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”

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Sheikh Hasina’s India Visit: China in the Background

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

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina state visit to India from 7-10 April came after at least two postponements. The difficulty in getting the visit to take off is a far cry from the warmth and cordiality that was on display in words and deeds during Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Dhaka in June 2015.

Hasina’s reservations had to do with her fear of coming away from New Delhi without any agreement either on sharing the Teesta river waters or on constructing the Ganges Barrage on the Padma river at Pangsha near Rajbari, which is what has happened. The agreement has fallen through multiple times during both the UPA tenure as well as during Modi’s visit and despite Dhaka agreeing to major India’s major demands of allowing transit of goods to Northeast both from Indian mainland overland through Bangladesh territory and by sea through the Bangladeshi ports of Chittagong and Mongla.

The Contrast

The coming state visit will be Hasina’s first in seven years to India and it might be useful to compare and contrast the progress in Dhaka’s ties with China – India’s principal challenger for Bangladesh’s affections – in the meantime. Continue reading “Sheikh Hasina’s India Visit: China in the Background”

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”

2017 NPC: Centralizing While Attempting to Reform

Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Honorary Fellow, ICS & Vice-President, Council for Social Development, New Delhi

The ten-day session of China’s parliament – the National People’s Congress (NPC) – that concluded on 15 March was not an ordinary annual event that puts its stamp of approval on the already worked out policies by the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). This was the last session of the nearly 3,000-member 12th NPC that was formed along with the assumption of the office of the president by party general secretary Xi Jinping. In many ways it gave a preview of the things to come at the 19th Congress of the CPC later this year in October-November.

Two areas threw up some conspicuous trends. First, Xi’s political leadership and his perspective on domestic and international issues were affirmed. Second, the need for strict measures to maintain stability in the country as a whole – and in Xinjiang and other ethnic minority areas, in particular – was reasserted. Whether these measures will prove adequate in coping with emerging challenges is an open question. Continue reading “2017 NPC: Centralizing While Attempting to Reform”

China’s Relations with North Korea: Not an Ally but a Card

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

China has gone around Asia, particularly, Southeast Asia telling countries to behave because they are smaller than China.[1] Beijing however, is strangely more diffident when it comes to Pyongyang’s consistently cocking a snook at it and also complicating China’s regional security environment at the same time. As opposed as they are to the DPRK’s nuclear status, the Chinese also do not seek a US-led regime change through military means and to see either North Korean refugees or American troops on its borders.[2]

 

Chinese Views on North Korea’s Nuclear Programme

Chinese scholars also view the DPRK as feeling genuinely threatened by the US and that its development of nuclear weapons is for regime survival.[3] The huge US-ROK joint military exercises in March-April 2016[4] according to the Chinese caused major worry in Pyongyang, which sees such exercises as disguising potential military invasion. Continue reading “China’s Relations with North Korea: Not an Ally but a Card”

Does Tibet’s New Governor Signal Change?

Does Tibet’s New Governor Signal Change?

On 16 January, the Chinese government announced the appointment of Che Dalha (known as Qi Zhala in Chinese) as the new chair (equivalent to governor) of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). Che Dalha, the former party secretary of Lhasa municipality, was given his new post during the fifth session of the 10th regional congress, which was held from 10-16 January. Rumors about such a promotion had been rife for a long time, particularly among the people of Lhasa; the announcement made it official. Che Dalha is the new governor of the TAR, replacing Lobsang Gyaltsen, who occupied the post from January 2013 and will now serve as chairman of the Standing Committee of the TAR People’s Congress.

Che Dalha’s tenure as the Lhasa Party secretary has mixed reviews from the Lhasans, some of whom have welcomed his firm measures to clean up the city and give it a modern look. Continue reading “Does Tibet’s New Governor Signal Change?”

India and China: A Red Hot Affair!

Kajari Kamal, Ph D. Scholar, University of Hyderabad

I was recently gifted a Redmi Note 3, a smartphone developed by Xiaomi Inc., the third largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world. The gift was a huge surprise and I excitedly flipped the box to read the specifications. What caught my attention immediately was a ‘Made in India’ tag shining in bright red, possibly the only thing in red on a Redmi phone box! Being a keen student of Chinese history, the choice of the name “Xiaomi” (small grain of rice) intrigued me and I started to read about the company. Xiaomi is a Chinese word for “millet” and Xiaomi’s CEO links the “Xiao” part to the Buddhist concept that “a single grain of rice of a Buddhist is as great as a mountain”. Continue reading “India and China: A Red Hot Affair!”