Opening Doors Southwards: China’s Increasing Presence in Nepal

Aakriti Vinayak, Research Intern, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi  

China is making its influence keenly felt in Nepal today. China is using different strategies from road connectivity, hydroelectric projects to using soft power as an approach to forge linkages with Nepal. China’s concentrated effort to use soft power diplomacy in Nepal – with heavy investments in religion, education and tourism – has been a success on the high tables and between the government elites, relations have been institutionalised. One sees a prospective future for Nepal where there is an attempt to tilt more and more towards China – on almost every front – economic, cultural and regional. When Nepalese president Bidya Bhandari released the Nepalese edition of the book, Governance of China by Chinese president Xi Jinping, Upendra Gautam the General Secretary of China Nepal Study Centre said that the event befittingly heralds Nepal and China relations into the 21st century kinship where soft power plays a paramount role (Gautam 2016).

Under former Nepalese prime minister Prachanda, China started using Buddhism as a tool of soft power by Continue reading “Opening Doors Southwards: China’s Increasing Presence in Nepal”

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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”

Economic Ties with China: India Needs to Look Beyond Politics

Alka Acharya, ICS Honorary Fellow and Professor, Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

There appears to be a world of difference between the images presented by India-China economic and commercial ties on the one hand and the politico-strategic on the other. Interactions and exchanges with representatives from both these domains are markedly different in tone and tenor—the former focus on the opportunities, openings, benefits and profits while the latter dwell more on the dangers, threats, challenges and disputes.

Prima facie, they appear to be working at different levels, according to their own—somewhat different—logic and rationale, and it does not look like they will converge any time soon in a more composite picture of this most critical of relationships in the world today. The political understanding at the highest level, which is committed to building a strategic and cooperative—and now more promisingly ‘developmental’—partnership, struggles with deep suspicion that runs through practically our entire strategic discourse. On the other hand, economic engagements have become the most dynamic and transformative aspects of the India-China relationship today. But this has to contend with the structural mismatch between the manufacturing strengths and industrial capacity of the two economies—and therefore, unsurprisingly, perceived by and large as a situation that works only to China’s advantage. The controversial and contentious political issues and the angry exchanges understandably garner greater attention.

Bigger Picture

And yet we must ask ourselves as to whether that is all there is to the overall picture. Continue reading “Economic Ties with China: India Needs to Look Beyond Politics”

The Dilemma of China’s New Engagement with West Asia

Kishorchand Nongmaithem, Research Associate, ICS       

Traditionally, China has played little role in West Asia. However, in recent years it has become more active in its diplomatic engagement with the countries in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s four-day visit to China commencing on 20 March 2017, just few days after China hosted Saudi Arabia’s king Salman bin Abdulaziz and signed an agreement worth US$65 billion, shows China’s increasing interest in the region’s politics. China’s diplomacy appears intended to increase its profile and facilitate its interests in the region. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping also toured to three of the most important countries in West Asia—Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Continue reading “The Dilemma of China’s New Engagement with West Asia”

CPEC: Views of the Business Community in Pakistan

Jyotishman Bhagawati, Research Intern, Institute of Chinese Studies 

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has created a sense of both euphoria and scepticism in Pakistan. The euphoria is because of the size and scale of the corridor project which is expected to create 700,000 direct jobs and whose total cost, according to a Deloitte study, is estimated to touch US$75billion upon completion [1]. At the same time, there are also increasing concerns over the project primarily due to the lack of concrete details about the various schemes falling under it which the government is accused of not sharing with the public [2]. Against this backdrop, it is imperative to note the perceptions of the business community in Pakistan regarding the CPEC as it is one of the most crucial stakeholders in the project. Continue reading “CPEC: Views of the Business Community in Pakistan”

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!”

BRICS: Cooperation or Cynicism?

Aravind Yelery, PhD, Assistant Director & Associate Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies

नुकत्याच संपलेल्या 8 व्या ब्रिक्स बैठकीत सहभागी विकसनशील देशांनी ‘गोवा जाहीरनामा’ स्वीकारला. या बैठकी दरम्यान आणि नजीकच्या काळात प्रादेशिक आणि जागतिक राजकारणात नवीन राग-रंग उजळून समोर आले. दहशतवादाचा मुद्दा, दुटप्पी धोरण आणि गुंतागुंतीच्या आर्थिक बाबींवर ब्रिक्स सारख्या महत्वाच्या संघटनेची नक्की भूमिका काय हे मात्र ठळकपणे अधोरेखित झाले नाही. सर्वात महत्वाचे म्हणजे चीन सारख्या देशाचे जागतिक स्तरावरील राजनय कसे ठिसूळ आणि दुटप्पी झाले आहे हे दिसून येते. Continue reading “BRICS: Cooperation or Cynicism?”