China-India Brief #92


Published Twice a Month
April 11 – 25, 2017

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

Guest Column

China-India Non-traditional Security Cooperation: Inevitabilities and Possibilities

by Yu Xiaofeng

The relationship between China and India is very complex, but from the view of Non-traditional Security Cooperation, there is a great common future for both states.

Are China and India enemies, rivals or friends? The answer seems to be neither affirmative nor negative. According to such cultural traditions as “pan-familism” in Oriental society and the “inclusive universalism” shared by China and India, there exists a “brother-like” relationship between China and India that transcends their state personalities or sovereignty. In fact, China and India enjoyed such a relationship in the 1950s, when there was a popular slogan in India, “Hindi-Chini bhai bhai” (India-China, brothers-brothers).[1] More recently, Prime Minister Modi forthrightly remarked that China and India are “two bodies with one spirit”, and president Xi Jinping stressed that China and India should walk shoulder to shoulder and speak with one voice to become “closer partners for development”, “cooperative partners for growth” and “global partners for strategic coordination”.[3]

However, resulting from various historical events and experiences, misconceptions and real tensions persist between China and India. On the one hand, some serious discrepancies continue to prevail between China and India in the context of security threats. On the other hand, evidence suggests latent “direct confrontation” of various degrees exist in the actual formulation and implementation of national policies by the two countries. But Non-traditional Security Cooperation between both countries has built a great cooperation bridge. China and India greatly expanded their government-to-government exchanges and trade relations by setting aside their challenges of traditional security. Since the beginning of the 21st century, their two-way trade has increased by more than twenty-fold, and mutual visits have almost tripled.

Besides promoting the preservation of traditional security in a constructive way, China and India are enhancing cooperation in the field of nontraditional security. In China and India, special emphasis is placed on four types(heterogenous, exogenous,dual-genous, endogenous)of nontraditional security threats.[2] The below fields are intertwined and should be given top priority in China and India.

Economic Security Cooperation India and China have taken multiple concrete steps for mutual economic security. Both countries have established strong institutional mechanisms for cooperation such as the Joint Economic Group on Economic Relations and Trade, Science and Technology (JEG), a Joint Study Group (JSG) and Joint Task Force (JTF). The two countries established a Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) in 2010. SED is a platform where both states discuss strategic macro-economic issues impacting both sides in the changing international economic order.

Energy Security Cooperation As China and India develop, their energy demands are inevitably increasing. Their cooperation on energy can enhance their economic growth. Both countries have comparative advantages, and should recognize each other’s strengths and support mutual development. Advanced technological exchange will promote stability in world energy markets, which could help overcome energy insecurity threats in the region.

Ethnic Separatism and Terrorism Chinese and Indian separatist movements are mainly based on religion, language and the perceived uneven distribution of natural resources. China and India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Defence Cooperation in 2006, which was the first such agreement between the two countries. This allows the militaries of both countries to conduct joint anti-terrorism training and safeguard regional peace and stability. For example, the joint drill ‘Hand-in-Hand 2013,2014,2015,2016’ focuses on anti-terrorism and is increasingly successful.

Water Security Cooperation Shared rivers between China and India traditionally have been a major source of dispute and controversy. China and India have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on sharing hydrological information about the Brahmaputra River. According to the MoU, China will provide information (about rainfall and water level discharge) to India in forecasting floods likely to be caused by this river, which mostly result in disasters in north-eastern India.

Pandemic Diseases Cooperation Pandemics and infectious diseases are one of the leading NTS threats to the entire world. China and India also face the challenges brought on by the threat of infectious disease and pandemic. The large size and population of these countries poses even greater dangers for the spread of pandemic diseases. According to the World Health Organization, every year 1.1% of Chinese people lose their lives due to pandemic diseases.[4] It is extremely important for cooperation between the two neighbours, China and India, to deal with such NTS threats in the region.

Maritime Security Cooperation The non-traditional security challenges of piracy and maritime terrorism are also NTS threats in this region. China and India initiated mutual cooperation on anti-piracy in 2012. In recent times, China and India have assumed flexible and practical policies to make sure that the current wave of understanding should not become an obstacle to friendly relations. Ongoing NTS cooperation between these two countries could decisively transform their previous traditional approach, signaling more active and cooperative coexistence.

In sum, the combined population of China and India is currently 2.5 billion people, which accounts for 40% of world population. With this great human capital of these two “unique” civilizations, the influence that China and India exert in the world will be “enormous”, “multidimensional” and “persistent”. The theoretical paradigm of “peace-cooperativism”[5] and the pattern of “pluralistic win-win” can help to strengthen bilateral mutual political trust. For this reason, non-traditional security cooperation between the two countries is of vital importance across different non-traditional security fields.



[1] Tian-sze Fang, Asymmetrical Threat Perceptions in India-China Relations, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.2

[2] Yu Xiaofeng, ” ‘Dragon and Elephant, Shoulder to Shoulder’: Non-traditional Security Cooperation between China and india”, International Security Studies, Vol. 34, No. 3. May/June 2016, pp.18-20.

[3] Xi Jinping, “In Joint Pursuit of a Dream of National Renewal—-Speech at the Indian Council of World Affairs”, xinhuanet.

[4]Country Health Profile’, World Health Organization, May 2014.

[5] YU xiaofeng, “Shared Security: Chinese Perspectives on Non-Traditional Security”, International Security Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, Winter, 2015. pp.30-36.


YU Xiaofeng is Professor of the School of Public Affairs, Director of Center for Non-Traditional Security and Peaceful Development Studies, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. .


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 says Dalai Lama ‘provokes’ with visit to disputed border with India
Channel News Asia, April 12
China on Wednesday denounced in the strongest terms yet a visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to a disputed stretch on the China-India border, saying he had provoked China by supporting India’s claim to the region. The Dalai Lama’s week-long trip to Arunachal Pradesh state, an eastern Himalayan region administered by India but claimed by China as “southern Tibet”, has infuriated China, where the Nobel Peace laureate is considered a dangerous separatist. Indian officials have dismissed China’s criticism of the Dalai Lama’s second visit to Arunachal Pradesh in eight years, saying he is a spiritual leader who has a devoted following in the region.

China and India renew war of words over Tibet
Financial Times, April 20
China and India have renewed a war of words over the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, a Tibetan Himalayan region claimed by Beijing, after China said it would “standardise” six place names in the territory. The announcement of the new romanised spellings for three towns and three mountain passes by China’s ministry of civil affairs is the country’s latest move to stake its claim over an area that came under formal Indian control in a series of 19th-century boundary agreements between the Manchu Qing empire and the British government in India. India responded on Thursday by insisting that Arunachal Pradesh was “an integral part” of India. “Nothing can change that,” the foreign ministry in New Delhi said. “We have an established bilateral mechanism to discuss the boundary question with China and it has made progress. We seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question.”

Standardization of terms aimed at reaffirming sovereignty: experts
Global Times, April 18
Chinese experts said that the standardization of the names of six places in South Tibet is a move to reaffirm the country’s territorial sovereignty to the disputed region. China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs announced on April 14 on its website that it had standardized in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of six places in South Tibet, which India calls “Arunachal Pradesh,” in accordance with the regulations of the State Council. The official names of the six places using the Roman alphabet are Wo’gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidêngarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bümo La and Namkapub Ri. “The standardization came amid China’s growing understanding and recognition of the geography in South Tibet. Naming the places is a step to reaffirm China’s territorial sovereignty to South Tibet,” Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at Beijing’s Minzu University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

China scales down offensive against India
The Times of India, April 18
At least three Indian ministers, including foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, are expected to visit China to attend the upcoming BRICS summit in the country’s Xiamen city. The visits come amid repeated Chinese warning that bilateral relationship had been badly damaged by the recent visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh. At least three Indian ministers, including foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, are expected to visit China to attend the upcoming BRICS summit in the country’s Xiamen city. The visits come amid repeated Chinese warning that bilateral relationship had been badly damaged by the recent visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh.

History justifies China’s claim to South Tibet: FM
Global Times, April 19
China said on Wednesday that the announcement of the newly-standardized names of places in South Tibet is a legitimate initiative, and more standardized names could be expected. Announcing the six places’ names is legitimate based on the national place name management regulation and the State Council’s related regulations on place names, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily press briefing. Lu said that these names were verbally passed on by ethnic people living in China, including the Moinba and Tibetan people, which shows that China’s territorial claims on the South Tibet region has an historic and administrative basis. Lu said that the announcement is part of the national survey on place names, and more standardized place names would be announced at the proper time.

India to strengthen defence along China border, build ALGs in Arunachal Pradesh
Hindustan Times, April 24
India moved to upgrade its defence infrastructure along the border with China, announcing the construction of two Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) at Tawang and Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday, a day after Beijing unilaterally renamed six places in northeastern state. Defence secretary G Mohan Kumar held a high-level review meeting with Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu and discussed the ALGs to be constructed in Dirang and Tawang. The meeting was also attended by Town Planning and Urban Development minister, Nabam Rebia, including senior Army officials and senior state officials.


News Reports

China and India in the Regions

India, China to resume stalled dialogue on corridor with Myanmar, Bangladesh
Hindustan Times, April 18
The stalled consultation process for the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) Economic Corridor is set to resume, with officials and scholars from the four countries meeting in Kolkata next week after a gap of more than two-and-half years. The last meeting of the Joint Study Group (JSG), which has government sanction, was held at Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh in December 2014. Officials from the external affairs ministry and scholars and academics from India will take part in the meeting to be held during April 25-26. The objective behind resuming the dialogue will be to finalise the JSG report.

India, US and Japan plan major joint naval exercise in July
Hindustan Times, April 24
India and the US are all set to conduct naval exercise Malabar in the Bay of Bengal in July, the first major military drill after Donald Trump took over as President. Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force will also participate in the naval drill that will be bigger and more complex than all previous editions. Indian Navy sources said a planning conference would be held soon in the US to firm up the dates and warships that will take part in the exercise. This will be followed by a final planning conference in India where the scenarios to be simulated during the exercise to boost the abilities of the participating navies for joint operations will be finalised.


News Reports

Trade and Economy

China-India e-commerce collaborations show promising potential for cooperation
Global Times, April 12
While many have been focusing on how Flipkart’s fundraising could spark a realignment of forces in India’s e-commerce marketplace, less attention has been paid to the bigger picture of industrial collaboration between India and China. India’s largest e-tailer Flipkart recently announced that it had received a $1.4 billion capital injection from various companies including Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings. The deal follows another fundraising case by Indian e-commerce payment Paytm who collected $177 million from Chinese giant Alibaba Group. This series of high-profile collaborations demonstrates that India needs Chinese companies’ capital and marketing experience, while Chinese firms have shown an increasing interest in India’s burgeoning market and the country’s IT talent. It can be expected that the two countries face a promising prospect for cooperation in Internet-related sectors.

India should resist calls for protectionist measures against Chinese smartphones
Global Times, April 18
India should resist the temptation of resorting to protectionism, an issue that has raised its ugly head among its smartphone makers recently. These firms are seeking government action to ease the pain of their defeat to Chinese rivals. “The government should be more supportive of its people,” Narendra Bansal, founder of Indian smartphone brand Intex Technologies, was quoted as saying by the Financial Times, adding that the Indian government should raise supplementary levies against handsets from Chinese companies. With the Make in India campaign having been initiated by the Modi administration, India is in a period of rapidly developing industrialization, and the question of how to effectively protect nascent homegrown industries is a tough task faced by local governments. Although protecting local brands from intense international competition can buy some time for the expansion of homegrown industries, such moves will reduce local companies’ competitiveness in the long run and build an inefficient industrial system.

India to attend Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, says China
Hindustan Times, April 18
India will send an official representative to the high-profile Belt and Road Forum (BRF) to be held in Beijing in May, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday amid unease in New Delhi over the ambitious project passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Announcing India’s participation in the forum to promote President Xi Jinping’s pet project, Wang attempted to assuage New Delhi by saying that none of the projects in PoK had any link with territorial disputes in the region. “As for disputes in Kashmir, China’s position has remained unchanged. The CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) has no relationship with the dispute in certain regions. I want to reaffirm this to our Indian friends,” Wang told a special briefing on BRF on Tuesday morning.

28 leaders to attend B&R forum
Global Times, April 19
Leaders of 28 countries will attend the Belt and Road (B&R) Forum for International Cooperation next month, another major “home diplomacy” event for China after the Hangzhou G20 Summit in 2016. The B&R Forum for International Cooperation will be held on May 14 and 15 in Beijing, and Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to attend the opening ceremony and host a round table summit of the leaders, Wang said Tuesday morning, the Xinhua News Agency reported. “Since the start of the B&R initiative in 2013, the initiative has undergone three years’ development, so we are at the key stage to comprehensively promote it, and this is the main reason why China is holding the forum” said Lin Minwang, a professor at the Institute of International Studies of Fudan University.


News Reports

Energy and Environment

India’s role in green tech transfer talks
The Hindu Business Line, April 17
At the last meeting of the Environmental Goods Agreement in Geneva, in December 2016, participants were unable to close their differences on trade liberalisation of environmental goods (EG). The WTO defines EG as a host of products that can help to achieve environmental and climate protection goals. The EGA builds on a list of 54 environment-related products on which the negotiating countries are advocating to create a consensus seeking to reduce tariffs. In 2001 when discussions began the list of products was much larger. Countries originally involved in the discussions are Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, and the US, and the EU. India has so far opposed the EGA fearing the developed countries could use it as a new trade-restrictive measure, apart from the fact that it is reluctant to reduce tariff lines for identified goods. Another question that has remained unanswered is the identification of goods, as some of the identified ones can be used for both environmental and general (non-environmental) purposes. 



China in the middle: Pakistan trade corridor under spotlight after Indian ‘spy’ gets death sentence
South China Morning Post, April 15
China is again caught up in a South Asian showdown as India cries foul over a Pakistani court decision to sentence naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav to death for alleged espionage and sabotage activities in Baluchistan – a key province in Beijing’s economic corridor project. India has labelled the military court’s decision “premeditated murder”, and promised to do everything in its power to save Jadhav. The Jadhav saga comes after India made repeated complaints about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project – a US$55 billion (HK$427.37 billion) trade route that will run from Xinjiang through to the deep-water Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. The corridor would give China easy access to fuel imports from the Middle East and Africa, while creating a cheap overland export route for interior provinces such as Gansu and Qinghai.

Certainty in Sino-US ties ensures stable global economy
Global Times, April 18
On April 12, US President Donald Trump said that he would not label China as a currency manipulator. The decision dramatically reduces the probability of a trade war between US and China.  It seems the relationship between China and the US has become more predictable than before after the first meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart earlier this month. Amid a myriad of uncertainties, Washington and Beijing have the responsibility to reassure the world by stabilizing their bilateral relationship. Trump’s choice of venue, the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, has symbolic significance. It implies that he is willing to establish a personal relationship with Xi. His granddaughter also sang a famous Chinese folk song, which was well-received by Xi and his wife. Apparently, the meeting has yielded many tangible results, including the establishment of the comprehensive economic dialogue mechanism.

When India and China compete, India always loses
Newsweek, April 25
While international attention has been preoccupied with Donald Trump and his reactions to North Korea’s nuclear capability and the war in Syria, India and China have been provocatively needling each other over their long-running and potentially explosive border dispute in the Himalayan mountains. The world need not worry, however, because, instead of nuclear strikes or even, as often happens, troops crossing the undefined border, China last week issued new names for places in India’s north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as its territory. This was in response to India allowing the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader who lives in India in exile, to go to the state earlier this month for a high profile eight-day pastoral tour.

Beijing won’t make concessions to India in border dispute: Chinese expert
The Economic Times, April 25
Renaming of six places by China in Arunachal Pradesh was not in retaliation for the Dalai Lama’s visit to the state, but a way to convey Beijing’s resoluteness in not making any concessions to New Delhi in border talks, a Chinese expert has said. Long Xingchun, Director at the Centre for Indian Studies at China West Normal University, said Beijing was magnanimous in not retaliating against New Delhi’s provocations by arranging the Tibetan spiritual leader’s repeated visits to Arunachal Pradesh. He also said some “radical” Indians were naive in thinking that New Delhi could out-do Beijing in armed clashes.

The B&R initiative: an opportunity for India to solidify good neighbourly relations with China
CCTV, April 25
China will host the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation from May 14 to 15 in Beijing. The BRF has attracted an increasing amount of attention from the international community since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced it at the 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos on January 17 this year. The forum will be the most important international gathering to better build consensus and advance cooperation, as its theme suggests, “Cooperation for Common Prosperity.”  By not joining the B&R, India is missing out an opportunity for economic development that the B&R has to offer. India should realize that the initiative, the grand trade and infrastructure plan, will not only contribute to China’s development but also to coordinated regional development.


Books and Journals

Strategic Oil Stockpiling for Energy Security: The Case of China and India
Energy Economics, January 2017
Compared with the developed countries, the developing countries could be more vulnerable to oil supply disruptions due to their lack of strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs). Several developing countries, including China and India, are establishing their SPRs to ensure energy security. In the common world oil market, one country’s SPR decisions can be affected by the decisions of other countries. This paper, by Xiao-Bing Zhang, Ping Qin and Xiaolan Chen, investigates the SPR policies of China and India, two of the largest developing countries, in a game-theoretic framework, where the interactions between the two countries are taken into account. The results show that players’ equilibrium stockpiling strategies and total expected costs could vary significantly with the initial oil market state, stockpile acquisition capacity and the probabilities for disruptions to persist.

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