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”

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”

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 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”

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”

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?”

China’s Foreign Exchange Reserves

Ambassador (retd.) Kishan S RanaHonorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies.

China’s foreign exchange reserves used to be $5 trillion, some three years back. Now they are down to $3.22 trillion. This has been the result of financial challenges that it has faced, including efforts to protect the value of the Yuan. The reserves are still huge, say 9 times larger than India’s $350 billion. But some may wonder if this is proof of economic decline.

Continue reading “China’s Foreign Exchange Reserves”