Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Sep, 13, 2019

Pangong Tso Lake: the theatre of India-China LAC scuffles


  • Indian and Chinese soldiers had a heated exchange in Ladakh near the Pangong Tso Lake few days back. However, the issue has now been resolved, the report said.
  • The incident recalls a similar incident almost exactly two years ago, in the same area in Eastern Ladakh.
  • Differing perceptions of where exactly the LAC lies has often been the reason for such incidents.

Pangong Tso

  • In the Ladakhi language, Pangong means extensive concavity, and Tso is lake in Tibetan.
  • Pangong Tso is a long narrow, deep, endorheic (landlocked) lake situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas.
  • The western end of Pangong Tso lies 54 km to the southeast of Leh.
  • The 135 km-long lake sprawls over 604 sq km in the shape of a boomerang, and is 6 km wide at its broadest point.
  • The brackish water lake freezes over in winter, and becomes ideal for ice skating and polo.
  • The legendary 19th century Dogra general Zorawar Singh is said to have trained his soldiers and horses on the frozen Pangong lake before invading Tibet.

The 2017 incident

  • On August 19, 2017, a video was posted online that appeared to be visual confirmation of reports of an alleged scuffle that had taken place a few days earlier between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the banks of Pangong lake.
  • The video showed the two sides kicking and punching, throwing stones, using sticks and rods against each other.
  • In the normal course, the two patrols, after coming face to face, would have been expected to engage in what is called a “banner drill”, displaying a banner asking the other side to vacate its territory.
  • Such a drill might last a few minutes to an hour — but barring some occasional jostling, the two sides would disengage quietly.

Strategic significance

  • The LAC cuts through the lake, but India and China do not agree on its exact location.
  • As things stand, a 45 km-long western portion of the lake is in Indian control, while the rest is under China’s control.
  • Most of the clashes between the two armies occur in the disputed portion of the lake.By itself, the lake does not have major tactical significance.
  • But it lies in the path of the Chushul approach, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian-held territory.
  • Indian assessments show that a major Chinese offensive, if it comes, will flow across both the north and south of the lake.


  • During the 1962 war, this was where China launched its main offensive — the Indian Army fought heroically at Rezang La, the mountain pass on the southeastern approach to Chushul valley.
  • Over the years, the Chinese have built motorable roads along their banks of the Pangong Tso.
  • At the PLA’s Huangyangtan base at Minningzhen, southwest of Yinchuan, the capital of China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, stands a massive to-scale model of this disputed area in Aksai Chin.
  • It points to the importance accorded by the Chinese to the area.

The dispute in the area

  • The difference in perception over where the LAC lies on the northern bank of the lake, makes this contested terrain.
  • In 1999, when the Army unit from the area was moved to Kargil for Operation Vijay, China took the opportunity to build 5 km of road inside Indian territory along the lake’s bank.
  • The August 2017 skirmish took place in this area.
  • The 1999 road added to the extensive network of roads built by the Chinese in the area, which connect with each other and to the G219 Karakoram Highway.
  • From one of these roads, Chinese positions physically overlook Indian positions on the northern tip of the Pangong lake.
  • The mountains on the lake’s northern bank jut forward in major spurs, which the Army calls “fingers”. India claims that the LAC is coterminous with Finger 8.

Why Chinese aggression?

  • On the water, the Chinese had a major advantage until a few years ago, but India purchased better boats some seven years ago, leading to a quicker and more aggressive response.
  • Although there are well-established drills for disengagement of patrol boats of both sides, the confrontations on the waters have led to tense situations in the past few years.
  • The induction of high-speed boats has ostensibly provoked the Chinese, who have responded by increasing the number of transgressions in this area in recent years.
Sep, 12, 2019

Eurasian Economic Forum


India skips the summit

  • India has skipped a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which was organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at Xi’an in China.
  • Since the BRI’s launch in 2017, India has remained firm on not singing it off at the SCO’s annual summits in 2018 and 2019.
  • The summit’s declarations of both years reflected the endorsement of the controversial project by all members but India.
  • India has been a member of the SCO since 2017.

The EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative

  • In November 2018, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev met in Beijing for the 23rd annual meeting between heads of government, and the two sides agreed to enhance trade and economic ties.
  • China would aims to synergize the Belt BRI and the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • Both sides expressed willingness to dovetail the China-proposed BRI and Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union.

The BRI and India’s opposition

  • The BRI is a mammoth infrastructure project unveiled by China in 2017, which plans to connect the three continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa.
  • The ‘Belt’ part refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt, consisting of three overland routes.
  • First, a link between China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe. Second, a link through Central Asia and West Asia linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. And third, a connection from China to Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Indian Ocean.
  • The ‘Road’ part refers to the 21st century Maritime Silk Road, creating maritime trade channels from China through the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific.
  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an important part of the BRI, passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • In May 2017, India strongly opposed the BRI as it cannot accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.



  • The SCO, an intergovernmental body for security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region, was formed in 2001 by the ‘Shanghai Five’ (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan).
  • It was formed in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
  • Uzbekistan joined the SCO in 2001, with India and Pakistan following suit in 2017.
  • The SCO has traditionally prioritised on counter-terrorism, listing terrorism, separatism and extremism as “the three evils.
  • However, since its formation, the SCO’s domain has expanded to include subjects such as culture and economics.
Sep, 03, 2019

Tibetan Democracy Day, its meaning and significance


  • The Tibetan Government-in-Exile celebrated its 59th Democracy Day at the McLeodganj monastery on September 2.
  • This day marks the anniversary of the establishment of the democratic system of the Tibetan people living in exile in India.

Tibetan Democracy Day

  • In February 1960, a little less than a year after he crossed over into India, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama outlined in Bodh Gaya, where The Buddha attained Enlightenment, a detailed programme of democratic practice for exiled Tibetans.
  • According to the website of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE), he advised them to set up an elected body with three exiled representatives each from the three provinces, and one each from the four religious schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • After elections were held, 13 elected representatives, called ‘Deputies’, were designated as the ‘Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies’ (CTPD). They took oath on September 2, 1960.
  • Subsequently from 1975 onward, this date began to be formally observed as Tibetan Democracy Day.


  • The TPiE is the highest legislative body of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
  • It is described as one of the three pillars of Tibetan democratic governance — the others being the Judiciary and the Kashag, or Executive.
  • The website of the TPiE underlines the Dalai Lama’s commitment to the democratic principle — it quotes the Dalai Lama from the Foreword to the Constitution for Tibet, drafted in 1963:
  • The CTA is based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.
  • Elections are held every five years to elect Members of the TPiE, and their Sikyong (Prime Minister). The 16th TPiE was elected in 2016.
  • This was the second direct election after the Dalai Lama distanced himself from the political functioning of the TPiE in 2011.

The Government-in-Exile

  • On March 10, 1963, the Dalai Lama promulgated the Constitution of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (TGiE).
  • From 1991 onwards, TPiE became the legislative organ of the CTA, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission became the judicial organ, and the Kashag the executive organ.
  • The TGiE is not recognised officially by any country, including India.
  • However, many countries, including the US, deal directly with the Sikyong and other Tibetan leaders through various forums.
  • The TPiE says its democratically elected character helps it manage Tibetan affairs, and raise the Tibetan issue across the world.
  • The current Sikyong (known as Kalön Tripa until 2012) of the CTA is Lobsang Sangay, who has been the head of the Kashag or Cabinet (first as Kalön Tripa and then as Sikyong) since 2011.
Aug, 24, 2019

[op-ed snap] Belt and roadblocks

Background of BRI

  1. The BRI was conceived as a response to the vast overcapacity in infrastructure-related industries due to credit-fuelled growth in China in 2008 following the global economic recession when its exports started dwindling.
  2. In 2009, former Deputy Director of China’s State Administration of Taxation came up with a proposal called the Chinese Marshall Plan.
  3. He suggested that China should utilise its vast foreign exchange reserves, expertise in building infrastructure, overcapacity in iron, cement, aluminum, glass, coal and shipbuilding industries and unemployed labor to meet the infrastructure demand in Southeast, Central Asia, and Africa.


  1. Announced in 2013, the BRI consists of a belt of rail routes, highways, oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure projects extending from Xian in Central China through Central Asia, Russia, West Asia, and Europe.
  2. There is also a branch extending from Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gwadar in Baluchistan via Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  3. The ‘road’ segment comprises a network of ports and coastal infrastructure stretching from eastern China across Southeast Asia and South Asia, the Gulf, East Africa through the Mediterranean up to Rotterdam in Europe.

Progress so far

  1. According to China, more than 120 countries have signed and joined the BRI.
  2. China’s trade with these countries since 2013 has grossed more than $5 trillion and investment has totaled about $200 billion for 2,600 projects.
  3. In the first seven months of 2019, China’s trade with BRI countries was 6% higher than the growth of its global trade.


  1. BRI has not succeeded in the full utilization of overcapacity in infrastructure industries. China has been forced to close many companies. About one-third of its projects are failing due to several anomalies.
  2. There is no open tendering, competitive bidding or practice of an independent pre-feasibility or environmental impact studies, as per global norms.
  3. Many projects suffer from a lack of local inputs, protests on land procurement, pollution, performance delays, corruption, financial viability, unsustainable debt, and low investment returns. 
  4. The interest rates charged by China are high, upward of 3% on government loans and 17%-18% on commercial loans with a sovereign guarantee of the local government.
  5. As many loans turn non-performing assets, China is becoming selective in giving new loans.
  6. Some BRI projects do not make economic sense.
    1. The cost of transportation by the 12,000 km-long Yiwu-London rail line will be twice more expensive than shipping.
    2. The cost of supplying crude oil and gas from Gwadar port to Tianjin in northeastern China via the 7,000 km-long pipelines proposed by China will be $10 per barrel costlier than the ocean freight. 
  7. Many countries such as the Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Malaysia have asked China to restructure or downsize the BRI projects.
  8. India has decided not to participate in BRI over concerns relating to sovereignty, lack of transparency, openness, financial sustainability, high interest and the ‘tied’ nature of these loans.
  9. The growth of BRI is down as China’s investment in these projects in the first quarter of 2019 grew only by 4% compared to 22% in 2018.


President Xi promised at the second Belt and Road forum that China would ‘fine-tune’ the BRI with open consultation, clean governance, and green projects.


1. The Belt and Road Initiative is a global development strategy adopted by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.
2. “Belt” refers to the overland routes for road and rail transportation, called “the Silk Road Economic Belt”; whereas “road” refers to the sea routes, or the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Aug, 14, 2019

[op-ed snap] In China’s court


Protests in Hong Kong have evolved over nearly three months.

Background of the protests

  1. The movement evolved from a movement against a proposed law that would allow people accused of certain crimes to be extradited to the Chinese mainland — to a wider expression of public anger at the Chinese state’s curbs on democracy and the city’s special status within the People’s Republic.
  2. China has been labeling the pro-democracy protestors as anarchists, radicals or terrorists.
  3. These protests have been compared to the 1989 demonstrations in mainland China, which culminated in the Tiananmen Square massacre. 
  4. The movement now threatens to bring economic activity in the global financial hub to a standstill.
  5. Despite China’s accession to the original demand of scrapping of the extradition law, the protests continue.

China – Hong Kong relationship

  1.  In 1997, it was decided that China would be “one country, two systems”, and Hong Kong would continue to enjoy its autonomy.
  2. That promise has been eroded by refusing to allow direct elections for the chief executive’s post.

Way ahead

  1. There is a need for the Chinese state to adapt to its promise it made to Hong Kong.

A country with superpower ambitions, negotiating massive international investments through the Belt and Road Initiative, cannot be seen incapable of delivering on the promise of federalism and autonomy.

Aug, 09, 2019

[op-ed snap] The Yuan’s devaluation has made investors nervous


Chinese yuan broke the seven-to-one parity against the dollar for the first time since 2008. China deliberately devalued the Chinese currency after the latest tariff threats issued by US.

Why China did this

  1. Economic reasons
  1. China’s weakening manufacturing competitiveness is likely to strengthen with yuan-priced goods and services getting cheaper across supply chains in East Asia, parts of Africa, etc.
  2. It is likely to widen China’s trade surplus with the US in the immediate short run.
  3. It will also help China expand trade margins within its own region, especially with Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, etc.
  1. Political Reasons
  1. The US’ own strategic engagement in Asia has weakened under Trump, who questioned the “value of US alliances with Japan and South Korea
  2. Japanese imposed trade restrictions on South Korea. China and Russia staged their first joint aerial patrols in the region, causing South Koreans to react militarily.
  3. China-US friction has offered significant economic and political leverage to smaller emerging nations like Vietnam and Indonesia within their respective regional spaces


  1. Risk not only for those trading in the US and Chinese currencies or their stocks, but also for capital flows between emerging markets
  2. China, around 2015-16, tried something similar by letting the yuan depreciate; it led to a stock market crash in China, and billions of its dollar reserves disappeared in just a few days.
  3. That devaluation saw led to a massive capital flight from China, further weakening its external position.
  4. The debt denominated in foreign currencies has increased for global companies and developing nations across the world, and maybe vulnerable to a currency shock if the “currency war” continues.
  5. Most foreign investors switched to the safety of gold or other currencies like yen.
  6. China’s weakening of its currency to hurt US economic interests for political gains will only make other Asian countries more vulnerable to a political crisis that could quickly escalate to a financial crisis
Jul, 17, 2019

[op-ed snap] Chinese check: on economic troubles


The Chinese economy is seeing the first signs of trouble after long years of sustained growth that rode on cheap labour and high volumes of exports.


  • Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday revealed that the economy grew by 6.2% in the second quarter, its slowest pace in 27 years.
  • This is in contrast to the growth rates of 6.4% and 6.6% reported for the first quarter and the full year of 2018, respectively.
  • The faltering growth rate was due to a slump in exports in June amidst China’s ongoing trade war with the United States and the downturn witnessed by sectors such as housing construction, where investor sentiments play a major role.
  • Many economists believe that the worst may not yet be over for China and that economic growth could further worsen in the coming quarters.

Rise in Domestic Demand –

  • But just as growth seems to be faltering, the latest growth figures also showed that the retail sales and industrial output components of the growth numbers witnessed steady growth, suggesting that domestic demand may be compensating for the dropping appetite for Chinese exports weighed down by high tariffs.
  • But with China still heavily reliant on exports and its trade war with the U.S. showing no signs of coming to an end, the pressure on growth is likely to remain for some more time.

Measures tried by Chinese Government –

So the Chinese government, which has tried to boost the economy through measures such as tax cuts, increased public spending and a relaxation in bank reserve requirements to encourage banks to increase lending, will hope that domestic demand for its goods will hold up the economy.

Challenges in data credibility –

China’s quarterly GDP numbers, while useful in many ways, don’t reveal very much about the underlying challenges facing the country. One is the need to improve the credibility of data released by the Chinese government.

Restructuring of Chinese Economy –

Driven primarily by market forces – An even larger challenge is the urgent need to restructure the Chinese economy from one that is driven heavily by state-led investment and exports to one that is driven primarily by market forces.

Huge amount of liquidity – The high-growth years of the Chinese economy were made possible by the huge amount of liquidity provided by the Chinese state and the large and affordable workforce that helped build China into an export powerhouse.


More sustainable model – But now, with China’s tried and tested growth model facing the threat of getting derailed as the export and investment boom comes to an end, the Chinese will have to build a more sustainable model, or forfeit hopes of double-digit economic growth in the future.

Restructure the economy – As of now, there are no signs to suggest that the Chinese authorities are looking at implementing deep-seated structural reforms reminiscent of its early decades of liberalisation that can help fundamentally restructure the economy.

Boosting domestic consumption –  There might not be a need for radical macroeconomic changes, but China’s economic troubles will not go away unless the government boosts domestic consumption and reduces the reliance on exports.

Jun, 11, 2019

[op-ed snap] Foreign policy challenges five years later


As Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his second term, the world looks more disorderly in 2019 than was the case five years ago.

Disruptive global Conditions

  • U.S. President Donald Trump’s election and the new dose of unpredictability in U.S. policy pronouncements;
  • The trade war between the U.S. and China which is becoming a technology war;
  • Brexit and the European Union’s internal preoccupations;
  • Erosion of U.S.-Russia arms control agreements and the likelihood of a new arms race covering nuclear, space and cyber domains;
  • The U.S.’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are some of the developments that add to the complexity of India’s principal foreign policy challenge of dealing with the rise of China.

Redefining neighbourhood

New neighbourhood emphasis –  Since an invitation to Pakistan was out of the question, leaders from the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand) with Kyrgyzstan, added as current Shanghai Cooperation Organisation chair, highlighted a new neighbourhood emphasis.

Ways to develop prosperous neighbourhood

  • Multi-pronged diplomatic efforts and being generous as the larger economy.
  • It also needs a more confident and coordinated approach in handling neighbourhood organisations — SAARC, BIMSTEC, the Bangladesh, the Bhutan, India, Nepal Initiative, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation, the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
  • This should be preferably in tandem with bilateralism because our bilateral relations provide us with significant advantages.
  • With all our neighbours, ties of kinship, culture and language among the people straddle boundaries, making the role of governments in States bordering neighbours vital in fostering closer linkages.
  • This means investing attention in State governments, both at the political and bureaucratic levels.

Managing China and the U.S.

India and China

  • The informal summit in Wuhan restored a semblance of calm but does not address the long-term implications of the growing gap between the two countries.
  • Meanwhile, there is the growing strategic rivalry between the U.S. and China unfolding on our doorstep. We no longer have the luxury of distance to be non-aligned.

India and USA

 Crude oil – As part of its policy on tightening sanctions pressure on Iran, the U.S. has terminated the sanctions waiver that had enabled India to import limited quantities of Iranian crude till last month.

GSP – The Generalised System of Preferences scheme has been withdrawn, adversely impacting about 12% of India’s exports to the U.S., as a sign of growing impatience with India’s inability to address the U.S.’s concerns regarding market access, tariff lines and recent changes in the e-commerce policy.

Sanctions under CAATSA – A third looming issue, perhaps the most critical, is the threat of sanctions under the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), were India to proceed with the purchase of the S-400 air and missile defence system from Russia.

Huawei – Other potential tricky issues could relate to whether Huawei, which is currently the prime target in the U.S.-China technology war, is allowed to participate in the 5G trials (telecom) in India.

Afghanistan – The reconciliation talks between the U.S. and the Taliban as the U.S. negotiates its exit from Afghanistan raise New Delhi’s apprehensions about the Taliban’s return, constituting another potential irritant.

Way Ahead

Resource limitations – In a post-ideology age of promiscuity with rivalries unfolding around us, the harsh reality is that India lacks the ability to shape events around it on account of resource limitations.

Seasoned professional – These require domestic decisions in terms of expanding the foreign policy establishment though having a seasoned professional at the top does help.

Coordination among the different ministries and agencies – We need to ensure far more coordination among the different ministries and agencies than has been the case so far. Our record in implementation projects is patchy at best and needs urgent attention.

Focus on the neighbourhood – The focus on the neighbourhood is certainly desirable, for only if we can shape events here can we look beyond. However, the fact that China too is part of the neighbourhood compounds Mr. Modi’s foreign policy challenges in his second term.

External balancing – Employing external balancing to create a conducive regional environment is a new game that will also require building a new consensus at home.

May, 29, 2019

India proposes reply to Wuhan


  • India has proposed that the next informal summit between PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping be held in October in Varanasi.

The Wuhan Spirit

  • The first informal summit between the two leaders took place in Wuhan in Hubei province in China on April 27-28, 2018.
  • The government saw the value of the Wuhan informal summit — no border stand-offs in a politically sensitive year.
  • Particularly, they established mutual trust and they jointly planned for the future of improvement and the strengthening of the China-India relationship.
  • India and China were currently limiting the threshold of their differences so that overall development of ties remained unhampered.
  • They agreed to significantly enhance efforts to build on the convergences through the established mechanisms in order to create the broadest possible platform for the future relationship.
  • They agreed to handle the differences through peaceful discussion within the context of the overall relationship, bearing in mind the importance of respecting each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations.

Why Varanasi?

  • The choice of Varanasi is because PM wants to invite Xi to his parliamentary constituency, just like the Chinese President had hosted him in Xiamen for the BRICS summit.
  • More detailed discussions are expected to take place when the two leaders meet in Kyrgyz Republic capital, Bishkek, on the sidelines of the SCO summit in June.

Why informal meets are necessary?

  • In June 2017, just before the Doklam incident rocked the relationship, the two leaders had met on the sidelines of SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
  • The leaders had come up with the formulation that “differences should not become disputes” at that meeting.
  • After the Doklam border stand-off was resolved in August 2017, just before the BRICS summit in Xiamen in China in September 2017, the Astana consensus evolved in June 2017 was recalled.
  • The two sides had then discussed the possibility of the informal summit, the idea for which had been first floated in Astana itself.
  • Over the next seven months, the two sides had worked on holding the informal summit in Wuhan in April.

New peak of cooperation

  • The understandings between two Asian giants reached during the Wuhan summit — a new template for the leaders of the two countries to have a long meeting.
  • After the Wuhan summit, the armed forces of the two sides were given “strategic guidance” by the two leaders, and 2018 and 2019 have remained peaceful – without any major incident along the LAC.
  • Beijing — in a single stroke, by lifting the hold on Azhar’s listing as global terrorist under the UNSC 1267 — has created more political space for engagement between the two sides.

Way Forward

  • Many caution that the relationship is prone to ups and downs as was visible during Xi’s Gujarat visit in September 2014 — when Modi had hosted Xi while there was an ongoing stand-off at the border in Chumar.
  • Also, the issue of how India will respond to the Belt and Road Initiative ahead holds the key to the future of the relationship.
May, 07, 2019

[op-ed snap] The quest for a military footprint


In the annual report to the US Congress on Chinese military power released last week, the US Defence Department has pointed to China’s vigorous quest for foreign military bases, including in Pakistan.

India’s response

India’s response so far has developed along three axes.

1. Countering Potential Threats – One is to counter potential threats from China’s military bases in its immediate neighbourhood.

2.Military Partnerships – Second, to strengthen military partnerships with its friends and partners to balance China.

3. Emulate Beijing’s Quest  – The third is to emulate Beijing’s quest for foreign military presence.

Quest for foreign bases

1.Evolution as a modern state –

  • That China and India compete for foreign military bases is not merely an extension of their very familiar rivalry but a definitive moment in their overall political evolution as modern states.
  • While Beijing is racing ahead in the search for foreign military presence, Delhi has some catching up to do.

2. Part of anti-colonial movement – Demanding that the Western powers withdraw from their military bases in Asia and the Indian Ocean was very much part of the anti-colonial and anti-imperial framework of Chinese and Indian foreign policies.

3. Support to American Military Presence – Beijing began to justify American forward military presence necessary to counter the “Soviet social imperialism” and constrain the potential for “Japanese militarism”.

4. India’s building of alliance – India, which vigorously objected to US military alliances in Asia and Pakistan’s participation in them, eventually built an alliance-like relationship with the Soviet Union. The objective was to balance the US and Chinese alliances with Pakistan.

5. Change in Attitude – Today, China is already a great power and India is rising, slowly but certainly. One of the big changes in their strategic outlooks has been the quiet change in their attitudes towards foreign military bases.

Reasons for transformation

  1. Means and motivation –
  • As the world’s second-largest economy (aggregate GDP of $13 trillion) and the second-largest annual defence budget ($250 billion), China has both the motivation and the means to acquire foreign military bases.
  • China’s transition follows the familiar dictum that flag follows trade.
  • As the Pentagon’s annual report put it: “China’s advancement of projects such as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative (OBOR) will probably drive military overseas basing through a perceived need to provide security for OBOR projects”

2.Strategic Interests –

  • The Pentagon report argues that “China will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests”.
  • No surprise that Pakistan fits the bill perfectly. The Pentagon notes, Pakistan has the precedent of hosting foreign military bases.
  • Pakistan is undoubtedly China’s closest political and military partner.
  • The Pakistan army’s determination to limit India’s power means there is little political opposition to hosting Chinese bases and facilities.

Delhi’s prospects

  • That Chinese warships and submarines might soon be based on a permanent basis in Karachi or Gwadar is surely part of India’s military planning for the future.
  • Limiting Chinese Scope – In other places where it has some political influence — say Sri Lanka and Maldives — India has indeed sought to contest and limit the nature and scope of Chinese military activities.
  •  Peacetime use of military Basis – After prolonged reluctance, India has signed agreements with the US and France for mutual peacetime use of military bases. It is a matter of time before it signs such agreements with other powers like Japan and Australia.
  • Access to military facilities- In the third leg of India’s strategy, Delhi is seeking access to military facilities in a number of countries.


  • India’s growing and globalised economy is now close to $3 trillion and Delhi’s political ambition is to raise it to $5 trillion in the next five years.
  • Delhi’s security imperatives are no longer limited to its borders and it needs to secure its widely dispersed interests with forward military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Where Delhi lags behind Beijing is in the structuring of a purposeful policy on foreign military bases and the creation of organisational structures to implement it.
Apr, 25, 2019

[op-ed snap] Taking advantage of BRI


The China-led initiative’s global reach signals the advent of a new order led by Asia, which cannot exclude India.

Reasons To participate in BRI

  1. Rise of Asian Century
  • The defining feature of the 21st century is that Asia, not China, is at the centre of the world.
  • The BRI is part of a transformation triggered by colonialism and industrial capitalism from the 1840s and influenced by the UN institutions and global rules from the 1950s.
  • Of the estimated $30 trillion increase in middle-class consumption growth estimated by 2030, only $1 trillion is expected to come from Western economies and most of the rest from Asia.
  • China’s population is nearly one-third of the total population of Asia but by 2050 its population of working age will shrink by 200 million people while in India the working-age population will increase by 200 million.
  • Asians are not subscribing to a “China-led Asia”, which would imply returning to the colonial order.

2. Change of Global Order

  • The global spread of the BRI signals the political end of the old order where the G7 shaped the economic agenda.
  • Italy, a member of the G7, is joining the BRI, despite the publicly voiced objection of the U.S., just as Britain joined the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2015. Asians are gravitating to the new as it better meets their needs, not because the old is crumbling.

3.Meeting infrastructure needs

  • The Asian Development Bank, not China, drew global attention to infrastructure as the key driver of economic growth in Asia and the financing gap of $26 trillion.
  • The most visible feature of the BRI is the network of physical and digital infrastructure for transport, energy transmission and communications, harmonised with markets for advanced manufacturing and innovation-based companies.
  • Two-thirds of the countries funded by the initiative have sovereign debt ratings below investment grade, and their being part of supply chains is a catalyst for growth.
  • A recent analysis identified only eight out of 68 countries at risk of debt default, which does not affect the overall viability of the $3 trillion reserves of China for potential investment.
  • There are cases of excess debt, political corruption and policy shifts following change in governments but overall the BRI remains popular.
  • For example, Nepal has just chosen the Chinese gauge over the Indian one for its rail network.

4. Towards Multilateralism

  • The BRI, faced with criticism over lack of transparency and insensitivity to national concerns, is evolving towards standards of multilateralism, including through linkages with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The International Monetary Fund describes it as a “very important contribution” to the global economy and is “in very close collaboration with the Chinese authorities on sharing the best international practices, especially regarding fiscal sustainability and capacity building”.

5.Strategic Objective

  • For the BRI to have strategic objectives is not unusual.
  • The Marshall Plan in the 1950s also required recipients to accept certain rules for deepening trade and investment ties with the U.S. Chinese control over supply-chain assets like ports provides the ability to project naval power, which will however remain minuscule compared to that of the U.S. — comprising 800 overseas bases.
  • The BRI’s commercial advantage has certainly increased China’s international weight and India needs to shape the new standards to benefit Indian technology companies .

Indo-Pacific Picture

  • India’s China dilemma, as it ends its ambivalence towards China, revolves around assessment of the extent the Asian giants need each other for the Asian century.
  • Prime Minister has declared a cooperative vision of the ‘Indo-Pacific’, contrary to the containment-based view of the United States.
  • Need for India’s support – China also recognises the difficulties inherent in the interlinked international and domestic agenda of the BRI, and needs India’s support for reform of global governance, which was an important part of last year’s discussion at Wuhan.
  •  Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Concerns –India should respond to the strategic complexity arising from the BRI, a key part of which cuts through Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, through three related but distinct diplomatic initiatives.

Way Forward

  • Highlight Territorial Concerns – India needs to highlight that a British-led coup by the Gilgit Scouts led to Pakistani occupation of this territory and seek appropriate text recognising India’s sovereignty — a drafting challenge but not an insurmountable one.
  • South Asian Character to BRI – New Delhi should give a South Asian character to the two BRI corridors on India’s western and eastern flanks, by linking them with plans for connectivity in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. Third, India needs work towards ‘multilateralising’ the BRI with a set of rules.
Apr, 23, 2019

[Op-ed Snap] Sovereignty And A Road


India has, once again, decided to not participate in China’s second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) due on April 25, which is likely to be attended by around 40 heads of government.

Situation after Wuhan Summit

  • The admiration of India’s attempt to engage China through the Modi-Xi Wuhan informal meeting has faded away in recent months
  • For instance, for the fourth time in a row, China blocked India’s bid to designate the Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the UNSC, the CPEC is going on regardless of India’s stern objections vis-à-vis PoK, and the balance of trade is still hugely in China’s favour.

Loopholes in criticism

  1. High Expectations –
  • First, thanks to the overpublicising of the Modi-Xi meeting, the expectation bar was set to an unrealistically high level.
  • The Wuhan meeting was not about resetting India-China relations. It was an initiative to engage each other in a constructive dialogue.
  • Wuhan and subsequent steps were intended to only manage the differences and prevent relations from getting derailed.
  • The popular perception in the Indian media that because of Wuhan, China would not go ahead with the CPEC or support India on Masood Azhar and the belief in the Chinese media that it would lead India to join the BRI, are misinformed at best.

2. Not a stand-alone dialogue –Second, Wuhan was not a stand-alone dialogue, it was deeply embedded with the Doklam standoff. For the two countries, facing an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Doklam, Wuhan came as an opportunity to re-start the dialogue.

India’s response to BRI

  • India’s response to the BRF is not linked with the Wuhan spirit.
  • Territorial Concerns – It is deeply rooted in its territorial sovereignty concerns vis-à-vis China and Pakistan. The Chinese investments in Pakistan are complicating the matter with each passing day. India’s main concern remains the much-controversial CPEC that passes through the PoK.

Current Relationship

  • It is clear that China has been selective in addressing India’s concerns, and India too has adopted a similar approach.
  • China is mindful of the fact that without India’s participation, BRI will remain an incomplete project at best.
  • That is perhaps why China is keen to have another Wuhan-like dialogue. We do need more such meetings but only to facilitate the negotiation processes.

Way Forward

  • Pragmatic Approach- Considering the asymmetry in its relationship with China, India needs to continue its pragmatic and balanced policy of engaging China through dialogues while actively looking for ways to deal with the possible scenarios.
  • The institutionalisation of regional groups –The quest to institutionalise the Quad and Indo-Pacific seems to be turning into reality with the restructuring of the MEA’s ASEAN Multilateral Division and the Indian Ocean Region Division into the Indo-Pacific Division.
  • Trilateral Dialogues – Trilateral dialogues and search for avenues to normalise and improve regular healthy conversations with China are the best way forward.
  • Balance of relationships – Self-doubt over peace initiatives or hesitation in moving forward on the Quad are detrimental to India’s interests. One should not happen at the cost of the other. A careful balancing of both tracks will contribute to India’s stronger positioning in the region.
Apr, 20, 2019

China backs “Wuhan spirit” despite differences on BRI


  • At Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Chinese authorities were emphatic that ties between India and China were insulated from their differences on the BRI.
  • China said that it is preparing for a summit between their leaders as a follow-up to last year’s Wuhan informal summit between Prez Xi Jinping and PM Modi.

Wuhan Spirit

  • The two leaders had a very successful meeting in Wuhan in April 2018.
  • Particularly, they established mutual trust and they jointly planned for the future of improvement and the strengthening of the China-India relationship.
  • India and China were currently limiting the threshold of their differences so that overall development of ties remained unhampered.
  • They agreed to significantly enhance efforts to build on the convergences through the established mechanisms in order to create the broadest possible platform for the future relationship.
  • They agreed to handle the differences through peaceful discussion within the context of the overall relationship, bearing in mind the importance of respecting each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations.


Belt and Road Initiative

[Burning Issue] Belt and Road Initiative

Mar, 15, 2019

[op-ed snap] China’s block: on not listing Azhar as global terrorist


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNSC

Mains level: Impact of China’s Block on listing of Masood Azhar


China’s decision to block the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN Security Council is both a setback to India’s post-Pulwama diplomatic strategy and a reality check on ties with China at present.


  • After the February 14 attack, claimed by the JeM, the government had made the listing of Azhar a focus in its diplomatic efforts.
  • It reached out to several governments, and shared a dossier on Azhar with each member of the Security Council, who are all members of the 1267 ISIL and al-Qaeda sanctions committee.
  • A special effort was made with Beijing, which has blocked the Azhar listing in the past, including just after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
  • From 2016 to 2018, India’s proposals to list Azhar, with evidence of JeM involvement in the Pathankot airbase attack, were also foiled by China, which placed holds on the listing, and then vetoed it.
  • The vetoes came despite the fact that the JeM is banned, and in the UNSC listing it is noted that Azhar, as its leader and founder, accepted funds from Osama bin Laden.
  • China, as the one country that has refused to allow Azhar’s name on the list, is well aware of the evidence against him, but is not ready to withdraw its objections.
  • It is clear that despite India-China relations improving after the Wuhan summit in April 2018, China is unwilling to align itself with India on its concerns on cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

Challenges and  resistance

  • China’s stand is regrettable and condemnable, and it has been consistent on this issue.
  • New Delhi must now consider whether it wishes to accept this as a fait accompli, or confront Beijing to try to persuade it to change its stand by means of incentives or coercion.
  • This is a challenge, as any kind of concerted international pressure from the Western countries in this regard has in the past only served to be counterproductive.
  • It is also unlikely that the suggestions being offered by some political groups, of cutting imports from China and other punitive actions, will yield much.

Steps That can be taken

  • The government may be more successful if it identifies the incentives it can offer China in the next few months to review its position.
  • While some of those incentives would be bilateral, the Chinese spokesperson’s hint that dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad, and even possible “triangular” talks including Beijing, is indicative of China’s thinking.
  • The government must also not lose sight of the bigger picture: that the UNSC cannot enforce its own listings, and other leaders who have been sanctioned in the past remain free and unencumbered.
  • While listing Azhar at the UNSC is an unfinished task, the larger issue remains: to ensure that Pakistan takes substantive action against Azhar, the JeM and other terror groups that are threatening India.
  • China, with its economic and strategic leverage with Pakistan, may be better-placed to help in this matter.


Feb, 22, 2019

Explained: Why is China shielding the Jaish-e-Mohammad?


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The newscard comprehensively discusses China’s tactics for its stance on backing terror groups



  • The Jaish-e-Mohammad has carried out multiple attacks on India over the last nearly two decades, but its leader, Masood Azhar, eludes international sanctions.
  • India’s proposal to designate Azhar as a global terrorist under the 1267 regime has been blocked four times by China, most recently in January 2017.
  • Beijing has refused to lift its “technical hold” on a proposal to declare Azhar a global terrorist.

Why is China so keen to shield Azhar?

  1. On Azhar, China insists there isn’t enough evidence to designate him a “global terrorist”, though the rest of the P5 believes otherwise.
  2. Its standard line is that it wants to “uphold the authority and validity of the 1267 Committee”.
  3. The UNSC Resolution 1267 prescribes a sanctions regime against designated terrorists and terrorist groups.
  4. But its real reasons range from protecting its “all weather” ally in South Asia to its business interests in the CPEC.
  5. China tries making things difficult for its Asian rival India to making a point to western powers led by the United States.

I. Importance of CPEC

  1. CPEC runs across the length of Pakistan, linking Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province to the Gwadar deep-sea port on the Arabian Sea near Pakistan’s border with Iran.
  2. Access to the sea through Gwadar will remove the need for it to take the long route west through the Straits of Malacca and around India.
  3. The CPEC will dramatically increase its proximity to the oil shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz.
  4. Chinese firms have invested close to $40 billion in around 45 CPEC projects, about half of which are nearing completion.

II. Role of Jaish in CPEC

  1. International protection for ISI proxies like Jaish provides China the insurance against terrorist attacks on CPEC infrastructure and the thousands of Chinese working on them.
  2. The project has been targeted by Baloch separatists as well as the Pakistani Taliban, who have claimed to be protesting China’s treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority in eastern Xinjiang.

III. Insecurity despite of State Security

  1. Pakistan has attempted to reassure Beijing on the security of CPEC.
  2. In 2015, it established a 20,000-personnel Special Security Division drawn from the Army and paramilitary forces to secure CPEC in addition to the local police.
  3. China has had a tacit understanding with the Afghan Taliban from the days of their predecessors in the 1970s.

IV. Uighur Question

  1. China subsequently in 70s made a deal with the Taliban that as long as they don’t support the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, they won’t harm them.
  2. China takes a different position because of the larger understanding it has with such organisations… as long as you don’t disturb me, we will not penalise you.
  3. If you are expanding your international base, it must not be at my expense. That’s China’s attitude.

V. Popularity in Pakistan

  1. Also, China enjoys overwhelming popularity on the street in Pakistan — surveys show 88% Pakistanis view China favorably, compared with only 33% Indians.
  2. It is not in Beijing’s interest to disappoint this constituency by giving in to India’s repeated demands to list Azhar.
  3. China remains conscious that relations between Pakistan and the US had been strongly impacted by the killings, first by al-Qaeda of American-Israeli journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 and then, by US special forces of Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Does China’s stand have to do with India’s emergence as a competitor?

  1. India is part of a short list of economic giants who have refused to participate in the BRI due to sovereignty concerns in PoK.
  2. And since China views India as a competitor, Beijing looks to tie down New Delhi to South Asia using issues like Azhar.

Hafiz Saeed vs. Masud Azhhar

  1. Before Azhar, Beijing had blocked on three occasions India’s moves to designate Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed as a terrorist.
  2. But in 2008, as global outrage intensified in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks, Beijing was forced to back international action against Saeed.
  3. But 26/11 was an extraordinary attack; it remains to be seen if India can drum up enough international support over Pulwama to push China on Azhar.

Is there a reason for Beijing to twist?

  1. Not budging on Azhar will probably not directly affect China’s bilateral ties with India.
  2. But Beijing may have to contend with the abstract impact of a shift in public opinion.
  3. The gains from last year’s Wuhan Summit may dwindle if public opinion turns against China.
  4. This time, it is not really defensible Jaish have said they were involved.
  5. China’s image will take a beating and the Indian public will have an increasingly negative view of China leading to boycott of its goods.


  1. China clearly supports Pakistan on UNSC Resolution 1267 and has blocked India’s entry into the NSG by tying its bid to Pakistan’s.
  2. China seeks to needle and frustrate India.
  3. Such tactics are also intended to send out a message to the US, which seeks to build a relationship with India to contain China in the Indo-Pacific.
Jan, 11, 2019

[pib] Sino-Indian Digital Collaboration Plaza


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SIDCOP

Mains level: Sino-Indian  technology collaboration


Sino-Indian Digital Collaboration Plaza (SIDCOP)

  1. The SIDCOP initiative to bring Indian IT companies and Chinese enterprises closer to each other on a single AI enabled platform was launched on 10th January 2019.
  2. This is a partnership by National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) with Municipal Governments of Guiyang and Dalian , China.
  3. A Joint Venture comprising of one Indian and Chinese company has been tasked with the running of the platform.
  4. SIDCOP is a boundary-less marketplace offers this opportunity for Chinese enterprises in order to assist them in operational optimization and adopting industry best practices in business solutions.
  5. Indian IT enterprises are world renowned for their expertise in business transformation and operational optimization by using IT tools in complex business environments.
  6. This platform could be useful to connect with top providers from India and help Chinese enterprises source the right solution providers for their projects.
Dec, 11, 2018

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: The tech wars are here


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Rising tensions between US and China and its impact on India


Tech war between China & US

  1. The arrest of a top executive of a Chinese company in Vancouver marks the sharpening contest between Washington and Beijing for leadership in such new areas as artificial intelligence, robotics and synthetic biology
  2. The immediate focus is on fifth-generation wireless technologies that promise to transform digital connectivity in the next few years
  3. The US, which has maintained a massive technological lead against other major powers through much of the 20th century, is now concerned that China is catching up
  4. Losing the technological leadership to Beijing, Washington knows, will begin to undermine America’s global primacy in the 21st century

Not the first instance

  1. This is not the first time that the US is targeting Chinese tech companies
  2. Earlier this year, the Trump administration banned the export of American components to the Chinese telecom firm, ZTE, on charges similar to those being considered against Huawei
  3. As ZTE began to implode, Trump agreed to lift the sanctions after the company agreed to pay a huge fine and punish those responsible for defrauding US financial institutions
  4. The case of Huawei could turn out to be a bigger challenge for both countries
  5. Unlike the ZTE case, the Huawei case is being treated as a criminal offence and could lead to severe punishment for Meng
  6. Huawei is a much larger corporation than ZTE and showcases China’s technological advance and global commercial reach

Impact on India

  1. India will not be unaffected by the technology war between America and China
  2. As Washington goes after Huawei, the crown jewel of China’s technology companies, Delhi’s own exposure to the company will come under scrutiny
  3. Even more important, the new dynamic between the US and China will severely test India’s great power relations
  4. Just as India’s traditional defence relationship with Russia is coming under stress amidst the new conflict between Washington and Moscow, Delhi’s ties with Huawei will come under the American scanner, sooner rather than later
  5. India’s strategy of playing all sides among the great powers seemed sensible when Russia and China had a relatively benign relationship with America
  6. That approach, however, is becoming difficult to sustain amidst Washington’s rapidly deteriorating relations with Moscow and Beijing

Trade relations under stress

  1. Washington, too, will have to consider the impact of this move on its technology giants, all of whom are joined at the hip with China
  2. Any effort to decouple this massive interdependence will certainly hurt Beijing
  3. But it will also inflict much pain on the American companies

Warning bells for India

  1. Over the last few weeks, the Western intelligence agencies have come out in the open to voice security concerns in relation to Huawei and the dangers of letting it build 5G networks in the world
  2. The concerns of these agencies regarding China’s 5G equipment include the opaque nature of Huawei’s links with the People’s Liberation Army, the danger of enhanced Chinese espionage, and the potential boost to China’s offensive cyber capabilities
  3. These arguments are not very different from those that India’s security agencies had articulated nearly two decades ago when Huawei was trying to break into the Indian telecom market
  4. But commercial interests and foreign policy considerations of strengthening economic engagement with China helped tip the argument in Huawei’s favour
  5. Since then, Huawei has acquired a dominant position in the smartphone sales domain and the supply of network equipment

Way forward

  1. Amidst the new global pushback against Huawei and India’s own plans to introduce 5G mobile technology, Delhi might have to revisit the old arguments and take a fresh look at its relationship with the Chinese tech giant
Dec, 07, 2018

[pib] Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2018


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ex Hand-in-Hand

Mains level:  India-China mutual belief and indulgences for security cooperation


Exercise Hand-in-Hand

  1. Exercise Hand-in-Hand is conducted annually as part of military diplomacy and interaction between armies of India and China.
  2. The joint exercise for the year 2018 will be conducted from 10 to 23 December 2018 at Chengdu, China.
  3. The aim of the exercise is to build and promote close relations between armies of both the countries and to enhance ability of joint exercise commander to take military contingents of both nations under command.
  4. The exercise will involve tactical level operations in an International Counter Insurgency/ Counter Terrorist environment under UN mandate.
Oct, 23, 2018

[pib] First India-China High Level Meeting on Bilateral Security Cooperation


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level:  India-China mutual belief and indulgences in bilateral talks for security cooperation



  1. Union Home Minister co-chaired the first India-China High Level Meeting on Bilateral Security Cooperation with his Chinese counterpart.
  2. During the meeting, the two sides discussed issues of mutual interest, including bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation, and welcomed increased cooperation between India and China in the area of security cooperation.

Highlights of the meeting

  1. An Agreement on Security Cooperation between the MHA and China was signed.
  2. The agreement aims to strengthen and consolidate discussions and cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, organized crimes, drug control and other such relevant areas.
  3. India again raised the issue of China repeatedly blocking the proposal to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

Recent meets

  1. This meeting comes in the wake of PM Modi’s visit to Chinese city of Wuhan in April, where they decided on a number of steps to bring down tensions and normalize ties following the Doklam standoff.
  2. The Wuhan meeting was also followed by meetings between the two leaders on the sidelines of the SCO in Qingdao in June and the BRICS leaders’ summit in Johannesburg in July.
Oct, 16, 2018

India, China join hands to train Afghan diplomats


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level:  India-China convergence of opinions over Afghanistan.



  1. India and China has jointly launched a training programme for Afghan diplomats in New Delhi.
  2. The move implies the India-China cooperation going more regional.

Increasing Chinese Footprints

  1. Chinese envoy has suggested extending cooperation to other countries such as Iran, Nepal and Myanmar.
  2. India has been concerned by what it sees as China’s increasing footprint on India’s traditional sphere of influence in South Asia viz. Nepal, Maldives etc.
  3. New Delhi has opposed suggestions by countries such as the Maldives and Nepal to include China in SAARC.

Sustained efforts post Doklam Standoff

  1. That meet was aimed at a reset in ties after the 73-day military standoff between the two countries on Bhutan’s Doklam plateau last year.
  2. The joint cooperation for Afghanistan is seen as a step to reduce tensions between the neighbours whose ties are mired in mutual suspicion because of an unsettled border dispute.
  3. This marks the beginning of a long term trilateral partnership for the benefit of Afghanistan.

Significance of the Initiative

  1. The joint efforts reflect closer coordination and cooperation between our two countries on regional affairs and represent a positive development in China-India relations.
  2. It is a testament to the joint aspiration and endeavour to contribute to regional peace and stability.
  3. India and China share similar views on the war- torn country, including the need to support an Afghan-led and -owned peace and reconciliation process and fight terrorism.
Oct, 06, 2018

[pib] India-China Trade


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The ongoing trade war between the US and China and its latent benefits for India.



  1. Union Minister of Commerce & Industry has released a study by the Department of Commerce on India-China Trade.
  2. The report tries to analyze the magnitude, extent and plausible reasons of India’s rising trade deficit with China.

Addressing the Deficit

  1. India’s trade relationship with China is unique and no other bilateral trading relationship evokes as much interest in India as the India-China trade relationship.
  2. From being a small trading partner of India in 2001, within a span of fifteen years, China has rapidly become India’s biggest trading partner.
  3. Trade between the two countries has been expanding but India’s trade deficit with China has been growing.

Trade War Looming FTAs

  1. Most industry associations want the Government to pursue a defensive approach to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and raise tariffs on the doctrine of domestic markets for domestic producers.
  2. The global use of protectionist measures in 2018 was unprecedented with the trade wars looming between two of the largest economies of the world.
  3. This analysis helps in studying whether an FTA or tariff concessions by China to India can be beneficial in increasing India’s exports to China.

Why such a study?

  1. The idea behind this exercise has been to identify whether tariff concessions by China to other countries impede raising the share of India’s exports in the Chinese market.
  2. These lines can be taken up by India for negotiations with China under agreements like Asia Pacific Free Trade Agreement (APTA) in which both India and China are involved during the review exercise.
  3. Competing countries that have FTAs with China, limits the scope for Indian exports.
  4. This is due to higher tariffs faced by exporters as compared to competing nations who have secured tariff concessions under their FTAs.
  5. The study also underlines the opportunity available for India in increasing its services exports to China.

Other Parameters

  1. The imports of China from these countries as well as China’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) rates have been studied.
  2. Indices like Revealed Comparative Advantage (RCA) and Trade Complementarity Index (TCI) have been used to analyse the extent of India and China’s competiveness in this arena and the potential for the future.
  3. There is a separate section on the opportunities arising for India out of US – China trade standoff with a detailed analysis of specific tariff lines.
  4. The new tariffs that have been levied by China on the US amidst the ongoing trade war brings in the potential for India to fill the gaps left by America in the Chinese market.
Sep, 07, 2018

[op-ed snap] A new Chinese threat warrants a review of NFU policy


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India’s No First Use nuclear doctrine and urgent need of its review


China’s new weapon threat

  1. China is developing an India-specific long-range rocket that can fly over the Himalayas from Tibet with an electromagnetic propulsion system, similar to what is used in a railgun or launch aircraft from aircraft carriers
  2. The rocket system is being designed to hit the heartland of India
  3. The Doklam standoff is being cited as the reason for its development
  4. This is the first time that China has explicitly named India to develop a weapon system and talked about striking India’s mainland

What does this imply?

  • China does not think it can impose its will on India in a border conflict
  1. The Doklam standoff lasted for more than 70 days, and despite constant threats from China, India did not blink till a disengagement was negotiated
  2. China will require a 10:1 force advantage to overwhelm the strong Indian defensive posture in the Himalayas, making it impossible for it to “teach India another lesson”
  3. India has won tactical victories in the two previous skirmishes in 1967 and 1987
  • China is considering the feasibility of waging a total war with India and not limiting itself to a border conflict that it cannot win
  1. By declaring the development of an India-specific rocket, China has revealed that it now considers India a threat
  2. It is trying to deter India from undertaking tactical military operations against China to stop its “salami slicing” by threatening to strike India’s industrial, commercial and population centres

The strategy behind the deployment of new weapons

  1. It may be part of China’s psychological warfare against India, but it does have other weapon systems already deployed in Tibet to strike at India’s heartland
  2. The idea is that once the system is ready, it will be deployed in large numbers as it is relatively cheap and will give China the capability to launch saturation strikes on major north Indian cities—New Delhi in particular
  3. This would overwhelm India’s air defence system and cause a lot of damage
  4. This is similar to China’s war planning against Taiwan—it has more than 2,000 missiles pointed at the latter to overwhelm the air defence and deliver crippling strikes that will destroy 90% of the island
  5. North Korea, too, has a large artillery force pointed at Seoul that will inflict unacceptable destruction without the need for nuclear weapons

India’s arsenal is not that strong

  1. China’s major industrial, commercial and population centres are located on its east coast, about 4,000km from India
  2. New Delhi does not have any conventional capability to strike them
  3. India only has a limited number of Agni series of missiles that can strike these areas, but they are all intended for nuclear weapons delivery, not conventional warheads
  4. It will be very expensive to make a large number of Agni V missiles with conventional warheads that can strike all parts of China

What will India’s limitations lead to?

  1. India’s options to counter any Chinese border and maritime violations will be restricted in the absence of conventional retaliatory options to respond to strategic bombing of Indian cities with conventional weapons
  2. China’s overwhelming conventional firepower superiority over India will leave only the nuclear option for India
  3. But India has pledged no first use (NFU) of nuclear weapons and will use them if it is attacked first with nuclear weapons
  4. India’s NFU is, however, qualified

No consideration of conventional weapons in NFU policy

  1. India’s nuclear doctrine says that if attacked with weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological weapons, India will respond with nuclear weapons
  2. It does not consider mass destruction by conventional weapons that strategic bombing can inflict as a reason to respond with nuclear weapons

Way Forward

  1. A review of India’s nuclear doctrine is long overdue
  2. Countries around the world are developing even more potent conventional weapons that fly at hypersonic speed and can accurately strike targets within minutes
  3. If India decides to stay with the NFU policy after any future review, it should qualify it further to deter destructive conventional attacks on its major population, industrial and commercial centres
Aug, 31, 2018

Heavy discharge of Waters from China threatens Arunachal


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Brahmaputra Water Dispute, Course of Brahmaputra in India.

Mains level:  India-China differences over Brahmaputra


Highest discharge of water in decades

  1. The Yarlung Zangbo (Tsangpo) was swelling with observed discharge of 9,020 cumec due to heavy rainfall in Tibet.
  2. This discharge from China, the highest in 50 years, is threatening to submerge at least 12 villages along the river Siang in Arunachal Pradesh.
  3. Hydrological experts said the unusually high discharge indicates sudden release of water from man-made barriers or a natural dam.
  4. Natural barriers are formed due to landslips caused by major earthquakes in the Tibetan region of China.
  5. Local authority has issued an advisory, warning the people of the 12 villages to be on alert because of the sudden surge in the water level in Pasighat Dist.
  6. The Siang has already eroded 12 acres in Borguli village while at least 10 families of Seram village nearby have dismantled their houses and shifted to a safer location.

Learning from the Past

  1. The risen level has indications of water being suddenly released from a natural or man-made dam.
  2. Earthquakes triggered landslides and dammed Tsangpo last year resulting in Siang’s water turning muddy.
  3. Many in India talked about sudden collapse of the earthen dam in the future leading to moderate to big flood downstream in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
  4. But there was no serious follow-up action.
  5. The turbidity of Siang’s water last year was China’s plan to divert Tsangpo to the parched Xinjiang province via a 1,000 km tunnel.

Way Forward

  1. The situation is grim, and the government needs to come up with effective anti-erosion measures.
  2. The Central Water Commission needs to closely monitor the level and quality of Siang’s water.
  3. There is a lot of concern at the international, national and local levels about the geologically and strategically important Siang that impacts Bangladesh too.
Jun, 19, 2018

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: Falling behind on Digital Silk Road


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Belt and Road Initiative, Qingdao summit of SCO, South Asia Satellite, Digital Silk Road, Pakistan East Africa Cable Express (PEACE)

Mains level: China’s expanding footprints in digital connectivity sector with India’s neigborhood and its consequences


China’s OBOR & India’s rising challenges

  1. India’s continuing political challenges with China’s Belt and Road Initiative have been matched by Delhi’s enduring difficulties in advancing its own connectivity initiatives
  2. At the Qingdao summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, where India was participating for the first time as a full member, Delhi had to dissociate itself from the consensus in favor of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  3. China’s BRI will inch closer towards India this week when Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli travels to China
  4. Like most other neighbors of India, Nepal has already endorsed this Initiative & is getting ready to sign onto major BRI projects like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives
  5. Many of these projects would be grouped under the so-called Trans-Himalayan Connectivity Initiative

Neighborhood duties ignored

  1. Delhi has taken for granted the deep geographic interdependence with its neighbors and did little to modernize it for the 21st century
  2. Now they have an alternative in the form of Chinese connectivity initiatives
  3. For other neighbors, the BRI offers “strategic autonomy” from India
  4. The idea of seeking strategic autonomy from very large neighbors is not unique to South Asia
  5. Many of China’s immediate neighbors in East Asia do much the same
  6. They seek insurance through diversifying partnerships with many countries, including India

Ray of hope: Digital connectivity

  1. India has found it hard to develop institutional capabilities to implement infrastructure projects across and beyond its borders but it has some possibilities in the arena of digital connectivity
  2. During PM’s visit to Singapore, he signed a number of agreements to connect the financial markets of the two countries
  3. Last year, India had launched the South Asia Satellite as part of its neighborhood first policy
  4. To India’s worries, China has been a frontrunner here too
  5. Beijing has launched a number of ambitious initiatives, now being banded together as the “Digital Silk Road

What China plans to do?

  1. China’s Digital Silk Road agenda is about strengthening internet infrastructure, deepening space cooperation, lowering barriers to e-commerce, developing common technology standards, promoting cybersecurity, and improving the efficiency of policing systems among the BRI countries
  2. China wants to deploy its nationally developed platforms based on artificial intelligence, big data, cloud storage and quantum computing to pursue these goals
  3. China and Nepal have operationalised an optic fibre link between the two countries earlier this year
  4. The link would eventually reduce Nepal’s dependence on India for internet connectivity
  5. Last year, China’s Huawei signed an agreement to construct the Pakistan East Africa Cable Express (PEACE) that would connect Pakistan to Kenya via Djibouti
  6. China’s digital initiative also includes deepening space cooperation
  7. Last year, Sri Lanka joined China’s Beidou navigation system

India’s chance

  1. India has long had significant and growing national capabilities in the digital and space domains
  2. Delhi has fallen terribly short in integrating these with larger national economic and security strategies

Way forward

  1. At the turn of the century, India paid little attention to China’s internal, cross-border and international infrastructure projects that eventually came under the rubric of BRI
  2. Delhi is now struggling to cope with the strategic consequences for the Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean
  3. Delhi needs to quickly shed its digital defensiveness and leverage possibilities on digital development and diplomacy
May, 30, 2018

India opens second IT corridor in China to cash in on growing Chinese software market


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Aim and importance of the corridors


Second IT corridor in China

  1. India has launched its second IT corridor in China to get access to the growing Chinese software market
  2. The corridor is aimed at setting up local offices and assisting companies from Guiyang to establish software and IT units in India
  3. The new IT corridor in Guiyang came months after NASSCOM established its first Digital Collaborative Opportunities Plaza or SIDCOP platform in the Chinese port city of Dalian

Main focus of the corridors

  1. According to reports, Dalian corridor’s focus was on Internet of Things- IoT but the Guiyang corridor will focus on Big Data
  2. The platform in Guiyang intends to create online and offline presence to promote a “co-create culture” between India and China

India’s presence in other countries

  1. India IT firms have a presence in more than 70 countries in the world, generating employment for up to 12 million people worldwide
  2. In China, Indian IT companies are present in 10 cities around the country, with a total work-force of around 25,000 employees

Why are these corridors important?

  1. India has been demanding China to provide market access to Indian IT and pharmaceutical firms for several years to reduce bilateral trade deficit
May, 12, 2018

[op-ed snap] Sop to China or signal to Australia?


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: The Quad, Malabar exercise, etc.

Mains level: Possible effect on the Quad, after the recent decision of Indian Government of not allowing Australia to participate in the Malabar exercise.



  1. India’s refusal to let Australia participate in the upcoming Malabar naval exercise will hurt the Quad

Why this refusal?

  1. India, it seems, remains sceptical of Australia’s commitment as a strategic partner
  2. It was, after all, Australia that backed out of the Quad’s first incarnation in 2007

But it’s now high time that India updated its thinking about Australia

  1. A lot has changed since 2007
  2. In the years since, China began a much more aggressive campaign of coercion to assert dominance in its near seas, including with island-building in the South China Sea
  3. In response, Australia recalibrated its defence policies
  4. In successive policy statements, Australian governments from both major parties named China as the primary strategic challenge, drawing China’s ire each time
  5. They spoke out against Chinese provocations when few others did, including against China’s 2013 declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone, and in support of the 2016 arbitration ruling in favour of the Philippines
  6. The Australian military continues to conduct air and sea patrols of the South China Sea, which is frequently met with robust Chinese responses
  7. And it has deepened its US alliance, with the basing of Marines in Darwin

Was the denial of Australian participation in Malabar another Indian accommodation of China?

  1. The timing of the rejection suggests that Modi may have been signaling a pre-emptive sweetener for his China “reset”
  2. China’s strategic policy is to prevent regional states coordinating against it — so India slow-rolling such an alignment suits China’s interests perfectly
  3. And while the Indian military routinely exercises bilaterally with the US, Japan, and Australia, it stopped short of joining them all in a high-profile grouping which would upset China
  4. Even if India did not intend this as a concession to China, that may be the perception that gains traction around the region
  5. And, of course, perceptions have real effects

Possible effect on QUAD

  1. The denial of Australian participation in Malabar will harm the Quad
  2. At a minimum, the denial is a missed opportunity to build momentum for the Quad
  3. Worse, it may undermine the Quad’s credibility and reinforce widespread scepticism that it will ever amount to anything
  4. India’s opposition to Australia even observing this naval exercise in effect amounts to opposition to the Quad conducting any military activities, at least for now

The way forward

  1. Until India updates its views on Australia, it will further delay the efforts of like-minded powers to build a bulwark against Chinese coercion across the region
May, 10, 2018

[op-ed snap] Between the Elephant and the Dragon: India and China


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Why it makes sense for India and China to cooperate on Iran’s Chabahar project


The U.S. has decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal

  1. But Iran has indicated that his government remains committed to that pact and that he would be negotiating with the deal’s remaining signatories to salvage the deal if possible
  2. Other signatories are the European countries, Russia and China

Chinese influence in Iran

  1. For Iran, a lot is riding on how these powers engage in the coming months
  2. India too has a lot at stake in this regard
  3. Iran’s attempt to woo Chinese investment in Chabahar, often projected as India’s pet project (and a response to Gwadar in Pakistan), has raised eyebrows in
  4. Post-sanctions, the development of the Chabahar port reflects Iranian quest for multilateralism, and China by default is an important player in the Iranian scheme of things
  5. China is one of the few countries which never severed its ties with Iran
  6. In fact, it had played a crucial role in bringing Iran to the diplomatic table to negotiate the P5+1 nuclear deal
  7. China was also one of the countries that maintained steady trade relations with Iran even during the sanctions era. In fact, trade figures rose from $4 billion in 2003 to $53 billion in 2013
  8. A large chunk of China-Iran trade is petroleum-based products. China is the largest importer of Iranian oil
  9. China Development Bank has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranian government worth around $15 billion

Defence cooperation between Iran and China

  1. China and Iran share substantial defence cooperation with each other
  2. After the 1979 revolution, Iran has been dependent on China for meeting its defence requirements
  3. China, being permanent member of the Security Council with veto power, could be of great strategic help for Iran when it comes to vetoing any proposal against Iran in the United Nations

A parallel, China-dominated global order suits Iran more than the U.S.-centric world order

What are the possible policy options for India?

  1. The strong relationship between Tehran and Beijing makes it pertinent for New Delhi to navigate its interests in the region accordingly
  2. To assume that Iran would help India counter Chinese influence in the region might be wishful thinking
  3. India needs to resist the temptation of falling prey to “excessive securitisation” in the case of Chabahar agreement in particular and India-Iran relations in general
  4. For India, to be an influential player in the region, economics and politics should complement and not substitute each other

What should be done?

  1. In collaboration with countries like Japan, India should offer favourable terms of trade in the region vis-à-vis China
  2. To consolidate its strategic depth in the region, India should focus on initiatives like frequent joint naval exercises in the Persian Gulf
  3. Iran, on the other hand, would do well by maintaining a fine balance between the elephant and the dragon
  4. Experiences of countries like Sri Lanka should encourage prudent thinking on the part of Iranian policy-makers

The way forward

  1. Some form of Chinese participation in the Chabahar project would be helpful for the future of the project, especially if the terms and conditions are clearly specified
  2. India and China are exploring joint economic projects in Afghanistan; they can surely also extend this engagement to the Chabahar
May, 09, 2018

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra resumes via Nathu La pas

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nathu La pass, Lipulekh Pass route, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

Mains level: India-China ties and various factors affecting them


Bringing ties back on track

  1. Nathu La pass has been reopened for the annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
  2. China had shut down the Nathu La pass in Sikkim and denied entry to the Kailash Mansoravar (located in Tibet) pilgrims last year due to the 73-day-long standoff in Doklam between troops of India and China at the border on account of security reasons
  3. The route through the Nathu La Pass (Sikkim) is motorable and suitable for senior citizens unable to undertake arduous trekking

The alternative route also to be used

  1. Pilgrims will also take the Lipulekh Pass route
  2. The route through the Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand) involves some trekking and is known to be more arduous
May, 02, 2018

[op-ed snap] Six ways on how to improve Sino-Indian ties, post-Wuhan


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The Challenges and difficulties(for improving relationship between the two countries) discussed in the newscard.


Is the recent Wuhan summit between Indian PM and Chinese President a success?

  1. The outcome of this kind of a summit can only be determined not through the communiques and words, but action taken on the ground
  2. Many things are not visible right now and will unfold on the ground in the coming months and years
  3. At this point, we can say that the principal achievement of the meeting is to put the strategic communications between the two countries on a new track
  4. The Wuhan summit has inaugurated a new era of diplomacy where the top leaders of India and China meet more frequently and find time to take up issues in much greater detail

Other positive outcomes of the summit

  1. The Wuhan summit signals that they do not want to clash against each other through misunderstanding and miscalculation
  2. At the same time they would not like to have their bilateral relationship be mediated by third countries like the US
  3. And neither would they like to have their relations with other countries(like the US or Pakistan) negatively impact on their own interaction

Confusion: On Chinese Commitments

  1. By assuring China that India will not militarily intervene in Maldives and refusing to have the Australians at the Malabar naval exercises, India has front-loaded some of its commitments
  2. Just what the Chinese have committed themselves to is not clear

The difficulties and challenges that the two sides confront lie in several important areas
First: the disputed border

  1. Unless the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is clarified, it is difficult not to have periodic incidents like in Depsang in 2014 and Chumar in 2015
  2. Also, there is no point in asking the Special Representatives designated to discuss the border issue, to intensify their work
  3. What is needed is action by the respective leaderships of China and India

Second: Need of peace keeping mechanisms

  1. Both sides need to urgently revitalise their peace keeping mechanisms on the border

Third: India and China need to resolve their problems on the economic front

  1. An immediate area of attention is in that of the trade balance which is heavily skewed against India
  2. But many Indian products like pharmaceuticals, Information Technology products and non-basmati rice are blocked from the Chinese market
  3. China needs to open up its markets to Indian goods

Fourth: Terrorism emanating from Pakistan

  1. As a friend of Pakistan and an important military partner, India feels that China should do more to restrain Pakistan

Fifth: Need of a diplomatic mechanism to discuss regional issues

  1. Both sides must have a diplomatic mechanism through which they can discuss regional issues like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka
  2. Building on the idea of a joint project in Afghanistan, the two sides should explore joint third-country projects in some of these countries

Sixth: Implementation of ideas at the lower level

  1. There is need for the top leaderships to sensitise lower level officials and military personnel as to what they are trying to achieve
  2. Unless the lower level officials implement the ideas, the high level meeting will be of no value
Apr, 25, 2018

[op-ed snap] The dragon beckons again: Indo-China relationship


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CAATSA, RCEP, etc.

Mains level: The global geopolitics is changing rapidly, especially among China, Russia and the US. The Indian PM is planning to visit China this month. The newscard suggests a specific strategy to deal with China in the present context of the global geopolitics.



  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes to China on April 27
  2. PM’s visit to China should be seen in the context of the flux of global geopolitics

Why is the international backdrop worrying in many respects?

  1. The face-off between the U.S. (and its allies) and Russia is arguably worse than during the Cold War
  2. They confront each other, through proxy forces, in three active conflict zones — Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan
  3. The recent U.S.-French-British missile strikes in Syria were a stark reminder

CAATSA: Imposing Sanctions

  1. Under CAATSA, the US can impose sanctions on any company which engages with Russia in the defence or energy sector
  2. Its impact could be far more devastating in today’s globalised world
    Other sanctions
  3. Recently the US has also sanctioned major Russian multinationals

Crucial trade issues: Against India’s interest

  1. India is being asked(by the US) to address its trade surplus of about $25 billion with the U.S
  2. The US has also asked China to reduce its massive trade surplus of about $375 billion with the U.S.
  3. The US’ decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade grouping excluding China, effectively benefited China
  4. India itself, running a trade deficit of over $50 billion with China, is in difficult negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Effect of sharpening of U.S.-Russia acrimony on India

  1. It has complicated India’s relations with both countries
  2. Besides pressure to address the India-U.S. trade imbalance, India has been warned that its defence and energy links with Russia could attract U.S. sanctions under CAATSA
    (a development which could have a major impact on our defence preparedness)
  3. Russia’s intensifying defence cooperation with China and its actions in Afghanistan and with Pakistan are areas on which serious and delicate high-level India-Russia dialogue is being pursued

The right way to deal with China

  1. With a strengthening Russia-China axis and with the U.S. taking its eye off China to deal with Russia,
  2. it is prudent for India to maintain a harmonious dialogue with China, even as we deal with the issues in our relations with the other two great powers
  3. This is not to say that India should not stand firm on its core interests, political, economic or strategic
  4. We cannot overlook Chinese designs in our neighbourhood — from Doklam to the CPEC, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives —
  5. or ignore the larger geopolitical threat posed by the land and sea corridors of the BRI
  6. It is just that circumstances may have opened up some space for furthering mutual interests, without compromising on our other interests

What should be done?: For the betterment of the relationship

  1. The course of India-China relations in the past couple of years had created a public narrative of bilateral frictions over CPEC, Doklam, etc., on which India had to take strong public positions
  2. The transformation in the international environment, creating opportunities for non-confrontational dialogue, could perhaps have been better explained
  3. Foreign policy can be pursued far more effectively when it is supported by public perceptions

The way forward

  1. The reality is that India has to maintain a pragmatic balance in its relations with the three major powers
  2. The PM’s visit to China should be seen in this context
Apr, 17, 2018

[op-ed snap] India’s grand illusion of a ‘reset’ with China


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: From some recent moves taken by India. it is evident that India wants to reset some contentious issues with China. The newscard talks about those issues and discusses an effective foreign policy plan to counter China.


Corrective measures taken by the Indian Government

  1. It started with foreign ministry discouraging government functionaries from attending events organized by the Tibetan government in exile
  2. And there have been reports suggesting that India did not intervene in the Maldives despite grave provocation from the Abdulla Yameen government in deference to Chinese sensitivities
  3. Various diplomatic visits were happened recently(and some are planned)
  4. There is now a possibility that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China later this month
  5. Some analysts have suggested that these moves represent a much needed corrective to the last three years, during which the Modi government moved too close to the US

Is a “reset”(of India-China relationship) in current circumstances a smart move?

  1. China has refused to accommodate India’s interests in many spheres
  2. India was disappointed with the outcome of the latest joint economic group (JEG) meeting where Beijing yet again failed to take seriously India’s concern on rising bilateral trade imbalance and lack of market access for Indian goods in China
  3. India has, once again, taken up the issue of its entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) with China but a breakthrough seems far away
  4. China has been insisting on simultaneous entry of India and Pakistan into the NSG and is unlikely to budge from that position
    The main issue of the ‘reset’ exercise
  5. The biggest problem with the current “reset” exercise is that a bilateral summit is being seen as an end in itself
  6. This has been an old problem with India’s foreign policy but has been worsened in recent years
  7. A visit is seen as something to be celebrated, rather than outcomes from that visit
  8. Given the structural problems between the two countries, Modi’s visit(if it happens) is unlikely to turn the tide in bilateral relations, the histrionics of the summit notwithstanding

What should be India’s broader strategic outlook towards China?

  1. Avoid becoming a pawn: Some have suggested that India should stick to a new version of non-alignment where it can maintain equidistance from both China and the US
  2. This will help India avoid becoming a pawn in a bigger US-China war
  3. There are two massive problems with this suggestion
  4. One, it fails to address the scenario where the war is not between the US and China but between India and China
  5. The 73-day stand-off at Doklam last year indicates that the latter is no less likely than the former
  6. Two, equidistance from both the US and China will have to be artificially manufactured because it does not exist naturally
  7. India has a territorial dispute with China, not with the US
  8. The US supports India’s elevation in the UN and the NSG, China doesn’t
  9. India is raising a mountain strike corps to fight the People’s Liberation Army, not the US military. It is, therefore, monumentally silly to talk of equidistance here
    The ideal way of countering China
  10. The ideal would be to build indigenous military and economic capabilities
  11. But that won’t happen immediately; China is already decades ahead of India in terms of material capabilities. External balancing through a close US partnership is thus essential
  12. External balancing may also help build India’s own capabilities through cooperation on defence production

The way forward

  1. All this does not mean that India and China cannot cooperate with each other in any domain
  2. China is willing to side with India when it is assured of immediate pay-offs
  3. It helped in grey-listing Pakistan at the financial action task force (FATF) to combat money laundering and terrorist financing because India helped in China’s leadership bid of the inter-governmental body
  4. Recently, China and India have initiated discussions to jointly use their leverage in oil price negotiations
  5. Similarly, the two countries have an enviable track record of cooperation in global climate change negotiations
Feb, 09, 2018

Kailash Yatra via Nathu La to resume: MEA

Image source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, Nathu La pass, Lipulekh pass

Mains level: Standoff between India-China over border disputes

Nathu La pass to reopen

  1. China has confirmed restarting of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu La pass
  2. The trek through the Nathu La pass was cancelled by China in June last year

Why was the pass closed?

  1. Face-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the India-China border led to the cancellation of the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu La pass in Sikkim

Alternative route

  1. Pilgrimage through the more difficult Lipulekh route through Uttarakhand remained open


Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

  1. Lake Manasarovar or Mapam Yumtso is the highest body of freshwater lake in the world, fed by the Kailash Glacier
  2. It is present near Mount Kailash in Tibet Autonomous Region
  3. The lake is revered a sacred place in four religions: Bön, Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism
  4. Lake Manasarovar has long been viewed by the pilgrims as being nearby to the sources of four great rivers of Asia, namely the Brahmaputra, Ghaghara, Sindhu and Sutlej
  5. Pilgrimage tours are organized regularly from India, the most famous of which is the yearly “Kailash Manas Sarovar Yatra”
Jan, 30, 2018

China shifts stance, offers to open talks with India on CPEC

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CPEC, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Nathu La pass

Mains level: Issues related to India-China border


China wants to resolve differences on the CPEC

  1. China has offered to open talks with India to resolve differences on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
  2. This has opened the door for removing a major irritant in New Delhi-Beijing ties

What is China offering?

  1. It can change the name of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor)
  2. China has also offered to create an alternative corridor through Jammu and Kashmir, Nathu La pass or Nepal to deal with India’s concerns

Why this offer?

  1. India has objected to CPEC which passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), as violation of its sovereignty
  2. CPEC is a part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

China’s stand on Doklam

  1. China reiterated it’s stock response that Donglang (Doklam) was China’s sovereign territory, and Beijing had a right to build infrastructure in the area
  2. The Sikkim section of the China-India boundary has been demarcated by historical treaty and is under effective jurisdiction by China
  3. China will as always uphold its sovereignty along the border area including Donglang
Jan, 04, 2018

[op-ed snap] A new plateau

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ASEAN, BRI, etc.

Mains level: The newscard briefly explains the current issues related to Indian-Sino relationship.


Contentious relationship between India and China

  1. India is perhaps the only major power frontally challenging China’s attempt to redraw the global economic landscape through BRI
  2. India has countered the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an important element of the BRI, even at the cost of getting regionally and globally isolated when it decided not to attend the BRI summit in May 2017
  3. India said: “No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity”

Complications between India and China continues

  1. China’s engagement in India’s neighbourhood seemed to be growing with the Left Alliance winning in Nepal and the signing of a Free Trade Agreement between China and the Maldives
  2. China’s relationship with Pakistan has become stronger with Beijing now openly batting for Pakistan, whether it is in scuttling Indian attempts to get Pakistan-based terror outfits banned by the UNSC
  3. Or preventing India from joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group

Efforts from Indian side to counter China’s rising influence

  1. On the margins of the ASEAN summit in Manila, India participated in the first formal official-level discussions of the ‘Quad’, the quadrilateral formation that also includes Japan, the U.S., and Australia
  2. India’s ‘Act East Policy’ too has been in full gear with all 10 heads of state/ government of the ASEAN participating in this month’s Republic Day celebrations

The way forward

  1. Both India and China need to find common ground to work seriously so that some tangible outcomes can be achieved
  2. New realities confront India and China
  3. For India, China’s rise as a great power in its own vicinity presents a challenge that it has not encountered in the past
  4. China is facing a New India which, unlike before, is willing to challenge China
  5. Old formulations and principles seem to have outlived their usefulness.
Jan, 04, 2018

Never acknowledged existence of Arunachal Pradesh, says China while ruling out a Doklam-type standoff

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: South Tibet, Doklam

Mains level: China’s claim on Arunachal and parts of PoK and India’s stand on this issue


China-India boundary issue

  1. China claims the entire Arunachal Pradesh as its own and calls it South Tibet
  2. China said that its position on the China-India boundary issue is consistent and clear, and it has never recognized the so-called Arunachal Pradesh

Why this statement?

  1. There were media reports that late last month China’s soldiers rolled building machines up to 200 metres into Arunachal Pradesh

Another Doklam-type standoff?

  1. Chinese representative said that he did not visualize such a situation
  2. Doklam issue was peacefully resolved by both sides

Border mechanism

  1. China and India have established a mature management mechanism for border-related issues
  2. At the end of last year, the two sides held the 20th round of special representatives’ meeting on the boundary issue
Dec, 26, 2017

[op-ed snap] On the line: India and China

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The newscard briefly talks about the current issues between India and China


Unique meeting between the Special Representatives of India and China on the boundary question(held recently)

  1. The talks came more than 20 months after the last round, reflecting a period of extreme strain in India-China ties
  2. Meeting was held between India’s NSA and Chinese State Councillor
  3. The two sides were best poised to move ahead in the three-step process that was part of the Agreement on ‘Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question’ in 2005
  4. That is, defining the guidelines for the settlement of border disputes, formulating a framework agreement on the implementation of the guidelines, and completing border demarcation

Guided by Modi-Xi vision

  1. Both the representatives were guided by the Modi-Xi agreements of 2017, including the ‘Astana consensus’ that “differences must not be allowed to become disputes”
  2. And the understanding at Xiamen that India-China relations “are a factor of stability” in an increasingly unstable world

Are Sino-Indian relations improving?

  1. It would be a mistake, however, to infer that with all these engagements the worst in bilateral ties is now behind the two countries
  2. Since 2013, when the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement was signed, there has been a steady decline in relations in all spheres
  3. The border has seen more transgressions, people-to-people ties have suffered amid mutual suspicion
  4. And China’s forays in South Asia as well as India’s forays into South-East Asian sea lanes have increasingly become areas of contestation

How India sees the contentious situations?

  1. In India, this is seen as the outcome of China’s ambition of geopolitical domination

How China sees the contentious situations?

  1. China sees the U.S.-India defence agreements, the Quadrilateral engagement with Japan, Australia and the U.S., and Indian opposition to the BRI quite the same way(geopolitical domination)
Dec, 21, 2017

India plans to increase troops along Indo-Bhutan border


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Security challenges and their management in border areas

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Doklam issue


Deployment of troops

  1. According to Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) , the force plans to increase its strength along the Indo-Bhutan border, short of Doklam
  2. SSB, one of India’s central paramilitary forces guards India’s 1,751km and 699km borders with Nepal and Bhutan respectively
  3. While the total mandated strength along the Bhutan and Nepal borders requires 734 border outposts (BOPs) to be stationed by the SSB, currently there are only 635 BOPs

Why is this notable?

  1. It came just two days before India and China sit down to conduct border talks
  2. Chinese influence has been increasing along the border areas and other Indian agencies are keeping track of that development
Dec, 19, 2017

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: India and China — Rebuild the trust

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nuclear Suppliers Group, Doklam plateau, Panchsheel agreement, Belt and Road Initiative

Mains level: Turbulent India-China relationship and ways to bring it back on track


Sino-Indian relations are in a state of disrepair 

  1. 2016 was marked by China’s decision to block India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group
  2. 2017 was defined by an extended military confrontation in the Doklam plateau

Not sweeping differences under the carpet

  1. Beijing and Delhi are finally acknowledging the deeply problematic nature of the relationship
  2. This public admission of trouble is a welcome departure from the entrenched habit of sweeping differences under the carpet
  3. Also from masking problems with grandiose rhetoric on “building a new Asian century” and “promoting multipolar world”

Critical issue in bilateral relations

  1. It is the absence of mutual trust
  2. Since 2008, there has been a steady accumulation of problems — tensions on the boundary, an imbalance in trade, strategic competition in the region and the divergence on international issues
  3. These problems, in turn, deepened distrust

Turn to a new page

  1. This idea has been articulated frequently, in recent times by the Chinese ambassador to India
  2. One of his proposals is to sign a “treaty of good neighborliness and friendly cooperation”
  3. India and China have had a tradition of hoary declarations that created an illusion of mutual understanding but deepened mutual distrust
  4. The declaratory approach was of no help in addressing the real disputes over territorial sovereignty

Panchsheel of no use

  1. The Panchsheel agreement signed in 1954 was of no help in resolving the difficulties over Tibet and the boundary that emerged in the late 1950s
  2. This was despite the idea of “five principles of peaceful coexistence” that Delhi and Beijing claim to be their unique contribution to modern international relations

Focus areas

  1. First is the urgent need to distill lessons from the Doklam crisis and prevent the recurrence of another such incident
  2. One of the main lessons from Doklam is that more confidence-building measures on the border are not going to guarantee stability
  3. The context in which the CBMs were put since the 1990s has fundamentally changed
  4. The second area of focus is on President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative
  5. Unconditional bilateral discussions on the BRI make good sense
  6. Both Delhi and Beijing say they are eager to promote connectivity in their shared neighborhood

Way forward

  1. As the stronger power today, China might think it can afford to be unilateral — on the frontier as well regional economic initiatives
  2. Without a return to genuine bilateralism that takes into account the interests of both parties, Beijing will find the chasm with Delhi continue to deepen
Dec, 16, 2017

[op-ed snap] Looking for balance in power

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the RIC

Mains level: The article comprehensively discusses the issues related to the RIC trilateral group



  1. The Russia-India-China trilateral held its 15th meeting recently
  2. Held at New Delhi

Points that shows divergence between India and Russia relationship

  1. Russia and China’s continued attempts to frame global and regional politics through a similar lens
  2. Changed stance: Russia now believes that India can benefit by joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative

From China’s point of view

  1. China has continued to take an aggressive posture on Doklam and its aftermath
  2. China’s official statement at the meet: “China and India have far greater shared strategic interests than differences, and far greater needs for cooperation than partial friction”

Reasons that are binding Russia and China together

  1. As Russia witnessed a downward slide in its status as a superpower since the end of the Cold War, China emerged as a rising power that saw the U.S. as the greatest obstacle
  2. As a consequence, China recognised the importance of cooperating with Russia to check U.S. expansionism in the world, even if only for the short term
  3. In fact, American policies towards Russia and China moved the two states closer to each other, leading to the formation of a new balance of power against the U.S.

Trilateral meet from India’s point of view

  1. As India was still far from becoming a global power of any reckoning
  2. India saw in the trilateral a mechanism to bring greater balance in the global order as it believed that a unipolar U.S.-dominated world was not in the best interests of weaker states like itself

Consequences of the discussed points

  1. As a consequence, the trilateral did not lead to consequences of any great import
  2. It merely resulted in declarations which were often critical of the West, and of the U.S. in particular
  3. Yet this was also a period which saw significant shifts in Indo-U.S. ties as bilateral relations expanded while Russian and Chinese links with the U.S. have witnessed a downward shift

Changing Situation of the trilateral group

  1. The group had started with an attempt to manage American unipolarity is now being affected fundamentally by Chinese resurgence
  2. Both Russia and India are having to deal with the externalities being generated by China’s rise
  3. While Russia is getting closer to China, India is trying to leverage its partnership with other like-minded states in the wider Indo-Pacific region
  4. As a multipolar world order takes shape, India will have to engage with multiple partners so as to limit bilateral divergences
  5. Moreover, all three countries realised the enormous potential in the economic, political, military and cultural realms if bilateral relationships among them were adequately strengthened

The way forward

  1. The Russia-India-China template comes with its own set of challenges.
  2. India has continued engagement with Russia and China and it suggests that India is today confident of setting its own agenda in various platforms
  3. Just as China engages with the U.S. on the one hand and with Russia on the other, a rising India is quite capable of managing its ties with USA, China and Russia simultaneously
Dec, 14, 2017

China denies building tunnel to divert Brahmaputra waters


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Brahmaputra river and its tributaries

Mains level: China’s attempts to seige territory of Arunachal and various tactics used to increase tension in the region


Not building tunnel on the Brahmaputra

  1. China denied plans to construct a tunnel to divert Brahmaputra river waters
  2. This was amid reports of highly polluted waters from its tributary Siang flowing into India


  1. In 2016, China had declared that it would be building a dam on a tributary of the river, sparking concerns about its potential downstream impact in India
  2. In October, China had denied reports of plans to build 1000-km long tunnel to divert Brahmaputra waters to the arid regions of Xinjiang


Brahmaputra river

  1. The Brahmaputra River, also called the Yarlung Tsangpo in the Tibetan language, originates on the Angsi Glacier located on the northern side of the Himalayas in Burang County of Tibet
  2. It is known as Siang in Arunachal Pradesh before it enters Assam and flows southwards to the sea through Bangladesh as the Jamuna
  3. The principal tributaries of the river joining from right are the Lohit, the Dibang, the Subansiri, the Jiabharali, the Dhansiri, the Manas, the Torsa, the Sankosh and the Teesta
  4. The Burhidihing, the Desang, the Dikhow, the Dhansiri and the Kopili join it from left
Dec, 13, 2017

[op-ed snap] The power play in peacekeeping

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India is one of the largest (troop)contributors to the UN peacekeeping mission. And it is important to know how China’s involvement will affect India’s interests in this area.


Rising contribution of China in peacekeeping mission of the UN

  1. Having made a reluctant entry in peacekeeping (when it sent a small cadre of soldiers to Cambodia in 1992), China has now become the largest troop contributor among the permanent members of the UNSC
  2. More importantly, China is now the third-largest contributor to the UN’s regular budget and the second-largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget

What does this portend in China’s quest for great power status?
Is the picture that simple for India in geopolitical power play?

  1. In practice, a nation’s voice is in proportion to what it contributes towards the UN, especially funds — India’s contribution is only 0.737% when compared to China’s 7.92% and the U.S.’s 22%
  2. Troop contributions to peacekeeping do not get their due in UN power politics
  3. Pivotal posts in UN missions have always been with major fund contributors
  4. China has many pivotal posts in UN Missions

Selective use of VETO power by China

  1. China has used VETO power twice “over concerns over territorial integrity pertaining to Taiwan”
  2. China was against sending UN peacekeepers to Guatemala and Macedonia because they had established diplomatic ties with Taiwan

Importance of peacekeeping missions for China and its contributions in them

  1. In 2015, China committed a standby force of 8,000 peacekeepers and a permanent police squad for UN operations
  2. In addition, there is a 10-year $1 billion China-U.N. peace and development fund and $100 million in military assistance to the African Union
  3. It is no coincidence that Africa is where China has large economic interests
  4. Peacekeeping is said to be a cover for China to test its strengths in overseas deployments

How will it affect India?

  1. Chinese involvement in peacekeeping(along with its higher funding contributions) will put Beijing in the driver’s seat in formulating peacekeeping mandates
  2. And thereby affecting India in more ways than one

The way forward

  1. The truth is that though our troops have been on the front line of facing danger (168 soldiers lost in UN operations, till May 2017), the returns in UN power play have been low
  2. Peacekeeping missions are the raison d’etre(the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence) of the UN
  3. And India’s generous contributions as far as peacekeeping troops are concerned should be key in its argument to have a greater say in the affairs of the UN. India must demand its pound of flesh
Dec, 11, 2017

RIC meet: Foreign ministers of Russia, India, China meet today to boost Asia-Pacific relations

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Belt and Road Initiative, International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)

Mains level: India’s current position in multipolar world


After ‘Indo-pacific’, its ‘Asia-pacific’ for India

  1. Exactly a month before India, Australia, the US and Japan sat down for talks on cooperation in the “Indo-Pacific”—seen as a possible security framework among the four against a rising China
  2. Now, Indian foreign minister will meet her counterparts from Russia and China for discussions on deepening coordination in the Asia-Pacific region

What does this signify?

  1. The move is an effort by India to demonstrate that it has multiple options in a multipolar world and that it is not aligned with any one group or any one country

RIC meeting: Changing polarities

  1. The RIC meeting comes as Russia and China are seen developing close bilateral ties against the backdrop of the two developing tensions with the US for separate reasons
  2. In contrast, there seems to be growing convergence between New Delhi and Washington after decades of being seen on opposite sides
  3. Ties between India and Russia, once seen as partners, seem stressed given the growing warmth in India’s relations with the US
  4. The RIC foreign ministers’ meet also comes as India, Japan, US, and Australia seem to have restarted a dialogue

Issues that might be discussed

  1. Naming Pakistan-based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in the joint communique to be adopted at the Russia-India-China meeting for terrorist activities against India
  2. Raising the subject of a Chinese block at the UN to India’s attempts to get the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed group, the Pakistan-based Maulana Masood Azhar, declared a terrorist by the world body
  3. Also, China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a strand of which i.e. the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC), passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India objects to this as it claims all of Kashmir as part of its territory
  4. India is also expected to discuss, mainly with Russia, the fast-tracking of the 7,200km-long International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) linking India, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia with Europe
Nov, 27, 2017

[op-ed snap] Smart-balancing China

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: How to cooperate with China, and related issues



  1. The article talks about the IR issues related to China and gives some possible solutions for the same

Possible effect of the Quad Grouping on Sino-Indian relationship

  1. The recent revival of the ‘Quadrilateral’ (or Quad) and the consequent talk of an ‘Asian NATO’ have brought the India-China rivalry back to the limelight

India should be cautious

  1. How to ‘balance’ China will occupy a great deal of India’s strategic attention in the years ahead as China charts its heading towards superpower status
  2. Any such strategising by India needs to be prudently thought out

How will China influence the world in future?

  1. China’s superpower ambitions are bound to have a system-shaping impact on the Asian region
  2. There will be China-led alliances, Chinese client states and the establishment of Chinese spheres of influence
  3. The alleged China connection to the recent ‘regime change’ in Zimbabwe is perhaps a indicator of things to come

Main focus of China

  1. China is ensuring that its access to overseas resources/markets and the oceanic trade routes are unhindered
  2. In doing so, it is increasingly seeking to build military facilities overseas and offset the U.S.-led coalition in the region

Is aligning with the US not good for India?

  1. In the big picture of Chinese grand strategy, India, seen increasingly aligned with the U.S., is a spoiler
  2. Denying India entry into (1) the Nuclear Suppliers Group, (2) repeatedly blocking UN sanctions against Pakistan-based terrorists, (3) and ignoring India’s sensitivity over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor are outcomes of this vision(according to some experts)

Why is Sinophobia increasing in India?

  1. For one, Chinese revisionist claims in the land and oceanic space have been a major source of concern
  2. Beijing’s deployment of naval assets to enforce its claims across the South China Sea,
  3. construction of artificial islands in the region
  4. and the rejection of a UN tribunal judgment on a complaint filed by the Philippines, last year have only strengthened this feeling
  5. China has also been increasing its naval presence, including dispatching its nuclear submarines on patrol, in the Indian Ocean
  6. Second, along with military assertion, China has also been stepping up its political and economic footprint in the region
  7. Third, the ever-strengthening China-Pakistan military alliance and its implications for India

Why is Quad with the US not a good idea?

  1. There are several problems with this approach:
    (1) the U.S. is a quickly-receding extra-regional power whose long-term commitment to the region is increasingly indeterminate and unsure;
    (2) U.S.-China relations are far more complex than we generally assume;
    (3) and Australia is caught between the U.S. and China
  2. While India may have shed its traditional reticence about a strategic partnership with the U.S., it would still not be what Japan is to the U.S.

What should be done on military side?

  1.  Military preparedness to offset any potential Chinese aggression is something that India can and should invest in
  2. But again, Chinese military aggression has really not been India’s central concern, but a China-dominated region in which India is surrounded
  3. Military preparedness, in which we will inevitably lag behind China, alone cannot address such a concern

Strategy of countering China with Trade restrictions

  1. Some have suggested that India should use its $70 billion-strong trading relationship with China as a bargaining chip to check Chinese behaviour
  2. However, doing so would hurt both sides
  3. While it is true that India-China bilateral trade is heavily skewed in favour of China, let’s not forget that China’s exports to India comprise under 3% of its total exports
    (and India’s exports to China is 3.6% of its total exports)
  4. Boycotting Chinese goods would also mean Indian consumers paying more to get them from elsewhere

What should be done in this situation?

  1. India would be better served by adopting a more nuanced balancing strategy, a strategy of ‘smart-balancing’, towards Beijing
  2. A strategy that involves deep engagements and carefully calibrated balancing, at the same time
  3. First of all, it would involve co-binding China in a bilateral/regional security complex
  4. Some efforts in this direction are already under way such as India-China joint anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden
  5. The two countries could consider initiating regular, structured consultations in this regard
  6. In other words, enhancing security cooperation with China is a sure way of alleviating the persistent security dilemma between them
  7. A mutual ‘complex interdependence’ in economic, security and other domains should be strengthened and front-loaded over zero-sum competition
  8. This security cooperation should most certainly be enhanced in the Indo-Pacific where India should talk of cooperating with China
  9. Language is important: talk about security community and joint efforts than containing China


  1. Second, India should cooperate with and trust China while at the same time keeping Military prepared
  2. After all, the role of military strength in guaranteeing national security cannot be underestimated


  1. Third, India’s response to China’s refusal to act against Pakistan-based terrorists needn’t be strait-laced
  2. However, while China is unlikely to make Islamabad politically uncomfortable by public terror-shaming, the more China gets involved in Pakistan, the less it can afford to ignore terrorism within Pakistan

The way forward

  1. India urgently needs to develop a clear vision for a stable regional security order
  2. And work out what role India would like China to play in that vision and how it can nudge China towards that
  3. Keeping China out of the regional security order is not realistic, letting China dominate it is not desirable: smart-balancing China within such an order is indeed the optimal strategy
Nov, 11, 2017

[op-ed snap] Xi, Trump, Asian disorder


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Effects of relationship between the US and China, on India.



  1. The article talks about the upcoming Asian visit of Donald Trump, his China’s visit and its possible effects on India’s foreign policy

The US and China relationship

  1. They need each other is not in doubt
  2. What is importat, though, is the terms of a new economic and political settlement between the two

What should India do?

  1. should stay the course on managing its problems with China
  2. And deepening ties with the US and key Asian actors, Japan, Korea, the ASEAN, and further afield, with Australia

Trump’s Asian Tour

  1. On his extended Asian tour, Trump is participating in two major regional summits
    (1) the forum for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in Vietnam and
    (2) the East Asia Summit in the Philippines. In the current tour
  2. Trump has also had bilateral visits to Japan and South Korea
  3. What America wants from Asian Countries: America’s demands for “fair” rather than “free trade” with Asia
  4. And the problem of accommodating China’s rise without abandoning its long-standing allies and friends in the region

Three broad objectives that the president was intended to pursue in Asia

  1. One was to get greater reciprocity in the commercial engagement with Asia
  2. The second was to strengthen US alliances and partnerships in the region
  3. A third was to get a better fix on North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme

China’s trade Strategy with the US

  1. Beijing resorted to the familiar trick of wrapping a package of commercial deals with American companies amounting to $250 billion
  2. While the big number grabs the headlines, sceptics point to the fact that many of these “deals” are MoUs rather than commercial contracts
  3. Many of them will take a long time
  4. And this does nothing to resolve Trump’s political problem with America’s massive trade deficit

Talk on Political relationship between the US and China

  1. On the question of political relations, Trump and Xi had nice things to say about the need for greater cooperation and engagement
  2. But there was no apparent breakthrough on the question of North Korea that was at the top of Trump’s agenda

India’s PM upcoming visit to the Philippines to join the East Asia Summit

  1. Three things stand out infront of India:
    (1) America and China will continue to jockey for political primacy in Asia
    (2) the tension between Washington’s traditional commitment to economic globalisation and Trump’s “America First” policies is unlikely to be resolved any time soon
    (3) and most countries in the region are beginning to diversify their security partnerships

The way forward

  1.  The rise of China and the turbulence in American domestic politics have created great disorder under the heavens
  2. But they have also opened up much room for creative Indian diplomacy in Asia
Nov, 09, 2017

India urged to join Belt and Road Initiative


Mains Paper 2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: OBOR.

Mains level: It is important as the article highlights how China is open and inclusive to cooperation with India on BRI.



China urges India to join BRI

  1. China on Wednesday counselled India to shed its objections to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which had already drawn wide international support.
  2. China in a veiled reference to India, said the project did not target “third countries” or prejudice China’s position on territorial disputes.
  3. Also, that CPEC corridor is an economic cooperation.
  4. China hopes that countries and parties with shared vision will work with us to allow practical cooperation to bring more benefits to our peoples.
  5. And China is open and inclusive to cooperation involving the BRI.


One Belt One Road Initiative

  1. It is a development strategy proposed by China‘s paramount leaderXi Jinping to connect China with Central Asia, Europe, Africa and Indo-Pacific littoral countries. He called for the building of a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, collectively referred to as One Belt One Road (OBOR).
  2. This policy has two components:
  • Belt– The “One Belt” refers to the land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt”. Here Beijing aims to connect the country’s underdeveloped hinterland to Europe through Central Asia.
  • Road – The “One Road” references the ocean-going “Maritime Silk Road”. It is to connect the fast-growing South East Asian region to China’s southern provinces through ports and railways.
  1. The Belt and Road initiative is geographically structured along 6 corridors.
  2. The strategy underlines China’s push to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network.
  3. In the past three years, the focuses were mainly on infrastructure investment, construction materials, railway and highway, automobile, real estate, power grid, and iron and steel.
Sep, 12, 2017

[op-ed snap] The picture after Doklam

Image result for Doklam

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

“Partnership with Japan could be the cornerstone of a coalition to take on China’s economic, military might”.Comment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: BRICS, CPEC, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Mains level: India-China-Bhutan relations


Lessons from the stand-off between India and China

  1. It was the first time that India deployed troops on the Chinese border after a third party asked for help.
  2. Stand-offs have multiplied, suggesting that mechanisms of border dispute resolution were not as effective as they used to be, or not even relevant in such a case.
  3.  India can claim that it has forced China to withdraw by showing determination-cum-restraint, a mix that has impressed other South Asian countries which are under Chinese pressure and may turn to India for preserving their sovereignty


Economic development with Bhutan

  1. Bhutanese appreciate India’s soft power in cultural and societal terms, but the cooperation in the domain of hydropower that represents 25-30 per cent of Bhutan’s GDP is far from satisfactory.
  2. India will have to deliver more effectively on that front to retain Bhutanese trust.


  1. Observers emphasised that Bhutan should not alienate China and take the risk of breaking the dialogue between the two countries.
  2. Both countries have no diplomatic relations but they have talked since 1984 and have even signed the Agreement on the Maintenance of Border and Tranquillity in 1998

Withdrawal of troops from Chinese side

  1. because China was hosting the BRICS summit in early September and feared an Indian boycott
  2.  It will affect the  international image of Xi Jinping very badly

India’s concerns

  1. Chinese authorities announced that the PLA will continue to patrol in the area.
  2. Xi’s ability to control the expansionist agenda of the PLA after his re-election will have to be scrutinised
  3. China may continue to veto a move targeting the Jaish leader, Masood Azhar, in the UN.
  4. In any case, China will not let down Pakistan while the CPEC is gaining momentum as one of the major components of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  5. The first major problem India may face in its attempt to resist China is economic: China is not only the first trade partner of India but a large investor too.
  6. New Delhi cannot mobilise as many resources as Beijing to make inroads in third countries. Sri Lanka is a case in point
  7. China could acquire 70 per cent of the Hambantota deep sea port  in addition to many other strategic locations, including Gwadar, because of a financial strike force India cannot compete with.

Way forward

  1. Besides the US, India can turn more towards Japan. Narendra Modi launched the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, a project New Delhi and Tokyo have conceived together.
  2. Shinzo Abe, while inaugurating the line of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train on September 14, will probably reassert Japan’s will to build an ambitious strategic partnership with India.
  3. This partnership could be the cornerstone of a larger coalition that may include other countries eager to resist China’s “string of pearls” in the Asia-Pacific region.




Sep, 06, 2017

[op-ed snap] Back on track: on India and China's united front at BRICS

Image result for india china brics

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

“India and China must address bilateral issues in a sustainable way, pursuing the BRICS spirit” Discuss

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: BRICS ,  Belt and Road Initiative

Mains level:India- china relations



  • India and China putting up a united front at the BRICS summit, and proposed a revival of the Panchsheel principles of peaceful cooperation

BRICS Summit- Key points

  1. India-China, agreement that Doklam-like situations must not recur is an indication that India and China are looking for new mechanisms to strengthen the border defence agreements that have held in the past.
  2. China gave nod to the inclusion of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed among the terrorist groups threatening regional stability.
  3. China choosing not to speak of the contentious Belt and Road Initiative at the summit suggested it was heeding India’s concerns.
  4. Both countries expressed similar views about resisting economic protectionism of the kind that the Trump administration in the U.S. has been espousing
  5. All five countries condemned North Korean nuclear tests, while advocating dialogue and not the use of force.

Way forward

  1. Indian and Chinese officials must re-engage in a sustained manner to address all areas of discord which led to the charged situation at Doklam.
  2. They must review where the border defence standard operating procedures failed
  3. Two countries must convene the delayed meeting of the Special Representatives, and add the latest claims and counter-claims over the Sikkim boundary and the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction to the agenda for discussions.
  4. It is necessary to see that the much-acclaimed BRICS language on terrorist groups like the LeT and JeM is translated into actionable points
  5. Beijing will have an early opportunity to do so in October when the issue of designating JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist comes up at the UN Security Council and when the UN’s Financial Action Task Force takes stock of Pakistan’s actions against the LeT.




Sep, 02, 2017

[op-ed snap] What not to learn from Doklam

Image result for lessons for India doklam

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

“India should not overestimate its own military strength, and the support of other powers, in a conflict with China” Critically comment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India-China relations



  1. Article talks about the lessons India should learn from the Doklam stand off and and the necessity to be prepared for further threats

Lessons for India

Indian military strength

  1. Indian armed forces really don’t outmatch the Chinese in a conflict scenario.
  2. Even at Doklam, India did not have the military capacity to defeat the Chinese
  3. It had sufficient military strength to only hold on to its positions and inflict heavy casualties on the Chinese army for a short period of time.
  4. Even in its strongest areas, the Indian deployment is oriented towards defending territory. 

Indian military preparedness.

  1. Delay in military modernisation schemes — only 32 fighter squadrons or just 13 submarines or poor air defence profile
  2. Army’s ammunition reserves are not stocked for a 10-day-long war is also a worrying sign.
  3. It is designated to be prepared for a two-front collusive threat from China and Pakistan
  4. Indian armed forces cannot afford to fulfill their role successfully if they are not properly equipped and stocked.

Impact on Bhutan

  1. Even though Bhutan has been a strong Indian ally and has stood by New Delhi during the standoff, there are voices in Bhutan which seek a “balanced foreign policy”, that is, opening of ties with China
  2. The Chinese offer of a swap for Doklam with disputed areas in the north is bound to be renewed, an offer which has always interested Thimphu.
  3. As China starts courting Thimphu and as Bhutan starts seeking greater ties with Beijing, it would be unfair to expect Bhutan to choose between India and China

International support for India against China.

  1. Besides a tentative statement by the Japanese ambassador, most other countries — including the United States — asked New Delhi and Beijing to resolve the situation peacefully.
  2. While most countries were happy that India was standing up to China, their own relations with Beijing made it very difficult for them to state their support openly.
  3. India handled the Doklam crisis single-handedly and will have to be prepared to handle any such situation similarly in the future.
Aug, 31, 2017

[op-ed snap] Making the Doklam standoff useful for India

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Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

“Rather than resting on its laurels, India should be prepared with its diplomatic and military apparatus should China try another adventure” Discuss

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India-China relations



  1. The India-China standoff in Doklam, came to an end on Monday after more than two months
  2. The Indian side has withdrawn from Doklam and China has ceased its road construction activities, which had triggered the standoff in the first place.
  3. China has saved face by portraying the endgame as India’s unilateral withdrawal to its domestic audience.
  4. The Indian withdrawal has come in exchange for the Chinese concession of not going ahead with the road construction.

What made Beijing budge from its position?

  1. India’s military advantage in the Sikkim sector that would have made any escalation costly for China
  2. Chinese concerns regarding the overhang of Doklam during the forthcoming Brics summit, which they will be hosting in Xiamen, must have also played a part.
  3. President Xi Jinping would also have wanted to ward off even a remote chance of an embarrassment before the 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party, to be held later this year.

Important lessons to be learnt from this standoff

  1. China’s tactical retreat should not lull India into a belief that the former will stop deploying its time-tested technique of using incursions into disputed or others’ territories
  2. China is now increasingly adept at changing the facts on disputed territories and waters to present rival claimants with a fait accompli
  3. But  India used denial tactics to physically prevent China from altering the facts on the ground
  4. China’s rise presents a daunting challenge to India’s primacy in South Asia.
  5. Beijing is well aware of its disadvantages in Chumbi Valley—but it was to create a rift between New Delhi and Thimphu. Thimphu maintained its calm endorsed India’s position by calling for a return to the status quo ante.
  6. But India’s relations with other South Asian neighbours are not as strong as with Bhutan. New Delhi has met with some limited success due to the presence currently of friendly regimes in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
  7. In Pakistan, China has facilitated the creation of a nuclear-armed state which deploys terrorists against India to achieve its territorially revisionist goals.
  8. Another challenge is headed India’s way through the activities of the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean

Way forward

  1. India should be prepared with its diplomatic and military apparatus to prevent Doklam-type unilateral adventurism again.
  2. India should also exploit its advantages of geography and cultural affinities to present its economic growth as a veritable opportunity for neighbours through higher volumes of trade, greater investment flows and better connectivity.
  3. It is also time—in light of the changed circumstances that China’s rise presents—to discuss an even closer military partnership with the US and Japan.
  4. Such a move may have its downsides but it is important to weigh them against the benefits rather than continue debating the utility of concepts as outdated as non-alignment and as mythical as strategic autonomy
Aug, 30, 2017

[op-ed snap] Lessons from Doklam


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Q.) “India and China need to conduct bilateral consultations on various issues – ranging from Afghan reconciliation to regional economic development.” Can it help both countries to solve their issues with each other?

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: It is important to know post-Doklam strategy of both the countries.



  1. The article talks about the current issues between India and China, and the lessors that we learnt from the Doklam Standoff

What after the Doklam Standoff?

  1. Several significant questions remain unanswered about the terms and conditions of the resolution
  2. But it provides India and China an opportunity to reflect over what went wrong and rearrange this important bilateral relationship
  3. Also, we need to examine the political strategy guiding India’s military deployment at Doklam

Important lessons

(1) India is on its own 

  1. The most self-evident lesson from the Doklam stand-off is that we inhabit a ‘self-help’ world 
  2. It is important to note that none of the major powers unambiguously and unreservedly supported India’s position on Doklam

(2) China’s unnecessary concerns in South Asia

  1. The second lesson is that China is unlikely to respect India’s ‘special relationships’ with its neighbours
  2. India has long enjoyed a special status in the South Asian region and often treated it as its exclusive backyard
  3. With China expanding its influence in the region and it is competing for status and influence

Other issues between India and China

  1. It is also becoming abundantly clear is that the slowed down ‘Special Representatives’ talks on the India-China boundary question have not yielded much so far
  2. And it is perhaps the appropriate occasion to revamp the dialogue process
  3. The 19 rounds of talks held till last year have hardly anything substantive to show for them in terms of the resolution of the boundary dispute
  4. Indeed, the focus is increasingly shifting from conflict resolution to conflict management
  5. It is high time, therefore, that the two countries appointed dedicated high-ranking officials to discuss the boundary issues in a more sustained and result-oriented manner

The way forward

  1.  While Doklam may now be a thing of the past, Sino-Indian ties are never likely to be the same again
  2. There will be skirmishes, war of words and attempts to outmanoeuvre each other in the neighbourhood and beyond
  3. India needs to constantly look over its shoulders for potential Chinese surprises, there is also an urgent need to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to deal with Beijing
  4. The two sides also need to conduct bilateral consultations on various issues, like regional economic development
Aug, 29, 2017

[op-ed snap] Agreeing to disagree: ending the Doklam stand-off

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Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

With the experience from Doklam standoff, what are the flaws in India’s border security management and what are the changes required to address further future security issues?

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Nathu La pass

Mains level: India-China relations



  1. With separate announcements, India and China have ended the Doklam military stand-off
  2. Decision on Doklam, which comes a week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to go to China

Separate announcements

  1. The tone of the statement from New Delhi, referring to the “expeditious disengagement of border personnel” as part of the understanding between the two countries, shows that the government’s policy of pursuing diplomatic measures in the face of China’s angry rhetoric was wise
  2. In turn, China’s statement, which said that Indian troops had withdrawn from the disputed Doklam plateau while Chinese troops continue to patrol the area, gives Beijing the latitude it requires to end the stand-off peacefully.

Modi and Xi Jinping meet

  • Once Mr. Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have met, diplomats must begin to repair the rupture in ties over the past few months, beginning with the cancellation of the Nathu La route for Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrims. 

Other concerns

  1. Statements from China during the stand-off indicate that it no longer recognises the gains made in the Special Representative talks in 2012. Nor does it regard the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction near Batang-La to have been settled.
  2. India has made it clear that it does not consider the Sikkim boundary settled either, and both sides will have to walk swiftly to come back to some semblance of an accord on such basic issues before they can move further

Way forward

  • India and China must revert to the spirit of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement of 2013, which laid down specific guidelines on tackling future developments along the 3,488-km boundary the two countries share.


Aug, 29, 2017

Standoff at trijunction with Bhutan over: India, China withdraw troops from Doklam

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Much awaited. It will end the ongoing border standoff between the two countries.


Standoff ends after two and a half month

  1. India and China has decided to de-escalate and withdraw their soldiers from the site at the trijunction with Bhutan
  2. The move was announced by both foreign ministries almost simultaneously
  3. Troop withdrawal has been “mutual” and “simultaneous” but “sequential

Why is this disengagement important?

  1. This disengagement comes a week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to travel to Xiamen in China for the BRICS summit from September 3 to 5
  2. Therefore, it is important for the BRICS summit, for going smoothly

Is China withdrawing?

  1. According to the Chinese spokesperson, “in light of the changes of the situation on the ground, China will make necessary adjustments and deployment in accordance with the changes”
  2. The nature of its change in deployment and the time-lines for these adjustments have not been clarified
  3. But following the Indian withdrawal, there remains no reason for the Chinese troops to continue staying in Dolam plateau
  4. According to many observers, the Chinese have agreed to not construct the road as a quid pro quo(a favour or advantage granted in return for something) for the withdrawal
Aug, 25, 2017

China agrees to tackle trade imbalance

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: What is trade deficit?

Mains level: Important initiative to look after India’s concerns on the Trade Deficit, with China.


High-level official team is visiting India

  1. China has agreed to send a high-level official team led by Commerce Minister to address the issue of growing trade imbalance with India
  2. The development could be termed a breakthrough for India which is facing goods trade deficit with China

Decision came while Military tension between the two countries

  1. The China is keen to ensure that trade with India is not adversely affected by the prevailing military tension
  2. In case of a full-fledged ‘trade war,’ China will have much to lose with its goods exports to India in 2016-17 valued at a whopping $61.3 billion
  3. While India’s shipments worth just $10.2 billion to China
Aug, 23, 2017

[op-ed snap] Fixing the trade deficit with China won’t be easy

Image result for India china trade skew

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

“The deficit is not a result of exchange rate but of the inability to either boost productivity or to plug into international supply chains” Discuss it in the backdrop of increasing trade deficits with China.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India-china relation, Reasons behind increasing trade-deficits with China



Article talks about India’s increasing trade deficit with China and the reasons for that.

Trade deficit with china

  1. The ongoing military stand-off with China has once again brought the issue of trade imbalances with that country to the fore.
  2. China’s quest for regional military dominance makes trade imbalances with it a strategic concern for a country such as India.

Why India has a nearly $50 billion trade deficit with China.

  1. Indian imports from China are nearly five times the exports to it.
  2. China has used a weak currency to push its products into India.
  3. The Chinese currency has actually appreciated against the Indian currency over the past 15 years
  4. A country can continue to maintain its export competitiveness despite a strong currency if its productivity is growing faster than the productivity of its trading partner.
  5. Inability to either boost productivity or to plug into the international supply chains that span the world.
  6. China uses various mercantilist ploys to keep other countries from freely accessing its growing markets.
  7. Obstacles to market access are one reason for the large trade deficit with China.
  8. Composition of trade between the two countries.

How China trades with countries with which it has a deficit ? 

    1. Chinese imports from countries such as Germany, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are far higher than the exports it ships to them.
    2. These countries make the more valuable parts of various gizmos which are then sent to China for cheap assembly. The iPhone is a classic example.
    3. It is assembled in China but most of the value created lies in parts of the global supply chain that is outside China.
    4. India exports basic material to China and buys more sophisticated products from it.
    5. The main reason is India’s failure to build a globally competitive manufacturing sector
Aug, 21, 2017

[op-ed snap] Seize the Doklam crisis

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Q.1) “India must use the current border  crisis between India and China, to announce a set of long-term measures to improve military readiness vis-a-vis China.” Is it the right time to  do so?

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Naresh Chandra Committee

Mains level: Important and rational analysis of the current crisis between India and China



  1. The article talks about some ways, by which, India can gain maximum from the Doklam Crisis between India and China

Some known issues with China

  1. India has accumulated asymmetry in power with China that will improve slowly as India’s growth rate overtakes a declining Chinese growth rate
  2. Chinese elites are not sympathetic to India, and their ambition will continue to increase as Chinese power increases
  3. There is a large list of potential Chinese actions that India will find problematic, and so a strategic Indian response is warranted instead of tactical responses to each new development
  4. Finally, redressing the balance in military power and preparedness is both possible and highly desirable, for India

What can we get from this issue?

  1. According to the writer, the more chances of any Chinese action in the border area, the more likely it is that China will refrain from risky behaviour
  2. With this, India will succeed in getting an effective restoration of the status quo ante(the previously existing state of affairs) in the area
  3. But even if this proves not entirely feasible, India can still come out of the crisis having improved its bargaining position for future crises

How can India use this situation of crisis, strategically?

  1. We can use the crisis to announce a set of long-term measures to improve Indian military readiness against China
  2. Such announcements would have multiple advantages
    , China would signal immediate resolve without risking tactical danger
    Second, India would make clear to China and other Asian nations and the United States that irrespective of the resolution of the crisis, India is committed to do what it takes to retain its strategic autonomy
    Third, it would allow the Indian government to use the crisis to initiate a set of reforms that have proven difficult to execute in “peace time

Suggestions from the Naresh Chandra Committee

  1. The Committee has proposed measures to improve the capacity of India’s armed forces to work together
  2. How: By a dedicated and effective Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
  3. It would also create an effective joint command of the critical installations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  4. It also suggested professionalising the personnel of the defence ministry

The Way Forward

  1. The Indian government should also continue with its careful programme to pursue mutual interests in the Indian Ocean region, with friendly countries such as the United States 
Aug, 19, 2017

China hasn’t shared monsoon river data: India

Image result for brahmaputra flood

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India-China relations



  1. Buoyed by support from Japan over the Doklam border stand-off, India Friday upped the ante against China, saying that the country has not shared “hydrological data” on the Brahmaputra river since May 15, which is a violation of bilateral pacts.

What is Hydrological data? What is its significance?

  1. Long-term monitoring of hydrologic systems – precipitation, streamflow, groundwater levels, water lost through evaporation and so on – and archiving the data  is to provide a set of sufficient good quality data that can be used in decision-making in all aspects of water resources management
  2. The hydrological data is shared every year, between May 15 to October 15, during the monsoon season. This data has not been shared so far.
  3. The two countries have two agreements, in 2013 and 2015, on sharing the data.
  4. The hydrological data is shared by upper riparian states to lower riparian states every monsoon, so that the flow of the water can be anticipated, and measures can be taken to deal with flooding.
  5. The hydrological data has not been shared by China for Sutlej river as well.
Aug, 12, 2017

[op-ed snap] In South Asia, be the Un-China


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Q.) “India needs to rekindle the SAARC process in order to secure historical affinity with its neighbours.” Discuss.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The article comprehensively explains Chinese influence in South Asia.



  1. The Article talks about the China’s influence in South Asia and ways to counter it

Views of different countries on Doklam issue

  1. According to a statement by Nepal’s Dy PM, Nepal will not get dragged into this or that side(means India and China) in the border dispute
  2. Sri Lankan Minister in Colombo contended that India and China are “both important” to Sri Lanka
  3. Bhutan is blaming China for violating agreements at Doklam, but not mentioning India

China’s presence in India’s Neighbor

  1. Chinese companies has bagged contracts to most infrastructure projects in Maldives
  2. This includes development of a key new island and its link to the capital Male
  3. And a 50-year lease to another island for a tourism project


  1. Nepal has signed a transit trade treaty and agreement on infrastructure linkages with China in late 2015-2016
  2. China is also building a railway to Nepal, opening up Lhasa-Kathmandu road links
  3. And has approved a soft loan of over $200 million to construct an airport at Pokhara

(3)Sri Lanka

  1. Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port construction project went to the Chinese in 2007 only after India rejected it
  2. China doesn’t just own 80% of the port, it has also won practically every infrastructure contract from Hambantota to Colombo


  1. China has committed $24 billion to Bangladesh for its infrastructure and energy projects

How can India boost its relations with neighbors?

  1. India must regain its role as a prime mover of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
  2. Even after a year, there have been no steps taken to restore the SAARC process is unfortunate
  3. It should be remembered that despite China’s repeated requests, SAARC was one club it never gained admittance to

The way forward

  1. India must recognise that doing better with its neighbours is not about investing more or undue favours
  2. It is about following a policy of mutual interests and of respect which India is more culturally attuned to than its large rival is.
  3. Each of India’s neighbours shares more than a geographical context with India. They share history, language, tradition and even cuisine.
  4. when dealing with Beijing bilaterally, New Delhi must match China’s aggression, and counter its moves with its own. When dealing with China in South Asia, however, India must do exactly the opposite, and not allow itself to be outpaced. In short, India must “be the Un-China”.
Aug, 04, 2017

Two options on Doklam standoff: Let Bhutan troops replace India’s, wait until November

Image result for Doklam standoff:

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: P5 Countries

Mains level: India-China relations



  • As the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam at the trijunction with Bhutan continues, the government is working hard on two diplomatic options to resolve the crisis. 

Two options

  1. The first option involves Bhutan, wherein its soldiers replace Indian troops in the standoff, leading to a mutual disengagement by China and Bhutan.
    • Replacing Indian troops on Dolam plateau with soldiers of the Royal Bhutan Army, which is then followed by mutual withdrawal by the Chinese and Bhutanese troops
    • By addressing the Chinese complaint of Indian troops on Bhutanese soil, this option gives Beijing a face-saver to withdraw its troops while meeting New Delhi’s aim of preventing Chinese road construction.
  2. The second option is of prolonging the standoff until November, till after the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, when de-escalation can take place through quiet diplomacy.
    • As winter sets in, the weather in the area deteriorates by November, making any military action, or even road construction, difficult.
    • National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be over by November which will then allow Chinese President Xi Jinping to bring down the rhetoric needed for political support in the Congress.
    • This would then create an environment where mutual de-escalation can take place and a way out can be found through diplomatic engagement by both sides.
    • It is a course of action seen as most likely by many foreign embassies, including some of the P-5 countries.

Issue with first option

  1. “Cordination issues” with Bhutan which New Delhi will have to overcome deftly
  2. Chinese acceptance of the proposal
  3. There is a fear that this could provide Thimphu the impetus to eventually start engaging with Beijing directly, and have diplomatic ties with China
Aug, 02, 2017

[op-ed snap] Mind the power gap

Image result for India china

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Op-ed discusses China’s recent developments in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Apart from the Doklam stand off now China increasing their influence on Indian Ocean region.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to fully attempt the below.

Do you think China’s growing ties with Myanmar and Sri Lanka leads to strategic encirclement of India? What are its implications for India?

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Special economic zone, Kyaukpyu Island, Hambantota port, Sittwe port

Mains level: India-China relations.



  1. Sri Lanka, Colombo handed over the Hambantota port, sitting astride the sea lines of communication of the Indian Ocean, to a Chinese consortium.
  2. Similarly in Myanmar, the government is close to a deal with a Chinese company for the commercial development of the Kyaukpyu island on its Bay of Bengal coast. 
  3. Chinese companies are promising that the two deep sea ports will integrate Lanka and Myanmar into the global trade and production networks.

India’s concern over these new developments?

  1. Once Yangon signs on the dotted line, the Chinese company will start building a deep seaport, special economic zone and an industrial park.
  2. The port contracts lay the foundation for China’s long-term economic influence in India’s immediate neighbourhood.
  3. India no longer has the luxury of contesting Chinese strategic incursions into the Subcontinent one piece at a time.
  4. While some of India’s concerns have been addressed in Colombo, Delhi has not been a part of Myanmar’s discourse on Kyaukpyu.

Kyaukpyu Island significance?

  1. Sittwe port which India is building is not far from Kyaukpyu
  2. Kyaukpyu becomes the energy gateway for petroleum imports into western China through a twin oil and gas pipeline system running from the Bay of Bengal.
  3. But Delhi did not have the bandwidth to compete with China on the Kyaukpyu project worth $10 billion

Four other factors add to India’s problem.

  1. China, under Xi Jinping, has brought abundant political will to match the expanded national power resources. Xi thinks the era of China deferring to other nations’ sensitivities is now over and now its others’ turn to adapt to Beijing’s rise as the foremost power in Asia.
  2. Widening strategic gap between China and India. China’s current GDP is five times larger than that of India and its defence spending is four times as big.
  3. India had underestimated the implications of China’s rise for India. Changing power balance in Beijing’s favour could alter the dynamic on India’s long and disputed frontier with China.
  4. India had taken its regional primacy for granted all these decades. China had never accepted the proposition that the Subcontinent is India’s exclusive sphere of influence. It now has the will and resources to challenge that premise on a routine basis. That leaves India scrambling to restore its economic and strategic centrality in the region.

Power gap with Beijing

  1. Delhi is now far more conscious of the existential challenges that the power gap with Beijing generates.
  2. China has been transforming the southern tip of Sri Lanka and the western seaboard of Myanmar over the last few years. But Delhi is doing nothing with its forgotten national asset in the Bay of Bengal — the Andaman and Nicobar Island chain.
  3. The longer Delhi takes to act vigorously on its frontier region development, military modernisation and regional economic integration, the greater will be its degree of difficulty in coping with China’s rise and future Doklams, Hambantotas, and Kyaukpyus.
Dec, 03, 2016

New Delhi nod for Karmapa’s Arunachal visit

  1. What: The govt allowed Urgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, to address a public gathering at Mon in Arunachal Pradesh
  2. The Gyalwang Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism
  3. He escaped from Tibet in 2000
  4. Recently the govt has allowed the U.S Ambassador to India and the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh
  5. 6 months ago the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by PM Modi, allowed the Karmapa to travel abroad


This news item can be important from a culture perspective – terms such as Gyalwang Karmapa, Tibetan Buddhism. The other importance is from point of view of China’s claims on Arunachal Pradesh – the news shows how the govt has recently become more aggressive in countering Chinese claims.


Tibetan Buddhism combines the essential teachings of Mahayana Buddhism with Tantric and Shamanic, and material from an ancient Tibetan religion called Bon. Although Tibetan Buddhism is often thought to be identical with Vajrayana Buddhism, they are not identical – Vajrayana is taught in Tibetan Buddhism together with the other vehicles.

Buddhism became a major presence in Tibet towards the end of the 8th century CE. It was brought from India at the invitation of the Tibetan king, Trisong Detsen. At present Tibetan Buddhism is a religion in exile, forced from its homeland when Tibet was conquered by the Chinese.

Nov, 17, 2016

[op-ed snap] CPEC: Prospects and Challenges

  1. Context: China and Pakistan have operationalized CPEC, to connect “Kashgar to Gwadar”
  2. Prospects: Many infrastructure and energy projects under way. Many investments in energy sector- gas, coal and solar energy across Pakistan
  3. Challenges: Critics question the project’s viability, some accusing China of launching a second “East India Company”
  4. Security challenges- especially in western areas near the key Gwadar port, where militants ranging from Baloch nationalists to Taliban and the Islamic State have carried out attacks
  5. World Bank warns that project delays in CPEC’s first year could prove an impediment to Pakistan’s overall growth
  6. Pakistan-India tensions, could endanger sectors of the project where Pakistani troops are engaged in providing security
  7. Economic slowdown in China and political instability in Pakistan could impact the project’s future
  8. China sees CPEC as: physical link between OBOR project and MSR- India has refused to be a part of either
  9. It plans a floating naval base off Gwadar
  10. Delhi should take a closer look at security implications of China-Pakistan clinch that is fast drawing in Russia
Nov, 17, 2016

[op-ed snap] Asia: next hub of global wealth II

  1. India: Has capacity for global leadership in the hub of new knowledge-based order, including new pharmaceuticals and crop varieties
  2. It is the only country with both extensive endemic biodiversity and world-class endogenous biotechnology industry
  3. It has leadership in software-led innovation, foundation of the new low-carbon digital-sharing economy
  4. It is also developing low-cost solutions for urbanisation, governance, health and education problems
  5. China is keen to have India on OBOR initiative, suggesting FTA and both countries recognise the synergies for achieving the ‘Asian Century’
  6. India’s knowledge-based strengths complement those of China in infrastructure and investment.
  7. India should seek to ‘redefine’ OBOR, adding a stronger component for a ‘Digital Sustainable Asia’
  8. The countries should understand each other on issues like NSG membership, global terrorism, and Gwadar, which are irritants in the development of stronger ties
Nov, 17, 2016

[op-ed snap] Asia: next hub of global wealth I

  1. Indications: China emerging as the largest global economy
  2. Alliances losing relevance in Asia, countries gaining more influence because of the strength of their economy than the might of the military
  3. India and China: have no strategic thinker who conquests lands outside this sphere
  4. This in sharp contrast to Western strategic thinking on control of seas, security alliances
  5. West also relies on rules pushing common values as best way of organising international relations
  6. China will remain world’s largest producer of goods and India can be the largest producer of services- the real driver of future growth in Asia
Nov, 07, 2016

Army’s Demchok mission a success

  1. What: The Army has completed laying an irrigation pipeline for residents of villages in the Demchok region of Eastern Ladakh
  2. Background: A face-off last week with Chinese troops over the work
  3. The irrigation project was being built under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to link a village with a “hot spring”
  4. This is the first time since 2014 when the Chinese Army had come deep inside the Indian territory in Demchok in protest against an ongoing irrigation project
Nov, 01, 2016

‘60% dip in sales of Chinese goods this Diwali’

  1. Source: The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT)
  2. Claim: That there was a 60 per cent dip in the sales of Chinese goods this Diwali
  3. Reason: A result of the massive social media campaign urging people to boycott Chinese products
Oct, 27, 2016

It’s Dalai Lama’s turn to visit Arunachal now

  1. Event: Arunachal Pradesh is preparing to welcome the Dalai Lama for another controversial visit
  2. It is likely to attract criticism from China
  3. Context: It comes days after China criticised Richard Verma, U.S. envoy to India, for visiting Tawang that it declared as “disputed”
Oct, 25, 2016

Nothing unusual in Verma’s Tawang trip: India II

  1. War: Disagreement between the nuclear-armed neighbours over parts of their 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border led to a brief war in 1962
  2. Both sides held the 19th round of Special Representatives’ talks to resolve the dispute over the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) in April this year
  3. However the issue has not been resolved
Oct, 25, 2016

Nothing unusual in Verma’s Tawang trip: India I

  1. India asserted territorial sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, describing it as an “integral” part of the country
  2. Event: China admonished the United States for sending its ambassador in India Richard Verma to Arunachal Pradesh, to attend a festival
  3. The annual festival had drawn similar objection from Chinese authorities when the Dalai Lama visited Tawang in 2009 as a special gesture to mark half-century of his exile in India
  4. China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) of territory disputed by India in the eastern sector of the Himalayas
  5. Much of that forms the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet
Oct, 22, 2016

Ladakh drill not aimed at third country, says China

  1. The first-ever Sino-Indian joint military exercise in eastern Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir was held on Oct 19
  2. The exercise was descirbed as a normal exchange between the frontier troops of China and India to properly deal with border affairs
Oct, 14, 2016

[op-ed snap] The Asian century beckons

  1. Theme: India-China bilateral relationship and the way forward.
  2. Recent developments in India-China relationship: First, an improvement in China-India business cooperation as seen in the two-way trade figures.
  3. Second, people-to-people exchanges exceeded one million for the first time last year.
  4. Third, 11 pairs of sister provinces/cities have been created between the two countries.
  5. Fourth, cooperation between the two has also strengthened in issues pertaining to climate change, global governance and reform of international financial institutions.
  6. The way ahead: First, keeping up the momentum of high-level exchanges to  enhance strategic communication and increase mutual understanding.
  7. Second, aligning our development strategies as both India and China share common ideas and complementary strategies of development.
  8. Third, deepening business cooperation. We may actively explore a China-India regional trading arrangement and encourage cooperation on major projects.
  9. We can also work together on new and renewable energy projects.
  10. Fourth, promoting people-to-people exchanges by introducing more direct flights between the two countries and promoting religious exchanges.
  11. Fifth, enhancing international and regional cooperation. E.g. we need to enhance cooperation in SCO, and work together to ensure the success of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS New Development Bank, increase strategic communication and coordination on international and regional affairs and become global partners in matters of strategic coordination.
  12. Sixth, managing our differences with mutual cooperation.
Oct, 11, 2016

India and China to cooperate on Delhi-Nagpur high-speed rail

  1. India and China have signed agreements for cooperation covering a host of issues like a feasibility study on Delhi-Nagpur high speed railway
  2. It also includes construction of Delhi-Chennai high-speed railway and establishment of China-India Technology Park in Hainan Province
  3. Besides, India is studying China’s coastal manufacturing zones
  4. Why? It can help India develop its 7,500-km of coastline and help the country further strengthen its export potential, particularly in labour-intensive industries such as textiles, leather, light and electronic manufacturing
  5. The agreements were signed as part of India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, which started in 2010
Sep, 22, 2016

China caught in a corridor of uncertainty

  1. Context: The Uri terrorist attack
  2. China: Described the attack as shocking & expressed sympathy for the victims
  3. It asked for relevant parties to create a favourable environment which will secure CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)
  4. Indications: These comments amount to Beijing’s admission of deep strategic interest in the Kashmir region
  5. By tying up the Uri attack with concern for CPEC, Beijing has shown that its views on terror are shaped by its evolving interests in the South Asian region
  6. China is unable to appreciate India’s concerns about constructing important projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that is historically part of India
Sep, 07, 2016

China may allow imports of Indian non-basmati rice

  1. Indian Demand: Market access for products including non-basmati rice, pharmaceuticals and several fruits & vegetables among others
  2. Beijing had been denying market access to India’s non-basmati rice
  3. Why? The item had failed to meet Chinese norms on quality, health and safety
  4. Concern: Likelihood of a pest called Khapra beetle (or cabinet beetle) getting transported along with Indian non-basmati rice consignments to China
  5. China was the world’s largest rice importer in 2015-16 followed by Saudi Arabia and Iraq
  6. Trade deficit: The Centre had repeatedly taken up the issue of the country’s ballooning goods trade deficit with China bilaterally
  7. India’s goods trade deficit with China has surged from $1.1 billion in 2003-04 to $52.7 billion in 2015-16
Sep, 05, 2016

Willing to work with India, says Xi

  1. Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in an attempt to reboot troubled ties
  2. PM Modi: India and China must be sensitive to each other’s concerns
  3. Concerns: Including terrorism emerging from the area covered by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — the $46 billion connectivity project that India has objected to
  4. Response to terrorism must not be motivated by political considerations
  5. President Xi: China is willing to work with India to maintain their hard-won sound relations and further advance cooperation- a tacit acceptance that the relationship needs improvement
  6. China and India should continue dialogues at various levels and in various areas, and frequently exchange views on major issues of common interest to enhance understanding and trust
Aug, 20, 2016

India, China hold financial and economic dialogue

  1. News: China and India held their 8th high-level Financial and Economic Dialogue in Beijing to strengthen trade and economic cooperation
  2. Aim: Exchanging ideas and status reports on the macro economic situation in both the countries
  3. The officials of both the countries brief each other about their economic and fiscal policies and discuss issues of structural reforms and bilateral investment flows and economic cooperation
  4. Outcome: Underlined the need for building more solidarity to adopt more responsible macro economic policies
Aug, 13, 2016

China says NSG door not shut on India

  1. News: China’s state-run media said that the door for India’s admission into the NSG is not tightly closed
  2. South China Sea: And also that New Delhi should fully comprehend Beijing’s concerns over the disputed South China Sea
  3. Co-operation: India and China are partners not rivals & as both head into a season of intensive top-level diplomatic encounters that could well define the future of their partnership, the two need to work together to keep their disagreements in check
  4. NSG issue: What should be noted above all else is that India has wrongly blamed China for blocking its entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
  5. So far, there is no precedent for a non-Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) signatory to become a NSG member
Jul, 25, 2016

Chinese scribes asked to leave after adverse report

  1. The 3 journalists were intercepted when meeting with members of the Tibetan community in Bangalore
  2. This event is likely to further the strain put on Indo-China relations over the past few months
  3. Beijing had reacted adversely to a conference being held in Dharamsala for Chinese dissidents
  4. More recently over the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting – India accused China of blocking its membership bid
  5. Last week, China’s decision to ‘express concern’ over the violence in J&K was another source of tension
Jul, 18, 2016

India ramps up its military presence in Eastern Ladakh

  1. News: India’s quiet efforts at beefing up military capabilities in Eastern Ladakh, to match China’s wide-ranging transformation across the border, are finally becoming a reality
  2. A much-criticised policy after the humiliation of 1962 war had resulted in India deliberately neglecting infrastructure
  3. This was even as China had transformed the mountainous and disputed border into a showcase of its economic might with all weather roads running up to frontline military posts
  4. The process of force enhancement from the Indian side was put in place over the last 5 year
Jun, 17, 2016

Way forward on restoring Stilwell Road

  1. Despite its concerns, India has toned down the two concerns because of the Look East policy
  2. The process of advancing the strategy requires the stability of northern India, in which a well-functioning road system matters a lot
  3. In line with these developments, Assam has recently started to fix part of the road
  4. China as a more developed country should play a major role in the reconstruction work
  5. All three countries should set up a joint dialogue mechanism, in which their concerns and problems can be put on the negotiating table
  6. Dialogues will also include how to make peace with ethnic insurgents, and the three countries can find out solutions together
  7. The ethnic groups living in this area can seize the chance and prosper
Jun, 17, 2016

Issues with Stilwell Road in India & Myanmar

  1. Myanmar: Started to renovate another section of the road, but the reconstruction is not smooth
  2. Why? Lack of funds and technologies and the presence of Indian and Myanmarese ethnic insurgents in the area
  3. India: Worried about the reconstruction of the road for two reasons
  4. First, the road starts from Assam, a State where local militants have become increasingly active
  5. Second, China-made products can flood into the Indian market through the road
Jun, 17, 2016

Beijing calls for restoration of Stillwell Road

  1. Context: Chinese media reports on restoring the Stilwell Road
  2. Chinese media: India, China and Myanmar should establish a joint dialogue mechanism to restore the Stilwell Road to revitalise trade in the region
  3. China: Completed the reconstruction of the section from Kunming to the Sino-Myanmese border and connected the road to China’s well-developed road system
  4. Myanmar: Accomplished restoration of the section from the Sino-Myanmese border to Myitkyina, with China’s help
  5. India: However, the sections from Myanmar to India and within India are barely usable & some parts have already been deserted due to bad conditions
Jun, 09, 2016

India eases curbs on conference visas for China

  1. India has removed conference visas for Chinese participants from the prior referral category
  2. China has, on several occasions, pressed India for lifting restrictions on conference and research visas
  3. It was a major hindrance for the Chinese to come here and share technological advancements and strategies
  4. The timing of the move is seen as an attempt to soften the atmosphere in the run-up to the meetings of the NSG in Vienna
May, 27, 2016

India, China agree to advance ongoing boundary negotiations- II

  1. China also agreed to advance the ongoing boundary negotiations under the Special Representatives mechanism
  2. Also resolved to take actions to maintain peace and tranquillity in the boundary regions
  3. Other agreements: For strengthening cooperation in investment, trade and tourism
  4. China has shown its interest in India’s flagship schemes such as Digital India and Make in India
  5. It might also invest in the Smart Cities project
  6. Tourism: China has agreed to accommodate more Indian tourists to visit Kailash Mansarovar via the Nathu La pass into Tibet
May, 27, 2016

India, China agree to advance ongoing boundary negotiations- I

  1. Context: India and China agree upon issues including nuclear energy and boundary negotiations
  2. President: India aims to rapidly expand its civilian nuclear programme in line with the country’s energy needs
  3. China agreed to strengthen cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy
  4. Earlier: Chinese spokespersons had opposed India on joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group without signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)
May, 25, 2016

India-China engagement in multilateral institutions

  1. Context: President Pranab Mukherjee on a four-day visit to China
  2. G20: Institutions such as G20 have seen greater engagement by India and China and these have been beneficial overall
  3. WTO: India had welcomed China’s inclusion in the World Trade Organisation in 1995
  4. India: Has always welcomed engagement with Beijing in multi-lateral institutions
  5. Nuclear Suppliers Group: Mr. Mukherjee’s visit to China comes at a time when Beijing has reiterated that India’s inclusion in NSG is contingent upon India signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty
May, 25, 2016

Cardinal principle of Sino-Indian relations

  1. Context: President Pranab Mukherjee on a four-day visit to China
  2. The cardinal principle: The recognition that bilateral differences need to be reduced and ways to expand areas of agreement multiplied
  3. Both countries have managed to do so substantially, especially since the 2008 global financial crisis, by engaging each other in bilateral and multilateral fora
May, 25, 2016

President praises diaspora for improving Sino-Indian ties

  1. Context: President Pranab Mukherjee on a four-day visit to China
  2. Praise: He appreciated the work of the Indian diaspora in China in developing Sino-Indian ties
  3. The work of the diaspora, many engaged in various economic sectors, has added new dimensions to the already expanding relations between India and China
  4. He called them unofficial ambassadors of the country & the representatives of a multi-party democratic system
May, 17, 2016

China, India capable of solving disputes, Beijing tells U.S.

  1. Context: A Chinese top official asked U.S. to respect the efforts by China and India to resolve their boundary dispute peacefully
  2. China: The two nations are wise enough to deal with it
  3. The Chinese side is committed to safeguarding peace and tranquillity of the border areas between China and India and resolving the boundary question through negotiation
  4. Background: Chinese statement comes after the Pentagon accused Beijing of deploying more troops along the Sino-India borders
  5. Pentagon report also warned of increasing Chinese military presence in various parts of the world, particularly in Pakistan
Apr, 29, 2016

India wants UN to declare more JeM men as terrorists

  1. Context: India’s bid to get declared JeM operatives as terrorists by UN
  2. India is ready with cases of other JeM individuals to place before the panel
  3. Background: China had recently put a technical hold on declaing JeM leader Masood Azar as terrorist by UN
Apr, 23, 2016

China wants ‘fair’ solution to border dispute

  1. Context: Chinese Foreign Ministry on India-China border dispute
  2. Statement: China and India should meet each other halfway to reach a fair and reasonable political solution to the border dispute acceptable to both sides
  3. Indication: Beijing’s willingness to make concessions on the vexed issue
Apr, 19, 2016

India-China military hotline likely

  1. Hotline: India and China are close to a breakthrough in establishing a hotline between the two military headquarters
  2. CBMs: It is a part of an effort to improve border management through a new round of confidence building measures (CBMs)
  3. India: Having a coordinated line on terrorism is in the interest of both India and China
  4. India is keen to step up its interaction with Beijing as engaging China more will resolve many of the issues
Apr, 14, 2016

China responds cautiously to Indo-US logistics pact

  1. Context: India’s decision ‘in principle’ of signing a logistics support agreement with the US
  2. China: India is an influential country in the world and has been upholding independent diplomatic policy
  3. India will make up its diplomatic policies based on its own interests
  4. The subject could be taken up during Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to Beijing
  5. Omission: Earlier China criticised Carter’s decision to drop Beijing from the itinerary of his Asia visit
Apr, 07, 2016

India, China argue over Masood Azhar

  1. Context: India’s move to add Maulana Masood Azhar to international list of terrorist faced Chinese opposition at the UN
  2. Beijing’s response: they had not dismissed India’s move to bring a ban on Azhar. but as the information provided by India to the UN was inadequate, placed a ‘technical hold’— a temporary measure
  3. India’s accusation: China discriminating among different kinds of terrorists (think of Pak angle)
  4. Who is Azhar?: head of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed mastermind of Pathankot terror attacks
  5. Azhar was also chief organiser of the Pakistani jihadist group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen in early 90s
Apr, 04, 2016

China blocks bid to block Masood Azar

  1. Context: China once again foiled India’s bid at UN to ban Masood Azar, clinging to its pro-Pakistan stance
  2. Reason: Masood Azhar does not qualify to be nailed as a terrorist to face UN sanctions as his case did not meet the Security Council’s requirements
  3. Masood Azar: JeM chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind
Mar, 26, 2016

‘Closer Nepal-China ties need not worry India’

  1. News: Nepal’s expanding relations with China should not irritate India, a senior leader of Nepal said
  2. Context: Nepal want to establish relations with both the neighbouring countries [China and India] on the basis of equality, which should not cause irritation
  3. Relevance: Statement came in, as agreements inked by Nepal with China during the ongoing visit of Prime Minister K.P.S. Oli
  4. Bilateral cooperation deals with China are highly significant which help achieving long-term socioeconomic development goals to Nepal on its own
Mar, 15, 2016

China evades response to presence of its troops in PoK

  1. Context: Recent reports of presence of PLA troops at a forward post in the PoK
  2. News: Chinese Foreign ministry has denied the incident
  3. Background: India has conveyed its protest to China on the China-Pakistan Economic corridor, as it goes through PoK along the Karakoram Highway
  4. Initiative: India and China have established Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination along the LAC to discuss the issue of incursions and aggressive border patrols
Jan, 18, 2016

India may ease visa norms for China

India is all set to overhaul its security cooperation agreement with China and further liberalise visa norms for the neighbouring country.

  1. MoU signed in 2005 between the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Public Security, People’s Republic of China, is being revisited to expand its scope.
  2. The MoU was signed for exchange of security-related information to combat terrorism.
  3. The new agreement will factor in contemporary global threats like the Islamic State, as many Chinese nationals are also learnt to have joined the extremist outfit.
  4. India-China share experience on anti-hijacking, hostage-like situations and coordinate positions on anti-terrorism endeavours at regional and multilateral levels.
  5. China is among the top five nations which have expressed interest in doing business in India.
Nov, 20, 2015

India and China link Home Ministries to counter terror

India and China have decided to establish a ministerial mechanism for the first time, linking the 2 home ministries

  1. It will fill the vital gap in the overall institutional architecture of the bilateral ties.
  2. Both countries decided to exchange information on terrorist activities, terrorist groups and linkages.
  3. The topics include law enforcement, cyber crimes, terrorism, trans-border crimes and drug trafficking.
  4. Communication lines would be opened to ensure information flows on aircraft hijacking and hostage situations.
Nov, 06, 2015

In India, Li will ink pacts on river and culture

The Vice-President of China will sign agreements marking cooperation on better river water management and cultural exchanges.

  1. He will preside over the renewal of the 2013 memorandum of understanding on joint water management.
  2. China have a particular interest in Gupta empire, as it was during this period that the Nalanda university prospered which later on hosted Xuanzang during his visit to India.
  3. There will be renewal of the MoU on smooth sharing of hydrological data related to the common Himalayan rivers.
  4. Water scarcity is a big issue in China whereas the north-eastern States of India have abundant river water so hydrological exchanges are mainly aimed at emergency planning to help India.
Jul, 26, 2015

China says India’s fears of military base in Maldives unfounded

  1. China tagged India’s anxiety as baseless after Male approved a law to allow foreigners to buy land in the country.
  2. A senior Chinese military officer said that China did not own any military base abroad, nor did it seek military expansion.
  3. Maldivian President tried to placate the opposition and neighboring countries mentioning that Maldives is looking at projects like Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands or Dubai’s Palm Islands and not at strategic projects.
  4. The Maldives will now allow foreigners who invest more than US$1 billion to own land in perpetuity, provided 70 per cent of it is reclaimed from the sea.




Jul, 23, 2015

Mandarin lessons for ITBP

  1. In an effort to bridge the communication gap between ITBP men and China’s PLA, the ITBP men are being taught Mandarin and Tibetan languages.
  2. There have been occasions where language barrier has caused friction between ITBP personnel and PLA.
  3. The need to learn Tibetan stemmed from the fact that a large number of locals, like grazers and villagers, move around in the vicinity of the LAC.
Jul, 21, 2015

It was Chinese drone which Pak shot down - China acknowledged. Why?

  1. China has accepted that the drone shot down by Pakistan in PoK is of Chinese origin, quashing Pakistan’s claim that it was an Indian drone.
  2. Why has China done so?
  3. No country readily accepts that its drones are so weak that someone has managed to shoot one down.

Is this a tactical shift in foreign policy by China to integrate South Asian nations and further its one belt initiative?

Can we expect China and even Russia to start playing a greater direct role from now on in India-Pakistan affairs?

Jul, 19, 2015

China to participate in Indian International Fleet Review

  1. Despite maritime friction, China will participate in Indian International Fleet Review (IFR) to be held in Feb’16 in Vishakhapatnam.
  2. India and China will exchange visits of naval ships and hold PASSEX [passing exercises] and SAR [search and rescue] exercises.


Jun, 25, 2015

Lakhvi’s day at UN

China has blocked India’s attempts to ask questions about the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi at the United Nations.

Lakhvi, who is one of the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, was released from custody in Pakistan.

The Problem with UN:

  1. Its procedures are bureaucratic, defying what is needed to combat terrorism.
  2. For example, there is an ombudsperson to whom appeals can be made for de-listing from a list of terrorists.
  3. Even terrorists can appeal to this office. China just had to push a file to block India.
Jun, 08, 2015

Indo - China: Focus on LAC clarification

Jun, 08, 2015

India slaps anti-dumping duty on steel imports from China, Malaysia

Jun, 02, 2015

Some issues with China still unresolved

Jun, 01, 2015

Oil & gas exploration work in South China sea will need Beijing's nod

May, 27, 2015

China doesn’t recognise ‘illegal’ McMahon Line

May, 27, 2015

China stalls India’s proposal at UN

May, 25, 2015

China sets up largest gold sector fund for nations along ancient Silk Road

May, 22, 2015

China to actively fund in Pakistan

May, 12, 2015

[op-ed snap] India and China in a multipolar world

May, 01, 2015

China hits back over South China Sea

  1. China and its two main detractors in the South China Sea — Vietnam & Philippines.
  2. China accused them over illegal constructions & reclamations for Spratly islands, called by China as Nansha islands.
  3. Beijing says its construction in Spratly Islands is within the scope of its sovereignty.
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