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”

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”

White Papers: The Importance of Public Communication

Amb. Kishan S. Rana, Honorary Fellow & Tshering Chonzom Bhutia, PhD, Associate Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies

Jabin T Jacob, Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, recently shared the ‘India Network on China and East Asia’ Google Group (also known as the ICS-Delhi Group) a White paper published on 11 January 2017 by Beijing, entitled ‘China’s Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation’. As some newspaper comments in India have noted, India is ranked in importance at number three, after the US and Russia, but ahead of Japan; the references to India are positive, with no mention of points on which the two countries differ greatly.

China issues white papers from time-to-time on subjects such as family planning, human rights, environment, trade, development, space activities, labor, ecology, non-proliferation, mineral resources, social security, minority policy, gender, intellectual property, democracy, peaceful development, corruption, and so on; it also issues such papers on its declared ‘core issues’ such as Tibet, Taiwan, Xinjiang, and ‘Diaoyu Dao’. All these reflect the views of the country’s authoritarian regime, without any semblance of two-way communication with home publics. Continue reading “White Papers: The Importance of Public Communication”