China-India Brief #91


Published Twice a Month
March 21 – April 11, 2017

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

Guest Column

The ‘Dalai Lama Card’ in India-China relations

by David Scott

Back in October 2016, the Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced the visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh being arranged for Spring 2017. Such a visit required a Restricted Area Permit by Indian government:

“China is deeply concerned about this news […] India knows full well the severity of the Dalai issue and the sensitivity of the China-India boundary question. To invite the 14th Dalai Lama to the disputed areas under such circumstances will only damage peace and stability of the border areas and bilateral relations.”

Consequently, Foreign Ministry demands were clear:

“China firmly opposes the 14th Dalai Lama’s trip to the disputed territory, and demands India to adhere to its political commitments on Tibet-related issues, follow the important consensus between the two sides on the boundary question, refrain from further complicating the question and providing a stage for the Dalai clique to carry out anti-China separatist activities so as to avoid hampering the sound and stable development of China-India relations.”

The Tibetan government in exile was quick to carry the argument by Prakash Nanda that the Dalai Lama is a strategic asset to India. Despite this strong Chinese criticism, the visit went ahead at the start of April 2017.

On 4 April 2017, India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a mild affirmation of the visit:

“The Government has clearly stated on several occasions that HHDL [His Holiness the Dalai Lama] is a revered religious leader, who is deeply respected as such by the Indian people. No additional colour should be ascribed to his religious and spiritual activities and visits to various states of India. The Government, therefore, urges that no artificial controversy should be created around his present visit to Arunachal Pradesh.”

The key point here was that Arunachal Pradesh is considered an Indian state by New Delhi and that no political connotations were to be attributed to the trip. Both points are contestable. Home Minister Kiren Rijuju, from Arunachal Pradesh, argued similarly but more clearly that “there is no political angle behind His Holiness’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. It is completely religious”, which might be true enough. However, he went on to claim that Arunachal Pradesh was “not a disputed territory” and that instead “Arunachal Pradesh is an inseparable part of India and China should not object to his visit and interfere in India’s internal affairs”. This though ignored the disputed nature of the state, which China claims as being “South Tibet” illegally separated from the rest of Chinese-controlled Tibet. For China, Arunachal Pradesh is actually an ‘internal affair’ of China, Chinese territory illegally occupied by India. China’s claims to Arunachal Pradesh and Indian claims to Aksai Chin underpinned the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and remain unresolved, bereft of any negotiations, still in dispute and with a growing arms and infrastructure race in play.

Chinese reactions were immediate and vociferous. On 5 April 2017, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials denounced the visit:

“In disregard of China’s concerns, the Indian side insists on inviting the Dalai Lama for activities in the disputed eastern section of the China-India boundary. It severely hurts China’s interests and the China-India relationship. Firmly opposed to that, the Chinese side will lodge stern representations with the Indian side […] The Chinese side will take necessary means to defend its territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests. We call on the Indian side to immediately stop its erroneous move of using the Dalai Lama to undermine China’s interests, refrain from hyping up sensitive issues between the two sides and undercutting the foundation for boundary negotiation and bilateral relations.”

On 6 April 2017 the Global Times launched a thinly veiled warning to India:

“With a GDP several times higher than that of India, military capabilities that can reach the Indian Ocean and having good relations with India’s peripheral nations, coupled with the fact that India’s turbulent northern state borders China, if China engages in a geopolitical game with India, will Beijing lose to New Delhi?”

The event sparking this Chinese reassertion of its encirclement capabilities, India’s geopolitical nightmare, was China’s concerns over “India’s use of the Dalai Lama card” (the title of the Global Times’ piece). More specifically this had been sparked by the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which the Global Times considered was “New Delhi using the monk as a diplomatic tool to put pressure on China”.

The Dalai Lama has visited Arunachal Pradesh seven times, in 1983, 1996, 1997, 2003 (twice), 2009, and 2017. China’s concerns over the Dalai Lama’s visit are threefold. Firstly, they demonstrate effective ongoing Indian administration and governance of this disputed region. Secondly, they reinforce the Dalai Lama’s leadership credibility for Tibetan Buddhists. Thirdly, the Dalai Lama’s visit to the main Buddhist centre of Tawang is of further concern given that China had put particular stress on recovering Tawang, which stands as an important focus for Tibetan Buddhism outside Chinese-controlled Tibet.

Beijing’s constant attempts to curtail the Dalai Lama is partly to curtail his influence on Tibetan Buddhism within Tibet, but also because of the decision by the Dalai Lama in 2008 to support India’s position on the McMahon Line (not recognised by China) in particular, which places Arunachal Pradesh within India. For the past few years, Beijing has consistently sought to limit contacts and official receptions for the Dalai Lama in other countries, with considerable success. This seems to represent a more assertive Indian willingness to rebuff such constrictions, earlier indicated with the meeting between the Indian President Mukherjee and the Dalai Lama in December. It remains to be seen if China will curtail cross-border discussions, as it has done on earlier visits.

The final significance is that India and China are both using Buddhism in their respective public diplomacy, as a bridge in their bilateral relationship, but also as a soft power lever in their regional competition. India’s willingness to facilitate the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal is not simply a religious matter; it has political ramifications, and both New Delhi and Beijing are well aware of this.


David Scott is an independent analyst on China-India relations, and a prolific writer. He has been a regular presenter at the NATO Defence College in Rome since 2006 and the Baltic Defence College in Tallinn in 2017, and the Managing Editor of ‘European Geostrategy’. Dr. Scott can be contacted at


Guest Column

China, India, and non-traditional development finance: A perspective on (re-)emerging donors

by Silvia Tieri


Policy makers and scholars are looking with growing attention at a group of aid-providing countries labelled with a variety of names: emerging, re-emerging, non-Western, non-DAC, or non-traditional donors. The peculiarity of these actors is that they escape the shared set of rules and practices that has been consolidated by the OECD-DAC (Development Assistance Committee) as the mainstream paradigm of foreign aid provision.

China is the biggest newly emerged economy and its engagement in the developing world the widest. Consequently, Beijing’s behaviour as a donor on the international level is more coherently articulated as compared to others, and is the most widely studied so far.

This, however, cannot be said for the case of India. India’s foreign aid policy has been far less investigated. It mainly focuses on two geographic areas, namely South Asia (mostly grants) and Sub-Saharan Africa (loans), but still lacks a comprehensive and coherent strategy. Also, while striving to portray itself as a giver rather than a taker, India remains at the same time a significant recipient of development assistance. The volume, relevance, and popularity of Indian aid outbound, however, is rapidly growing.

Detractors of non-traditional aid argue that emerging donors encourage poor policies, i.e. after aid is delivered, the recipient country is left poorer than it was before (Woods, 2008). Secondly, they are said to provide rogue aid (Woods, 2008) or toxic aid (Mawdsley, 2012). This would be the case of flows of aid with no strings attached directed towards so-called rogue states, e.g. Chinese aid to Zimbabwe. This aid is considered to be toxic because it allows the donor to pursuit its economical and/or geopolitical agenda at the expenses of the recipient’s oppressed population. In other words, by helping countries with poor human rights records, Chinese aid might result beneficial to these regimes but detrimental to those living under them (Kaplinsky, McCormick, & Morris, 2007; Manning, 2006). Moreover, emerging aid is also considered to be in potential clash with OECD-DAC policies. Since emerging donors’ aid is typically untied, it represents a very accessible resource to the recipients. And, the easy obtainment of support might cause renewed indebtedness for recipients that have just received debt relief treatment from one of the DAC members.

Although emerging donors are generally assumed to provide untied aid, conditionality remains a debatable aspect. Let us consider the example of aid provided by China. What does non-conditionality mean in practice? Chinese aid is usually criticized by Western analysts and labelled as untied/unconditional because it is characterized by a stress on sovereignty, lack of political conditions, and neglect of social policies in favour of advancement in the infrastructural sector. Such non-conditionality, however, might have deeper reasons than mere egoism from the donor’s side. It could be possible that China’s way to aid has developed being rooted in a peculiar conception of development, pragmatic and materialist, possibly influenced by Marxism, which attributes absolute priority to material welfare (Varrall, 2013). From this point of view, as a consequence, non-conditionality  ̶  that is usually censored as flawed, dangerous, unjust, or seen as a mere political escamotage  ̶  would emerge as part of a pragmatic and efficiency-oriented development strategy, which Western-centric analyses often fail to understand.

A very different perspective on conditionality, on the other hand, maintains that untied aid simply does not exist. In this case, Chinese aid is interpreted as twice conditional, tied to both output and input conditions. The main output condition inherent to the use of Chinese resources would be the adherence to Beijing’s One China Policy, imposed on the recipient. Input conditions instead would include “the use of Chinese contractors for Chinese funded infrastructure projects” (McCormick, 2008). In fact, Indian aid is often tied, in a similar fashion, to the commitment of the recipient to procure Indian goods and services.

How to explain the increasing popularity of non-traditional sources of development assistance then?

From the perspective of developing countries in need of aid, emerging donors can represent a highly preferable alternative to the DAC group.

First of all, since they are offering increasingly sizable aid flows, their credibility as providers is equally growing. Secondly, the aid they provide is “cheaper” because, existing outside the OECD system, it is not embedded in any complex and costly administrative framework. Thirdly, they focus on economic sectors, such as infrastructure, that despite being central to the recipient’s needs, are often overlooked by traditional aid. Technology transfer might represent another advantage of South–South cooperation: learning from new donors can be more convenient for developing countries, if “Technologies available in Southern countries are often more suitable to the needs and requirements of LDCs” (UNCTAD, 2011).

Last but not the least, the adoption of alternative narratives, such as the identification of aid provision as “South-South cooperation” rather than “donation”, contributes to depict emerging donors as trustworthy and harmless partners, softening the clash of identities that has characterized the relation between Western benefactor and non-Western beneficiary.

While some argue that emerging donorship has what it takes to integrate itself within the existing regime, others consider that non-traditional donors are revisionist in nature.  In other words, while offering an alternative set of ideals, values, and methods, they are promoting a paradigm shift within the development finance regime.

Several authors have framed this idea borrowing the concept of consensus that animated the recent International Relations debate on emerging powers. The contrast between Washington consensus and Beijing consensus is indeed highly meaningful from the point of view of the debate of international foreign aid, because the two concepts have been originally shaped around two different ideas of development. While the Washington Consensus carries a conception of development which is economistic, instrumentalist, paternalistic, even imperialistic according to some, the “path to development” proposed by emerging donors seems to promote an approach that is less paternalistic, and more sensitive to self-determination (Babaci-Wilhite, Geo-JaJa & Lou, 2013). And, the Beijing Consensus might be a more comprehensive and suitable paradigm for promoting empowered development in regions like the African continent (Babaci-Wilhite, Geo-JaJa & Lou, 2013).

Revisionist or not, non-traditional donors seem to propose a less narrow and more integrated model of aid, which would neither categorically separate aid from investments and trade, nor exclude the participation of non-governmental actors, especially the private sector (like the DAC does). This might contribute to completely integrate aid into the wider category of South-South cooperation, where trade and FDI play an important role.


Babaci-Wilhite, Z., Geo-JaJa, M. A., & Lou S. (2013). China’s aid to Africa: competitor or alternative to the OECD aid architecture? International Journal of Social Economics, 40(8), 729-743.

Kaplinsky, R., McCormick, D., & Morris, M. (2007). The impact of China on sub-Saharan Africa. Institute of Development Studies,

Mawdsley, E. (2012). From recipients to donors: Emerging powers and the changing development landscape. 43. Zed Books.

McCormick, D. (2008). China & India as Africa’s New Donors: The Impact of Aid on Development. Review of African Political Economy, 35(115), 73-92. doi:10.1080/03056240802011501.

UNCTAD et al., 2011. FAO, IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute), IFAD, IMF (International Monetary Fund), OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development), UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), World Bank, World Food Programme, WTO (World Trade Organization), and the United Nations High-Level Task Force. 2011. Price Volatility in Food and Agricultural Markets: Policy Responses. Policy Report. Retrieved from:

Varrall, M. (2013). Chinese Views on China’s Role in International Development Assistance. Pacific Affairs, 86(2), 233-255.

Woods, N. (2008). Whose aid? Whose influence? China, emerging donors and the silent revolution in development assistance. International Affairs, 84(6), 1205-1221.


Silvia Tieri is a Research Assistant at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore.


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 opposes India hosting Dalai Lama in disputed border region
Reuters, March 31
China said it opposes plans by Indian government officials to host Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in a sensitive border region controlled by New Delhi but claimed by Beijing. Indian government representatives told Reuters in early March that officials would meet the Dalai Lama while he is on a religious trip to Arunachal Pradesh from April 4-13 and that as a secular democracy they would not stop him from traveling to any part of the country. China claims the region in the eastern Himalayas as “South Tibet”, and it has denounced foreign and even Indian leaders’ visits to the region as attempts to bolster New Delhi’s territorial claims.

India using Dalai Lama’s visit to upset Beijing: analyst
Global Times, April 4
The 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to the disputed zone along the border of India and China on Tuesday will hurt Sino-Indian ties because China opposes any official invitations to the Dalai Lama, a Chinese expert said. The Dalai Lama began his nine-day visit to “Arunachal Pradesh,” called South Tibet in China, on Tuesday, the Hindustan Times reported. “The Dalai’s visit to the controversial area, especially Tawang, which China hopes will be returned, will affect relations between China and India,” an expert from the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

China slams India for provoking border conflict with Dalai invite
Global Times, April 5
China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday criticized India for provoking a border conflict by inviting the 14th Dalai Lama to the controversial eastern part of the China-India border which, the ministry said, will “bring no benefits to India.” The Dalai Lama’s visit to “Arunachal Pradesh,” called South Tibet in China, severely damages China’s interests and Sino-Indian relations, Hua Chunying, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson, told a daily briefing. “China firmly opposes this and will lodge solemn representations to India,” Hua said. “Well aware of the Dalai Lama’s role, India reneged on its commitments to Tibet-related issues and stirred up the border dispute by hosting the Dalai Lama in the sensitive disputed region,” Hua added.

Dalai Lama’s journey provokes China, and hints at his heir
The New York Times, April 6
It has been a hard journey for the 81-year-old Dalai Lama, perhaps his last over the mountain passes at the edge of China, to a town that has played a fateful role in his life, and in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Violent rains buffeted the small plane he flew into the valley. His party was forced to continue overland, traveling seven or eight hours a day over steep serpentine roads, lined with villagers hoping to glimpse him. Each day, as he came closer to the holy site of Tawang, China pressed India more forcefully to stop his progress, its warnings growing increasingly ominous. By Thursday, a day before the Dalai Lama was expected to reach Tawang, the official China Daily wrote that Beijing “would not hesitate to answer blows with blows” if the Indian authorities allowed the Dalai Lama to continue.

China ignores India’s role in rescuing hijacked ship
The Economic Times, April 10
China today claimed full credit for rescuing a cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the strategic Gulf of Aden, ignoring Indian Navy’s role in the operation. While a Chinese navy statement last night omitted any reference to the Indian Navy in providing helicopter cover to the Chinese vessel whose special forces boarded the Tuvaluan ship under hijack, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the operation demonstrated “effectiveness of the Chinese naval force in the field of fighting against pirates”. When questioned about the absence of any mention of the Indian Navy’s role in the operation, Hua said China’s Ministry of Defence should be approached for details.


News Reports

China and India in the Regions

China tells Nepal to maintain good ties with India
Hindustan Times, March 27
Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested to visiting Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda“ to maintain good relations between Nepal and India during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. Prachanda held talks with Xi and other senior Chinese leaders on a wide range of issues, including Nepal‘s relations with China and India, extending a Chinese rail link to Nepal and beyond and opening up more trade routes with China. After the delegation level talks between the two leaders, the Nepalese media quoted Prachanda as saying, “At the end of our conversation, the Chinese president told us that Nepal should maintain good relations with India.”

India keen to boost ties with Malaysia amid China build-up
The Straits Times, April 3
Malaysian Premier Najib Razak’s visit to India is set to energise ties and deepen cooperation in trade and counter-terrorism, said experts, amid India’s bid to draw closer to Asean countries other than Singapore. Datuk Seri Najib, who is in India on a six-day visit with a delegation of around 100 business leaders, held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Saturday. At a joint press briefing that day, Mr Najib said bilateral ties were at a “historic high”, while Mr Modi said the two countries had agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership as he invited Malaysian businesses to invest in the world’s fastest-growing economy. “Since the 1990s, our focus has been on Singapore, which invited us into Asean and held our hands. Now, other countries are also coming up,” said former Indian foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh. He added that Malaysia, like Indonesia, is important for his country’s Indian Ocean initiative, which aims to reach out to smaller countries in this region and boost India’s maritime presence, to act as a counterweight to China.

India competes with China, woos Bangladesh with defence loan and credit
South China Morning Post, April 9
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered US$4.5 billion in concessional loans to Bangladesh, underlining surging ties between the neighbours, but a contentious water-sharing deal remained elusive. Modi also announced US$500 million for defence procurement after bilateral talks on Saturday in New Delhi with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is on a four-day visit to the country. China has been the biggest source of defence purchases for Bangladesh for many years. Wary of China’s growing interest in India’s backyard, Modi has been keen to play a greater leadership role in South Asia since coming to power in 2014.

India, China navies stop suspected Somali pirate attack on merchant vessel
Reuters, April 9
A Chinese navy ship supported by an Indian navy helicopter thwarted an attack by suspected Somali pirates on a Tuvalu-flagged merchant ship, India’s defense ministry said on Sunday. The ship, known as OS 35, was reported to be under attack on Saturday. The Indian defense ministry said four of its navy ships in the vicinity responded to a distress signal from the ship and reached the bulk carrier early on Sunday. It said the crew had taken refuge in the ship’s strong room, know as the citadel, once they learnt they were under attack in line with established safe shipping operating procedures.


News Reports

Trade and Economy

China hopes India will accept CPEC
The Nation, March 27
A six-member delegation of the Chinese scholars said Pakistan needs not to worry about the Indian concerns over China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, since this multi-beneficial project has already taken off and its implementation is in full-swing. The delegation led by Wang Yiwi, Professor, School of International Studies of Renmin University of China, during its interaction with Pakistani media here on Monday said that the India’s concern makes no difference since both China and Pakistan are firmly committed to implement the project. “CPEC is for whole Asia and not just for one country,” said Yiwi. He hoped that India will also accept it, keeping in view its great economic benefits that lead to Asia’s rise.

India’s trade deficit with China at $46.7 bn in April-February: Nirmala Sitharaman tells Rajya Sabha
Financial Express, April 5
India’s trade deficit with China was recorded at USD 46.7 billion during the April-February period of the last fiscal, Parliament was informed today. Overall trade with China during the 11-month period decreased marginally by 0.87 per cent to USD 64.57 billion, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Rajya Sabha. During this period, India’s exports to China grew by 8.69 per cent to USD 8.94 billion while imports from the neighbouring nation declined by 2.26 per cent to USD 55.63 billion, resulting in a shrinkage of 4.1 per cent in India’s trade deficit with China, she said in a written reply to a question. She said both sides have signed a Five-Year Development Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation in order to lay down a medium-term roadmap for promoting balanced and sustainable development of economic and trade relations. Replying to a separate question, she said after the launch of the ‘Startup India Action Plan’ in January 2016, 742 startups have been recognised by the ministry.

China is doing more business with India, but it’s still far from smooth sailing
The Economic Times, April 10
China has emerged as one of the fastest-growing sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India — it was 17th largest in 2016, up from the 28th rank in 2014 and 35th in 2011. In 2011, the total Chinese investment in India was $102 million. Last year, a record $1 billion of Chinese FDI reportedly flowed in, but official Indian and Chinese statistics differ on cumulative figures. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) last year estimated that total FDI from China between April 2000 and December 2016 was $1.6 billion. Indian industry analysts and media reports have estimated the figure to be over $2 billion. “Actual Chinese investment in India is at least three times higher than the official Indian figure,” Santosh Pai, partner at Gurgaon-based Link Legal India Law Services, which provides legal services to members of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, told IndiaSpend. 


News Reports

Energy and Environment

Coal in ‘freefall’ as new power plants dive by two-thirds
The Guardian, March 22
The amount of new coal power being built around the world fell by nearly two-thirds last year, prompting campaigners to claim the polluting fossil fuel was in freefall. The dramatic decline in new coal-fired units was overwhelmingly due to policy shifts in China and India and subsequent declining investment prospects, according to a report by Greenpeace, the US-based Sierra Club and research network CoalSwarm. The report said the amount of new capacity starting construction was down 62% in 2016 on the year before, and work was frozen at more than a hundred sites in China and India. In January, China’s energy regulator halted work on a further 100 new coal-fired projects, suggesting the trend was not going away.

China, Myanmar ink oil pipeline deal
Global Times, April 10
Chinese President Xi Jinping met Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw on Monday as the two countries reached an agreement to put a vital oil pipeline into operation. Xi hailed Myanmar’s active participation in the country’s Belt and Road initiative to promote bilateral cooperation in trade, infrastructure and border economic zones. He praised Myanmar’s support of and participation in the Belt and Road initiative, and said the two countries will focus on cooperation in Myanmar’s Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone and livelihood, such as education and rural development, the China Central Television reported. U Htin Kyaw said that Myanmar will never forget China’s help, and that his country will insist on the one-China policy and actively participate in the Belt and Road initiative.



Raja Mandala: Neighbourhood defence
Indian Express, March 28
India’s plans to sign agreements on defence cooperation with Bangladesh during PM Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Delhi next month and the Chinese Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan’s travels to Sri Lanka and Nepal last week, underline the new dynamic of defence diplomacy in the neighbourhood. The Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, is also travelling this week to Nepal and Bangladesh. One would think these would be routine among neighbouring countries, but Delhi and Dhaka have not had institutionalised defence engagement all these years. That it might happen finally has generated an anxious debate in the Bangladeshi press. Some in Dhaka wonder if this is about Delhi trying to limit Beijing’s rising military profile in Bangladesh, including the most recent sale of submarines. Others worry about Dhaka drawing too close to Delhi.

Why India needs to take China’s One Belt One Road initiative seriously
Hindustan Times, March 31
India’s insistence on keeping a distance from China’s huge infrastructure enterprise called the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative is quite intriguing. Delhi is yet to disclose if it will participate in the Belt and Road forum at Beijing in May that will be attended by several heads of state and representatives. India’s detachment will seem particularly odd in the years to come as the infrastructure emerges on the horizon – as OBOR aims to build land and sea links between China and Europe through roads, railway lines, power projects and ports in potentially over 60 countries. China has indicated that it would like India to participate in the enterprise but Delhi has balked on essentially two grounds: One that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of OBOR which runs between Xinjiang and Gwadar in Balochistan, goes through territories India claims, namely Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. Delhi has also indicated that it sees OBOR as a unilateral, national initiative of the Chinese which other countries are not obligated to buy into.

When Trump meets Xi
Indian Express, April 4
If the world had expected that the US’s relations with China would be most contentious under the new administration, it is now preparing to cope with a potential deal between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping when they meet this week at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida. The story of the unlikely turnaround of Sino-US relations from a head-on collision into a grand bargain comes with a special twist. Reports from Washington say the Chinese have opened a productive channel of negotiation with Trump’s influential son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has apparently taken charge of America’s most important bilateral relationship in the 21st century. Few countries invited the kind of wrath that China did during Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. Candidate Trump accused China of raping the American economy and stealing its jobs. He had promised to impose massive tariffs on the import of goods from China. If China wanted to call it a “trade war”, Trump seemed to say, “so be it”.

With China, India should hold its ground on inviting the Dalai Lama to Arunachal
Hindustan Times, April 4
The Dalai Lama’s growing international stature, including his Nobel prize, have been an extraordinary challenge for Beijing, which has found it difficult to handle a frail and gentle man, who speaks softly, laughs a lot and advocates love, reconciliation and brotherhood. Consequently, it has resorted to a petulant vocabulary that is official and insulting, so as to discredit and distance him. A sense of unilateral touchiness and sensitivity has, in fact, been a hallmark of China’s foreign policy, including on Taiwan. It is in this context that the recent decision of the Government of India to invite His Holiness to visit Arunachal Pradesh and the historic Tawang Monastery gains importance. It might well emerge as the game changer in Indo-China relations. Beijing has, understandably, threatened that the decision would impact bilateral relations. Given how low India-China relations are at present, it hardly matters.

Russia’s ties with China, Pakistan disturb India – experts
Russia Beyond the Headlines, April 5
Even as Moscow and New Delhi are currently trying to take economic relations to a new level, Russia’s ties with India’s major rivals in the region may prove to be an irritant between the long-term allies, experts who took part at a recent forum in Delhi held by the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Vivekananda International Foundation, told a Russian publication. The Kommersant daily cited Vivekananda International Foundation Director and former Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army Nirmal Chander Vij as saying that New Delhi was concerned about “the growing military cooperation between Moscow and Islamabad and Chinese expansion in Eurasia.”

India’s use of Dalai Lama card tactless
Global Times, April 6
The 14th Dalai Lama started his visit to “Arunachal Pradesh” (South Tibet of China) on Tuesday. The Dalai Lama has been to the disputed region before, but what makes this trip different is that he is received and accompanied by India’s Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju. When China raised the concern over the visit, Rijiju commented that China shouldn’t intervene in their “internal affairs.” When the Dalai Lama clique fled from Tibet, he sought shelter at Dharamsala of India, thus the Dalai question became one of the problems that upset Sino-Indian relationship. New Delhi takes a stance that opposes the Dalai Lama engaging in anti-China activities on the soil of India; however, it has long attempted to use the Dalai Lama as a card. When India emphasizes the relationship with China, it would place a tight control on the Dalai. When it has a grudge against China, it may prompt the Dalai to play certain tricks as a signal sent to China.

India should join Belt, Road initiative as interest from developed countries grow
Global Times, April 6
There is great potential for developed economies, like the UK, to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other projects in China’s One Belt, One Road (B&R) initiative. “The UK is poised to be a key partner of CPEC” and will host a conference in Islamabad in May, according to the website. The news offers a positive signal that the CPEC has received an increasing amount of attention from developed economies. China is likely to welcome enterprises from the UK and other developed nations to participate in construction of the CPEC which has long been seen as a flagship project in the B&R initiative. New Delhi has yet to sign up for the B&R initiative, and has claimed that the CPEC violates its sovereignty because it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. China’s enormous investment in the CPEC has become an unharmonious factor in Sino-Indian ties. However, it would be unwise to think that increasing investment in the CPEC means a lack of respect for India’s sovereignty. Such ideas could lead to unnecessary opposition between India and the West as developed countries show an increased interest in the CPEC and China’s B&R initiative.

After poking China in the eye, India still hopes to be a permanent member of UN Security Council
Dawn, April 7
If India does become a new permanent member of the UN Security Council that too with veto rights — as Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday that it would soon — then it will have achieved no ordinary feat, considering that New Delhi is currently busy poking China in the eye with the help of the Dalai Lama, diplomats and analysts say. China has warned that letting the exiled spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhists into Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as its own territory, India is severely damaging the already fraught Sino-Indian ties. According to NDTV, as the Dalai Lama toured Arunachal Pradesh, infuriating China, Chief Minister Pema Khandu, in a comment that will add to the tension, has stated that his state shares a border with “Tibet and not China”. India officially regards Tibet as an autonomous region of China, and the chief minister’s remarks would seem to negate that formulation.


Books and Journals

Trends of Natural Resource Footprints in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) Countries
Journal of Cleaner Production, 2017
The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have experienced dramatic economic expansions during the last couple of decades. However, such a rapid development induced a large consumption of natural resources, leading to serious environmental issues. Under such a circumstance, this study, by Rui Wu, Yong Geng and Wenjing Liu, calculates the resource footprints of biomass, fossil fuel, minerals and water in BRIC countries for the years of 1995 and 2008 by employing a global, multi-regional input–output model based on the World Input–Output Database (WIOD) and extended by material extraction data. Trends in BRIC’s resource footprints and consumption-based resource productivity were presented and compared. The results show that about one third of global resources were extracted to satisfy the consumption of BRIC countries, of which China had the highest footprint. During 1995–2008, per capita resource footprints in BRIC countries had increased faster than the world average, especially for China. However, BRIC’s overall per capita footprint was still below the world average, with India as one of the lowest in the world. Most components of resource footprints in BRIC countries were lower than their domestic resource extractions, indicating that the dramatic economic growth was mainly based on domestic resource extractions. China’s overall resource footprint increased faster than its domestic extraction (DE), while Brazil’s footprint growth rate can catch up with its DE. This study also reveals that Russia’s resource productivity was the highest among all the BRIC countries, followed by Brazil. A large gap on resource productivity existed among the BRIC countries, especially for fossil fuels and minerals. Policy implications from this study suggest that the BRIC countries should have more rational urban plans, gradually substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels, develop circular economy and initiate various capacity building projects.

The Role of China and India in the G20 and BRICS: Commonalities or Competitive Behaviour?
Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, December 2016
This paper, by Andrew Cooper and Asif Farooq, examines China and India’s relationship within the ambit of the G20 process and the autonomous BRICS institutional architecture. The evolving relationship of each of these two emerging powers within these different institutional settings demonstrates a degree of agentic commonality and distinction. China’s and India’s approaches to both the G20 and the BRICS summit processes high-light a combination of status-seeking and hedging behaviour. While China’s cautious approach is complemented by assertive leadership in matters of national interest, India’s leadership has a very specific orientation towards developmental issues. Whereas China’s approach focuses on the United States and the rest of the West, India’s approach is increasingly positioned as a response to China.

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