China invokes Panchsheel


29th (not 28th)


Important news. India’s tough stand on no compromise with respect to Kashmir issue is redefining India’s foreign policy and international engagement.

Also, China considering Kashmir as bilateral issue between India and Pakistan is important milestone for India to make its case stronger at international fora.

From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level: Panchsheel doctrine, persons associated with it, other such initiatives in diplomacy.

Mains level: How Panchsheel has helped India, its history and future prospects in changing world order.


  1. China has re-invoked the doctrine of Panchsheel — or the five principles of peaceful co-existence — as the template for addressing India’s concerns over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Belt and Road Initiative

Why this move?

  1. India had decided to skip the summit hosted by China on grounds that the economic corridor infringed New Delhi’s sovereignty as it passed through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

China’s stance:

  1. The five principles include “mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty”
  2. Chinese official said that CPEC did not contradict the “five principles” as China has not changed its original position on the territorial status of Kashmir
  3. It is an issue between India and Pakistan and the Belt and Road Initiative will not change China’s position on the Kashmir issue, official said
  4. Earlier this month, Chinese Ambassador to India, had said China “supported a settlement through bilateral negotiation in line with the Shimla Agreement”



  1. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known in Nepal and India as the Panchsheel Treaty (from Pali, panch: five, sheel: virtues), are a series of principles which formed the bedrock of the relationship between India and the People’s Republic of China
  2. Their first formal codification in treaty form was in an agreement between China and India in 1954
  3. Panchsheel lists mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence, as the touchstones for international conduct
  4. An underlying assumption of the Five Principles was that newly independent states after decolonization would be able to develop a new and more principled approach to international relations
  5. The principles were emphasized by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru

[op-ed snap] A great wall of paranoia



Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Read the op-ed carefully to get a holistic view of OBOR issue. What is India’s stand, international community’s viewpoint, Plans of India’s neighbourhood, there is everything included.
From UPSC perspective, following things are important:
Prelims level: Read about all international organizations mentioned in op-ed.
Mains level: The OBOR issue, China’s ambitions to be world leader, India’s concerns and all other related topics. UPSC has asked question on String of pearls policy of China in 2013 mains thus any policy/design of China which has any kind of ramifications on India’s interest is very important for mains exam.


  1. India decided to stake out a clear position of defiance against the Belt & Road Initiative (B&RI) of China

What is the calculus driving India’s China policy?

  1. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of the B&RI, is seen as a blatant disregard for India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir because it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
  2. Delhi’s protest has an element of concerns over sovereignty
  3. China’s rise and projection of geo-economic influence is a direct challenge and threat to India’s great power aspirations and traditional position in the subcontinent

Two contending viewpoints:

(a) Why India should not Engage?

A one sided affair: Unless and until India develops its own regional connectivity plans and economic capacities at home, there can be no serious engagement with Chinese-sponsored projects

(b) Why India should Engage?

  1. India’s rise itself needs engagement and connections with the wider Asian and Eurasian economies
  2. Post-2008 crisis world has reduced the viability of the previous liberalisation model of drawing in western capital and basing India’s growth on a handful of service sectors linked to the West
  3. Interdependence is key: The idea of growth and development cannot occur in isolation from the world’s second-largest economy.
  4. Alternate source: The B&RI may provide an alternative source of finance capital and manufacturing opportunities to buttress India’s economy
  5. The problem really lies in India’s inability to imagine security more holistically and reconcile geopolitical interests with wider developmental goals

How have other countries parked their insecurities and embraced the larger good?

  1. Both the U.S. and Russia are proceeding rapidly with their bilateral cooperation with China
  2. Russia is central to any Chinese trans-Eurasian vision for the most basic reason: Geography
  3. Three of the six corridors outlined by China as part of the B&RI — the China-Mongolia-Russia corridor, the new Eurasian Land Bridge, the China-Central Asia-Western Asia economic corridor — all imply Russian cooperation
  4. US has shown similar foresight
  5. Difference in vision: US and Russia have chosen a policy of enhancing interdependence along with pursuing their own geo-strategies of upholding traditional political-military alliances
  6. Russia, for example, is developing its own connectivity project called the Eurasian Economic Union, which is actually at a far more advanced stage of institutional development having already established a single market for its five members ( Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia )

Examples from Indian subcontinent:

  1. Clear trends of a complex approach towards China
  2. India’s neighbours such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar are all pursuing economic cooperation with China on a growing scale while also maintaining close connections with India
  3. This triangular setting suggests it would be extremely challenging, if not impossible, for Delhi to persuade South Asia to curtail or cut off ties with China

Open ended questions about rise of powers in Asian Sub continent:

  1. Asia’s national identities are much too strong for state agency to be brushed aside
  2. Will Vietnam — a country that has resisted China for a millennia — fall under the dragon’s sway because of an engagement with the B&RI?
  3. What about Russia, one of the world’s strongest military powers with a history of geopolitical experience in Eurasia?
  4. A tiny island state like Sri Lanka has apparently resisted certain provisions for port usage in the Hambantota project with China on sovereignty grounds
  5. Almost every Asian state has a litany of issues with China’s rise but is pursuing a complex strategy of adapting without in any way folding up
  6. The notion that China can literally purchase “regional leadership” by financing infrastructure or lending money is ludicrous
  7. Power stems from something much deeper. It requires consent and an ability to provide public goods
  8. China’s internationalism has, so far, been more materialistic than ideational, relying largely on the lure of capital and commerce
  9. It is instructive that the Chinese-sponsored or promoted institutions that have gained the most multilateral traction — such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development Bank, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation — are the ones that are perceived to offer public goods and are built around a semblance of democratised norms or rules


[op-ed snap] China is repeating the West’s mistakes in Pakistan


  1. President Xi Jinping announced in 2015 that China would pump $46 billion worth of investments into Pakistan
  2. The military and political elites of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan have long extracted aid from outside powers in return for keeping a lid on things at home

Pakistan investments:

  1. Xi will no doubt tout the Pakistan investments, which include a network of road, rail, power and port projects that are collectively known as the CPEC, at his massive “Belt and Road” conference
  2. The Chinese argue these projects won’t just link China to markets and suppliers from Europe to Southeast Asia, but also promote stability and development in the countries on its periphery
  3. Even the International Monetary Fund hopes that China’s billions will ease Pakistan’s chronic supply-side constraints and perhaps reduce the pressure on the country’s development budget

Effects on Pakistan’s economy:

  1. As part of CPEC, Chinese loans will flow into Pakistan for urban transport infrastructure, for power plants and for ports and highways
  2. The first tranche focuses on power—$18 billion is earmarked for the sector, particularly for coal-fired plants—and $10 billion has been promised for highways, ports and Pakistan Railways
  3. Sectors like cement have started growing in response, boosting the Karachi Stock Exchange, which was the world’s best-performing last year
  4. Real estate prices have increased, too

Benefit for China:

  1. For China, the benefits of the corridor seem obvious
  2. Much of its grand strategy rests on trying to avoid the “Malacca dilemma”: 80% of its oil, and much of its trade, flows through a narrow chokepoint at the Straits of Malacca that would be dangerously easy for the US, say, or India to blockade
  3. One way to reduce that dependence would be to land oil or goods at China’s new Arabian Sea port at Gwadar, in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, and move them overland to Xinjiang province
  4. In the process, Chinese analysts insist, China might well be able to improve Pakistan’s economy, stabilize its politics and render it a bit less troublesome than it currently is

Critically analyzing:

The first: Pakistan’s domestic politics

  1. Already the whole program has become tangled in an internal tug-of-war
  2. Leaders from restive Balochistan complain that CPEC, which was originally supposed to run mostly through their province and neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, now looks to benefit mostly the richer eastern provinces of Punjab and Sindh
  3. Protesters say the route was changed to benefit Punjab in particular; the province is the stronghold of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and is ruled by his brother Shahbaz
  4. For the Chinese, these are uncharted waters
  5. They will have to balance gains to the ruling elites in Islamabad and Lahore with those to the locals in Balochistan, who are more than capable of violently disrupting work on the corridor
  6. If China fails to do so, Pakistan will end up more unstable, not less

The second lesson: beware of the Pakistan army

  1. Decades of foreign support have only further entrenched the military at the centre of not just Pakistan’s state, but its economy and society
  2. Pakistan is noisy and disputatious enough to make Chinese planners wonder whether the army might not make a better partner than the civilian government or the private sector
  3. Already, CPEC has exacerbated civil-military disputes in a country that saw its first peaceful democratic transfer of power only a few years ago
  4. Military organizations have begun much of the corridor’s work, especially road-building
  5. CPEC was at the top of the agenda when Pakistan’s army chief visited Beijing last month
  6. And the army has cited the task of securing the corridor as an excuse to raise an entire new division of nine battalions and six “civil wings”

The pattern is familiar to many in Washington:

  1. Money sent to Pakistan has a habit of winding up further bolstering the army’s power
  2. Meanwhile, the civilian government is quietly but rapidly losing enthusiasm for CPEC projects, which it correctly recognizes may wind up draining its resources instead of increasing them
  3. For two successive years, the government has stepped in to reduce the amount of Pakistan’s own money committed to the corridor
  4. The stronger the army, and the weaker the incentives for the civilian government to open up the economy to countries other than China, the less likely Pakistan is to prosper in the coming decades
  5. There’s no question a more stable and prosperous Pakistan is vital for South and West Asia, for China and for the world
  6. But it’s far from certain that CPEC will produce one


[op-ed snap] The dragon beckons


  1. The UNSC adopted a resolution on security in Afghanistan
  2. It includes a reference to regional development initiatives such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  3. A summit, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) is being hosted by China in mid-May
  4. The declared purpose is to review progress of the BRI, obtain perspectives of stakeholders and plan new trajectories of cooperation

The grand design:

  1. The BRI originated from two speeches by President Xi Jinping in Central Asia in 2013, outlining plans for China’s global outreach through connectivity and infrastructure development
  2. The Silk Road Economic Belt includes land corridors from China through Central Asia and Russia to Europe with spurs to West Asia and to Pakistan — the CPEC
  3. The 21st century Maritime Silk Road links China’s east coast through major sea lanes to Europe in the west and the Pacific in the east
  4. Together, they constitute the BRI (originally “One Belt One Road”, until the Chinese recently changed the name)

Chinese objectives of the BRI:

  1. Finding outlets for excess capacity of its manufacturing and construction industries, increasing economic activity in its relatively underdeveloped western region
  2. Creating alternative energy supply routes to the choke points of the Straits of Hormuz and Malacca, through which almost all of China’s maritime oil imports pass
  3. The political subtext is strengthening China’s influence over swathes of Asia and Africa, buttressing its ambitions to be a maritime power, and developing financing structures parallel to (and eventually competing with) the Bretton Woods system
  4. It is a rich mix of economic, developmental, strategic and geopolitical motives
  5. It is also the most ambitious global infrastructure project ever envisaged by one country
  6. Connectivity and infrastructure development are unexceptionable objectives
  7. Much of Asia lacks them and the finances required to develop them

A number of potential issues:

  1. Chinese overcapacity may override host countries’ development priorities in project selection
  2. Political tensions between countries may prevail over considerations of economic benefit
  3. Local elites may corner the “spoils” from new projects, thereby exacerbating social tensions
  4. Financing strategies may result in countries sleepwalking into a debt trap (the Hambantota development projects in Sri Lanka provide a telling example)
  5. Much will depend on how sensitive China is to international and local concerns on these counts
  6. However, even if only a part of the grand BRI design is eventually implemented, it could have a major political and economic impact

India and the mid-May meet:

  1. Officially, India says it cannot endorse the BRI in its present form, since it includes the CPEC, which runs through Indian territory under illegal Pakistani occupation (Gilgit-Baltistan)
  2. Some analysts have argued for the more “pragmatic” approach of a partial endorsement: as the initiative rolls out in various countries, India can engage with them (and with China) to promote projects that would be of benefit
  3. Judging from recent Chinese actions, their major focus today is not so much securing endorsement for the BRI as ensuring high-level global attendance at the BRF

Role of forum:

  1. Whatever its other objectives, the principal role of the forum is to showcase international endorsement of President Xi’s strategic vision of economic cooperation for peace
  2. The forum is timed to enable him to carry this aura of global recognition into the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party later this year
  3. Here he will put policy stamp on his second term as party general secretary
  4. China’s argument, that India would be “isolating” itself by staying out, is a pressure tactic: roads, ports and railways are public goods, which cannot be open to some and closed to others, based on nationality

Scope for give and take:

  1. India should ask China whether it is willing to address its concerns in such a way as to enable high-level Indian participation
  2. Would China be willing to declare that the CPEC is not a component of the BRI but a separate bilateral China-Pakistan project?
  3. The sovereignty issue needs to be addressed
  4. China’s Foreign Minister declared that the CPEC does not change Beijing’s stand on J&K
  5. Would China be willing to say that once the status of Gilgit-Baltistan is agreed bilaterally between India and Pakistan, China will renegotiate with the sovereign authority the terms of transit of the corridor?

China’s appeal:

  1. China argues that connectivity provided by the BRI would enhance economic cooperation and promote peace
  2. Will it walk its altruistic talk and include the existing land corridor from India to Afghanistan, through Pakistan, in the BRI?
  3. This corridor would intersect the CPEC and may therefore open new routes for Chinese goods to both India and Afghanistan, besides promoting India, Pakistan and Afghanistan trade
  4. With its investment in the CPEC now estimated at over $60 billion, its increasing bilateral assistance to Pakistan and its growing military presence in that country, China is in a strong position to persuade Pakistan to recognise that this is in its best economic interest


Where Buddha, Confucius and Mao meet

  1. Xian’er: At the impressive Longquan Temple in Beijing, Xian’er (a robot) has emerged as the mascot for drawing China’s new cyber-savvy generation closer to Buddhism
  2. With his yellow robes, shaven head and inquisitive, yet comical expressions, he exerts a transparent magnetic pull
  3. Xian’er, who has been programmed to answer 20 simple questions, can chant Buddhist mantras, obey voice commands and hold a simple conversation
  4. Xian’er has evolved from a 2013 comic series by the same name, conceived by Master Xianfan of the temple
  5. Keen to connect with the generation-next, the temple took the lead in producing cartoon animations and publishing anthologies in the comic-book format
  6. Xian’er finally emerged from a collaborative enterprise involving a technology company and artificial intelligence specialists, drawn from some of China’s finest universities
  7. The robot monk of Longquan has been playing its part in bridging the digital divide between the pre-Internet preachers of Buddhism and a sharp new generation, widely networked by smartphones, but overwhelmed by an information overload, arguably distracted
  8. Xian’er is an emblem of a cultural renaissance taking place on President Xi Jinping’s watch
  9. This revival combines Buddhism, Confucian thought and Maoism in a distilled form
  10. Mr. Xi’s soft-power project to blend China’s “civilisational” tradition with elements of Maoism is designed to provide a counter-narrative to the seemingly seductive charms of democracy, human rights, and colour revolutions
  11. The focus on Confucianism is, therefore, equally impressive. The Confucian Academy, a vast centre for Confucian learning, has emerged in southwest China’s Guizhou province
  12. Now managed by the local government, it provides free lectures on Confucian philosophy, and has the infrastructure for scholars to live and work. Provincial officials attend regular courses at the school


This is related to China, so may not be very important but because of soft power diplomacy by China, combination of three cultural/ religious systems along with artificial intelligence, it becomes important for prelims like the name of the robot etc. It may also be used as an example in a mains answer/ essay on international relations and use of soft power.

China’s railway drives silk road plan

  1. Near the steps of China’s Great Wall at the Badaling section in Beijing, an underground station is being built
  2. The 174-km section of high-speed railway, starting from Beijing north station to Badaling, has to be completed by 2022
  3. That is the year when China will host the winter Olympics
  4. It is part of China’s north-west high speed corridor, which will link Beijing with Lanzhou, a city along the Yellow river in north-central China
  5. In turn, Lanzhou has already established a high-speed link with Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region, China’s gateway to Central and South Asia
  6. Once the Beijing-Lanzhou high speed section is complete, it will be possible to travel from the Chinese capital to Xinjiang’s administrative hub in 17 hours flat
  7. The construction at Badaling is part of a strategic project, integrated with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — China’s giant connectivity project, mostly along the ancient Silk Road, which in the past connected Asia with Europe
  8. Apart from serving as the entrepôt to Central Asia, Xinjiang is also vital for the China’s energy security
  9. A string of West-East gas pipelines carry copious reserves of the gas from Central Asia to power China’s industrial heartland along the coast


An important link in China’s OBOR initiative. OBOR, Silk Route etc are important for prelims and mains both.

[op-ed snap] Way to get back on board


  1. In February 2014, when the Chinese government first brought up with India its plans for the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative, four months after President Xi Jinping had unveiled the idea in Kazakhstan, it seemed an unworkable, ambitious pipe dream
  2. China would need all the friends and partners it could get to make its plans for a 60-nation network encompassing 4.4 billion people
  3. In the Chinese scheme, India could be a major partner, and maps of the time show the B&R travel east to west right through India

Swerving off the road:

  1. A few months later Russia was enlisted through the $400-billion “Power of Siberia” pipeline
  2. Xi’s friendship at a time when the West had decided to isolate and cripple Moscow over Crimea’s annexation brought President Vladimir Putin firmly into the fold
  3. With India, China’s plan was a grander one: the newly elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, would visit Xi’an, the original starting point of the old Silk Route, in May 2015, and both leaders would announce their cooperation in the B&R project (then called OBOR or One Belt, One Road), along with plans for the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) that was set up in October 2014
  4. The script soured with either Mr. Modi’s announcement of a joint vision with U.S. President Obama for Asia-Pacific (read South China Sea), or Mr. Xi’s announcement of the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)\
  5. Therefore, May 2015 plan never materialised, although Mr. Modi did visit Xi’an

Hasn’t given up on India’s participation:

  1. China says it still hasn’t given up on Indian participation, and the National People’s Congress spokesperson this week repeated the hope that India will attend Mr. Xi’s mega B&R conference on May 14-15 this year
  2. Putin, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are among the invitees expected
  3. However, the government has made it clear it is prepared to sit out the event over the principle of sovereignty
  4. When asked, a senior official said, “It is impossible for us to go and sit even as observers in the conference at this point — with the Belt and Road map on display showing parts of India in Pakistan”
  5. While the outcome is unfortunate, India’s stand over the line going through PoK is understandable

A reset in ties required:

  1. There is every indication that after ‘annus horribilis’ of 2016 for India-China ties, overshadowed by China’s opposition to India’s entry into in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and its vetoing of a proposal at the United Nations to declare Masood Azhar a terrorist, New Delhi is looking for a reset
  2. During Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s recent visit to Beijing, he was looking forward to a stable, forward-looking relationship to deal with global uncertainties triggered by the Donald Trump administration in the U.S.

The U.S. angle:

  1. Much has been written about the impact of the new U.S. President’s actions on India
  2. The most obvious ones are cutbacks on immigrant visas, restrictions on outsourcing, and ‘SelectUSA’ which will make a dent in the ‘Make in India’ programme, both for manufactured goods and defence purchases
  3. Those actions are held responsible for creating an atmosphere of xenophobia in the U.S. where Indians could be targeted as much as people from countries on the travel ban, and the government has already had to exert considerable diplomatic leverage to exact words of assurances from the U.S. government on behalf of NRIs and PIOs
  4. If the U.S. decides not to build on its pivot to Asia, in addition to pulling out of free trade negotiations like Trans-Pacific Partnership, or doesn’t bolster its naval strength in the Indo-Pacific, those spaces will be occupied by China
  5. In the same vein, if the U.S. continues to cut troops in Afghanistan, lowers its interest in the reconciliation process, or pulls away from the larger discussions on Afghanistan’s future, then Russia has proved willing to move into those roles
  6. If this is to be the reality of Asia, then India will have to rethink its own rebalance of the past few years towards the U.S.

Neighbourhood on board:

  1. A rethink may also be required on India’s own neighbourhood policy
  2. In September last year, the government exerted considerable heft with each of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to cancel a summit in Pakistan after the Uri attacks
  3. The move was a part of India’s plan to “isolate” Pakistan until it takes action on terror
  4. The truth is that the plan worked for the SAARC summit, but not beyond that, in part because of Pakistan’s involvement with China and the B&R initiative, which has already been signed on to by Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (Nepal is expected to join soon)
  5. Even Afghanistan and Bangladesh, which suffer the most from terrorism emanating from Pakistan, will inevitably be drawn into the B&R group of countries more and more for connectivity and trade, more so in the absence of SAARC
  6. Significantly, it is the Afghanistan leadership that has come out most strongly on the need for India to find its way into the B&R
  7. Both President Ashraf Ghani and former President Hamid Karzai, on visits to India in the past few months, have stressed the importance of connecting India to Central Asia via Afghanistan, joining a “strategic arc” of countries from Iran to Russia and China
  8. These countries, including Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan, are connecting to each other via B&R through Iran’s North-South corridor, CPEC and other routes already in place, while India’s plans for Chabahar port are still to get off the ground
  9. “Economically, Afghanistan has become a part of Central Asia,” Mr. Ghani has said
  10. Clearly, Afghanistan’s desire to reduce its dependence on Pakistan trade will eventually cut it off from all of South Asia

Contours of a compromise:

  1. If China so wishes, it could still make amends by using the Afghan desire to remain connected by putting the CPEC on an alternate route: to Afghanistan and not PoK, connecting it to the Silk Route envisaged
  2. This would not only build a bigger arc for the B&R route, it would sidestep India’s concerns over sovereignty, and leave the door open for it to join the project on its eastern frontiers via BCIM or to even just be an observer
  3. The issue of specific projects in PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan would remain, but they could be dealt with in the manner the Chinese funding of the Karakoram highway or USAID and Asian Development Bank contributions to the Diamer-Bhasha dam were


  1. The founder of the old Silk Route, Zhang Qian, was not a Chinese emperor or ruler, but a diplomat-warrior
  2. He set out to look for strategic allies for Emperor Wu on a journey that began in 138 BC from the Han capital of Chang’an (now Xi’an)
  3. When he returned he told the emperor he had also learned during his stay in Bactria (Afghanistan and Central Asia) that a more important route for China lay within Shendu (India), through which China could trade over the mountains of Sichuan province


Two thousand years later, it may need both diplomacy and a push from Afghanistan and Central Asia to once again align the lines between India and China, if New Delhi and Beijing wish to ensure that the success they shared via the old Silk Route is given another chance. An important op-ed for Mains.

China planning five-fold increase in marine force

  1. China is set to rapidly expand its marine corps and the Navy in anticipation of the development of its Maritime Silk Road (MSR)
  2. MSR covers the Pakistani port of Gwadar, and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa
  3. There will be a five-fold increase in its marine force — from 20,000 to 100,000 personnel.
  4. These numbers are still well short of the 182,000 strong marine corps of the United States, which has an aviation component of 1,199 planes
  5. Why expand? Some of the Chinese marines would be stationed at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, and the Pakistani port of Gwadar, the starting point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
  6. Its original missions include a possible war with Taiwan, maritime defence in the East and South China seas
  7. Future missions: Protection of China’s national security in the Korean peninsula, protecting the country’s maritime lifelines


Locate the locations mentioned in the article – Horn of Africa, Gwadar etc. The expansion of Chinese military forces is not a surprise, given its attempt to increase its influence around the world.

[op-ed snap] Missing the Asian tailwind?


  1. There has been a tectonic shift in the global geopolitical economy, to which powers such as the U.S., China and Russia have responded
  2. However, India is yet to formulate a worldview even as Asia, after a gap of 260 years, is again set to become the centre of the world

Recognising global trends:

  1. The “Look East Policy” enunciated in 1992 does not have much to show for it other than the sale of coastal patrol craft to Vietnam
  2. In the west, India’s investment of $500 million in the Chabahar port, mooted some years ago, is minuscule compared to China’s investment of $46 billion in the CPEC ending in Gwadar
  3. In South Asia, only Bhutan can still be considered to be in our “sphere of influence”

India now finds itself increasingly isolated in continental Asia:

  1. Russia and the Central Asian countries are linking their infrastructure to China’s OBOR, launched in 2013, meeting their long quest for a warm-water port
  2. Chinese investment is also attractive to Europe, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar

Current state of India:

  1. There is no national perspective on the uncertainties, challenges and opportunities from global forces and technological innovation reshaping global politics, economy and society
  2. Consequently, the stress remains on the military balance in dealing with other countries
  3. Remaining Pakistan-centric and ignoring trade cannot constitute the foreign policy of an aspiring global power

Global scenario:

  1. The post-1950 world order designed by the U.S. rested on a “tripod” of rules with coercive power:
  2. Global trade with dispute settlement, global security system resting on alliances, and deliberations in the UN based on a division between donors and recipients
  3. The re-emergence of China has limited the ability of the U.S. in setting the global agenda
  4. In the global economy, digital flows are now adding more wealth than goods and services
  5. As the U.S., Russia and China have strengths in individual sectors, their relations may well get better
  6. China is fast replacing global rules with connectivity, the OBOR, through infrastructure, new institutions and integrated markets
  7. India alone in continental Asia does not support the OBOR

Where do we fit in this realignment?

  1. The primary concern of the U.S., Russia and China in South Asia is the threat to themselves from terrorist safe havens in Pakistan
  2. The U.S. Senate has both designated India a “major defence partner” to facilitate defence sales and provided Pakistan with nearly $1 billion in military assistance

Should India participate in OBOR?

  1. China is keen that India join that initiative, providing the opportunity to reset relations
  2. We should become a partner in the OBOR adding a “Digital Sustainable Asia” component, an area where we have global leadership, shaping the infrastructure and markets around two nodes
  3. We should also see Pakistan-sponsored terrorism as a symptom of the domination of the military with the OBOR leading to strengthening of democratic control

India should review relations with neighbours, focus on the economy and join the One Belt, One Road to shape the ‘Asian Century’


In current geopolitical scenario, ‘should Indian join OBOR?’ is a prominent question. This op-ed gives a perspective for that.

What is China’s “One belt One Road” initiative?

  1. It envisages connecting the Pacific coast with Europe by an extensive transport, cyber and energy network along the Eurasian corridor.
  2. Inter-linked with the land route, China wants to establish the 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR).
  3. Russia, Australia and the Netherlands, announced its decision to join the China-led AIIB.
  4. The AIIB initiative by China has cause much pain to US plans of a grand Atlantic Alliance.

As Maritime Silk Road takes root, China docks submarine in Malaysia

  1. For the first time, a Chinese submarine has docked at a port in Malaysia, signaling deepening military ties between the two countries
  2. They are already partners in the development of the Beijing- led Maritime Silk Road (MSR)
  3. It is being seen as a trigger for elevated tensions in the South China Sea (SCS) as the Malaysian port has a naval base facing the SCS
  4. It is the second confirmed port visit by a Chinese submarine, following a visit to Sri Lanka in 2014

Deepening ties-The silk route diplomacy:

  1. Submarine port visits can only happen when mutual trust between two navies has reached new heights, as submarine operations are very secretive and sensitive
  2. The visit of the submarine is adding a prominent military dimension to China’s ties with Malaysia which is fast emerging as Beijing’s top partner, close to the Strait of Malacca, along the Maritime Silk Road (MSR)
  3. The China Malaysia port cooperation alliance has already been established, comprising of 11 Chinese and six Malaysian ports
  4. Besides, the Strait of Malacca maritime industrial park, among others, is also being set up
  5. The Malacca industrial park is part of the giant Malacca Gateway Project that China and Malaysia signed last year
  6. It also includes the establishment of the strategically vital deep water port in the Strait


This is an all-time important issue in international relations. Note it for mains. Do the mapping exercise in SCS and South-east Asian Islands, straits etc for Prelims.

China begins first freight train service to London

  1. What: China has begun its first freight train service to London from Yiwu, in the eastern province of Zhejiang
  2. The train will travel for 18 days over more than 12,000 km to reach Britain from China
  3. It will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany,Belgium and France before arriving in London
  4. PM Theresa May has said the relationship with China remains “golden” as she seeks to bring in billions of dollars in Chinese investment as Britain prepares to leave the European Union


This news article will help you to understand the scale of OBOR. Goods will be transported from China to Britain. In comparison, all of India’s infrastructure projects in our neighborhood (not even global projects) are at an early stage of development.

Task for students: Trace the route (countries are mentioned above) on a map.

Chinese aid to Pak project

  1. China will provide a whopping $5.5 billion to Pakistan for the expansion and renovation of its main rail link connecting Peshawar and Karachi
  2. This is a part of the investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

China’s Afghanistan cargo train diplomacy

  • Context: China’s 1st Silk Road train will reach Afghanistan on Sept. 9, 2016
  • The Silk Road Train- 3 major reasons
  1. Securing the OBOR
  2. Safeguarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
  3. Plugging support for separatists operating in the Xinjiang province
  • Background: The decision to run a cargo train follows concerted effort by China to play a leading role in imparting political stability to Afghanistan, in tune with the scaling down of NATO forces from the country
  • Earlier in August, China and Afghanistan held their first strategic military dialogue
  • The quadrilateral mechanism at the military level on counterterrorism among China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan was established during the dialogue

China’s 1st Silk Road train to reach Afghanistan on Sept. 9

  1. The train left China’s eastern city of Nantong on August 25, to cover a 15 day journey to Hairatan, on Afghanistan’s border with Uzbekistan
  2. Significance: Shows Beijing’s effort to consolidate ties with Kabul, as part of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative along the ancient Silk Road
  3. Also its efforts to establish to secure transportation links along the New Silk Road, linking Asia with Europe

About Dunhuang & Mogao caves

  1. Dunhuang is an oasis town along the ancient Silk Road in northwestern China
  2. Dunhuang has Mogao caves which contain priceless artworks from times of Buddha
  3. Its intricately painted walls and statues depict the life and thought of Buddha
  4. Also, these are an icon of the vigorous cultural cross-currents that, for centuries, energised ties between India and China, through a branch of the ancient Silk Road

Silk Road revival plans place culture at the centre

  1. What? The first Silk Road International Cultural Expo will be held in Dunhuan in September
  2. Theme: The Mogao grottos
  3. Aim: To anchor a seamless revival of the ancient Silk Road
  4. Soft power: 72 countries have been invited to participate in the mega event
  5. It draws inspiration from China’s traditional engagement with a diverse set of people and cultures along the Silk Road

China’s Silk Road revival steams ahead as cargo train arrives in Iran


  1. Context: China’s OBOR project
  2. Journey: from China’s eastern Zhejiang province and it took 14 days to reach final destination
  3. Distance: around 9,500 km distance and passed through two Central Asian countries Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan
  4. Significance: It marks the revival the ancient Silk Road and gives impetus to China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR)
  5. Trade: Boost to bilateral trade between both countries – economic ties worth up to 600 billion dollars
  6. China is Iran’s biggest trading partner and accounts for its 1/3rd of foreign trade

Djibouti, Myanmar and Sri Lanka anchor China’s Maritime Silk Road

  1. Context: A military base in Djibouti along with major port development projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka are defining the contours of China’s Maritime Silk Road
  2. Background: China’s Maritime Silk Road is an oceanic connectivity project, of which, the Indian Ocean is the core
  3. How significant? Djibouti, an ideal location for securing sea lanes, in the vicinity, which radiate from this area towards Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline and Arabian Sea
  4. China’s Plan: Establishing naval “support facilities” in Djibouti, which has the ambition of emerging as another Singapore, leveraging its position at the intersection of busy shipping lanes
  5. Deal with Myanmar: To develop an Industrial Park and a deep water port in Kyaukphyu in Myanmar
  6. Revival in Sri Lanka: Stalled Colombo port city project under new conditions, and the establishment of a SEZ in Hambantota

What is Silk Road Initiative?

  1. The Silk Road project is an initiative by China to resurrect the ancient maritime Silk Road.
  2. It is perceived to be an attempt by China to ameliorate relations with South and Southeast Asia.
  3. Chinese want to open up the transportation channel from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea.
  4. From which would radiate rail and road routes, which would also connect with East Asia, West Asia, and South Asia.
  5. This initiative aspires to deepen linkages between China and its neighbours via trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, its currency.

Train to Tehran winds along Silk Road into West Asia

China recently flagged of its first direct freight train to Iran from its trading hub of Yiwu, in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang.

  1. The container train will cover a journey of 10,399 km in its maiden journey to West Asia in 14 days.
  2. It will exit China through Alataw Pass in western China’s Xinjiang province, and then pass through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan before heading for the Iranian capital.
  3. Yiwu is already connected by trains that head for Duisburg in Germany and Madrid.
  4. The new train is part of China’s ‘Silk Road’ plan to increase its influence in Eurasia through infrastructure development and economic exchanges.
  5. That are lacking in development but rich in natural resources and geopolitical importance.

Let’s know about IMO?

It has responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

  1. The IMO is the United Nations specialised agency.
  2. It has 171 Member States and 3 Associate Members.
  3. The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping.
  4. Its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.

India re-elected as Member of International Maritime Council

  1. India has been re-elected to the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
  2. India was elected to the IMO council under Category ‘B’ at the 29th session of the Assembly of the IMO held recently in London.
  3. India ranks amongst the top twenty ship owning countries of the world in terms of Gross Tonnage as well as Deadweight.
  4. India has been one of the earliest members of the IMO, having ratified its Convention and joined it as a member-state in the year 1959.

Nanning emerges as a pillar of the Maritime Silk Road

China has made Nanning one of the focal points of the proposed Maritime Silk Road. By 2020, Nanning port’s capacity is expected to rise to 22.83 million tonnes.

  1. Leveraging the southern city’s natural connectivity linkages with Southeast Asia and growth hubs of Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao.
  2. The waterways of Xijiang River that flows through the city lead to the Pearl River and the South China Sea.
  3. In view of the vast potential of the greater Pearl River Delta region, Chinese authorities are developing the Pearl River-Xijiang River Economic Belt.
  4. When fully developed, the waterways would strongly reinforce Nanning’s state-of-the-art rail and road connectivity to the coast.
  5. Its prized geographic location is making the city the fulcrum of China’s access to the most dynamic zones of Southeast Asia.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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