB).

India’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will also present opportunities for regional cooperation with China and other member countries. These opportunities constituted a rationale for seeking membership in the organisation. So, did India make a wrong call in staying away from the BARF? Continue reading “Pressing Pause: India’s Absence at China’s Belt and Road Forum”

India’s Concerns about China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Ashok K. Kantha, Director ICS and former Indian ambassador to China

It is one of the most imaginative and ambitious programmes ever to be rolled out by a government. It represents a broad strategy for China’s economic cooperation and expanded presence in Asia, Africa and Europe, and has been presented as a win-win initiative for all participating nations. But for India, the connotations of China’s Belt and Road Initiative” are somewhat different. A flagship programme and the most advanced component of the initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, a region that belongs to India and is under the control of Pakistan. As a country acutely conscious of its own sovereignty-related claims, China should have no difficulty in appreciating India’s sensitivities in this regard. Continue reading “India’s Concerns about China’s Belt and Road Initiative”

Explaining China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Ashok K. Kantha, Director, ICS and former Indian ambassador to China

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, launched in late 2013, is the signature project of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Now re-designated as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is one of the most ambitious programmes ever rolled out by any government. The Belt and Road Forum being held in Beijing on May 14-15 showcases its achievements to 28 foreign heads of state and government, as also delegations from other countries. No official participation from India has been announced so far. Backed by huge resources, BRI has acquired overarching importance in foreign policy and domestic domains of China. As it has Xi’s personal imprimatur, a wide range of ongoing projects and activities have been folded into the grand narrative of the BRI, with its contours still evolving. Continue reading “Explaining China’s Belt and Road Initiative”

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”

US-Africa Relations Under Trump and What It Means for China

Veda Vaidyanathan, PhD Candidate, University of Mumbai and ICS-HYI Doctoral Fellow

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of chatter in virtual corridors that Africanists inhabit, trying to assess what the new presidency in the US means for the continent. Donald Trump’s repeated references to the region during the campaign had not struck the right chords with African scholars and leadership alike.

US President Donald Trump’s tweets on South Africa before his election

Much hyperbole criticizing aid to Africa, using labels of corruption and crime and even mispronouncing ‘Tanzania’ during a foreign policy speech in April[1] failed to project Africa as a reasonable foreign policy priority. Some analysts attributed the Trump’s lack of seriousness in addressing Africa – a region that houses some of the world’s fastest-growing economies – to his lack of substantial investments in the continent. Continue reading “US-Africa Relations Under Trump and What It Means for China”

Tsai Ing-wen’s Visit to Central America

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

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. Continue reading “Tsai Ing-wen’s Visit to Central America”