China-India Brief #90


Published Twice a Month
March 07 – 21, 2016

Centre on Asia and Globalisation
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Guest Column

Does Asian International Relations Practice Warrant a New Grammar?
Re-thinking India-China Equations, Circa 2017

by Siddharth Mallavarapu

An oft-repeated lament about International Relations as a discipline is its Anglo-American ethnocentric character. What this translates into is an excessive focus on one part of the world (the ‘west’ as a shorthand) to the utter neglect of other parts of the world (the ‘non-west’ or the ‘global South’ depending on your preference). Such an ethnocentrism also manifests in the concepts, categories and maps of the world that very often bear the stains of the old geopolitical status quo and an unwillingness to countenance a new world. While one can dispute to what extent our world is indeed a ‘new’ one, there is no denying the fact that political transformations do occur, for instance as articulated and witnessed in the ‘rise of Asia’ debates. Do these changes reflect milder forms of incrementalism or more fundamental lock, stock and barrel re-assessments? This merits further scrutiny. However, more critically in such a political ecology it is perhaps not unfair to ask how our traditional concepts and theories in International Relations, largely drawn from an Anglo-American provenance are faring when it comes to explaining these evolving empirical realities in Asia and arguably other parts of the globe such as Africa, South America and the Arab world as well.

On a related note, the work of two-well known figures, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahnemann focused our energies on deciphering why our judgements tend to be clouded at times. In a classic piece titled ‘Judgement under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases’ published in the journal Science in 1974, they argued that there were at least two widely deployed ‘heuristics and biases’ culminating in misjudgements of one kind or the other.[1] The first, they referred to as the ‘availability heuristic’. This entailed drawing on a rather limited repertoire of what was available to us immediately from an archive of memories to arrive at certain judgements. Second, the ‘perseverance heuristic’ is about our unwillingness to budge from our comfort zones by holding on to beliefs notwithstanding contrary evidence that should in reality compel us to more closely re-examine our current beliefs. It is against this backdrop that I wish to position this brief intervention as how can we think of narratives about India-China bilateral equations differently and what can we do epistemically to ‘nudge’ (a la Thaler and Sunstein) them in a direction which remains more beneficial for both ‘civilizational states’.[2]

Simply put, this is not a matter of consequence only in the realm of ideas. It is very much anchored in the real world and has a bearing on quotidian perceptions which impinge decision making processes in this instance of two large countries in Asia – both India and China vis-à-vis each other. On December 9, 2016 the Indian Foreign Secretary, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in his address to the India-China Think-Tanks Forum precisely hinted at this need in terms of at least two tropes to begin with. The first was the notion of ‘competition’ as opposed to ‘cooperation’ and second our addiction to the notion of ‘balance of power’ as an overpowering heuristic or narrative that limits the manner in which India and China tend to view each other.

With regard to the first binary, competition as opposed to cooperation, this is what he had to convey in rather unambiguous terms: ‘[i]n recent years, our relationship has also been projected and analyzed by some quarters in primarily competitive terms. This is an imbalanced picture, if only because it ignores the substantive cooperation that we have so painstakingly developed in so many fields.’ Equally pertinent from our point of view was his observation that ‘[o]ne obstacle to developing greater common ground is an undue attachment to the concept of balance of power. While not denying at all that this can be a legitimate consideration in approaching international relations, we should appreciate that a more globalised world actually puts a greater value on shared interests and common endeavours. Indeed, a more forward looking outlook – both in the analysis and practice of world politics – is to our mutual advantage.’[3] Both these claims to my mind appear reasonable. Drawing on Tversky and Kahnemann, it is fair to ask if the repertoire we are drawing on to make judgements is clouded – first by the ‘available’ dominant narratives which tend to be one-sided and simplistic of a belligerent and inscrutable China and India, second, if we are too wedded to memories of 1962 and the border quarrel that it conditions our ‘perseverance’ with certain tropes to the exclusion of others. Being open to this possibility is not a plea to abandon all sense of attentiveness with regard to ongoing unresolved concerns. However, it is simultaneously also a plea to arrive at a much more balanced picture of an intricate and complex equation.  


[1] Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, ‘Judgement under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases’, Science, New Series, Vol. 185, No. 4157. (Sep. 27, 1974), pp. 1124-1131.

[2] Richard H.Thaler and Cass R.Sunstein, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, (New York: Penguin, 2008).

[3] Address by Foreign Secretary at India China Think-Tanks Forum (December 09, 2016).
Last accessed on 14th March, 2017. For a fine recent practitioner’s account of foreign policy decision making dilemmas in India see Shiv Shankar Menon, Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy (Gurgaon: Penguin Random House, 2016).

Siddharth Mallavarapu currently is an Associate Professor & Chairperson of the Department of International Relations at the South Asian University based in New Delhi.


Guest Column

China-India Relations: The Impact of Modi’s Foreign Policy and the Dalai Lama’s Visit to Tawang

by Prem Shankar Jha


Three years ago, on the eve of the BJP’s victory in the general elections, India had achieved a status and a degree of security in its international relations that it had never known before. Its relationship with the US and the European Union was strengthening daily on the back of deepening economic ties; strategic cooperation with China and Russia on a wide variety of issues under the aegis of BRICS had given it a voice in the shaping of the post-Cold War global order that it had not enjoyed before; and tension with Pakistan was at an all-time low. All this was the result of patient, brick by brick, fence mending over two decades by four governments representing the entire gamut of Indian political opinion, those of Narasimha Rao, Inder Kumar Gujral, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. Today all of their work has been undone and the edifice of security they built lies in ruins. India is a country under serious threat and it has no one to turn to.

The threat has come from China, whose foreign ministry has warned India not to allow the Dalai Lama to proceed with a 10-day visit to the Tawang monastery that begins on April 4. On March 3 its foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, issued a formal warning to New Delhi: “China is gravely concerned over information that India has granted permission to the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh.…An invitation to him to visit the mentioned territory, would cause serious damage to peace and stability of the border region and China–India relations. We have…urged India to stick to its political commitments and abide by the important consensus the two sides have reached on the boundary question…(and) not provide a platform to the Dalai clique and protect that sound and stable development of Sino-India relations”.

In diplomacy, the words a country uses in its formal demarches are of the utmost importance, so what he said needs to be read with care. “Grave concern” is not an ultimatum, but it is half-way there. It is reinforced by the warning that his visit now would cause “serious damage to the peace and stability of the border region”. For “serious” we should read “irreparable”. The spokesman’s use of the phrase “Peace and stability of the border region” is also a veiled warning because it is the exact title of the 1993 agreement signed during Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit to China that has been the bedrock of Sino-Indian relations since then. In brief, China has warned New Delhi that if India insists on letting the Dalai Lama visit Tawang it will consider the 1993 agreement to have been violated by India.

But a close reading of the statement also shows that China is reluctant to go down this road. Its use of the phrase “information that India has granted” was designed to leave a loophole open for Delhi to change its mind. This may have been no more than a token gesture, for Beijing knows fully well that Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved of the Dalai Lama’s visit Tawang as far back as on October 27 last year. But the Chinese spokesman Geng Shuang’s reference to the disputed area as Arunachal Pradesh, and as “the mentioned territory”, carefully avoiding China’s pre-2009 nomenclature of “South Tibet”, and his reference to the “important consensus on the boundary question” is an indication that China would much prefer to limit its differences with India in the Himalayas confined to a border dispute and wishes to avoid allowing it to expand into an irreconcilable dispute over the whole of Arunachal’s 140,000 of territory.

One does not know how the Foreign Office would have responded had it been given the chance, but it was pre-empted by Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State in the Home Ministry, who pre-empted any measured response that might have left a door to compromise open, when he declared, suo motu, that the Dalai Lama would not only visit Tawang, but also that as an ardent yellow-hat Buddhist, he would be there personally to receive him. This has left China with only two choices, to assert its claims or back down.

What will China do? Indian policy makers are inclined to believe that the current demarche is another pro-forma objection of the kind that China has made every time an Indian President or Prime Minister visits Arunachal, or the Dalai Lama has met the Prime Minister or President, in order to keep the border issue open till a formal agreement is reached. And had this been 2009, they may well have been proved right.

On that occasion, too, a request by the Dalai Lama in March, for permission to visit Tawang to open a hospital in November, had set off a flurry of objections by Beijing and assertions of sovereignty by New Delhi that rapidly escalated into a war of words and turned the Dalai Lama’s impending visit into an international test of sovereignty. Another war in the Himalayas had begun to look like a distinct possibility when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao took the unprecedented step of asking Dr. Manmohan Singh for a meeting at Hua Hin, on the sidelines of an APEC conference to sort the matter out.

The discussions between them revealed that the Chinese wanted India, above all, to let sleeping dogs lie. In their view the border dispute was a legacy of history, and would die a natural death when relations between the two countries deepened. At Hua Hin, therefore, the two sides settled to resolve the conflict by keeping the international, and most of the Indian, media out of Tawang. This turned the Dalai Lama’s visit into a strictly private one, carried out in his religious capacity, and robbed it of political significance.

But the situation this time is so different that to argue from historical precedent could prove suicidal. For in the past 26 months Narendra Modi has abandoned the policy of equidistance and turned India into a military and diplomatic ally of the USA. In China’s eyes, this has transformed India from a like-minded country that shared its opposition to the US’s attempt to create a unipolar world into an adversary.

The turnaround, which took place only a week after President Xi Jinping’s state visit to India, was so sudden that it could not but have taken China by surprise. In retrospect, it is apparent that it took place during his first visit to Washington and was signaled by the abrupt replacement of Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh with S. Jaishankar. Whatever passed between him and Obama brought the latter post-haste to India in January 2015, ostensibly to be the chief guest at our Republic Day parade, but in reality to sign a “U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region” on January 25, whose only operative clause was designed to prevent the assertion of Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea.

This did not prevent the Chinese government from laying out a red carpet for Modi during his state visit to China in May 2015, but since then the relationship has soured as India has moved rapidly into America’s strategic embrace. In the past eight months the Modi government has signed all the three military cooperation agreements needed to make it an ally of the US; and issued a second joint statement with President Obama in June last year affirming India’s intention to draw up “a roadmap for implementing the joint strategic vision that will serve as a guide for collaboration in the years to come”.

The Chinese have responded by ignoring India’s objections to China’s building of a transit corridor to Gwadar through Gilgit and warning Delhi against trying to prevent it; refusing to allow India to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group; refusing also to allow the UN Security Council to brand Masood Azhar and Hafez Sayeed as international terrorists; increasing the frequency of their submarine incursions into the Bay of Bengal; and sending their most advanced 7,000-tonne nuclear submarine undetected through the Strait of Malacca to surface deliberately in Karachi. By the time BRICS met in Goa last October, its Delhi declaration of 2012, which had laid the base for strategic cooperation between China, Russia, and India, had become a piece of waste paper.

Had matters rested there India and China might still have been able to maintain something akin to the frozen peace of the post 1962 years. But, beginning in April 2016, the central government had embarked upon a succession of actions in Arunachal Pradesh that China has found increasingly hard to ignore.

In 2016 the US Consul General in Calcutta did not only visit Itanagar but in addition made a public statement from there that “the US considers Arunachal to be indisputably a part of India”. In the very next month the Modi government sent four Indian warships cruising through the South China Sea with a joint US-Japan task force for two-and-a-half months as its first concrete implementation of its joint strategic vision agreement with the US.

Delhi followed this up by inviting the US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, to the Tawang festival in October. Verma celebrated this by tweeting a picture of himself, attended upon by the Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal, the Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu, and Kiren Rijiju standing in front of the Tawang monastery, to the whole world. Six days later, the government gave permission to the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang early this year.

So far China has carefully avoided being provoked. It responded to the US Consul General’s visit by stating: “China and India are wise, and capable, enough to deal with their own issues and safeguard the fundamental and long-term interests of the two peoples. The intervention of any third party will only complicate the issue and is highly irresponsible.” When Indian ships joined the US-Japanese task force it again refrained from criticizing India directly and accused the US, instead, of following a “divide and rule” colonial policy towards the two Asian giants.

Only after Verma’s visit to Tawang, did China warn India directly that the diplomat’s actions would damage the “hard-earned peace and tranquility of the China-India border region.” It also repeated its accusation that the US was deliberately enticing India into a confrontation with China, by reiterating that Any responsible third party should respect efforts by China and India to seek peaceful and stable reconciliation, and not the opposite”. Last week it repeated this warning, but in words that come close to an ultimatum.

New Delhi still has two weeks to find a compromise formula on the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang that will allow both countries to put the issue back in the freezer. But what will happen if it does not try, or worse still, tries and fails? Will China take military action? And if it does, what will it be? This should have been the very first question the government should have addressed before embarking on the adventurism of the past three years. Instead, anyone who asks this question today risks being branded a traitor by Internet trolls of the BJP. So even many days after the Chinese unambiguous warning, it is the one question that no one, even in the media, has asked.

Needless to say, China will do what it considers to be in its best own national interest. From 2009 till as recently as 2015, it believed it had a strong motive for minimizing its differences with India. We were both members of BRICS; we had opposed the UN-sponsored onslaught on Libya and NATO’s proxy war on Syria; and we were wedded to the building of a multi-polar, as opposed to the US’s unipolar, world. But thanks to India’s stand on China’s intensifying conflict with the US over navigation rights in the South China sea, that perception has changed radically. Today, China may feel that its interests will be better served by doing the opposite and teaching India a lesson that not only New Delhi but the littoral states around the South China Sea will remember.

Ever since China revived the “nine-dash” line eight years ago and declared the South China sea to be part of its core security region, the US has not only been increasing its military pressure in the region but also encouraging the smaller littoral countries to “hang tough” against the demands of Beijing. China claims that its demand has arisen out of nothing more than a desire to safeguard its interests in an area of vital importance to its economic and military security. It insists that it has no intention whatever of interfering in commercial navigation anywhere in the region, and requires only a military identification zone to be established covering the major part of the South China Sea. This claim is somewhat disingenuous, but begins to make sense when viewed against its rising economic power, its growing hegemonic aspirations, and the US’ desire to contain both.

Beijing has seen the US attack Iraq, take the lead in destroying Libya and provide essential backup for the onslaught on Syria, all without a nod from the Security Council. It has seen two previous US administrations being dragged by its strongest allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, to the brink of war with Iran. It has seen this expansionism remain a constant feature of three administrations, spread over twenty four years, that have differed with each other only in the justifications they have furnished for waging unprovoked war.

The Chinese state may be Confucian, but its understanding of war and diplomacy is pure Clausewitz: rely on diplomacy to achieve the best possible outcome, and on defence to prevent the worst. It has been studiously trying to implement this policy with the US in the Western Pacific, but as its economic might has grown and the US’ technological capability to wage war from a distance has increased, this has become increasingly difficult.

After Obama’s “Tilt towards Asia”, the US now has more than 400 military installations spread in an arc around China, stretching from Japan and Okinawa to Australia. The Chinese are aware that the range of the US Navy’s standard, Block III, Tomahawk Missile is 690 miles (1094 km) and newer versions, the Block IV and Block V, travel even further. And they are worried that 70 percent of China’s industry is within this distance of the sea.

Nor has Beijing forgotten how the US Navy destroyed Gaddafi’s military capability by firing 133 ship-based Tomahawk missiles into Libya in a single night. They cannot therefore be blamed for feeling vulnerable. Their definition of the South China Sea as a core security region stems from this vulnerability, because the entire, colossal, industrial hub around Shanghai is only 511 miles from Okinawa.

This is a confrontation that only time, and careful handling, can prevent from spilling over into war. China began actively wooing India because it wanted its diplomatic help in averting, or at least softening, the edges of potential conflict. It was aware that India has tremendous soft power: it is a functioning democracy, has a very large market, threatens no one, and has an excellent record in policing the global commons. In addition, the million-plus NRIs who have settled in the US have become an indissoluble link between the two countries. India was therefore ideally suited to play the role of a moderator of conflict, much like heavy water in a nuclear reactor.

Modi forsook that role when he subordinated India to the US, so China may well be making a fresh set of calculations. If so, these will in all likelihood be as follows: What kind of message will confining ourselves to verbal protests, when the Dalai Lama visits Tawang, convey to the littoral states around the South China Sea and to the US? If this is not a message we want to send, what are our options? What message would a small war in the Himalayas send to the littoral states? Will such a war be containable? How will the world react?

We can only hazard a guess on how this debate will end, but betting that the Chinese will do nothing would be committing exactly the same mistake that Pandit Nehru made when he asked Indian troops to throw the Chinese off the Thagla ridge in 1962. India’s corps headquarters in Ladakh have noticed a steady build up in the launch-pad facilities for artillery armour and aircraft across the Aksai Chin border. It estimates that the Chinese have reduced their launch time from a previously estimated two to three weeks to ten to twelve days. The Indians have noticed a bunching of military exercises closer to the Line of Control, which again shortens the time the Chinese need to start an offensive. And most ominous of all, there has been a sharp increase in unmanned surveillance and missile defences against aircraft.

Against this activity on the other side, much-needed and long-promised weaponry has yet to reach the XIV corps from the Indian side. Nor has it received any instructions on what is happening and what to prepare for. Today Indian military planners fear that were hostilities to begin in Ladakh, Pakistan may not be able to resist the temptation to pour Mujahideen into Kashmir. They army is therefore deeply worried that it may be forced to fight on three fronts simultaneously – against the Chinese on the east, against Pakistan on the north west and against non-state actors determined to disrupt supplies from the south west, i.e. from Kashmir.

Were the Chinese to decide that a small, easily-won war would serve its strategic interests best because it would show up the hollowness of American support then, as Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab, authors of a recent book, Dragon on our Doorstep, have concluded after exhaustive research, India will lose. The terrain north of the border strongly favours the Chinese both in Arunachal and Ladakh; they vastly outnumber us, and with two railheads on the Arunachal border and all weather roads in Aksai Chin their logistical support is of the twenty-first century while ours is of the nineteenth.

India’s only advantage is that its airbases are at low altitudes and its aircraft can carry more fuel and weapons when they take off than their Chinese counterparts. But their capacity for giving Indian soldiers air cover has been severely eroded in the past two years by China’s rapid buildup of ground-to-air missiles and very sophisticated cyberwar capabilities.

India will have the support of the US, but all that it can hope for is arms and diplomatic support, neither of which will make a whit of difference to the outcome of the conflict. The truth is that it is not only the Tawang tract but also much of Ladakh, that is indefensible in their present state of military and logistical neglect.

China may still decide not to force the issue of the Dalai Lama’s visit. But this possibility will vanish if Tawang becomes a media circus at the time of the Dalai Lama’s visit. The least that the Modi government should do is to follow the example of 2009 and ban the international, and all Indian media except the news agencies, from Tawang during his visit. Narendra Modi can go a step further and use the present standoff as a launch pad for repairing Sino-Indian relations as Wen Jiabao had done at Hua Hin in 2009. But nothing he has done so far, in any sphere of policy has shown that he is capable of taking one step back in order to take two ahead.


This article was first published as a two-part series, on March 14 and March 18, 2017, in The Wire, and is reprinted here with permission as one combined article.

Prem Shankar Jha is a former editor of the Hindustan Times, New Delhi, and Media Adviser to the Prime Minister. He is the author of the book, “Crouching Dragon Hidden Tiger: Can China and India Dominate the West?”


The views expressed in the article(s) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy or the National University of Singapore.


News Reports

Bilateral relations

China angered as Dalai Lama shares stage with Indian officials
Channel News Asia, March 20
China expressed anger on Monday after exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama attended a Buddhist conference supported by the Indian culture ministry, the latest spat with India over a man whom China brands a dangerous separatist. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, denies espousing violence and says he only wants genuine autonomy for his remote Himalayan homeland. The Dalai Lama opened the conference last Friday in eastern India.

India should ignore China warning over Dalai Lama visit, say experts
The Indian Express, March 21
With China reiterating its warning to India over the visit of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh in April, Indian experts have said New Delhi should ignore Beijing’s threats. Defence expert Retd. Major General P.K. Sehgal asserted that China had never cared about India’s core issues and that it had supplied arms to Pakistan. “India should completely ignore this. China doesn’t care about our core concerns; she has surrounded India both through both land and sea. And she has supplied arms to Pakistan. It has become one of their practices to continuously warn or threaten India,” Sehgal told ANI. Retd. Major General S.R. Sinho asserted that India had categorically overruled the warning by Beijing and hence, it was time China understood.


News Reports

China and India in the Regions

Belt and Road to become reality
Global Times, March 8
In a year and a half, the “One Belt, One Road” (Belt and Road) initiative will be more than just a concept for foreign companies, but an actual benefit, said the chairman of the China-led Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce (SRCIC) on Wednesday. The Hong Kong-based SRCIC plans to open exposition centers in several Chinese cities to help companies in countries and regions along the Belt and Road route to reach consumers in the world’s second-largest economy, its chairman Lu Jianzhong told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the annual session of the 12th National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.  Political uncertainties and territorial disputes will also challenge economic cooperation this year, he said. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not attend the Belt and Road Forum For International Cooperation, which is to be held in Beijing from May 14-15, unidentified sources were quoted by Indian newspaper the Deccan Herald on Monday as saying.

Will Nepals’s PM repair ties with China?
Global Times, March 20
For quite some time, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known as Prachanda, prime minister of Nepal and chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center), had been friendly toward China. However, since assuming office for the second time as prime minister on August 3, 2016, he has visited India twice and warmly welcomed Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee in Kathmandu last November.   Given Prachanda’s pro-India foreign policy, the Sino-Nepalese relationship has fallen into low ebb. On Thursday, Prachanda will embark on a visit to China to attend the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2017. Although the tour takes place toward the end of his second term as Nepal’s prime minister, it is undoubtedly good news for ties between Beijing and Kathmandu.

Chinese projects stuck due to Prachanda’s pro-India policies
The Financial Express, March 21
Ahead of Nepal Premier Prachanda’s fence-mending visit to China this week, state-run media here has slammed him saying that ties have fallen to a “low ebb” with most of the Chinese projects stuck due to his “pro-India” policies. An article in the state-run Global Times said for quite some time Prachanda, the Prime Minister and the chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), had been friendly toward China. The article recalled his past close association with China as well as his anti-India rhetoric. However, since assuming office for the second time as Prime Minister in August last year he has visited India twice and warmly welcomed President Pranab Mukherjee in Kathmandu last November, the article noted.

India over-sensitive on China’s engagement in South Asia
Global Times, March 21
At the invitation of the Defense Ministry of Sri Lanka and Nepal, China’s State Councilor and Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan on Sunday embarked on a visit to the two South Asian countries. As observers started to predict that the tour could unnerve New Delhi, such analysis was swiftly verified by Indian media.  The tone of a report in the Hindustan Times sounds vigilant and sour. Claiming that Chang’s visit to Nepal and the first ever China-Nepal joint military drill has made New Delhi “nervous,” the newspaper also noted that the Nepalese government “cannot afford to say no to Beijing,” as if China is carrying a stick around when interacting with its neighbors. The truth is, however, it is India that has been treating South Asia and the Indian Ocean as its backyard with a hard-line manner. Its uneasiness toward Beijing’s growing influence in the region is obvious. For instance, New Delhi is one of the crucial reasons why China and Bhutan, which is controlled by India economically and diplomatically, have not yet established diplomatic relations.


News Reports

Trade and Economy

China and India economies beat the U.S. by 2050? Don’t bet on it
Forbes, March 19
By 2050, China will be the world’s largest economy, followed by India, and the U.S. in third place. That’s according to a recent PwC report, which predicts that China will account for 20 percent of the world economy, with India at 15 percent and USA at 12 percent. That’s a big change from 2016, when the US was beating both China and India by a big margin—see table. Projections, however, should be viewed with extreme caution; they rarely come true. Especially when they are made far into a future which holds many surprises for the true believer. Like the prediction back in the 1960 that Japan would continue to grow at a fast pace and go on to become the largest economy in the world—ahead of the U.S.

India initiates probe against dumping of chemical by China
Hindustan Times, March 20
India has initiated a probe against dumping of a chemical used in glass and other industries from China to ring-fence local manufacturers from cheap in-bound shipments. Sandhya Dyes and Chemicals Ltd has filed the application before the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) for initiation of the investigation and imposition of the duty on the imports of ‘Phosphorus Pentoxide’. The DGAD has found “sufficient evidence of dumping” of the chemical from China.

Firms from India, EU, US to benefit: Experts
Global Times, March 20
China’s top food and drug authority is soliciting public opinion for a draft plan to hasten the process of approving foreign drugs to be sold in the Chinese mainland, a move hailed by experts as both beneficial and challenging to the country’s drug industry. The draft plan states that pharmaceuticals can directly apply to register new drugs if the drugs have passed the International Multicenter Clinical Trial (IMCT) in China. Previously, new drugs had to wait until they were introduced to other markets before being imported to China, which took five or six years, Song Ruilin, executive president of the China Pharmaceutical Industry Research and Development Association, told the Global Times. A drug will also no longer require registration outside of  Chinese mainland or enter into a second or third phase of clinical trials in other countries before undergoing IMCT in China, said the draft plan released on the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA)’s website on Friday.

India, China host business and investment forum in Zhenjiang
The Financial Express, March 21
India and China jointly organised a Business and Investment Forum in Zhenjiang to introduce Chinese investors with opportunities available in India in sectors like renewable energy, smart cities, power sector, urban transportation and infrastructure as part of the Make in India initiative. Consulate General of India in Shanghai, Prakash Gupta, along with Zhenjiang Municipal People’s Government had jointly organized an India-China (Zhenjiang) Business and Investment Forum in Zhenjiang earlier on March 17. A delegation of 30 plus Indian companies comprising CEO’s of Larsen & Toubro, TCS, Reliance, Adani Group, CII, Sterlite, Jet Airways, Tech Mahindra, along with Legal consulting and Business Advisory Firms like HSA legal, Link legal Law Firms and Banks like UBI, Canara and Axis made presentations on sectors like Infrastructure, Banking, IT, Urban Transportation and legal guidelines for setting up businesses in India, according to a statement.

China’s Gionee to make India a manufacturing base for Africa, SAARC regions
The Times of India, March 21
Chinese phone maker Gionee plans to shift manufacturing for the African and SAARC regions to a new upcoming factory in India as the company expands operations here. The company, which has a nearly 6% share of the Indian smartphone market, is finalising a proposal for setting up the factory in Haryana, on the outskirts of Delhi, and this would act as the main sourcing base for its requirements in India as well as exports. “We are working rapidly on the Haryana factory plan and expect to complete the formalities in this regard very soon. Actual production is expected to begin over the next two years once we move from here,” Arvind R Vohra, Country CEO & MD of Gionee India told TOI here.


News Reports

Energy and Environment

India, China should jointly bid for oil, gas fields: Beijing media
The Economic Times, March 16
China and India should jointly bid for contracts to acquire overseas oil and gas fields to reduce competition and strengthen cooperation in investments in energy technologies, Chinese media said today. China and India “can jointly bid for contracts to acquire and develop overseas oil and gas resources,” an article in the state-run Global Times said. Compared with international oil giants, Chinese and Indian oil companies are still behind in terms of management, technology and capital strength, it said. It also proposed that China and India could strengthen cooperation in investments in energy technology and products.

Climate change ‘makes deadly China pollution worse’
Deccan Chronicle, March 21
Global warming has boosted the frequency and severity of deadly air pollution peaks in northern China, scientists said Monday. Toxic particles in the air cause nearly a million premature deaths in the country every year, according to earlier research. “Climate change increases occurrences of weather conditions conducive to Beijing winter severe haze,” a team reported in the journal Nature Climate Change. In Beijing and other major northern cities, the number of days each year with weather tailor-made for extreme smog rose from 45 to 50 in the period 1982-2015 compared to the previous three decades, a ten-percent jump, the study found.



What a stronger Modi means for China
South China Morning Post, March 19
Dai Bingguo, former State Councillor and China’s special representative for border talks with India, said in an interview this month that a final settlement was within grasp. “After more than 30 years of negotiations, China and India are now standing in front of the gate towards a final settlement of their boundary question. Now, the Indian side holds the key to the gate,” Dai told a Beijing publication. That gate could well have just opened in Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power in India’s most populous state with a thumping majority last week. With that, it is on course to form governments in four of the five states that went to polls recently. This spectacular showing coupled with the uncertainty over US President Donald Trump in both the Indian and Chinese establishments could now pave the way for a thaw in relations between the two Asian giants.

New Delhi could benefit by adopting open attitude to Belt and Road initiative
Global Times, March 20
The UN Security Council recently called for further efforts to enhance regional economic cooperation, including the development of the One Belt and One Road (OBOR) initiative. Given that the initiative “has a flagship project passing through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK),” the Indian Hindustan Times said in a report, “the UN endorsing the OBOR could complicate the situation.” New Delhi has yet to sign up for the OBOR, and has claimed that there is a sovereignty issue with the Belt and Road initiative as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through PoK, according to media reports. However, despite concerns from India, broader support has been given to the OBOR from the international community. China will host the first OBOR summit in May, with more than 20 government leaders and more than 50 heads of international organizations set to congregate in Beijing for the meeting. 

China’s outrageous offer to India for settling the border dispute: Give us all the territory
Quartz, March 21
Dai Bingguo is a respected Chinese politician and diplomat. Many in India will be familiar with him as a long-time interlocutor with a string of Indian national security advisors in the Sino-Indian border discussions. He has served as a State Councillor and as the director of the General Offices of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Group of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee. A senior Chinese official once described him to me as China’s Kissinger. He retired in 2013 but his voice is still heard in the higher echelons of the Chinese Communist Party, and his voice is also often their voice. Hence it is as important to have him hear you, as it is to hear him. Dai returned to headlines in India on March 02 when he told the Beijing-based magazine China-India Dialogue: “The disputed territory in the eastern sector of the China-India boundary, including Tawang, is inalienable from China’s Tibet in terms of cultural background and administrative jurisdiction. The major reason the boundary question persists is that China’s reasonable requests [in the east] have not been met. If the Indian side takes care of China’s concerns in the eastern sector of their border, the Chinese side will respond accordingly and address India’s concerns elsewhere.”


Books and Journals

The Deployment of Low Carbon Technologies in Energy Intensive Industries: A Macroeconomic Analysis for Europe, China and India
Energies, 2017
Industrial processes currently contribute 40% to global CO2 emissions and therefore substantial increases in industrial energy efficiency are required for reaching the 2 °C target. We assess the macroeconomic effects of deploying low carbon technologies in six energy intensive industrial sectors (Petroleum, Iron and Steel, Non-metallic Minerals, Paper and Pulp, Chemicals, and Electricity) in Europe, China and India in 2030. By combining the GAINS technology model with a macroeconomic computable general equilibrium model, we find that output in energy intensive industries declines in Europe by 6% in total, while output increases in China by 11% and in India by 13%. The opposite output effects emerge because low carbon technologies lead to cost savings in China and India but not in Europe. Consequently, the competitiveness of energy intensive industries is improved in China and India relative to Europe, leading to higher exports to Europe. In all regions, the decarbonization of electricity plays the dominant role for mitigation. This paper, by Nabernegg, Bednar-Friedl, Wagner, Schinko, Cofala and Mori, finds a rebound effect in China and India, in the size of 42% and 34% CO2 reduction, respectively, but not in Europe. Results indicate that the range of considered low-carbon technology options is not competitive in the European industrial sectors. To foster breakthrough low carbon technologies and maintain industrial competitiveness, targeted technology policy is therefore needed to supplement carbon pricing.

Restoration of Ecological Status of Himalayan Rivers in China and India: The Case of the Two Mother Rivers – The Yellow and the Ganges
Environmental Sustainability from the Himalayas to the Oceans, 2017
This chapter, by Bandyopadhyay, first introduces the contribution of the Himalayas as the Water Tower of Asia, especially for the large countries of China and India. For the role of the Himalayan rivers of the Yellow and the Ganges, in giving birth and sustaining human civilizations in these countries, they are revered as the respective “Mother Rivers.” With rapid growth in the population in the two most populated countries with very rapidly growing economies, these two rivers have been impacted badly in terms of quality and quantity of their flows. Governmental and nongovernmental concerns over the decline of the ecological status of all rivers in China and India have led to important social innovations. The chapter reviews the research and innovations in policy and institutions made in China and India for ecological restoration of their rivers. In this context, the chapter reviews the status of clarification and articulation of environmental flows in the rivers in general but in the Yellow and the Ganges rivers in particular.

Compiled and sent to you by Centre on Asia and Globalisation and
the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore