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”

Key Issues in Urbanization in China

Lu Ming, Professor, Antai College of Economics and Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

A version of this article was originally published in the Business Standard as Towards sustainable urbanisation in China’, 6 May 2017. This is part of a series by Chinese economists facilitated by the ICS.

China has received enormous dividends from its decades of urbanization, which provided labour resources for the development of its industrial and service sectors and rapidly raised the income of the Chinese people. A large number of Chinese farmers became part of the country’s modernization process, allowing for poverty alleviation in rural areas. At the end of 2016, the urbanization rate of China stood at around 57%

China however, continues to face serious impediments in the urbanization process.

One of these is China’s household registration system or the hukou, which connects a person’s right to access public services with whether or not he has a resident status in a locality. The reality is that some one-third of city dwellers in China are trans-regional immigrants who actually do not possess local household registration. As a result, they do not enjoy the same level of social security and public services as local urban residents.

This is a particularly serious social problem for China. Continue reading “Key Issues in Urbanization in China”

India and China: For a Change in Mindsets

Ravi Bhoothalingam, Honorary Fellow, ICS

In the previous article (“Why China matters”, May 2), we explored four reasons why China is important for India in our journey towards vikas for our citizens. Accordingly, the article argued that it is to India’s advantage to engage strongly with China on the economic front, whilst managing our various political differences. But what assets does India bring to the table in this engagement? What steps are needed to make it fruitful? Is it possible to think of China-India cooperation as having a larger — even transformational — effect on Asia if not the world? Continue reading “India and China: For a Change in Mindsets”

Why Economic Engagement with China Matters

Ravi Bhoothalingam, Honorary Fellow, ICS

In the aftermath of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India-China bilateral relations have plumbed new depths. China accuses India of using the Dalai Lama to provoke anti- Chinese sentiment, and says that diplomatic relations are “seriously damaged”. But His Holiness is a popular and revered guest in India, and so the Indian government’s resolute defence of his right to travel anywhere in the country remains fully in harmony with popular sentiment. Still, we should expect a climate of “cold peace” between the two countries for some time to come, with bilateral political issues remaining unresolved. However, a Sinophobic public climate can damage our own public interest, and this the government should work to avoid. Because China matters to India — if not politically — certainly in the realm of economic development. And it matters in four quite specific ways. Continue reading “Why Economic Engagement with China Matters”

Political Embers Flare as Tawang Contends for the Dalai Lama’s Reincarnation

Tshering Chonzom Bhutia, PhD, Associate Fellow, ICS

The Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh from April 7 to 11 garnered plenty of media attention. One of the most prominently discussed questions centered around the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.

The Chinese side was unequivocal in not only objecting to the visit but also commenting on the reincarnation issue. The Chinese position, as encapsulated in remarks by scholars from important Chinese think tanks, is that the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation has to be approved by the Chinese government and selection has to be based on a combination of not just “historical rules” but also current “Chinese laws.” The reference to Chinese laws is with respect to the 2007 State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) regulation delineating procedures for the selection of reincarnated monks, including eligibility conditions, application procedures and the government and religious institutions to be approached for approval. The regulation basically excludes “any foreign organization or individual” from the reincarnation selection process, obviously in an attempt to legitimize China’s authority and exclude the Tibetan Diaspora (and others) in the selection of the next Dalai Lama.

The Chinese have consistently maintained that any reincarnation must be determined on the basis of the late 18th century procedure instituted by the Manchu Qing rulers of China. Under this “golden urn system” of selecting reincarnations, the names of prospective candidates would be placed in an urn, from which lots would be drawn to pick the real incarnation. Therefore, any other method being suggested by the Dalai Lama is seen as contrary to established rules and illegitimate, for it denies the Chinese government’s authority in the process.

Much of the recent interest in the issue was sparked by comments made by local officials in Tawang Continue reading “Political Embers Flare as Tawang Contends for the Dalai Lama’s Reincarnation”

Why China Should Support “Make in India”

Ravi Bhoothalingam, Honorary Fellow, ICS

A version of this article was originally published in Chinese as ‘中国为何应支持“印度制造”’ (Zhongguo weihe ying zhichi “Yindu zhizao”), 第一财经 (Yicai), 4 April 2017. This is part of a series by Indian scholars in China’s top business affairs news portal facilitated by the ICS. The Chinese version follows below the English text.

“Make in India”—a signature campaign of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi– was launched in late 2014 with the objective of transforming India into a dynamic global manufacturing hub, and thus radically enhancing employment and the prosperity of the Indian people. Just a few months later came an announcement from China’s State Council of “Made in China 2025”—a set of eight policy measures to re-orient the Chinese manufacturing sector in line with the country’s economic structural adjustment program. So, are “Make in India” and “Made in China” competitive programmes which coud drive another wedge between these two nations?

To answer this question, we need to understand the nature of both “Make in India” and “Made in China” more closely. Continue reading “Why China Should Support “Make in India””