Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China and the Rhineland moment in Hong Kongop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G-7 countries, TPP

Mains level : Paper 2- US-China relations and implications for India

While the world is busy battling pandemic, China has embarked upon completing its pet project: stripping Hong Kong off its special status. This article explains the significance of China’s actions. And the options the U.S. could explore as a response to China’s move.

Tipping points in History

  • In 1911 Germany sparked an international crisis when it sent a gunboat into the Moroccan port of Agadir.
  • Winston Churchill wrote in his history of the First World War, “all the alarm bells throughout Europe began immediately to quiver.”
  • In 1936 Germany provoked another crisis when it marched troops into the Rhineland, in flagrant breach of its treaty obligations.
  • In 1946, the Soviet Union made it obvious it had no intention of honoring democratic principles in Central Europe, and Churchill was left to warn that “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.”

Analogies: Not perfect, but not inapt, either.

  • Analogies between these past episodes and China’s decision this week to draft a new national security law on Hong Kong aren’t perfect.
  • First, Hong Kong is a Chinese port, not a faraway foreign one.
  • Second, Hong Kong’s people have ferociously resisted Beijing’s efforts to impose control, unlike the Rhineland Germans who welcomed Berlin’s.
  • And lastly, the curtailment of freedom that awaits Hong Kong is nothing like the totalitarian tyranny that Joseph Stalin imposed on Warsaw, Budapest and other cities.
  • But the analogies aren’t inapt, either.
  • Beijing has spent the better part of 20 years subverting its promises to preserve Hong Kong’s democratic institutions.
  • Now it is moving to quash what remains of the city’s civic freedoms through a forthcoming law that allows the government to punish speech as subversion and protest as sedition.
  • The concept of “one country, two systems,” was supposed to last at least until 2047 under the terms of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.
  • Now China’s rulers have been openly violating that treaty, much as Germany openly violated the treaties of Locarno and Versailles.

Rethink of the U.S. strategic approach to China

  • US administration has undertaken a sober rethink of it’s strategic approach to China.
  • The outlines of which are described in a new inter-agency document quietly released by the White House last week.
  • Gone from this new vision are the platitudes about encouraging China’s “peaceful rise” as a “responsible stakeholder” in a “rules-based order.”
  • Instead, Beijing is described, accurately, as a habitual and aggressive violator of that order.
  • It also describes China as a domestic tyrant, international bully and economic bandit that systematically robs companies of their intellectual property, countries of their sovereign authorities, and its own people of their natural rights.
  • A critic might note that this description of China’s behavior sounds a lot like Trump’s.
  • Sort of, except that the comparison trivializes the scale of China’s abuses and neglects the breadth and longevity of its challenge.

Why Now and what is the US response?

  • Beijing almost certainly chose this moment to strike because it calculated that a world straining under the weight of a pandemic and a depression lacked the will and attention to react.
  • On Friday, Trump said he would strip Hong Kong of its privileged commercial and legal ties to the U.S.
  • Issue with the move: That punishes the people of Hong Kong at least as much as it does their rulers in Beijing.

What’s a better course for the U.S.? A few ideas:

  • Sanction Chinese officials engaged in human-rights abuses in Hong Kong under the Global Magnitsky Act.
  • Upgrade relations with Taiwan and increase arms sales, including top-shelf weapons’ systems such as the F-35 and the Navy’s future frigate.
  • Re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)agreement as a counter to China’s economic influence.
  • Publicly press all G-7 countries to stop doing business with telecom-giant Huawei as a meaningful response to the Hong Kong law.
  • Give every Hong Kong person an opportunity to easily obtain a U.S. residency card, even a passport.


If all this and more were announced now, it might persuade Beijing to pull back from the brink. In the meantime, think of this as  Rhineland moment with China — and remember what happened the last time the free world looked aggression in the eye, and blinked

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India-China confrontation: Not a standalone eventop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hong Kong, Taiwan location in the map

Mains level : Paper 2- India-China relation and tension over border dispute

The recent India-China standoff in Ladakh points to a larger picture of the Chinese agenda of regional dominance. The US-China tension has proved to be the backdrop against which the Ladakh standoff is playing out. This article suggests that this standoff is not a standalone event. It could well be a trigger for domino effect.

What the intensification of tension between India-China suggests?

1) China is feeling threatened

  • An authoritarian regime whose legitimacy rests primarily on its economic performance is faced with a situation where growth is expected to plummet.
  • It is a sign that Beijing is increasingly feeling beleaguered.
  • In response, it has embarked on a strategy of brinkmanship with several goals in mind.
  • External adventurism, when cloaked in the garb of ultra-nationalism, can shore up a regime’s legitimacy at home.

2) It could be a move to divert the attention of the world

  • Simultaneously, it can act as a diversionary measure to escape international criticism for Beijing’s attempt to cover up the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Many countries hold China responsible for the huge cost in human lives and suffering as well as the unprecedented economic distress.
  • In the face of such criticism, the Chinese regime is increasingly using jingoistic jargon to build up domestic support.
  • President Xi Jinping’s recent speech to the PLA is an outstanding example of this strategy.
  • He exhorted the Chinese armed forces to “prepare for war” in order to “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty” and “the overall strategic stability of the country”.
  • This is a sign that the Communist Party of China (CPC) feels increasingly threatened both domestically and externally.

Let’s look at the deterioration of the US-China relations

  • China’s relations with the U.S. have been going downhill almost since the beginning of the Donald Trump presidency.
  • Washington has periodically imposed economic sanctions on China and Beijing has retaliated in kind.
  • Trade talks have faltered because of growing protectionist sentiments in the U.S. and Chinese inability to adequately respond to them.
  • The chipping away at Hong Kong’s autonomous status by Beijing and the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong has led to severe criticism by the U.S. administration and in the Congress.
  • Differences over the issue of Taiwan have added to tensions, with China viewing the U.S. as the primary impediment preventing Taiwan’s integration.
  • The Trump administration has significantly increased support to Taiwan with arms sales that have added to China’s concern.

U.S.-China rivalry in South-China Sea

  • Above all, the U.S.-China rivalry in the South China Sea acts as the potential flashpoint that may well lead to a shooting war.
  • So far, it has been careful that these moves do not trigger a serious confrontation with the U.S.
  • Washington has a strong interest in preventing China from asserting control over the South China Sea as maintaining free access to this waterway is important to it for economic reasons.
  • It also has defence treaty obligations to the Philippines, which has vigorously contested Chinese territorial claims.
  • Further, China’s control of the South China Sea would be a major step toward replacing the U.S. as the foremost power in the Indo-Pacific region.

India-China relation questions have been the leitmotif in the UPSC papers. Just the theme of the question changes. Consider 2017 question “China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as a tool to develop potential military power status in Asia. In light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbour.”


Increased Chinese adventurism could result in an escalation of U.S.-China confrontation in the South China Sea. If that happens, the India-China face-off in Ladakh could become part of a much larger “great game”, with the U.S. trying to preserve the status quo and China attempting to change it to further its objective of regional dominance at the U.S.’s expense. The current India-China crisis should, therefore, be seen in its proper context and not as an isolated event.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Analysing three-pronged strategy of China in Ladakhop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various location mentioned in the article.

Mains level : Paper 2- Implications of dispute for India China relation

The article gives an in-depth analysis of the current border dispute between India and China in Ladakh. But the present dispute follows the pattern. China has been encroaching and gaining control over the disputed territory since the 1980s. And this dispute also fits into that pattern.

China acting strategically in Ladakh

  • While India has pursued its core national interests in J&K, China’s response was strategic — a shift that may have a lasting imprint on geopolitics.
  • We have been harping on the “differing perception” theory of the LAC for decades.
  • But in reality China has been gaining control over a massive “disputed territory” in Eastern Ladakh since the 1980s.

Major Chinese encroachment events

  • The Chinese first made encroachments into the 45-km long Skakjung pastureland in Demchok-Kuyul sector.
  • This resulted in local Changpas of Chushul, Tsaga, Nidar, Nyoma, Mud, Dungti, Kuyul, Loma villages gradually losing their winter grazing.
  • Ladakh’s earlier border lay at Kegu Naro — a day-long march from Dumchele.
  • Starting from the loss of Nagtsang in 1984, followed by Nakung (1991) and Lungma-Serding (1992), the last bit of Skakjung was lost in 2008.
  • The PLA followed the nomadic Rebo routes for patrolling in contrast to Indian authorities restricting Rebo movements that led to the massive shrinking of pastureland and border defence.
  • By the 2000s, the PLA’s focus shifted to desolate, inhospitable Chip Chap which remains inaccessible until end-March.
  • After mid-May, water streams impede vehicles moving across Shyok, Galwan, and Chang-Chenmo rivers leaving only a month and a half for effective patrolling by the Indian side.
  • No human beings inhabit here, a 1962 war site, an entry point into Ladakh for the Uyghurs and Tibetans.
  • Local Ladakhi personnel manned the posts here, but patrolling in the 972 sq km Trig Height area has been lax.
  • Easier accessibility allowed the PLA to intrude into Chip Chap with impunity during July-August — its regulars usually spent a few hours before crossing back.
  • But, during the 21-day Depsang stand-off in 2013, when Burtse became a flashpoint, the PLA set up remote camps 18-19 km inside Indian territory.
  • Chinese soldiers virtually prevented Indian troops from getting access to Rakinala near Daulat Beg-Olde (DBO) where the IAF reactivated the world’s highest landing strips in 2008.
2008 Daulat Beg Oldi Stand-off
  • This plus the reopening of Fukche and Nyoma airbases perhaps provoked the PLA’s intrusion in Depsang.

So, what is the current stand-off about?

  • Despite topographical challenges, the BRO has lately fast-tracked the 260 km long Shayok-DBO road construction.
  • That road construction probably triggered the PLA intrusion in early May sparking the current Galwan stand-off.
  • Towards the south at Pangong Tso, forces had physical scuffles over area-denial for patrolling at Sirijap on May 5-6 and on May 11.
  • The situation remains tense at Sirijap’s cliff spurs and also at the Tso, where troops are chasing each other in high-speed patrol boats.
  • Clearly, intrusions are part of China’s never-ending effort to push Indian troops westward of the Indus and Shyok rivers and reach the 1960 claimed line.

Details of the disputed border in Ladakh

  • Out of the 857 sq km long border in Ladakh only 368 sq km is the International Border, and the rest of the 489 sq km is the LAC.
  • The two traditional disputed points included Trig Heights and Demchok.
  • At eight points, the two sides have differing perceptions.
  • But lately, China has raised two fresh dispute points at Pangong Tso 83 sq km and at Chumur where it claims 80 sq km.
  • The old dispute sites were at the end point of Pangong Tso and at Chushul — the 1962 battle-site.

Three-pronged strategy

  • 1) The Sirijap range on the northern bank of the lake remains most contested, from which several cliff spurs jut out — the “finger series” 1 to 8.
  • India’s LAC claim line is at Finger-8, but the actual position is only up to Finger-4.
  • The Chinese are asserting further west to claim 83 sq km here.
  • The PLA has built a 4.5 km long road to prevent patrolling by Indian troops.
  • The PLA’s road network from here extends to Huangyangtan base located near National Highway G219.
  • 2) Further south in Demchok, China claims some 150 sq km.
  • The PLA has built massive infrastructure on its side, moved armoured troops into Charding Nalla since 2009.
  • Tibetan nomads pitch tents on Hemis Monastery’s land throughout 2018-2019.
  • 3)In Chumur, China claims 80 sq km and probably wants a straight border from PT-4925 to PT-5318 to bring Tible Mane (stupa) area under its control.
  • For India, holding of Chumur is critical for the safety of the Manali-Leh route.
  • PLA demanded removal of India’s fortified positions in Burtse (2013) and Demchok and Chumur (2014) for its retreat.

What could be the implications for India?

  • Overall, the pattern shows the PLA’s desperate design to snatch the lake at Lukung through a three-pronged strategy of attacking from Sirijap in the north, Chuchul in the south and through the lake water from middle.
  • This is the key chokepoint from where the Chinese can cut off Indian access to the entire flank of Chip Chap plains, Aksai Chin in the east and Shayok Valley to the north.
  •  Which means that Indian control is pushed to the west of the Shyok river and south of the Indus river, forcing India to accept both rivers as natural boundaries.
  • And once China gets control of the southern side of the Karakoram it can easily approach Siachen Glacier from the Depsang corridor.
  • And meet at Tashkurgan junction from where the CPEC crosses into Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • That would be disastrous for Indian defence, leaving the strategic Nubra vulnerable, possibly impacting even India’s hold over Siachen.
  • China’s access to Changla-pass through Lukung and Tangtse would threaten the entire Indus Valley.
  • It is quite possible that China is eyeing the waters of the Shyok, Galwan and Chang-Chenmo rivers, to divert them to the arid Aksai Chin and its Ali region.

Consider the question “What could be the strategic and security implications of China’s claim in Pangong Tso region for India?”


India should resist the Chinese design which could have disastrous consequences for India’s defence and strategic interests. This should involve diplomatic channels rather than skirmishes on the borders.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Importance of the Pangong Tso LakePriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pangong Tso Lake

Mains level : India-China border skirmishes and their impacts on bilateral relations

(Note: No higher resolution is available for the image)

The recent incidents at the Pangong Tso lake area between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the LAC involve a picturesque lake, mountains, helicopters, fighter jets, boats, eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, fisticuffs and injuries.

Apart from the geo-physical significance of the Pangong Tso for prelims, other general information should be necessarily known to aspirants, particularly for Personality Tests.

The Pangong Tso Lake

  • Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh has often been in the news, most famously during the Doklam standoff, when a video of the scuffle between Indian and Chinese soldiers.
  • In the Ladakhi language, Pangong means extensive concavity, and Tso is a 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 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.

Tactical significance 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 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, where the Ahir Company of 13 Kumaon led by Maj. Shaitan Singh made its last stand.
  • Not far away, to the north of the lake, is the Army’s Dhan Singh Thapa post, named after Major Dhan Singh Thapa who was awarded the country’s highest gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra.
  • Major Thapa and his platoon were manning Sirijap-1 outpost which was essential for the defence of Chushul airfield.

Connectivity in the region

  • Over the years, the Chinese have built motorable roads along their banks of the Pangong Tso.
  • At the People’s Liberation Army’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.
  • Even during peacetime, 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 a road inside Indian Territory along the lake’s bank.
  • From one of these roads, Chinese positions physically overlook Indian positions on the northern tip of the Pangong Tso Lake.

Fingers in the lake

  • The barren mountains on the lake’s northern bank, called the Chang Chenmo, jut forward in major spurs, which the Army calls “fingers”.
  • India claims that the LAC is coterminous with Finger 8, but it physically controls area only up to Finger 4.
  • Chinese border posts are at Finger 8, while it believes that the LAC passes through Finger 2.
  • Around six years ago, the Chinese had attempted a permanent construction at Finger 4 which was demolished after Indians strongly objected to it.
  • Chinese use light vehicles on the road to patrol up to Finger 2, which has a turning point for their vehicles.
  • If they are confronted and stopped by an Indian patrol in between, asking them to return, it leads to confusion, as the vehicles can’t turn back.
  • The Chinese have now stopped the Indian soldiers moving beyond Finger 2. This is an eyeball-to-eyeball situation which is still developing.

Confrontation on the water

  • On the water, the Chinese had a major advantage until a few years ago — their superior boats could literally run circles around the Indian boats.
  • But India purchased better Tampa boats some eight 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 Chinese have moved in more boats — called the LX series — in the lake after the tensions which rose in the area from last month.
  • The drill for the boats is agreed upon by the two sides, as per the Standard Operating Procedure.

Out of bounds for tourists

  • Indian tourists are only allowed up to Spangmik village, around 7 km into the lake. This is where a famous movie climax was shot.
  • In fact, tourists were not allowed at all at Pangong Tso until 1999, and even today, you need to obtain an Inner Line Permit from the office of the Deputy Commissioner at Leh.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

How China is seeking more control on Hong Kong? CopyPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Secessionist tendencies across the world and their handling

China has started pushing for an “improvement” in the Basic Law — the mini-constitution that defines ties between Hong Kong and Beijing — signalling a fundamental change in the way the highly autonomous city-state is run. The Chinese parliament is debating a controversial national security law for Hong Kong.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Democracy and authoritarianism cannot co-exist in the same country. Comment in context to the situation generated in Taiwan. How is the situation different from the withdrawl of special category status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Chinese authoritarian grip on Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s ‘Basic Law’

  • Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.
  • It has observed a “one country, two systems” policy since Britain returned sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997, which has allowed it certain freedoms, the rest of China does not have.
  • It is governed by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law — which affirms the principle of “one country, two systems”.
  • The constitutional document is a product of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.
  • Under this, China promised to honour Hong Kong’s liberal policies, the system of governance, an independent judiciary, and individual freedoms for a period of 50 years from 1997.

Uproar in Hong Kong

  • China accuses that the Hong Kong SAR has not acted out its constitutional duty for national security in line with China’s Constitution and the Basic Law.
  • Since the handover, Hong Kong residents have time and again taken to the streets to protect their Basic Law freedoms, with the first major pro-democracy protest taking place in 2003.
  • In 2014, over one lakh city residents took part in the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ to protest against China’s denial of democratic reforms.

Impact of the 2019 protests

  • The largest protests since the 1997 handover took place last year in 2019 when for months tens of thousands of Hong Kongers agitated against a proposed extradition law.
  • The protest continued with pro-democracy marches even after the legislation was withdrawn.
  • These protests were seen as an affront by mainland China, which under President Xi Jinping has increasingly adopted a more hardline approach to foreign policy and internal security issues in recent years.

Rise of Taiwanese aspirations

  • The Hong Kong unrest is also believed to have left its mark on Taiwan, another prickly issue for Beijing which considers the island state as its own.
  • In this year’s presidential election, Taiwanese voters brought to power the Democratic Progressive Party, which openly opposes joining China.

The National Security Law

  • Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong has to enact a national security law “to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, and subversion against the Chinese government.
  • When the Hong Kong government first tried to enact the law in 2003, the issue became a rallying point for the city-wide protests which occurred that year.
  • Since then, the government has steered clear of introducing the legislation again.
  • Beijing could now make the law applicable to Hong Kong by another route — by inserting the legislation in Annex III of the Basic Law.
  • The Chinese parliament is expected to vote on a resolution that will make way for the new law, which could be promulgated in Hong Kong.

What could happen if such a law takes effect?

  • The new law would ban seditious activities that target mainland Chinese rule, as well as punish external interference in Hong Kong affairs.
  • Many expect a revival of the protests that rocked the city last year.
  • China, on the other hand, has sought support and understanding of India and other countries for its controversial decision as a precautionary measure.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

How China is seeking more control on Hong Kong?Priority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Secessionist tendencies across the world and their handling

China has started pushing for an “improvement” in the Basic Law — the mini-constitution that defines ties between Hong Kong and Beijing — signalling a fundamental change in the way the highly autonomous city-state is run. The Chinese parliament is debating a controversial national security law for Hong Kong.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Democracy and authoritarianism cannot co-exist in the same country. Comment in context to the situation generated in Taiwan. How is the situation different from the withdrawl of special category status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Chinese authoritarian grip on Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s ‘Basic Law’

  • Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.
  • It has observed a “one country, two systems” policy since Britain returned sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997, which has allowed it certain freedoms, the rest of China does not have.
  • It is governed by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law — which affirms the principle of “one country, two systems”.
  • The constitutional document is a product of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.
  • Under this, China promised to honour Hong Kong’s liberal policies, the system of governance, an independent judiciary, and individual freedoms for a period of 50 years from 1997.

Uproar in Hong Kong

  • China accuses that the Hong Kong SAR has not acted out its constitutional duty for national security in line with China’s Constitution and the Basic Law.
  • Since the handover, Hong Kong residents have time and again taken to the streets to protect their Basic Law freedoms, with the first major pro-democracy protest taking place in 2003.
  • In 2014, over one lakh city residents took part in the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ to protest against China’s denial of democratic reforms.

Impact of the 2019 protests

  • The largest protests since the 1997 handover took place last year in 2019 when for months tens of thousands of Hong Kongers agitated against a proposed extradition law.
  • The protest continued with pro-democracy marches even after the legislation was withdrawn.
  • These protests were seen as an affront by mainland China, which under President Xi Jinping has increasingly adopted a more hardline approach to foreign policy and internal security issues in recent years.

Rise of Taiwanese aspirations

  • The Hong Kong unrest is also believed to have left its mark on Taiwan, another prickly issue for Beijing which considers the island state as its own.
  • In this year’s presidential election, Taiwanese voters brought to power the Democratic Progressive Party, which openly opposes joining China.

The National Security Law

  • Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong has to enact a national security law “to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, and subversion against the Chinese government.
  • When the Hong Kong government first tried to enact the law in 2003, the issue became a rallying point for the city-wide protests which occurred that year.
  • Since then, the government has steered clear of introducing the legislation again.
  • Beijing could now make the law applicable to Hong Kong by another route — by inserting the legislation in Annex III of the Basic Law.
  • The Chinese parliament is expected to vote on a resolution that will make way for the new law, which could be promulgated in Hong Kong.

What could happen if such a law takes effect?

  • The new law would ban seditious activities that target mainland Chinese rule, as well as punish external interference in Hong Kong affairs.
  • Many expect a revival of the protests that rocked the city last year.
  • China, on the other hand, has sought support and understanding of India and other countries for its controversial decision as a precautionary measure.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Rising incidences of Chinese TransgressionsPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : India-China border disputes

As tensions remain high between Indian and Chinese soldiers, the number of recorded Chinese transgressions across the disputed India-China border surged by 75 per cent in Ladakh in 2019, and the Chinese forays into Indian Territory in the first four months of the current year have also witnessed an increase compared to the same period last year.

Chinese Transgression:

    • The border between India and China is not fully demarcated and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is neither clarified nor confirmed by the two countries.
    • This leads to different perceptions of the LAC for the two sides while soldiers from either side try to patrol the area.
    • Observation Methods: Use of surveillance equipment, face-offs by patrols, reliable indications by locals, or evidence left by the Chinese in the form of wrappers, biscuit packets etc. in an unmanned area.
    • Official data shows that 80% of Chinese transgressions across the LAC since 2015 have taken place in four locations of which three are in eastern Ladakh in the western sector.
      • These areas of eastern Ladakh are Pangong Tso, Trig Heights and Burtse.
      • The fourth area is the Dichu Area/Madan Ridge area (Arunachal Pradesh) of the Eastern sector.
  •  Implications of Increased Number of Transgressions:

    • It is an indicator of increased Chinese assertiveness.
    • Even if there are no major incidents, it should not be taken lightly.
    • So far, there has been no major standoff between the two sides after the 73-day Doklam standoff on Sikkim-Bhutan border in 2017.


  • India is worried about the tensions at Naku La in Sikkim and at Galwan river and Pangong Tso in Ladakh.
  • The increased transgressions lead to more tensions between both countries which are already struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Nepal’s recent behaviour on the Mansarovar Link Road raising the border map issue also raises Indian concerns.
  • The constant accusations on each other also cause tensions and disrupt the peace on borders.
    • Recently, Chinese media accused India of building defence facilities in the Galwan Valley region of the contested Aksai Chin area.
  • India and China are both nuclear-armed countries with strong militaries and the constant border conflicts are not a desirable thing.

Way Forward

  • In the Wuhan and Mahabalipuram summits, both China and India had reaffirmed that they will make efforts to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas.
  • On 1st April, 2020 India and China completed their 70 years of diplomatic relations.
  • Both countries have resolved border issues peacefully in the past four decades which gives the hope that the tensions will subside soon.
  • Establishment of peace between the two big powers of such an important geopolitical region is essential for their own growth and development as well as for maintenance of global peace.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Clear demarcation of the national borders is the need of the hour. Discuss.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Tracking Chinese diplomacyop-ed of the day


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Afro-Asian conference.

Mains level : Paper 2- Rise of China and changes in diplomacy.

We are no stranger to the assertive nature of China in geopolitics. But had it always been the same? This article captures the transformation of the nature of Chinese diplomacy. Two personalities that had a profound impact on the nature of the diplomacy of that country are Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping. Each of them imparted special characteristic to diplomacy. Now, that all seems lost from present China. Read the article to know about the contribution of two personalities and trends in Chinese diplomacy now.

Zhou Enlai: Preference for Persuasion and compromise

“All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.” – Zhou Enlai

  • If Mao Zedong represented the crude face of Chinese communism, then Zhou was the epitome of its refinement.
  • Zhou preferred to seduce his opponents through word and gesture in the pursuit of national self-interest.
  • Force was used rarely, and only when all other means of persuasion failed.
  • So, amid Korean War in 1950, when the U.S. Army crossed into North Korea, Zhou Enlai delivered message against crossing 38th Parallel through Indian Ambassador, instead publicly declaring this.
  • He chose to give diplomacy a chance.

Role in First Indochina War

  • In 1954, the Chinese made their entry onto the world stage in Geneva.
  • The Vietnamese were winning against the French in the First Indochina War.
  • And the Americans were preparing to intervene fearing that another “domino” would fall to communism.
  • China’s self-interest lay in ending this war while denying the U.S. a foothold in its backyard.
  • Zhou’s strategy was to undermine western unity.
  • His watchwords were persuasion and compromise.
  • He even gave “face” to the French who had just lost to the Vietnamese in the battle of Dien Bien Phu, by travelling the “extra mile” to meet Prime Minister of France to secure the peace.

Low profile at Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung

  • In 1955, at the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, Zhou used the same tactics to pursue another objective: Developing relations with leaders of the Afro-Asian countries.
  • He deliberately kept a low profile, allowing Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Indonesian President Sukarno to take the lead.
  • His tactic, he reported to Mao, was “not to be involved in provocative or disruptive debate”.
  • His guidance to his team was to “strive to expand the united front of the world peace force.
  • He also instructed the team to create conditions for establishing diplomatic work or diplomatic relations between China and a number of Afro-Asian countries.

So, how Zhou shaped China’s foreign policy?

  • Zhou’s style of diplomacy came to define Chinese foreign policy over the next half-century.
  • The strategy was consistent: avoid isolation, build solidarity with non-aligned countries, divide the West.
  • The tactics were called ‘united front’ — isolate the main threat by building unity with all other forces.
  • Under Zhou, diplomats of calibre kept handled the task of diplomacy with skill and held firm even in storms like the Cultural Revolution.
  • When the tide rose, these diplomatic fishermen gathered the fish — expanding China’s global presence and gaining international acceptability.
  • When it ebbed, they saw to it that the ship remained firmly moored.
  • They navigated the Cold War, playing the Soviets against the Americans.
  • To relieve pressure, Zhou opened border talks with the Soviets and channels to the U.S.
  • Public animosity did not deter him from turning on the full extent of his diplomatic skills on either Alexei Kosygin or Henry Kissinger.
  • In February 1972, he persuaded U.S. President Richard Nixon to abandon Taiwan.
  • It was a staggering act of diplomacy.

Deng Xiaoping: hide our capacities and bide our time

“Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.”

  • In the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping took up the reins.
  • Deng supplemented Zhou’s strategy with a “24-Character Strategy” of his own(the above quote).

Character of Chinese diplomacy in Deng Xiaoping’s time

  • “24-Character Strategy” became the ‘mantra’ of Chinese diplomacy.
  • Chinese diplomats measured their words and kept their dignity.
  • They projected power but rarely used more words than needed.
  • They were masters of their brief because Zhou had taught them that the real advantage in negotiations was to know more than the other side.
  • They flattered acquaintances, calling them “old friends”.
  • They built relationships by making it a point to engage the less friendly interlocutors with greater courtesies than friends.
  • Behind closed doors, they were tireless in reducing opposition through negotiation.
  • And skillfully in putting the onus of responsibility for failure on the other party.
  • And occasionally, they would hold out a veiled threat with a look of concern rather like an uncle anxious to save you from embarrassment.
  • But they rarely offended.

Tumultuous period of 1980s and 1990s and entry into WTO

  • The 1980s and 1990s were the peak for Chinese diplomacy.
  • The U.S. President George Bush and Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited China.
  • They normalised relations, settled borders and won hearts and minds through general financial help.
  • So effective was Chinese diplomacy that the Americans even broke their own sanctions imposed after the 1989 ‘Tiananmen Incident’, within a matter of four weeks.
  • A decade later, the U.S. and the European Union bought into Chinese assurances that it would soon transition to a market economy.
  • And helped steer China into the World Trade Organization.

After Deng Xiaoping: Arrogance and threats in diplomacy

  • Deng died in 1997. China prospered just as Deng had imagined.
  • It began to occupy centre stage in world diplomacy, but the basics of Chines diplomacy started changing
  • A new generation of diplomats, with knowledge of the English language and a careerist mindset, has started to destroy the foundations set down by Zhou and Deng.
  • Arrogance has replaced humility.
  • Persuasion is quickly abandoned in favour of the stick when countries take actions contrary to Chinese wishes.
  • The Chinese pursue unilateralism instead of compromise in the South China Sea.
  • In place of ‘united front’ tactics, they are bent on creating irritations simultaneously with multiple China neighbouring countries.
  • Avenging the ‘Century of Humiliation’ that endured in the hands of western imperial powers from roughly 1839-1840 to 1949 is on their mind now.
  • To avenge that they adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • But they forget that much of the world has done nothing to China and, indeed, shares a similar historical experience.
  • Statements of fact or reasoned opinion are seen by them as insult or humiliation.
  • Foreign governments are educated about their responsibilities in managing the media and the narrative, even as the Chinese manipulate the same media to serve their purposes.
  • They expect to receive gratitude for everything they do, including handling COVID-19, as if it was only done with the foreigner in mind.
  • The veneer of humility has thinned.
  • The reserves of goodwill are fast depleting. The ship seems to be adrift at sea.

Questions related to China has been a recurrent theme in the UPSC papers. Consider the question asked in 2017  “China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as a tool to develop potential military power status in Asia. In light of this statement discuss its impact on India and her neighbours.”


In the post-pandemic world, India and the rest of the world will have to reckon the role played by China in the pandemic. In such a changing scenario India will do well to take note of the changing trends of Chinese diplomacy.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Are the U.S. and China entering a new Cold War?Priority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Geopolitics after the Cold War era

Relations between the U.S. and China plunged to a new low in recent weeks. Ties between the two countries had started deteriorating well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Practice question for mains:

Q. How will economic nationalism take a lead in the post-COVID-19 Asia? Discuss in context to the rising tensions between the US and China.

Heading for a new Cold War

  • The US President has recently threatened to “cut off the whole relationship” with China over the COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan.
  • Earlier this month, the U.S. imposed visa restrictions on the Chinese journalists working in the country, limiting their work period to 90 days.
  • Last week, Trump extended for one more year a ban on U.S. companies from using telecom equipment made by “companies positing national security risks” (Huawei and ZTE row).

A new national policy

  • The rising tensions between the two superpowers have prompted many experts to warn of a new Cold War.
  • A chorus of American voices now argues that confronting China should become the organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy, akin to the Cold War against the Soviet Union.
  • Hawks in the Trump administration openly push for a more aggressive approach towards Beijing.
  • In 2017, the US’s National Security Strategy called China as “a revisionist power” seeking “to erode American security and prosperity” and “shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests”.

Why is the US confronting China?

  • Competition rules the relationship, and flexibility and mature handling are in short supply on both sides.
  • Uncertainty prevails, whether it on the question of resolving trade problems, or on the maritime front in the East and South China Seas, on technology, or on mutual mud-slinging on COVID-19-related issues.
  • Record high temperatures have been recorded in Sino-U.S. relations in recent years and the pandemic is no exception to this.
  • COVID-19 appears to have aggravated the crisis, pushing both countries, already reeling under trade, technology and maritime disputes, to take a more hostile position towards each other.

How has China responded?

  • China has frequently urged the United States to abandon its Cold-War mentality and zero-sum game mindset.
  • It has sometimes through the state-run media, hit back, calling Trump’s comments “lunacy” and Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, an “evil politician”.

A reminder of the ‘Novikov telegram’

  • In early April, China’s Ministry of State Security sent an internal report to the country’s top leaders, stating that hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak could tip relations with the U.S. into a confrontation.
  • Intelligence community sees the report as China’s version of the ‘Novikov Telegram’, referring to a report Nikolai Novikov, the Soviet Ambassador in Washington, sent to Moscow in September 1946.
  • Laying out his analysis of the U.S. conduct, the report, sent to Russia said that the U.S. is determined on world domination and suggested the Soviet Union create a buffer in Eastern Europe.
  • Novikov telegram was a response to the “Long Telegram”, the 8,000-word report sent by George Kennan, an official at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, to Washington.
  • It said that the Soviet Union was heavily armed and determined to spread communism, and peaceful coexistence was impossible.
  • Historians often trace the origins of the Cold War to these telegrams.

Nationalist overdrive in US

  • The current crisis in relations clearly shows that tensions will not go away. This situation is unlikely to ease until the U.S. Presidential election.
  • Post-election, temperatures could decrease, but a deep-rooted antipathy towards China has gripped the popular and political imagination in the U.S.
  • In China, the leadership and public opinion are both on a nationalist overdrive and the Trump administration is seen as the prime antagonist.

Relevance with the Cold War

  • There are similarities between the current crisis and the Cold War.
  • The political elites of both China and the U.S., like the Soviet Union and the U.S. back then, see each other as their main rivals.
  • We can also see this antagonism moving from the political elite to the popular perception — the targeting of ethnic Chinese professionals and others in the U.S. and of American individuals or entities in China is a case in point.


  • We don’t see the kind of proxy conflicts between the U.S. and China which we did during the Cold War.
  • The world is also not bipolar any more. There are third parties such as the EU, Russia, India and Japan.
  • These parties increasingly have a choice whether or not to align with either power as they see fit and on a case by case basis.
  • This leads to a very different kind of international order than during the Cold War.

Challenges ahead

  • The Cold War was out and out ideological between the communist and capitalist blocs.
  • For China, a country ruled by a communist party where the primary goal of all state apparatus is preserving the regime in power, it’s always been ideological.
  • The U.S. has started realizing this angle about China now. The Republican Party has ideological worldviews, too.
  • If Trump gets re-elected, the ideological underpinnings of the U.S.-China rivalry could get further solidified.

Back2Basics: Cold War

  • During World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union fought together as allies against the Axis powers.
  • However, the relationship between the two nations was a tense one.
  • Americans had long been wary of Soviet Communism and concerned about Russian leader Joseph Stalin’s tyrannical rule of his own country.
  • For their part, the Soviets resented the Americans’ decades-long refusal to treat the USSR as a legitimate part of the international community as well as their delayed entry into World War II, which resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of Russians.
  • After the war ended, these grievances ripened into an overwhelming sense of mutual distrust and enmity.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Mapping: Pangong Tso LakePrelims Only

Helicopters of the Chinese Army came close to the border during the face-off with the Indian Army near Pangong Tso Lake in Eastern Ladakh last week.

Keep a watch on some facts related to the Pangong Tso Lake like nearby rivers, passes, Ramsar status etc.

Aircraft restricted near LAC

  • As per existing agreements between India and China, operation of fighter aircraft and armed helicopters is restricted to a distance from the LAC.
  • According to the Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the LAC in India-China Border Area’ of 1996 combat aircraft (to include fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, military trainer, armed helicopter and other armed aircraft) shall not fly within 10 km of the LAC.

Pangong Tso Lake

  • Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m.
  • It is 134 km long and extends from India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China.
  • Approximately 60% of the length of the lake lies within the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
  • The lake is 5 km wide at its broadest point. All together it covers 604
  • During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water.
  • It is not a part of the Indus river basin area and geographically a separate landlocked river basin.
  • Formerly, Pangong Tso had an outlet to Shyok River, a tributary of Indus River, but it was closed off due to natural damming.
  • The lake is in the process of being identified under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance.
  • This will be the first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia under the convention.

Back2Basics: India-China Border Dispute

The India-China borders disputes exist between three regions:

1) J&K region

  • The Aksai Chin sector which originally was a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is claimed by China as part of its autonomous Xinjiang region.
  • After the 1962 war, it is administered by China. It is the second-largest Indo-China border area covering over 38000 sq. km. However, it is uninhabited land.
  • While India claims the entire Aksai Chin territory as well as the Shaksgam valley (Indian Territory gifted to China by Pakistan), China contests Indian control over Daulat Beg Oldi (a tehsil in Leh south of Aksai China-it is believed to host the world’s highest airstrip).

2) Sikkim region

  • China has recognised India’s sovereignty over Sikkim and had initiated the trade at Nathu La pass.
  • However, this is the region where the Doklam standoff took place.

3) Arunachal Pradesh Region

  • The Arunachal Pradesh border that China still claims to be its own territory is the largest disputed area, covering around 90000 sq. km.
  • It was formally called North-East Frontier Agency.
  • During the 1962 war, the People’s Liberation Army occupied it but they announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew respecting the international boundary (Mcmahon Line).
  • However, it has continued to assert its claim over the territory.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Seven trends in the geopolitics of the worldop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G-7, G-20, BRI etc.

Mains level : Paper 2- Recent changes in the global order that were hastened by the pandemic.

The article examines 7 trends that have been emerging in the global order for quite some time now. The corona crisis has only accentuated these trends. So, what are these trends? read to know more.

1. The rise of Asia

  • The first trend which became clear in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis is the rise of Asia.
  • Economic historians pointed to its inevitability, recalling that till the 18th century, Asia accounted for half the global GDP.
  • The Industrial Revolution accompanied by European naval expansion and colonialism contributed to the rise of the West, and now the balance is being restored.
  • The 2008 financial crisis showed the resilience of Asian economies.
  • And even today, economic forecasts indicate that out of the G-20 countries, only China and India are likely to register economic growth during 2020.
  • Asian countries have also demonstrated greater agility in tackling the pandemic compared to the United States and Europe.
  • This is not limited to China but a number of other Asian states have shown greater responsiveness and more effective state capacity.
  • Consequently, Asian economies will recover faster than those in the West.

2. Decline of the US

  • The second trend is the retreat of the U.S.after a century of being in the forefront of shaping the global order.
  • The U.S. played a decisive role in shaping the world, from the World Wars to the leadership of the western world during the Cold War, molding global responses to threats posed by terrorism or proliferation or climate change.
  • But recent examples show that interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have become quagmires that have sapped domestic political will and resources.
  • President Donald Trump called for “America first” and during the current crisis, the U.S.’s efforts at cornering supplies of scarce medical equipment and medicines and acquiring biotech companies engaged in research and development in allied states, shows that this may mean “America alone”.
  • Moreover, even as countries were losing trust in the U.S.’s leadership, its mishandling at the home of the pandemic indicates that countries are also losing trust in the U.S.’s competence.

3. Weakening unity of the EU

  • A third trend is the European Union’s continuing preoccupation with internal challenges.
  • This internal disruption is generated three factors: 1) EU’s expansion of membership to include East European states 2) Impact of the financial crisis among the Eurozone members 3) Ongoing Brexit negotiations.
  • Threat perceptions vary between old Europe and new Europe making it increasingly difficult to reach agreement on political matters e.g. relations with Russia and China.
  • Rising populism has given greater voice to Euro-sceptics and permitted some EU members to espouse the virtues of “illiberal democracy”.
  • Adding to this is the North-South divide within the Eurozone.
  • This divide was seen when austerity measures were imposed on Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal a decade ago by the European Central Bank.
  • These austerity measures were persuaded by the fiscally conservative Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.
  • The EU lacked solidarity when Italy was battling the pandemic alone.
  • Further damage was done when Italy was denied medical equipment by its EU neighbours who introduced export controls.
  • Schengen visa or free-border movement has already become a victim to the pandemic.
  • The EU will need considerable soul searching to rediscover the limits of free movement of goods, services, capital and people, the underlying theme of the European experiment of shared sovereignty.

4. Rise of China

  • China’s growing economic role has been visible since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
  • Its more assertive posture has taken shape under President Xi Jinping’s leadership with the call that a rejuvenated China is now ready to assume global responsibilities.
  • In recent years, the U.S.-China relationship moved from cooperation to competition; and now with trade and technology wars, it is moving steadily to confrontation.
  • A partial economic de-coupling had begun and will gather greater momentum.
  • The Belt and Road Initiative involves investing trillions of dollars in infrastructure building as a kind of pre-emptive move against any U.S. attempts at containment.
  • Even if Mr Xi’s leadership comes under questioning, it may soften some aggressive policy edges but the confrontational rivalry with the U.S. will remain.

5. Failure of multinational institutions

  • With COVID-19, international and multilateral bodies are nowhere on the scene.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) was the natural candidate to lead global efforts against the health crisis but it has become a victim of politics.
  • The UN Security Council (UNSC), the G-7 and the G-20 are paralysed when the world faces the worst recession since 1929.
  • The reality is that these institutions were always subjected to big power politics.
  • During the Cold War, U.S.-Soviet rivalry blocked the UNSC on many sensitive issues and now with major power rivalry returning, finds itself paralysed again.
  • Agencies such as WHO have lost autonomy over the decades as their regular budgets shrank.
  • Budget constraints forced them to increasingly rely on voluntary contributions sourced largely from western countries and foundations.
  • The absence of a multilateral response today highlights the long-felt need for reform of these bodies but this cannot happen without collective global leadership.

6. The oil prices

  • The two trends were changing energy markets: 1)Growing interest in renewables and green technologies on account of climate change concerns. 2) The U.S. emerging as a major energy producer.
  • Now, a looming economic recession and depressed oil prices will exacerbate internal tensions in West Asian countries which are solely dependent on oil revenues.

7. Stability of West Asia

  • Long-standing rivalries in the region have often led to local conflicts but can now create political instability in countries where regime structures are fragile.

Consider the question “The Corona crisis contributed to speeding the failure of a global order which had been faltering before the pandemic afflicted the world. Examine the trends that have been accentuated by the pandemic.”


The vaccine may end the corona crisis when it comes, but the unfolding trends in the geopolitics have been altering the world even before the corona crisis and continue to do so after a pandemic is over.


Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Opportunity for India in changing global orderop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Changing global order presents opportunities for India.

The world is going through a transition phase. We are experiencing the rise of new powers and the decline of the old. India has to navigate its path through this changing order keeping its interests in mind. The double opportunity in current scenario for India is explained in the article. To know more about it, continue reading.

The changing global stage

  • The world today is fragmenting and slowing down economically.
  • Asia-Pacific is the new economic and political centre of the world with the rise of China, India and other powers — Indonesia, South Korea, Iran, Vietnam.
  • Rapid shifts in the balance of power in the region have led to arms races and the US’s “America First” attitude has led to rising uncertainty.
  • China-U.S. strategic contention is growing, uninhibited so far by their economic co-dependence.
  • As China seeks primacy in a world so far dominated by the U.S., the world faces a destabilising power transition which may or may not be completed.

What should India’s response be to the new situation?

Alliance with the US?

  • Many experts advocate that India should enter into an alliance with the U.S in the wake of rising China.
  • But India is much greater and more resilient than these people think.
  • Also, the aim of foreign and security policies of India has been the pursuit of strategic autonomy for India.
  • Thus, in the present situation, India should retain the above initiative and not get entangled in others’ quarrels. (i.e. the US-China quarrel)
  • Also, India should focus on pursuing its own national interest in this disorganized and uncertain world by creative diplomacy and flexibility.
  • An alliance seems to be exactly the wrong answer.

China challenge

  • One way to handle China could be to see whether the two countries can evolve a new modus vivendi.
  • This new modus vivendi shall replace the one that was formalised in the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi visit.
  • The old framework is no longer working and the signs of stress in the relationship are everywhere.
  • The more India rises, the more it must expect Chinese opposition.
  • So, India will have to work with other powers to ensure that its interests are protected in the neighbourhood, the region and the world.
  • The complexity of India-China relations suggests there is a scope for new modus vivendi.
  • This would require a high-level strategic dialogue between the two sides about their core interests, red lines, differences and areas of convergence.

What India can do to keep the region multi-polar?

  • As U.S. is withdrawing from the world, it will no longer be the upholder of international, economic and political order.
  • There is uncertainty over how the US will choose to deal with China.
  • India must work with other powers to ensure that this region stays multi-polar and that China behaves responsibly.

Double opportunity for India

  • 1. Opportunity in the US-China contention
  • US-China contention will continue in future. Hence, both China and the U.S. will look to put other conflicts (eg: conflicts with India on trade or border issue) and tensions on the back burner.
  • This effect is already perceptible in the Wuhan meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and Mr. Modi in early 2018.
  • And the apparent truce and dialing back of rhetoric by both India and China.
  • 2. Opportunity to Change national security Structures
  • Today, India is more dependent on the outside world than ever before.
  • It relies on the world for energy, technology, essential goods like fertilizer and coal, commodities, access to markets, and capital.
  • Adding the new security agenda and the contested global commons in outer and cyberspace and the high seas to India’s traditional state-centred security concerns gives India a sense of insecurity.
  • So, India needs to adapt to the changes and avoid imitating China.

Consider the question-“The global order is experiencing geopolitical churn, new powers are rising and older are staring at the decline. In such a scenario, examine the opportunities India can explore in the context of the US-China contention”.


India risks missing the bus to becoming a developed country if it continues business and politics as usual. The most important improvement that India needs to make concerns its national security structures and their work — introducing flexibility into India’s thinking and India’s structures. For change is the only certainty in life.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Study on China dams brings the Brahmaputra into focusPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mekon River

Mains level : India-China Relations

A new study highlighting the impact of China’s dams on the Mekong River has raised fresh questions on whether dams being built on other rivers that originate in China, such as the Brahmaputra, may similarly impact countries downstream.

Make a note of:

1) Tributaries of R. Brahmaputra

2) Countries swept by R. Mekong

3) Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (reminds us seeing R. Mekong)

China’s dams on the Mekong River

  • The Mekong flows from China to Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • The Mekong River Commission, which comprises Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, has said more scientific evidence was needed to establish whether dams caused a 2019 drought.
  • While China’s southwestern Yunnan province which usually has above-average rainfall, there was “severe lack of water in the lower Mekong.

Mekong dams raise some questions

  • The Mekong study was not conclusive on the question of how China’s dams had affected the quantity of flows.
  • To state that the basin had less water because of activities in China alone is misleading, mainly because that only considers the water flowing into the lower basin at one station in Thailand.
  • The study did not consider other dams and water-use along the course of the river.
  • The lower basin isn’t entirely dependent on flows from China but also receives water from tributaries in all four countries, which the study did not account for.

Concerns for India

  • India does not have a water-sharing agreement with China, but both sides share hydrological data.
  • India has long expressed concerns over dam-building on the Brahmaptura.
  • In 2015, China operationalised its first hydropower project at Zangmu, while three other dams at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha are being developed.
  • India need to raise the issue of river waters in the Brahmaputra with China, as that appears to be the only methodology to ensure what happened on Mekong does not happen on Brahmaputra.

A management problem

  • The dams are not likely to impact the quantity of the Brahmaputra’s flows because they are only storing water for power generation.
  • Moreover, the Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on upstream flows and an estimated 35% of its basin is in India.
  • However, India concerns more about activity in China affecting quality, ecological balance, and flood management.
Posted on | The Hindu
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Global recovery after the Covid-19op-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Various geopolitical factors that influence the recovery of the world in post-pandemic period/How India could play a crucial role in forming the global coalition for faster recovery?

This article discusses the various factors with geopolitical significance. These factors would shape the post-pandemic recovery on a global scale. Though these factors have been touched upon in the previous op-eds, they are dealt with in detail here.

Post-pandemic strategic environment for the recovery

  • It’s the post-pandemic strategic environment that will dictate how soon the world recovers from this unexpected shock.
  • It must start with the international geopolitical angle, with many assumptions.
  • With some clarity in this domain, we can prepare ourselves better for the recovery phase of a near post-war situation.
  • Shortly, even as the world continues to reel under the pandemic threat, there will be more endeavours on enhancing human security through better strategic management of the world.
  • So, what will all that be about? It could be a major conference.
  • Major conference with agenda for revival: The situation is similar to the elusive efforts towards the creation of new world order after the end of the Cold War in 1989.
  • Will the world consider a major conference with the agenda being a revival after the coronavirus?
  • The 2015 Paris Summit of the United Nations, which was convened to save the world from the rapid impact of climate change, could not muster a consensus.
  • Will a potential 2020 “pandemic conference” succeed in getting big powers to jettison their geopolitical ambition?

China’s role has significance for India. The UPSC asks questions touching the economic or security aspect of China for India. So, the role played by China in the post-pandemic world is important from Mains perspective. Take note of the issues discussed below.

The US-China rivalry

  • The US-China rivalry will remain the core issue, with several other regions and nations aligning with the one who can bring them short to medium-term advantages.
  • Contingent upon how badly the US is finally affected, its current confused leadership is unlikely to inspire and its efforts at internal stabilisation may compromise US power.
  • A major turn in political fortunes in the US and its bumbling on pandemic management could throw open opportunities for others to exploit.
  • The US will perceive itself far more insecure than it was even after 9/11.

Accusations over China’s role in the pandemic

  • There is likely to be a huge effort to slander China — accusing it of being the originator of the scourge — and isolate it economically and politically.
  • The allegations on the use of biological warfare are the ones which will cause turbulence in relationships.
  • Ironically, China is also in a unique position to help the world bounce back.
  • Against the backdrop of these accusations regarding culpability, we need to be ready for changes in the norms of international cooperation and behaviour.
  • Cold war situation: A cold war of sorts could well be on the cards for some time, hampering a full recovery.
  • It will be brutal in the cyber world — fake news on social media will prevent international cooperation in crucial fields such as scientific research, patents.
  • And this could perhaps even slow down the ability to prevent the next pandemic.

The crucial role of the US

  • Subject to the US’s economic capability after the pandemic, the ability to find a consensus to put on hold defence spending for the sake of human security will be the key.
  • But the trust deficit between nations will probably hamper this to a great extent.
  • The key anchor of globalisation — the US-China trade relationship — will change even more.
  • China cannot be replaced by the US as a major industrial producer (even for the US market).
  • Other countries or blocs — ASEAN, Bangladesh and India — will all chip in but that will still not be enough.
  • Nor can any country buy as much grain from the US as China does.
  • So, an economic relationship will continue but will be politically fractured as both parties search for alternatives, which don’t exist on a scale that both of them need.

The growing influence of China

  • China’s recovery is likely to be the fastest.
  • Its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may now go uncontested by the US-led efforts to create alternatives.
  • The Chinese ability to influence politics among smaller nations in Asia and Africa could bring it strategic advantages.
  • But this influence is unlikely to be enough to replace America unless the recession-hit US remains defensively oriented.
  • Potential for conflict: Knowing the US propensity to bounce back, China’s efforts will have to remain energetic and that is where the potential for conflict is likely to rise.
  • Of course, it is not as if the US would abandon its interests for an era of only-inward economic healing.
  • Its eye on the future will remain firmly in place.

The decline in the credibility of the UN

  • Role of WHO: The UN has lost credibility with the World Health Organisation taking the worst hit any UN agency has suffered in years.
  • Its future is contingent upon how it manages the geopolitical fallout of the pandemic.
  • The sooner it can get the world leaders on board, the better.

Instability in Iran and Afghanistan

  • The collapse of the economy: Iran has been hit badly and with the US unrelenting on sanctions, its economy could collapse with frightening results as far the Middle East is concerned.
  • The threat for peace in the region: A big nation in instability mode with internal turbulence and leadership challenges could spread greater threats of an undefined kind.
  • The US may abandon Afghanistan with less commitment towards keeping its economy sustainable.
  • Possibility of IS revival: It could be a sure recipe for internal instability, which could see the Islamic State emerge a major player.
  • Russian advantage: Everything in the Middle East points towards Russian advantage and domination.

Opportunities for India

  • India without recession: Economically hit but probably one of the few nations without a recession, India’s strong central leadership could be a big advantage.
  • International cooperation: Prime Minister Narendra Modi would need to use all his influence to cobble together international cooperation to pull the world from the abyss it could sink into.
  • His credibility is already higher than most international leaders and could spell a leadership role for India not in conflict with China but in cooperation with it.
  • It is India’s established multilateral foreign policy that could eventually come to the assistance of the world.


Successful and swift recovery of the world hinges on international cooperation among the nation. This provides India with an opportunity to stitch together international cooperation in dealing with the aftermath of the crisis.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The new multilateralismop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WHO's role.

Mains level : Paper 2- How BRICS with India and China as its members poses challenges in its success?


As the major global institutions — from the WHO to the WTO — are experiencing unprecedented turmoil India needs to be pragmatic and fleet-footed.

Reorientation of India’s multilateral strategy

  • As many international institutions, including the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Security Council, come under great stress in the corona crisis, Delhi’s multilateral strategy is going through a rapid reorientation.
  • Realists in Delhi recognise that India’s engagement with the UN is not about the pursuit of some higher ideological calling, but the navigation of hardball geopolitics.

China’s growing influence and implications for India

  • China’s role on Kashmir question: China repeatedly pressed the UN to discuss the Kashmir question after Delhi changed the constitutional status of the region last August.
  • China avoiding discussion on Covid crisis: But through last month, as the rotating chair of the UNSC, China blocked any discussion of the Covid crisis.
  • Beijing insisted that the crisis was not a matter of international peace and security that the UNSC ought to bother itself with.
  • A mere internal administrative change in Kashmir, Beijing continues to insist, is a grave threat to international peace and security.
  • With its veto power, Beijing can simply prevent the UNSC from doing anything against China.

Why the credibility of the UN and WHO bureaucracy is under cloud?

  • Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, jumped quickly into the Indo-Pak arguments over Kashmir, and raised concerns over India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
  • Guterres went on an extended visit to Pakistan in February and made an ostentatious public offer to mediate between Delhi and Islamabad on Kashmir.
  • But when it comes to China’s role in the spread of the coronavirus, Guterres can’t seem to find the words.
  • The situation at the WHO is a lot worse.
  • The Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns against the dangers of “politicising” the Covid crisis.
  • Many in Europe and the US think that is exactly what Tedros has done at the WHO in the last few months.
  • Breakdown of the multilateral system: What we are witnessing is the breakdown of the multilateral system that emerged from the ashes of the Second World War amidst the deepening contestation between the world’s foremost powers — the US and China.


  • India’s new multilateralism — as a pragmatic response to external change — involves downplaying some past associations and strengthening new partnerships.
  • Take, for example, two innovations India has made since the end of the Cold War.
  • One was the BRICS forum with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa and the other was the so-called Quad — a coalition of democracies with Australia, Japan and the US.
  • Actions of BRICS members with respect to India: As India reorders its multilateral priorities amid the corona crisis, the BRICS forum is losing some of its salience and the Quad is gaining traction.
  • Preventing discussion on COVID crisis: Two of India’s partners in BRICS — Russia and South Africa — had reportedly backed the efforts of a third, China, to prevent a discussion of the COVID crisis in the UNSC.
  • If Delhi were sitting in the UNSC right now as a non-permanent member, it would have had every interest in pressing for a discussion of the COVID crisis that has severely damaged India’s economic and social prospects.
  • Meanwhile, India is in regular consultations on managing the corona crisis with the “Quad Plus” grouping that draws in South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand.
  • Neither the BRICS nor the Quad square with the conventional narrative on India’s multilateralism that was dominated in the past by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the G-77.
  • As circumstances change, India is finding new international partners to secure its interests.

Context which gave rise to BRICS

  • It started out as a triangular coalition with Russia and China in the mid-1990s.
  • India’s interest in the RIC was borne out of fear of the unipolar moment and Russia’s relentless efforts to draw it into a “strategic triangle” that would resist “American hegemony”.
  • In the early 1990s, Delhi was rather wary of the Bill Clinton Administration’s plans to relieve India of its nuclear and missile programmes.
  • What made matters worse was the Clinton Administration’s formulation that “Kashmir is the world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoint”.
  • This was not just a description; it was accompanied by a prescription for Delhi: Resolve the Kashmir question by sitting down with Pakistan and the Hurriyat.
  • If Delhi needs any help, Washington will be happy to chip in.
  • Balancing the US pressure: Going into a political tent with Russia and China seemed a sensible bet to ward off American pressures on the nuclear and Kashmir questions.

Two decades after BRICS-Changes in circumstances

  • Two decades later, we are in a very different place.
  • Take the same two issues — Kashmir and the nuclear programme — that drove India into the BRICS.
  • China’s role on Kashmir issue: It is Beijing that wants the UNSC to take up the Kashmir question, and it is Paris and Washington that are preventing it.
  • NSG membership blocked by China: China has also resolutely blocked India’s effort to become a full member of the global nuclear order by joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • On the nuclear front too, it was France and the US that helped India break the nuclear blockade.
  • Shielding of Pakistan by China: China shields Pakistan from international pressures to end cross-border terrorism.
  • And it is India’s partners in the West and the Muslim world that are helping Delhi cope better with violent extremism.

India’s engagement with Europe

  • India has also discovered the new possibilities for engaging Europe in the multilateral arena.
  • Europe as an important partner: If India’s definition of multilateralism — Afro-Asian solidarity — immediately after Independence was defined in opposition to colonial Europe, Delhi now sees Europe as a valuable partner in rearranging the global order.
  • India has joined the “alliance for multilateralism” initiated by Germany and supported by its European partners.


India needs all the pragmatism it can muster to pursue its interests in a world where all the major global institutions — from the WHO to the WTO — are experiencing unprecedented turmoil and are heading towards an inevitable restructuring.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The art of China’s legalpoliticop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IHR- International Health Regulations.

Mains level : Paper 2- India needs to make international law a keystone of its diplomacy.


A resolution has been moved in the US Senate calling on the international community to inquire into the origins of the virus in China’s Wuhan province. Delhi could learn a trick or two from Beijing on how to make international law the keystone of India’s diplomacy, especially in the multilateral domain.

Fixing responsibility for the outbreak on China

  • Compensation demand: Lawyers and activists have begun to sue China in US courts demanding compensation. Politicians are not far behind.
  • The U.S. Senate resolution: A resolution has been moved in the US Senate calling on the international community to inquire into the origins of the virus in China’s Wuhan province, quantify the damage inflicted on the rest of the world, and design a mechanism of reparations from Beijing.
  • Basis of the demand for compensation: The case for China’s culpability is based on the principles of state responsibility and Beijing’s alleged failure to respect the obligation, under the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), to notify the world on the outbreak of the epidemic.
  • Is the basis valid? Many international jurists dismiss these claims by citing the principles of sovereign state immunity, the lack of precedent in holding states to account for the spread of infectious disease beyond their borders and the absence of provisions for reparations under the IHR.

The interplay between legality, moralpolitik and geopolitics

  • Gulliver and Lilliputs of the world: On the face of it, China is too much of a Gulliver to be tied down by legal Lilliputs.
  • The Legalpolitik: Before we dismiss international law as not real law, “legalpolitik” can put some real pressure on big nations and contribute to the power play among them.
  • Role of public opinion: As public opinion began to intrude into diplomacy over the last two centuries, legality and moralpolitik have become an integral part of geopolitics.

Difficulty in proving the case against China

  • The cost of a pandemic: Most world leaders know, whether they say it aloud or not, the international costs of the pandemic could have been far lesser if China had acknowledged the spread of the virus from Wuhan early on and informed other countries.
  • It is one thing to know but entirely another to prove it under the law.
  • The pursuit of claims is a waste of time: Most governments believe the pursuit of claims against Beijing is a waste of time.
  • Political heft of China: If Beijing can make the World Health Organisation toe its line and prevent the rest of the world, including US President Donald Trump, from describing COVID-19 as the “China Virus”, it is unlikely to be impressed by a few legal impresarios from the West.
  • Precedence of defying the law: After all, China had dismissed the unanimous verdict of the International Court of Justice in 2016 on Beijing’s territorial claims over the South China Sea.
  • Beijing did not even bother to appear in the case filed by the Philippines.
  • China had simply declared that the ICJ has no jurisdiction in the matter.

The relation between power and law in international relations

  • Power prevails: That power tends to prevail over law is certainly truer in international relations than domestic politics.
  • Law in the domestic domain: In the domestic domain, the state as the highest authority compels citizens to abide by the law, with force if necessary.
  • Law in the international arena: In the international arena, no single actor has a monopoly over the instruments of force.
  • We have multiple sovereigns but no “world government” that can compel deviant states to conform to rules.

Role of the UNSC

  • In theory, the members of the UN Security Council can authorise coercion — in the form of economic sanctions or military force.
  • This, in turn, involves building a consensus among major powers, including the five permanent members of the UNSC who wield a veto.
  • In reality, then, the UNSC can’t act against one of the five permanent members.
  • Beijing, which was so eager to get the UNSC to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir since last August, has simply blocked all suggestions for a discussion on the corona crisis in recent days.

Are laws meaningless in the global arena?

  • Legal narratives have the weight of their own: While outcomes in international conflicts tend to be defined by power, the international discourse on any conflict today is framed in legal terms.
  • Whether it is a conversation between a state and its citizen or among governments or in a country’s outreach to the global society, legal narratives have a weight all of their own.
  • Delhi, for example, has struggled in recent days to counter the global interpretation of its domestic actions.
  • Importance of legal argument: Winning the legal argument, China has learnt from the history of great power relations, is very much part of great power jousting.
  • The negative lessons are from the Soviet Union that dismissed the Western legal arguments during the Cold War as based on the logic of capital and empire.
  • That did not convert many beyond the choir.
  • The positive lessons are from Great Britain and the United States.
  • The enduring Anglo-Saxon hegemony is rooted not just in economic and military power. It has always been underwritten by a powerful legal tradition that shapes the global narrative on most issues.
  • China developing own narrative: As it mounts a massive propaganda offensive against the US on the corona crisis, China’s state lawyers have filed a case in the Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court last week accusing various US government agencies of covering up the origin of the coronavirus.
  • China’s own narrative: It is no longer about China defending against a powerful international narrative; it is developing one of its own.


  • 1. Make international law keystone of diplomacy: India has been at the receiving end of China’s legalpolitik — most recently on the quest for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the constitutional changes in Kashmir.
  • Delhi could learn a trick or two from Beijing on how to make international law the keystone of India’s diplomacy, especially in the multilateral domain.
  • 2. Reinvest in the geo-legal arts: If China could emulate US and Britain on leveraging legalpolitik for strategic ends, India should not find it too hard to reinvest in the geo-legal arts that Delhi inherited from the Anglo-Saxons but seems to have lost along the way.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China and WHO a new storyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- China's growing influence at UN agencies and how it matters for Indian and the world.


The WHO leadership, especially its Director-General, has been accused of serving China’s interests rather than preparing the world against the spread of the virus.

What is the basis of accusations?

  • The first basis for these charges is the WHO’s endorsement of the Chinese claim in mid-January that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.
  • Second, consistent support for Beijing’s handling of the crisis.
  • Third, WHO’s criticism of other nations for imposing travel restrictions to and from China.
  • Critics also believe the WHO lulled the world into complacence by delaying the decision on calling it a global emergency.

The new geopolitics of multilateralism

  • Whatever the merits of the above arguments, they point to the new geopolitics of multilateralism,
  • It also disproves the assumptions in both the West and India on China’s role in the UN.
  • It also underlines Beijing’s success in the leveraging of international organisations for its national advantage.
  • Nations working together against the trans-national threat: On the face of it, the sentiment that nations must work together against common trans-national threats is an eminently sensible one. But it does not easily translate into concrete actions.
  • Example of failure to act against a common threat: Take climate change. Attempts at developing collective solutions to the problem over the last three decades have foundered.
  • Most leaders agree on the problem and the solutions but are not willing to accept the framework — either the domestic or international — for distributing the costs associated with the solutions.
  • The US-China rivalry angle to the coronavirus outbreak: The problem of the cost-benefit distribution is compounded by great power rivalries. The coronavirus has shown up at a moment of deepening tensions between the US and China.
  • The grave collective challenge that the virus constitutes has only sharpened the conflict.
  • The blame game between the two: The US blames Beijing for letting this virus become a global monster and Beijing is doing all it can to deny that the virus came out of China.

How the relationship between China and WHO has transformed over the years?

  • WHO’s actions in the past: Nearly two decades ago, during the SARS crisis, WHO was at the front and centre of pressing China to come clean on the unfolding pandemic.
  • In 2003, it had issued the organisation’s first travel advisory ever on travel to and from the epicentre of the pandemic in southern China.
  • As the SARS crisis escalated, Beijing’s traditional arguments about the centrality of state sovereignty yielded place to a new policy of working with the WHO and taking proactive steps to reassure neighbours in South East Asia.
  • Reasons for change in WHO’s stance: Some attribute the turnaround in the relationship between Beijing and WHO to China’s growing financial contributions.
  • China’s efforts to expand clout: Observers of the UN point to something more fundamental — a conscious and consequential Chinese effort to expand its clout in the multilateral system.
  • China, which was admitted to the UN system in the 1970s, was focused on finding its way in the 1980s, cautiously raised its profile in the 1990s, took on some political initiatives at the turn of the millennium and seized the leadership in the last few years.

How India and the West are reacting to China’s rise?

  • Unprepared to deal with China’s rise at UN: Neither the West nor India have been prepared to deal with the impact of China’s rise on the UN system.
  • The US and its allies bet that China will be a “responsible stakeholder”. Put another way, they hoped that China will play by the rules set by the West.
  • China’s ambitions: China, of course, wants to set its own rules. Only the political innocents will be shocked by China’s natural ambition.
  • India’s past alignment with China: India, which considered US dominance over the international institutions in the 1990s as a major threat, chose to align with China in promoting a “multipolar world”.
  • Delhi convinced itself that despite differences over the boundary, Pakistan and other issues, there is huge room for cooperation with China.
  • Replacing the US as the dominant force: To their chagrin, the West and India are being compelled to respond to a very different environment at the UN. China wants to replace America as the dominant force in the UN.
  • The US is now fighting back. Last month, Washington went all out to defeat the Chinese candidate for the leadership of an obscure UN agency called the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

Implications of China’s rise for India

  • Chinese hegemony vs. American primacy: Delhi discovered that Chinese global hegemony could be a lot more problematic than American primacy.
  • After all, it is China that complicates India’s plans for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, protects Pakistan against international pressures on cross-border terrorism, and relentlessly pushes the UN Security Council to take up the Kashmir question.
  • India now turns to the US and its allies to pursue some of its interests in the UN.
  • Multilateralism not an end in itself: Political ironies apart, if there is one lesson that India could learn from China’s experience with WHO and the UN, it is that multilateralism is not an end in itself for major powers.
  • It is an important means to secure one’s national interest and shape the international environment.
  • As a nation battered by the Cultural Revolution, China used international cooperation and global institutions to rebuild itself in the last decades of the 20th century.
  • Ready to reorder global governance: Having developed its economy and advanced its scientific and technological base, China is now ready to reorder global governance and become a rule-maker.
  • The effects are visible in the arena of global health.
  • China’s expanding global engagement with the WHO, its substantive international health assistance programmes, and an impressive domestic health technology sector are poised to boost China’s ambition to build a “Global Silk Road for Health’.


On its part, Delhi needs to intensify the recalibration of India’s multilateralism, rewrite its diplomatic lexicon at the UN, and build new political coalitions that will simultaneously contribute to India’s internal modernisation and enhance its international influence. The corona crisis is a good moment to start writing a new script for India’s own health diplomacy.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Fighting COVID-19 together for a shared futureop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- International cooperation on dealing with the epidemic.


The Chinese government has mobilised the whole nation with confidence, unity, a science-based approach and targeted response.

Aspects that were focused by China to deal with COVID-19

  • Formulated timely strategies for epidemic prevention and control.
  • Strengthened a unified command and response in Wuhan and Hubei.
  • Coordinated the prevention and control work in other regions.
  • Strengthened scientific research, emergency medical and daily necessity supplies.
  • Effectively maintained social stability.
  • Strengthened public education.
  • Actively engaged in international cooperation.

Mutual support between India and China

  • China and India have maintained close communication and cooperation on epidemic prevention and control. In a letter to President Xi, India’s Prime Minister has expressed support for China.
  • China appreciates the medical supplies provided by India and have helped facilitate the safe return of Indian nationals in Hubei.
  • The global footprint of COVID-19: China has been closely following the global footprint of COVID-19.

Cooperation on a global level for disease control:

  • Chines govt. will stay in close communication with WHO.
  • Share its epidemic control experience with other countries.
  • Seek closer international cooperation on medicine and vaccine development.
  • Provide assistance to the best of its capabilities to countries and regions that are affected by the spread of the virus in keeping with its role as a responsible major
  • The Chinese reach-out: China has provided various kinds of assistance including testing reagents, remote assistance and medical supplies to countries with a severe outbreak.
  • Sharing of experience and protocol for treatment: China have shared diagnosis and treatment experience and protocols with many countries including India.
    • China is ready to maintain communication with India, share experience in a timely manner, render assistance and make joint efforts to overcome the epidemic.

Impact and recovery of China

  • Robust economy: The impact on the Chinese economy will be short-lived and generally manageable. China has a resilient economy with robust domestic demand and a strong industrial base. We will definitely sustain the good momentum of economic and social development and meet the goal of achieving moderate prosperity in our society and eradicating extreme poverty in China.
  • Strengthen coordination and communication: China will also strengthen coordination and communication with economic and trading partners and give priority to the resumption of production and supply of leading enterprises and key sectors that have a major impact on the stability of global supply chains.
    • The fundamentals of China’s economy will remain strong in the long run, and China will remain an important engine for global economic growth.


The history of civilisation is also one of a history of fighting diseases and a great journey of ceaseless global integration. To prevail over a disease that threatens all, unity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon.




Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The missing piece in India’s defence jigsaw puzzleop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Understanding the implications of China's rise for the security of India.


The country needs a clearly articulated white paper on its defence needs which sets out its strategic concerns.

India’s defence deals in the pipeline

  • The first lot of Rafale fighter jets are expected shortly.
  • The final deal on the 200 Kamov Ka-226 light utility helicopters from Russia is in advanced stages and expected to be signed soon.
  • In October 2018, India and Russia had signed a $5.4-billion mega-deal for the S-400 Triumf Air Defence System.
  • Under contemplation today are yet another set of high-value U.S. defence deals, including additional purchases of P-8I Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft and Apache Attack Helicopters.
  • NASAMS-II: Speculation is rife that India and the U.S. would sign a deal for the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS-II).
    • Which is intended as part of a multi-layered missile shield to protect Delhi.
  • The U.S. side is also hoping for two more mega defence deals, worth $3.5-billion to be signed for 24 MH-60 Romeo Multi-Mission Helicopters for the Navy and an additional six AH-64E Apache Attack Helicopters for the Army.

Need for the white paper

  • Given India’s rising global profile, and with two major adversaries on its borders, India needs to be fully prepared.
  • A missing piece: What is lacking in the defence jigsaw puzzle is a well-considered and clearly articulated white paper on India’s defence needs.
    • The white paper would deal with?
    • It sets out its strategic concerns.
    • How it is positioning itself to meet these challenges.
    • The putative costs of meeting the country’s defence needs.
  • Explain the Pakistan threat: In the case of Pakistan, the threat motif is, no doubt, obvious.
  • India’s political and defence establishment are on record that India can easily defeat Pakistan, even if a “weaker” Pakistan possesses “nuclear teeth”.
    • What is needed? A great deal of effort is called for to-
    • Explain to the public, the true nature of the threat posed by Pakistan.
    • And why India is so confident of beating back the Pakistani challenge.
  • Explaining the China threat: Meeting the military, strategic and economic challenge from China is an entirely different matter.
    • Understanding the nature of the threat: China is not Pakistan.
    • While China and Pakistan may have established an axis to keep India in check, explaining the nature of the threat posed by China to India is a complex task that needs to be undertaken with care and caution.

The China threat

  • Is China an existential threat for India?: There are many experts who express doubts as to whether China intends today to pursue its 19th Century agenda, or revert to its belief in ‘Tian Xia’.
    • Undoubtedly China aims to be a great power and an assertive one at that.
    • India’s defence planners should, however, carefully assess whether there are degrees of “assertiveness” in China’s behavioural patterns.
    • There is little doubt that regarding its claim to areas falling within the ‘nine-dash lines’ (the first island chain), China is unwilling to make compromises.
    • Whether this applies to other regions of Asia and the Indo-Pacific, calls for an in-depth study.
  • The analysis is needed: It would be premature for India without undertaking such an analysis, to adhere to a common perception that China is intent on enforcing a Sino-centric world order in which India and other countries would necessarily have to play a secondary role.
  • What after analysis? If after undertaking such an “analysis”, it appears that China does not pose a direct threat to India’s existence, strategic and military planners need to come up with a different set of alternatives.
  • Western influence over thinking about China: In recent years, much of India’s strategic thinking regarding China’s aggressive behaviour has been coloured by that of the U.S. and the West.
    • Though it is a proven fact that China has not used lethal military force abroad since the 1980s.
  • Concerns over BRI: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) does convey an impression that China seeks to put itself at the centre of the world.
    • The speed with which many of the steps to progress the BRI are being taken again conveys an impression that China is intent on shrinking the physical and psychological distance between Europe and East Asia.
    • No intention of confrontation: This does not, however, necessarily mean that China is preparing to confront individual countries in Asia, such as India, which do not subscribe to the BRI.

What would the white paper explain?

  • Answer to whether China is a threat to India? A defence white paper would provide a more definitive answer to such issues.
    • A detailed exercise to assess whether China is indeed a threat, rather than a challenge, to India should prove invaluable.
    • It is possible that a detailed study may indicate that China understands that there are limits to its strength and capabilities.
  • China’s weaknesses: Several instances of late have shown the frailties in China’s policies –Hong Kong, Taiwan, and even Xinjiang are instances that indicate that China has its own Achilles heel.
    • Consequently, China may not be ready, for quite some time at least, to seek a direct confrontation with India.
  • Conflict or furthering the influence? A defence white paper may also indicate that rather than a “conflict-prone” role, China is more intent on an “influence-peddling” one.
    • This is important from India’s point of view.
    • Converting economic heft into strategic influence: Already there is one school of thought that believes that Beijing is better at converting its economic heft into strategic influence, rather than employing force beyond certain prescribed areas.
  • Coming to understanding over the respective sphere of influence: If the above view is espoused by a defence white paper then, despite the vexed border dispute between India and China, the two countries could try and arrive at a subliminal understanding about respective spheres of influence.
    • What is India’s major concern? Today, one of India’s major concerns is that China is attempting to intrude into its sphere of influence in South Asia, and the first and second concentric circles of India’s interest areas, such as Afghanistan and parts of West Asia.
    • The peaceful co-existence: The defence white paper might well provide a strategic paradigm, in which India and China agree to peacefully co-exist in many areas, leaving aside conflict zones of critical importance to either, thus ensuring a more durable peace between them.
  • Is geo-economics is the primary arena of competition: One other outcome that the defence white paper could attempt is: whether China views geo-economics as the primary arena of competition today.
    • Avenue for cooperation: China has invested heavily in artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnology, and perhaps, India needs to recognise that rather than blacklisting Chinese technology Tech firms, (which could prove counter-productive) there exist avenues for cooperation, paving the way for better state-to-state relations.


The defence white paper needs to underscore that a country’s domestic politics are an important pointer to a stable foreign policy. There could be different schools of thoughts within a nation, but equilibrium needs to be maintained if it is not to adversely impact a nation’s foreign policy imperatives. An impression that the country is facing internal strains could encourage an adversary, to exploit our weaknesses. This is a critical point that the defence white paper needs to lay stress on.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The battle in Beijingop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Coronavirus threat and its implications for India and the rest of the world.


The coronavirus epidemic poses a challenge to China’s place in global affairs, its political leadership.

The possible implications of coronavirus crisis

  • The Chines leadership might not be able to escape the blame: If the epidemic turns into a pandemic, as some analysts bet, China’s all-powerful leader Xi Jinping might not be able to escape the blame.
    • And will likely come under considerable political pressure.
  • It could also turn into a systemic threat: Some also speculate that the backlash against the government’s mishandling of the crisis could turn into a systemic threat against the dominance of the Chinese Communist Party.
  • Speculations as perennial hope among China’s critics: Sceptics, however, dismiss above speculation as merely reflecting the perennial hope among Beijing’s harshest critics who can’t wait to see a China without the CCP.
    • Realist’s stand: Realists point to the massive mobilisation of state power by President Xi in limiting the spread of the virus.

Handling of the crisis by China

  • Initial faltering response: To be sure, there were major failures in the initial faltering response to the crisis.
    • Cover-up attempts from the lower level: The attempts at the lower levels to cover-up or underplays the crisis and the inadequate appreciation at the higher levels of the potential consequences are common to all large bureaucracies. The party-state in China is not an exception.
  • Praise for handling the crisis: China’s handling of the crisis had drawn much respect, grudging or otherwise, from the international community.
    • Whether it is the lockdown of Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, from where the virus began to spread.
    • Or in deploying thousands of doctors and health workers in the province and building massive hospitals for treating the infected.
  • Possibility of some political impact: Yet, there is no question that a crisis of this magnitude -will have some political impact.
    • The party-state is certainly having some difficulty in containing the public outrage against the initial failures.
  • Efforts to shield top leadership from blame: The CCP, however, is bound to shield the supreme leader from any damaging criticism and in fact, celebrate a triumph in containing the spread through a determined effort.
    • Responsibility will be affixed on provincial officials in Hubei and a purge of some kind may have already begun.

Addressing the economic consequences of the crisis

  • International dimension: Nearly two decades after the SARS epidemic -China is now a much larger economy and its interdependence with the world has only deepened.
    • This interdependence, in turn, lends a strong international dimension to China’s crisis.
  • Optimist’s hope of future uptick: Optimists hope that a sharp drop in economic activity in the current quarter will be followed by a steep uptick in growth in the next when the virus is contained and normalcy returns.
  • Pessimist’s fear of economic disruption: Pessimists suggest that the economic disruption — in terms of the impact on internal and external trade and the breakdown of the global supply chains- could have lasting effects.
    • Reinforcing the disruption: Some suspect that the disruption could reinforce the slowdown driven by a number of other internal and external factors including the trade war with the US.

China’s response to the rest of the world

  • Channelling of resentment against the West: Some in the West hope that a prolonged economic crisis might turn the people against the CCP. For now, though, Beijing is channelling the resentment against the West.
  • Terming evacuation as an over-reaction: Beijing has criticised the advisories from various countries against travel to China and the cancellation of flights as over-reaction.
    • Lukewarm response to evacuation efforts: China has also been lukewarm to efforts of various countries to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan and Hubei.
    • India evacuated students: India has managed to convince Beijing to let India airlift its students from Wuhan.
    • Pakistan has declared that it will not evacuate its students as a gesture of political solidarity with China in a time of crisis.
    • South Asian neighbour’s response: Many of India’s other South Asian neighbours are torn between the reluctance to offend Chinese sentiment and the mounting domestic pressures to bring students back.
    • Cooperation with the US: While being critical of the US travel restrictions against China, Beijing has certainly been open to cooperation with the US in dealing with the crisis.
  • India’s offer to help other countries in evacuation: The external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said last week that India has been willing to bring back students from all the neighbouring countries.
    • Balancing between Delhi and Beijing: The logic of balancing between Delhi and Beijing has prevented most of the smaller neighbours from requesting Indian assistance.
    • The Maldives has been the only exception.
  • The response of the East and Southeast Asia: Beyond South Asia, many countries in East and Southeast Asia have been hesitant to be seen as rushing to cut themselves from China.
    • What is making these countries hesitant: Deep economic interdependence and massive flows of Chinese tourists led to much dithering among the East Asian countries in their early responses to the crisis.


India must explore all potential cooperative engagement with Beijing as well as its other international partners on pandemics-an important but the under-addressed challenge for national, regional and international security.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Ethnic Unity Law in TibetPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : India-China Relations in context of Tibet

The People’s Congress of Tibet passed a law that makes ethnic unity in the region mandatory, reflecting the significant role that the autonomous Himalayan region plays in its economic and social development.

About the Law

  • The law makes it clear that Tibet has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times.
  • It states that it is the common responsibility of the people of all ethnic groups to safeguard national reunification and take a clear stand against separatism.

Ethnic Unity in China

  • This is not the first time that the phrase ethnic unity has been mentioned by China.
  • In October 2019 the Communist Party of China published a guideline for enhancing ethnic unity.
  • It stressed on efforts to improve the governance of ethnic affairs, guaranteeing the legal rights and interests of citizens of ethnic groups.
  • It called for cracking down on “criminal acts” that sabotage ethnic unity or cause ethnic separation.
  • Before this, in 2016, China began a campaign in the autonomous territory of Xinjiang to promote ethnic unity and called for people to respect the cultures of the minorities who call the region home.

Why such Law?

  • There are more than 40 ethnic minorities in the region, which account for 95 per cent of Tibet’s population of over three million.
  • Like Tibet, Xinjiang is another region of China that houses multiple ethnic minorities.
  • A similar legislation was passed there four years ago and in recent times, China has faced criticism for detaining at least a million Uighur and other Muslims, along with some ethnic Kazakhs and Uzbeks.
  • China has began “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, a region that has been claimed by China since 1949.
  • China has denied these allegations and maintains that the facilities where the detainees are housed are vocational training centers.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] The world from Raisina.op-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- India's foreign relation with 'Middle Power' countries-Prospects and opportunities.


As the world is moving from an era of predictability to an era of unpredictability led by the US and China, a new Middle Power coalition is the need of an hour.

The “Rising India” narrative and challenges

  • The narrative was scripted over the two post-Cold War decades, 1991 to 2011.
  • Narrative of plural secular democracy: It was based on the improving performance of the economy and India’s political ability to deal with many longstanding diplomatic challenges within a paradigm of realism.
  • Three successive prime ministers – scripted the narrative of India rising as a plural, secular democracy, as opposed to China’s rise within an authoritarian system.
  • Opening of new vistas: India’s improving economic performance had opened up new vistas for cooperation with major powers and neighbours.
  • New challenges to the narrative: Now the economy’s subdued performance and domestic political issues have created new challenges for Indian foreign policy.
    • The new approach to relations with India adopted by both President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping has created a more challenging external environment.

Relations with the US

  • New demands from the US: Each time New Delhi has tried to meet a US demand, Washington DC has come up with new demands.
  • US-China dispute resolution and effects for India: Any resolution of US differences with China, can only reduce whatever little bargaining clout India has.
  • Complaint at WTO: The US has, in fact, actively lodged complaints against India at the World Trade Organisation.
  • Geopolitical effects for India:  On the geopolitical side, US intervention in West Asia has always imposed an additional economic burden on India.

Relations with China

  • Consistent policy: There has been continuity and consistency in India-China policy over the past two decades, with some ups and downs.
  • Effects of power difference with China: As the bilateral power differential widens, China has little incentive or compulsion to be accommodative of Indian concerns, much less the interests
    • China never fails to remind India of the growing power differential between the two.
  • Building strength to deal with China: In dealing with China, India will have to, paraphrasing Deng Xiaoping, “build its strength and bide its time.

Russia’s focus

  • It will remain focused on Eurasian geopolitics.
  • It will also be concerned with the geo-economics of energy.
  • Implications for India: Both these factors define Russia’s relations with China, and increasingly, with Pakistan, posing a challenge for India.


Way forward in the relations with Pakistan

  • The government’s Pakistan policy has run its course.
    • It yielded some short-term results thanks to Pakistan’s efforts not to get “black-listed” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
    • But the rest of the world is doing business with Pakistan, lending billions in aid.
  • The global community may increasingly accept future pleas from Pakistan that terror attacks in India are home-grown.
  • related to the situation in Kashmir or concerns about the welfare of Muslims, unless incontrovertible evidence to the contrary is offered.
  • The need for a new Pakistan policy: Backchannel talks should be resumed and visas should be given liberally to Pakistani intellectuals, media and entertainers to improve cross-border perceptions as a first step towards improving relations.

The Middle Powers and opportunities for India

  • What are the middle powers?  It is a mix of developed and developing economies, some friends of the US and other friends of China.
    • It is an amorphous group but can emerge into a grouping of the like-minded in a world of uncertainty capable of taming both the US and China.
    • A new Middle Powers coalition may be the need of the year.
  • Which countries can be part of it?  Germany, France, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam and perhaps South Korea. One could include Russia, Nigeria and South Africa also in this group.
  • Stakes involved but no influence: Like India, these countries have a stake in what the US and China do, but little influence over either.
  • What India can do? These countries which constitute the part of the Middle Powers should engage the attention of India’s external affairs minister.

Disruptive policies not an option

  • Adoption of disruptive approach: There is a view among some policy analysts that India too can adopt a “disruptive” approach as a clever tactic in foreign affairs.
    • Disruption is not an end in itself. It has to be a means to an end.
    • Powerful nations can afford disruption as tactics.
  • Unchanged strategic elements: The strategic elements defining Indian foreign policy in the post-Cold War era have not changed.
  • Not an option: India cannot risk such tactics without measuring the risk they pose to strategy.


With the changing geopolitical atmosphere particularly with respect to the US and Chiana, India needs to adopt a suitable approach to its foreign policy especially involving the Middle Powers.



Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] A multilateral alternative, by Asiaop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2-Relations with China and the U.S.


After the gap of 200 years, Asian economies are once again larger than the rest of the world combined.

The Asian Century

  • Providing an alternative order: With the rise of India and China, Asia is providing a multilateral alternative to the world base on values.
  • Asian Century corresponds to the re-emergence of the two countries, leveraging the size and technological competence
  • Civilizational values: Both countries have civilisational values that are different from the west.
  • Peaceful existence: In the case of India and China balance of power is a western construct and both lived in peace across the ages.
  • The rise of China on the global landscape: In 2013, after attaining 15% of global wealth, announced the multilateral Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In 2014, launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, challenging the global governance paradigm.
  • India in 2015, established the International Solar Alliance, laying out a distinct global sustainable development framework.
  • Current multilateralism and its problems: The U.S. has recognised the ‘Asian Century’ bypassing multilateralism and recognised Indo-Pacific construct.
  • The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the inclusion of intellectual property rights into the trade regime point to the colonial origin of the present order.


New Framework- Country-specific to global value chain

  • Changing competition: Competition is moving from country-specific to fragmented competition based on global value chains.
  • Imposing the U.S. determined national security standards has led to only a handful of countries agreeing to ban Huawei for 5G technology.
  • The U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran that have affected India’s interests.
  • A different approach of China: It is based on “common interests” as different from the agreed goals of a negotiated treaty. BRI is an example of this.
  • It optimise not maximise the financial returns with countries remaining out of it.
  • The BRI offers the benefit of integration and connectivity with European markets to the member countries.

Potential of BRI

  • It acts as a strategic framework: It provides a strategic framework for new global institution building.
  • Its scope is as wide as multilateral treaties.
  • Internationalizing the Renminbi: With state-owned enterprises in the infrastructure sector in the sector in BRI and backing from national banks is internationalising the Renminbi.
  • Developing blockchain bases infrastructure: As a leader in digital transactions, China is developing blockchain-based infrastructure in BRI countries. Thus reducing the dependence on the dollar.

The shared interest of India and China

  • RCEP: China and the rest of the countries are eager that India joins the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is poised to become the largest trading block.
  • Security and border dispute: With the U.S. pivot to Asia, China is eager to resolve the dispute with India to avoid constraints.
  • Huawei: India has rejected American opposition to Huawei taking part in 5G trials, India allowed all applicants to participate.

    The emergence of new values

  • The emergence of the new order should not be seen through a western prism.
  • The triumvirate: India, the U.S., and China are intertwined with each other. China was the largest supplier of the goods to the U.S. in 2018 and it has been India’s major trading partner.
  • They take part in limited sectoral cooperation on a regional basis.
  • Both the U.S. and China have a regular high-level discussions on strategic issues with India.

    Area of future differences

  • In Asia, differences will center on overlapping priorities.
  • Security-The U.S.’s effort to maintain hegemony.
  • Economy-China’s emphasis on connectivity, markets, and growth.
  • An equitable and sustainable development-India-led framework of digital infrastructure designed as a public good.


With the rise of India and China in Asia and the presence of the U.S. with them is going to make the new order centered around Asia a new reality in the near future.

Posted on | Custom
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Bougainville ReferendumPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bougainville and its location

Mains level : Chinese assertion in the Indo-Pacific region

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a chain of islands that lie 959 kilometres northwest of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) capital, Port Moresby, has recently voted for its independence.

China’s interest in Bougainville

  • For the broader region, an independent Bougainville has a number of implications.
  • Firstly, it sends a strong signal for other self-determination movements across the Pacific, including in New Caledonia which will hold a second referendum for independence in 2020.
  • There are also geopolitical implications. The referendum has taken place during a period of heightened strategic anxiety among the Pacific’s so-called traditional partners — Australia, NZ and the US, as well as the UK, France and Japan.
  • There have long been concerns China will seek to curry influence with an independent Bougainville.
  • Beijing’s interest in Bougainville is two-fold: First, it is seeking to shore up diplomatic support in the Pacific Islands region, thereby reducing support for Taiwan which lost a further two Pacific allies this year.
  • And second, to access to resources, namely fisheries and extractive minerals.
  • The current strategic prism of China is about debt-trap diplomacy to undermine the importance of local dynamics and the resilience of Bougainville people.


Bougainville Referendum

  • The referendum marks an important part of a peace agreement signed almost 20 years ago.
  • The 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement ended the deeply divisive nine year conflict (1988-1997) that lead to the deaths of approximately 20,000 people, or about 10 per cent of Bougainville’s population.
  • The referendum, however, is non-binding.
  • The ultimate outcome will be determined by a vote in Papua New Guinea’s National Parliament following negotiations between the Papua New Guinean government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Headwinds after a hard-line approachop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : China's internal conditions


The challenges for the Communist Party of China and Chinese President Xi Jinping are mounting by the day. 

Over Hong Kong

  • In a rebuke to the handling of the Hong Kong crisis, pro-democracy forces made massive gains in local elections.
  • 17 of the 18 district councils are now controlled by pro-democracy councilors. 
  • The election saw an unprecedented voter turnout of more than 71%.

Managing Hong Kong

  • Protests began early in 2019 over the introduction of a bill authorizing extraditions to mainland China.
  • It is not clear if the voices of the Hong Kong street protests would be heard in Beijing

Problems for China

  • Mr. Xi held the Hong Kong portfolio on the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee before he became China’s de facto emperor. 
  • He has centralized power to an unprecedented level. There is no one else to share any blame for the policies enunciated by Mr. Xi. 
  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has reiterated that “no matter what happens, Hong Kong is a part of China”.

Uighur issue

  • A massive trove of classified Chinese government documents was leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
  • It showcases a much more granular narrative of how China is carrying out the mass detention of Muslim Uighurs and other minorities in its northwest Xinjiang province. 
  • These documents belie repeated Chinese claims that it is sending the estimated million or more people to vocational training schools with the goal of combating terrorism. 
  • Chinese embassies and consulates worldwide had been instrumental in facilitating the mass detention. 

Costs of the backlash

  • There are no good options for him in Hong Kong. If he continues his hard-line approach, he will make the ground situation worse in Hong Kong.
  • Making concessions also is not a very viable option for him as it is not readily evident how far the demands might go. 
  • Though the extradition bill has been withdrawn, the demands of protesters in Hong Kong have grown to include genuine universal suffrage and an inquiry into allegations of police brutality. 

Effect on party dynamics

  • The delicate balance that the Communist Party has managed to evolve in the politics of China can be frayed if ordinary Chinese lose trust.
  • There is also a chance of rivalries within the Communist Party flaring up as Mr. Xi’s policies take a hit. 
  • He has made a lot of enemies in his drive to emerge as the supreme leader and he has been ruthless with his opponents.
  • The Chinese economy is not doing well. There is growing internal criticism of Mr. Xi’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative and the costs China is having to bear for a grandiose project. 
  • China’s aggressive influence operations in other countries are also generating strong backlash. 
  • The Australian media has reported on an alleged Chinese plot to plant a spy in the Australian Parliament which has been termed as “deeply disturbing”.
  • Reports that a Chinese spy has applied for asylum in Australia after providing information about Chinese operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia has damaged an already battered Chinese global image.


Beijing might want to divert attention from its own internal failures by lashing out at the world.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[pib] Exercise Hand-in-Hand-2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Exercise Hand-in-Hand-2019

Mains level : India-China military cooperation

The 8th India-China joint training exercise ‘HAND-IN-HAND 2019’ with the theme counter terrorism under UN mandate is scheduled to be conducted in Meghalaya next week.

Exercise Hand-in-Hand-2019

  • Exercise Hand-in-Hand is conducted annually as part of military diplomacy and interaction between armies of India and China.
  • The exercise involves tactical level operations in an International Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorist environment under UN mandate.
  • The aim of the exercise is to practice joint planning and conduct of counter terrorist operations in semi urban terrain.
  • Two tactical exercises are scheduled during the training; one on counter terrorism scenario and the other on Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Tulagi IslandPrelims Only


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tulagi Island

Mains level : Chinese ambitious naval expansion

  • China is leasing an entire Pacific Island named Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. This has sparked worldwide concerns.

Tulagi Island

  • Tulagi is a small island (5.5 km x 1 km, area 2,08 km²) in Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Ngella Sule.
  • The town of the same name on the island was the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate from 1896 to 1942 and is today the capital of the Central Province.
  • The capital of what is now the state of Solomon Islands moved to Honiara, Guadalcanal, after World War II.
  • The island was originally chosen by the British as a comparatively isolated and healthier alternative to the disease-ridden larger islands of the Solomon Islands archipelago.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[oped of the day] India needs to pay close attention to deepening of Nepal-China cooperationop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : China security; India-Nepal

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


Xi Jinping’s visit to Kathamandu was defined by the determination to accelerate the development of an ambitious trans-Himalayan corridor between China’s Tibet and Nepal. 

Chinese security diplomacy 

    • It has emerged as a major element of China’s international relations in all geographies.
    • Reasons :
      • Globalisation and digitalisation of the Chinese economy
      • the growing movement of people across Chinese borders
      • expanding capital and human assets beyond borders
    • Need for cooperation – This has made law enforcement cooperation with the rest of the world a major priority for China. 
    • Security issues – The range of issues involved in security diplomacy include
      • tracking down fugitives from Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign
      • criminals seeking safe haven in other countries
      • countering terrorism
      • preventing drug trafficking
      • assisting Chinese citizens and tourists abroad
      • reining in political dissidents active in other countries
    • Neighbors – Across neighborhood, security diplomacy has added dimensions due to interaction between internal political stability and the situation across the frontiers.
      • Xinjiang – three Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan share a border with the province. 
      • Tibet – India and Nepal
      • Yunnan – Myanmar
    • Far flung provinces – China’s far flung provinces with significant religious and ethnic minorities has been a priority for the People’s Republic of China with neighbouring countries. 
    • Trouble within or across the borders of Xinjiang, Tibet and Yunnan has demanded greater cooperation with the neighbouring states.
    • Xi’s emphasis on internal security was evident in his remarks: “Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones”. 
    • He also warned other countries against interfering in the internal affairs of China. 
    • The protests in Hong Kong that have taken a violent turn in recent days. The CPC is angry with attempts in the US to link trade negotiations with the situation in Hong Kong

China – Nepal security relations

    • Security cooperation – India needs to pay attention to the deepening of bilateral security cooperation between Nepal and China. 
    • Increasing engagement – This is seen in the expanding engagement between the police forces, intelligence agencies, border management organisations and law-enforcement authorities of the two nations. 
    • China’s sees “security diplomacy” as separate from “defence diplomacy”.
    • 4 of the 20 documents signed in Kathmandu relate to law enforcement – on border management, supply of border security equipment, mutual legal assistance, and collaboration between Nepal’s Attorney General and China’s “Supreme People’s Procurator”.

Nepal – China

    • Border – Nepal’s northern border with China is entirely with Tibet. 
    • People’s movement – China sees security cooperation with Kathmandu as critical in controlling the movement of people across this frontier. 
    • Tibetan refugees – Nepal was once hospitable to Tibetan refugees fleeing China. It now supports Chinese law enforcement agencies in tracking and deporting them. 
    • Cooperation on Tibet – Growing friendship between Chinese and Nepalese political leaders has provided a more permissive environment for this cooperation. 
    • Access to Nepalese side of border – Chinese security agencies have gained effective access to border areas on the Nepali side in dealing with Tibetan exiles.
  • Joint statement – to “respect and accommodate each other’s concerns and core interests”. 
    • Nepal “reiterated its firm commitment to One-China policy” and acknowledged that Tibetan matters “are China’s internal affairs”. 
    • It also promised not to allow “any anti-China activities on its soil”. 
    • China declared its firm support to Nepal in upholding the country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
    • It also assured its firm support to Nepal’s social system and development path chosen in the light of Nepal’s national conditions. 
    • Signing of the “Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and hoped for an early conclusion of the Treaty on Extradition.” 
    • China has promised to enhance the capacities of Nepal’s law enforcement agencies.

Chinese efforts at security – Steps taken

    • Massive modernisation of internal administrative structures
    • Significant investments in new technologies
    • Effective integration of law enforcement into China’s foreign policy
    • Spread across all geographies – from developed countries in North America and Europe to the developing world in Asia and Africa. 
    • International rules – China is also participating in the development of new international rules on law enforcement and seeking leadership positions in multilateral organisations dealing with law enforcement. 


Like the other great powers that preceded it, China sees security diplomacy and law enforcement cooperation as important tools of statecraft.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Explained: Modi-Xi ‘Informal Summit’Priority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Significance of such informal summits

  • PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are meeting in the ancient coastal town of Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram in TN.
  • The two countries convened their first Informal Summit in central China’s Wuhan in April 2018, where they exchanged views on issues of global and bilateral significance.

Informal Summits, why we need them?

  • Informal Summits act as supplementary exchanges to annual Summits and other formal exchanges such as the G20 Summit, EU-India Summit and the BRICS Summit among others.
  • It allows for direct, free and candid exchange of views between countries, something that may not be possible to do through formal bilateral and multilateral meetings that are agenda driven.
  • Informal Summits may not take place on a fixed annual or biennial schedule; they are impromptu in the sense that they take place when a need for them is perceived by the concerned nations.
  • Since Informal Summits allow discussion on wide-ranging issues, they are not particularly purpose-specific, and are sometimes considered to play bigger roles in diplomatic dialogue than formal exchanges.
  • This is the reason is that they tend to be more in-depth, and relatively flexible in intent and the scope of discussion.
  • The “institutionalization” of such Summits would help in strengthening the “strategic communication” between the countries, irrespective of the political party in power.

Continuing the Wuhan Spirit

  • For instance, in Wuhan, both premiers discussed a range of subjects, including the India-China boundary question, bilateral trade and investment, terrorism, economic development and global peace.
  • They succeeded in reaching a “broad consensus”.
  • China is not the only country with which India has had an Informal Summit.
  • The two leaders discussed their countries’ responsibilities towards maintaining global peace and stability, military and nuclear energy cooperation, and the movement towards an equitable world order.

Achievements of Wuhan Spirit

  • At the first Informal Summit between India and China held in Wuhan on April 27-18, 2018, Modi and Xi met “to exchange views on overarching issues of bilateral and global importance.
  • It aimed to elaborate their respective visions and priorities for national development in the context of the current and future international situation.
  • The Wuhan Summit achieved a “re-set” of the Sino-Indian relationship after the two-month long border standoff at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction in Doklam.
  • Significantly, at Wuhan, the two leaders decided to give “strategic guidance” to their military, so that issues did not escalate as in the case of the Doklam standoff.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[oped of the day] Techno-Politics: Focus on China’s facial recognition technologiesop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Chinese state surveillance

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


The new round of US sanctions against China have turned the light on surveillance technologies including facial recognition that gained much traction in recent years.

US sanctions on Chinese tech companies

    •  US announced measures against around two-dozen entities.
    • Some of them are leading companies in China’s artificial intelligence industry. 
    • They manufacture surveillance cameras as well as work on facial recognition.
    • The rest are public security agencies in China. 
    • These entities will no longer be able to access US technology products without a license. 
    • China’s top technology company, Huawei, is already under US sanctions.

New centers of tensions

    • Over the last couple of years, technology issues have emerged at the front and centre of the deepening Sino-US trade tensions. 
    • There is an additional dimension to the trade war— human rights and the treatment of China’s Muslim minorities.
    • So far the US administration has been criticised for downplaying human rights considerations in America’s external relations. But, now, bringing human rights into the arguments on technology could mark a decisive moment in the unfolding conflict.

The misuse of technology by China – Within China

    • Beijing has used facial recognition technologies to establish a surveillance state beyond Xinjiang to stamp out any potential dissent across China. 
    • These entities have been accused of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.

The misuse of technology by China – outside China

    • A growing facial recognition industry has also created the basis for China’s export of surveillance systems around the world.
    • According to a recent report of Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Chinese companies have exported surveillance technologies based on AI to 63 countries. 36 of these countries are participants in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
    • China’s exports come with soft loans and the promise of better law and order. When Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena visited Beijing, weeks after the Easter bombings, China reportedly offered to share surveillance technologies to strengthen Colombo’s war on terror.
    • Many developed countries have allowed Chinese companies to set up surveillance systems as part of ‘smart city’ projects, improve border controls and control illegal immigration

Apprehensions about the technologies

    • It has implications for privacy and freedom.
    • There is a genuine apprehension in North America and Europe that China’s surveillance companies are sucking up data on Western populations and might weaponise it in the future. 
    • There is also the question of democratic rights including privacy and freedom.
    • California approved a law banning the police departments in the state from using facial recognition software on surveillance cameras. It highlighted the fact that facial recognition technology is prone to significant errors
    • The European Union too is considering regulations that impose strict limitations on the use of facial recognition technologies.

Two sides of technology

    • Like all technologies, facial recognition too can be deployed for either good and bad. 
    • It can be used for better law enforcement or promote political repression. 
    • It can be deployed to prevent terrorism or curb political protest
    • Many technology companies already use facial recognition for commercial use. Some brands of smartphones and laptops now use facial recognition technology for logging you in. 

Way ahead

    • The challenge in democracies is about defining appropriate norms for their use and finding a balance between multiple imperatives.
    • China’s expansive use of surveillance technologies and the US challenge to it mark the beginning a wider global debate on the use of facial recognition as a political, security and commercial tool.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[oped of the day] In search of the Wuhan spiritop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Post Wuhan : India - China

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


The second informal summit between the leaders of India and China is scheduled to take place in the second week of October. 

Wuhan summit

  • At the Wuhan Summit last year, a decision was made to hold more such summits, aimed at ensuring “higher levels of strategic communications.” 
  • China agreed to an informal summit in 2018 despite so many achievements and it actually dd not needed to make concessions to India. 

Choice of Mamallapuram

  • Wuhan was picked by President Xi Jinping as the venue last year to demonstrate China’s economic resilience and might.
  • Mamallapuram is symbolic of India’s ‘soft power’. It is an important town of the Pallava dynasty that ruled this part of south India from 275 CE to 897 CE, is renowned for its architecture, widely admired across the world.
  • Mamallapuram and the Pallava dynasty are also historically relevant. The earliest recorded security pact between China and India involved a Pallava king from whom the Chinese sought help to counter Tibet, which had by then emerged as a strong power posing a threat to China. 

Post Wuhan

  • Since then, China has met with certain setbacks — geo-politically and economically.
  • India is beset by a host of economic woes and now seems better positioned today than in 2018. 
  • Doklam and the disputed border between the two countries remains an issue of concern. 
  • Hopes raised at the Wuhan Summit that the two countries would jointly work together on an economic project in Afghanistan did not work. China, along with countries like Pakistan, remains more intent on ensuring that India has no role to play there.
  • Relations between China and the U.S. have sharply deteriorated. A vast majority of nations in the West have cooled off towards China.
  • A further strengthening of India-Russia ties, as also a new triangular relationship of Russia, India and Japan, appear to be altering equations in the East Asian region. 
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has also come under increasing attack, even from countries which previously viewed China as a munificent nation.

Contradictory outlook of the two countries

    • China and India continue to compete and have a contradictory outlook on many strategic and civilisational issues. 
    • These include the nature of Asian security, regional stability and the role of the U.S. in the region. 
    • The China-Pakistan axis has been further cemented.
    • China’s domestic scene – 
      • The economy is far more fragile than in early 2018. 
      • Internal security concerns such as unrest in Tibet, inroads made by radical extremist groups in Xinjiang and the latest turn of events in Hong Kong are also reinforcing fears. 
      • The relentless attack by the U.S. on China’s economic practices has only aggravated the problem.


  • Indian scene
  • India’s relations with the U.S. have attained a new high. 
  • Relations with Russia have acquired economics alongside a longstanding military relationship. India’s line of credit to develop Russia’s Far East has fundamentally changed the nature of India-Russia relations. 
  • India’s relations with Japan have greatly strengthened. The Quadrilateral has gained a new lease of life.


  • Events in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh will be seen as a provocation. 
    • The recent announcement by India of exercise ‘Changthang Prahar’ in eastern Ladakh, featuring tanks, artillery guns, drones, helicopters and troops, as well as para-drops, is almost certain to be read suspiciously by China. 
    • The reopening of the Advance Landing Ground at Vijoynagar in Arunachal Pradesh for the use of military aircraft and a proposed major combat exercise will add to China’s concerns.

Way ahead

  • India must ensure that it does not provoke China to the point where it would be inclined to indulge in ‘adventurism’.
  • “Subduing the enemy without fighting” has been a recurrent theme in Chinese thinking, and while informal summits have their uses, it is imperative not to overlook this aspect. 
  • China’s efforts are likely to be directed towards ‘disruption’, concentrating on disrupting the strategic alliances that India has forged.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Pangong Tso Lake: the theatre of India-China LAC scufflesPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pangong Tso Lake

Mains level : India-China Border Issues

  • 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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Tibetan Democracy Day, its meaning and significancePriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : India-China Relations in context of Tibet

  • 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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Belt and roadblocksop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Belt and Road Initiative

Mains level : BRI analysis. Challenges

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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Hong Kong Protestop-ed snap


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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : What is devaluation

Mains level : Impact of Yuan devaluation


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Chinese check: on economic troublesMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : China's Growth is slowing down


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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Foreign policy challenges five years laterMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Foreign policy challenges and their resolution


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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India proposes reply to WuhanMains OnlyPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SCO

Mains level : Wuhan Spirit

  • 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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] The quest for a military footprintMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BRI

Mains level : India has to challenge China'a aggressive quest to acquire foreign bases.


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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Taking advantage of BRIMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BRI

Mains level : Reasons why should India Participate in 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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[Op-ed Snap] Sovereignty And A RoadMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BRI

Mains level : Wuhan summit alone will not fasten India-China Relationship. Other Stepa are required.


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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China backs “Wuhan spirit” despite differences on BRIPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Concerns raised by Belt and Road Initiative

  • 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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] China’s block: on not listing Azhar as global terroristop-ed snapPriority 1


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.


Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Explained: Why is China shielding the Jaish-e-Mohammad?IOCRPriority 1


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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[pib] Sino-Indian Digital Collaboration PlazaPIB


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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[pib] Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2018PIB


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.
Posted on | PIB
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Exposing China’s overseas lendingop-ed snap


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Paris club

Mains level: Uncensored lending by China to developing countries and its aftermath


Extensive lending by China

  1. Over the past 15 years, China has fuelled one of the most dramatic and geographically far-reaching surges in official peacetime lending in history
  2. More than 100 predominantly low-income countries have taken out Chinese loans to finance infrastructure projects, expand their productive capacity in mining or other primary commodities, or support government spending in general

Underestimated debts

  1. While China in 2016 joined the ranks of countries reporting to the Bank for International Settlements, the lending from development banks in China is not broken down by the counterparty in the BIS data
  2. Emerging-market borrowing from China is seldom in the form of securities issued in international capital markets, so it also does not appear in databases at the World Bank and elsewhere
  3. These accounting deficiencies mean that many developing and emerging-market countries’ external debts are currently underestimated in varying degrees
  4. The international policy community is also in the dark about the incidence or nature of any bilateral debt restructuring agreements between China and its many low-income borrowers

What does this lead to?

  1. Because these are mostly dollar debts, missing the China connection leads to underestimating balance sheets’ vulnerability to currency risk
  2. If the initial increases in external borrowing were underestimated, there is also reason to suspect that the magnitude of the ongoing reversal in capital flows may be larger than is generally believed
  3. The aftermath of commodity price booms and surges in new loans to commodity producers is littered with defaults and other debt-servicing difficulties

Demand-supply estimations of borrowings

  1. On the demand side, the loan surge was facilitated by many low-income countries’ comparatively clean balance sheets
  2. The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HPIC) Initiative by the Paris Club of official creditors and multilateral institutions had written off (forgiven) a substantial share of the prior external debts
  3. On the supply side, because there was little or no prior credit exposure to these countries, and because some of the major official creditors were not ready to return to development lending following the HPIC Initiative write-offs, a vacuum in official lending emerged and China filled it

Way forward

  1. Widespread debt-servicing difficulties are on the rise among many of the world’s poorest countries
  2. Borrowers’ external debt obligations may have reached the point where repayment difficulties have begun to emerge, leaving China’s development banks with considerable exposure to risky or non-performing sovereign loans
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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.
Posted on | PIB
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India, China join hands to train Afghan diplomatsPriority 1


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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[pib] India-China TradePIBPrelims OnlyPriority 1


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.
Posted on | PIB
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Heavy discharge of Waters from China threatens ArunachalPrelims Only


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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[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
Posted on | Custom
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Posted on | The Hindu
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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”
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] A new plateauop-ed snap

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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

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)
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Looking for balance in powerop-ed snap

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] The power play in peacekeepingop-ed snap

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Smart-balancing Chinaop-ed snap

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] The picture after Doklamop-ed snap

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.




Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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

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.




Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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

Related image

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.

“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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Lessons from Doklamop-ed snap


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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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

Related image

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.

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.


Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Seize the Doklam crisisop-ed snap

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 
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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


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”.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Posted on | Custom
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Mind the power gapop-ed snap

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] CPEC: Prospects and Challengesop-ed snap

  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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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

  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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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

  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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

‘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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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”
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] The Asian century beckonsop-ed snap

  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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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)
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

G20 pact does not rule out Japan intervention

  1. Japan: G20’s agreement to avoid competitive currency devaluation does not mean Japan cannot intervene in response to one-sided currency moves
  2. Difference: G20 talks about arbitrary intervention, which is different from responding to a one-sided move
  3. Japan’s comments were based on the G20 understanding that long-term manipulation of currencies is undesirable
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

‘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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Remnimbi Devaluation and Stock Market Volatilityop-ed snap

Two key drivers of the turbulent global markets are Yuan devaluation and the sharp fall in global commodity prices.

  1. Chinese central bank un-pegged the RMB from the dollar and set a lower starting rate.
  2. It was a clear signal to the market that it wanted the RMB to depreciate and it started to fall.
  3. It also triggered capital outflows and the global market volatility.
  4. Move was perceived to be a “beggar-thy-neighbour” mercantilist move, and other central banks also let their currencies fall.
  5. The voluntary depreciation is  driven by a concern about losing competitiveness.
  6. This creates problems for investors as large currency movements heighten uncertainty and leads to stock market turbulence.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s yuan move rattles markets, Sensex plunges

China’s surprising move to peg the yuan at its lowest value against the U.S. dollar since 2011, triggered a selloff in global markets.

  1. There are fears that it could trigger competitive devaluation among emerging economies.
  2. The depreciation of Yuan is following the course, as it becomes increasingly market linked, following its induction as a reserve currency by the IMF.
  3. Officials stressed that India has the inherent resilience to deal with such emerging challenges.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Implications of yuan’s rise

The expectation that the yuan or the renminbi will acquire reserve currency status is no longer a pipe dream.

  1. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is poised to approve the inclusion of China’s renminbi (or yuan as it is called) as a reserve currency.
  2. When the yuan is formally inducted into the SDR portfolio, it will be the first new currency to be so honoured since the euro was created.
  3. The important advantage accruing to China is the flexibility in settling all its international obligations with its own currency.
  4. For other countries, the benefit in having another reserve currency is that they can diversify their forex reserve portfolios to include renminbi.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

G-20 discussions set to focus on impact of yuan devaluation

  1. Competitive devaluation of currency is a major threat to the stability of the global economy.
  2. Economists pointed out that, Chinese devaluation is not of serious consequence to the Indian economy, even in the medium term.
  3. The conference will analyse collaborative measures like developing global safety nets to guard nations from negative spillovers.
  4. The recent devaluation of Chinese currency Yuan has triggered a global financial turmoil, hurting stocks and currency markets worldwide.

Go ahead to check major economic group G20. How it will play crucial role to stabilize Global Economy?

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Experts divided on impact of Yuan’s devaluation on Indian exports

  1. Some believe that the export competitiveness factors are beyond currency movements.
  2. While others are of the opinion that India can maintain its competitiveness if rupee also declines.
  3. The risk for India comes from two ways: one cheaper imports from China affecting domestic companies and second it would affect India’s exports to other countries.
  4. There have been increased imports from China despite a significant appreciation of the Yuan versus the rupee in the past and experts believe that India should focus on policy related efforts in boosting competitiveness.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Calculated devaluation by Chinaop-ed snap

  1. The People’s Bank of China’ consecutive double cuts with 1.9% and 1.6% has sent shock waves around the world.
  2. This double dose had a sharp negative impact on many Asian currencies.
  3. Rupee too slipped down to its 2- year low level, but relatively less affected as compared to its Asian peers.
  4. IMF is optimistic that the Chinese move will help achieve market determined exchange rates.
  5. However, the context of cut is based on the premise of their decelerating economy, due to its excessive dependence on exports.
  6. This step can also be read in light of making Yuan a global reserve currency at IMF.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India steels itself to face impact of yuan devaluation

  1. Chinese decision to devalue Yuan will hurt Indian exports as it makes Chinese exports cheaper.
  2. In wake of this, India increased the import duty on certain steel products by 2.5 per cent.
  3. Reason being that prices of imported steel are up to 20 per cent lower than those of domestic products.

Experts believe that the Chinese move could be to satisfy the conditions the IMF had spelt out for granting it reserve currency status and inclusion in the special drawing right (SDR) basket.


Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China devalues Yuan by 1.9%

  1. China, which runs a ‘managed float’– i.e, an exchange rate that is managed against other currencies, pegs the yuan against the dollar each day.
  2. China announced that its daily fix will now be based on the closing rate of the interbank forex market from the previous day.
  3. The move is likely to be viewed as the govt intervention to boost the economy as a reaction to the slump in exports, and a recent stock market decline.
  4. Besides worsening the already declining Indian exports, the Chinese move is also expected to widen the trade deficit with India.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.




Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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?

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.


Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

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.



  • On 1 April, 1950, India became the first non-socialist bloc country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Prime Minister Nehru visited China in October 1954. While, the India-  China border conflict in 1962 was a serious setback to ties; Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s landmark visit in 1988 began a phase of improvement in bilateral relations.
  • In 1993, the signing of an Agreement on the  Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on the India-China Border Areas during Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit reflected the growing stability and substance in bilateral ties.
  • India-China relations, though occasionally showing signs of peace and cooperation, have often been afflicted by tension and mistrust. With the potential to make big contributions to regional peace and development, these two Asian powers have, by design or accident, themselves been the sources of regional tension and insecurity to some extent.
  • Besides their internal dynamics, the interplay of interests and moves of their neigbours, and several external powers would have significant bearing on the equation and relations between them.

Areas of Conflict

(a) Tibet & Dalai Lama.

  • This led to the first ever war between these two nations. China is very sensitive about the territorial sovereignty and having Dalai Lama run a shadow government in India has historically been a major irritator for them.  
  • India’s support for the Dharamasala regime is a huge issue for China, but not even headline-worthy for India.

(b)Two border disputes  

Two border disputes
  • One in a region called Aksai Chin and another in a region called Arunachal Pradesh. Both nations claim both regions although China controls the former and India the latter.
  • In both these places the geography favors the current arrangement. With both nations nuclear armed, it is inconceivable for any solution other than formalizing the status quo.  
  • When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited China in May 2015, one of his objectives was to persuade the Chinese leadership to restart discussions on the clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) through the exchange of maps.  
  • The rationale for India’s demand was that, pending a final settlement of the border question, LAC
  • clarification would help ease border tensions. But the Chinese leadership was not enthusiastic about India’s proposal. Instead, China called for a comprehensive ‘code of conduct’ for the forces deployed along the border.
  • Here, it is useful to remember that both LAC clarification and Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) are part of the agreed principles in the 2005 agreement.  This mismatch in desired outcomes was the main obstacle in the recent border talks, and it showed once again India and China’s contrasting approaches to border negotiations at large.  
  • India’s reluctance to consider a ‘code of conduct’ suggests that it entertains reservations about agreeing to restrictions on its plans for infrastructure development in the border region.
  •  Perhaps, this reluctance is because of two inferences. One, that the Chinese proposal is aimed at limiting India’s military and infrastructure modernisation, and thereby enabling China to preserve its military advantage in Tibet. And two, accepting the Chinese proposal could potentially curtail the ability to effectively patrol and intercept PLA movements in territory claimed by India.  
  • The Indian position on the Sino-Pakistan understanding on Chinese activities in PoK has been consistent.
  • There are often debates in India-mostly episodic and lacking vigour-about Sino-Pakistan relations.

(c)  Domination of Indian Ocean

Domination of Indian Ocean
  • China has been accused of pursuing strategic maneuvers on a well-thought out route encircling India in the Indian Ocean.  Beijing has been reaching out to India’s neighbors on the premise of development and trade, allegedly recreating the Silk Route.
  • From Nepal in the south east to Myanmar, Bangladesh to Sri Lanka in the south and Pakistan in the west, China plans to choke India diplomatically.  There are diplomatic visits, courtesy calls, exchange of gifts and promises between Mr. Modi and the heads of all of the surrounding countries, to not just counter the Chinese influence but also strengthen the Indian presence.

Water issue:

  • The dispute between India and china is mainly regarding the Brahmaputra River flowing through the two countries the search for water resources in China and India has persistently been a source of tension between the two countries.
  •  Chinese efforts to divert the water resources of the Brahmaputra River away from India will worsen a situation that has remained tense since the 1962 Indo-China war.
  •  The melting glaciers in the Himalayas as a result of accelerating global climate change will have a dramatic effect on this river’s water supply. This will increase water scarcity as well as the likelihood of floods, impact agrarian livelihoods and strain the fragile equilibrium between the two Asian giants.

Pakistan factor:  

  • The longtime friendship between China and Pakistan, rooted in a time when both countries were deeply mistrustful of India, has long made New Delhi nervous.  The relationship has mainly gone one way, with China providing economic assistance and political backing to Pakistan.
  •  Islamabad is also anxious for an alliance it can use to balance the growing economic and political clout of India.  But Pakistan also offers China a gateway to South Asia, Iran and the Arabian Sea, one of the economic beltways that President Xi Jinping has sought to build through the region. Earlier this year, during a visit to Islamabad, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China and Pakistan have an “all-weather friendship.”

South China Sea issue and India:

  • China opposes India’s oil exploration in the SCS (which has been undertaken at Vietnam’s request) by calling the area of exploration a ‘disputed’ area and asserting ‘Chinese sovereignty’ over the SCS in the ‘historical’ context.  
  • It has been continuously expressing its reservation in this regard in the last few years, and sometimes quite belligerently at that. India has taken note of the Chinese reservation and has carefully gone ahead in signing a few agreements with Vietnam for oil exploration in the SCS.
  • These exploration fields are very much within the maritime space under the actual control of Vietnam.  But at the same time, China casually shrugs off the issue of India’s ‘sovereignty’ over POK in the ‘historical’ context.
  • China is currently engaged on a variety of investment projects and infrastructural building activities in Gilgit-Baltistan, and these will be expanded under the CPEC project.  
  • China further explains that the Sino-Pak understanding to implement CPEC through POK is based on a range of bilateral agreements and understandings, including their 1963 Border Agreement.

Trade deficit:

  •  India faces trade imbalance heavily in favour of China. India has a trade deficit with China of nearly $50 billion, its largest with any country. Singapore, with a population about 240 times smaller than India, sells twice as many goods to China each year.

Reasons for the deficit:

  • China imports raw material from India e.g. iron ore and exports the finished goods as it has got core competency in manufacturing sector and provides huge energy subsidies.
  • Importing finished goods obviously cost more. India also imports power equipments, consumer electronics and telecommunications gear from china. China is dumping manufactured products in India.
  • On the other hand India does not have a large access to Chinese market and with Indian rupee declining while renminbi gaining centre stage the trade deficit is becoming huge.

Maritime Silk Route project: Impact on India:  

  • Beijing’s plan for a maritime infrastructure corridor in the broader Indo-Pacific region, first proposed by President Xi Jinping’s during his trip to Southeast Asia in October 2013, has attracted attention because of its potential to establish a Chinese foothold in the Indian Ocean. Needless to say, China’s outreach to India – inviting it to join the project – has generated much analytical curiosity.  
  • The first thing of interest about the MSR is that it was initially mooted as an ASEAN-centered project.∙ The intention then was to enhance connectivity and cultural links in China’s strategic backyard-the South China Sea.  
  • Beijing later expanded the scope of the project to include the Indian Ocean, but in reaching out to∙ Colombo and New Delhi, it found a willing partner only in the former. India has been ambivalent about the MSR and is yet to make up its mind on joining the project.  The problem with the MSR, essentially, is the ‘opaque’ nature of its proposal.
  • Outwardly, the project is∙ about the development of massive maritime infrastructure and connectivity in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. Beijing has been careful to project the MSR as an exclusively commercial venture, trying hard to dispel any impressions of it being a cover for maritime military bases.
  • Surprisingly, however, China has released no details about the project, and this makes many countries doubt Beijing’s strategic intentions. The lack of specifics not only makes it hard to decipher the MSR’s real purpose, it gives credence to∙ suspicions of geopolitical game play by China. Indeed, for a project being touted as a critical enabler of regional sea-connectivity, Chinese planners would have spent much time and effort developing the fineprint.
  • The lack of firm plans, proposals and timelines then does lead to a suspicion that there may be something about the MSR that Beijing is hesitant to reveal quickly.  The MSR’s essential∙ rationale is the leveraging of Chinese soft-power.
  • The aim apparently is to shore-up China’s image as a benevolent state. Beijing’s would also conceivably use the project’s commercial investments to establish its legitimate interests in the Indian Ocean. And while China can be expected to do everything in its power to force region states to join the project – including offering economic aid to potential partners – the bottom-line for it will be to make an offer to India that is hard to refuse.
  • For India, it is instructive that the sales pitch of shared economic gains does not conceal the MSR’s real purpose: ensuring the security of sea lines of communications (SLOCs) in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Since African resources are China’s focus right now, the project could well be a surrogate for a giant Chinese SLOC running all the way from the East African coast, to the Southern coast of China – created, maintained and controlled by Beijing.
  • In its ultimate form, therefore, the MSR could end up setting up Chinese logistical hubs in the Indian Ocean, linking up already existing string of pearls.  India’s appreciation of the MSR must be based on an objective appraisal of these new realities. Even assuming the project delivers on its economic promise, it could well turn out to be detrimental to India’s geopolitical interests in the IOR.
  • As Beijing becomes more involved in building infrastructure in the Indian Ocean, it will play a larger part∙ in the security and governance of the IOR, which could pose a challenge to India’s stature as a ‘security provider’ in the region and also adversely affecting New Delhi’s strategic purchase in its primary area of interest.

China’s Reluctance to Support India’s membership of international bodies

  • China has continuously blocked India’s entry in UNSC. Recently China has blocked India’s entry in NSG. Chinese diplomats say Beijing wants NSG entry to be norm-based — in other words, whatever rules govern Indian entry should apply to others too.
  • Norm-based entry would, presumably, help Pakistan gain entry, something many in the NSG are certain to resist because of the country’s record as a proliferator of nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Areas of Cooperation

  • Despite their rivalries, the two countries have played up their cultural links-such as the importation of Buddhism into China by wandering Chinese monks more than 1,500 years ago-and have found ample room for economic cooperation.
  • Both are members of the BRICS grouping of emerging economies, which is now establishing a formal lending arm, the New Development Bank, to be based in China’s financial hub of Shanghai and to be headed by a senior Indian banker.  
  • India also was a founding member of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which plans to be formally established by year’s end and seeks to emulate institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.  

Educational areas:

India and China signed Education Exchange Programme (EEP) in 2006, which is an umbrella agreement for educational cooperation between the two countries. Under this agreement, government scholarships are awarded to 25 students, by both sides, in recognized institutions of higher learning in each other’s country. The 25 scholarships awarded by India are offered by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Trade cooperation:

India China export & import data
  • Two countries have shown tremendous economic growth. Change in the dynamics of the global economy has provided the opportunity to both countries to cooperate on wider scale.  China and India are the major trading partners in the region. During the last decade, bilateral trade has increased notably. In 2014, the trade between China and India exceeded over $65 billion mark.
  • According to the Trade Map figures, in 2013, China accounted for 11.1 percent of India’s imports, while 4.1 percent of India exports were destined for China. Chinese exports to India are mainly comprised of electric and electronic equipment, organic chemical, fertilizers and furniture. On the other side, China’s imports from India chiefly consist of cotton, pearls, precious stones, copper ores, slag and ash.  
  • Bilateral trade has expanded substantially in recent years. Nevertheless, the balance of trade still remains in China’s favor.
  • Following table summarizes the latest trends in trade between China and India. Source: China India Trade and Investment Center  Though, compared to the past, the economic cooperation between the two countries has accelerated.
  • However, there are still enormous opportunities that have not been exploited in such fields as manufacturing, construction, electricity, gas and water industries, infrastructure (such as, roads, buildings, transportation, storage and communication), hotels and tourism, financial institutions, agriculture, healthcare, education and the various training sectors.  China and India have synergies in many areas.
  • China has wide experience and expertise in the field of construction industry. Due to its international recognition, Chinese firms have been successful in creating infrastructure base for many countries.
  • India could utilize Chinese expertise in the development of its high speed railway network, metro lines and other infrastructure facilities.  While the sides are seeking to expand bilateral trade to $100 billion this year, China exports far more than it imports, something Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopes to alter with increased market access for Indian goods and services.

Areas of Competition in Africa:

  • The rapid economic growth experienced by China and India has resulted in an increase in competition for∙ global resources and investment opportunities. Unsurprisingly, the abundance of natural resources in Africa has made the continent a hotspot for Chinese and Indian economic activity.  
  • This growing Sino-Indian involvement has been economically beneficial and has resulted in widespread∙ investment and development, with African leaders welcoming the competition.  Africa is now the latest front in an increasingly global competition between India and China for new markets,∙ agricultural land and access to natural resources.  
  • While Western media and politicians have reacted with varying degrees of alarm over the surge of Chinese∙ trade and investment in Africa, Indian companies have been quietly building their presence on the continent.  
  • As China drives deeper into what many Indians consider their sphere of influence in South Asia, Africa offers∙ an ideal opportunity for Indian firms to challenge China’s growing influence in the region.  For many Indians, particularly in certain political circles and on the blogosphere, competition with China is∙ presented in a classical real politik paradigm.
  • The headlines misleadingly frame the issue in terms of win/loss or even as a “race” between the two∙ countries. Although it may be compelling, even somewhat entertaining, to draw on 19th century colonial cliches (e.g. the Scramble for Africa or the Great Game) it is entirely misleading as both the Indians and Chinese are employing radically different strategies in Africa than earlier European powers.
  • Ironically, the enhanced competition among Chinese and Indian companies will most directly affect∙ European and American firms who are rapidly being shut out of Africa’s emerging markets.  While China’s aggressive economic approach has caused it to achieve more influence in Africa than any∙ other country, its dominance is slowly being impeded by India’s growing involvement in the region.
  • India has focussed on emphasising its cultural and historical ties to enhance the development of its trade relations with resource-rich countries like Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Sudan.  
  • The success of India’s soft power strategy has been evident in countries like Sudan, where Indian∙ corporations have attained near complete control of the local oil and natural gas industry.  The same trend is occurring in Zimbabwe where China’s dominance in the energy and resource sectors is∙ being challenged by private and state-owned Indian enterprises.  

The US$ 4 billion takeover of Zimbabwean steelmaker Zicosteel, by India’s Essar Group, was hailed by the∙ Zimbabwean Government as the largest foreign direct investment deal in Zimbabwe in recent decades.  Competition for the takeover was intense, as various Chinese corporations challenged the Essar Group’s bid.∙  

The incident has been viewed by some as a reflection of the intense rivalry developing between China and∙ India, and while China continues to dominate African markets, the success of India’s economic strategies has raised uncertainty towards China’s future economic dominance in the region.

Competition in foreign policy

China and India are still strategic rivals despite their increased economic cooperation.∙  

  • Alongside the U.S., Japan, and Australia, India is also seen as one of the major actors that have an interest in offsetting China’s dominance over Asia.  That India and China came to be known as fellow members of the BRICS does not suffice by itself to reverse∙ the two giants’ inherent tendency towards taking sides with rival groupings which are once again beginning to overwhelm Asia’s strategic environment.  
  • Moreover, New Delhi set its permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a primary national goal in the name of being recognized as a great power on a global scale. In contrast, China pioneers the opposition bloc which stands firmly against any attempts to reform the UNSC because such would mean including not only India but Japan and several other countries in the Council as well.  
  • The two countries’ strategic interests in South Asia are also mutually exclusive. 
  • China maintains intimate ties with Pakistan, with high-level defense cooperation at the core thereof, a reality that deeply disturbs India as might be expected.  On the other hand, Beijing feels extremely uncomfortable with India’s hosting of the Tibetan opposition.
  • China even fears that India might still be supportive of Tibet’s independence. Likewise, there is a heated rivalry between Beijing and New Delhi for influence over Bangladesh, Myanmar,Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
  • New Delhi shapes its foreign policy in tandem with the West, backing Myanmar’s opening to the rest of the world as well as its related democratization project.
  • However, Beijing believes one of the essential motivations behind such a policy is to detach Myanmar from China’s larger zone of influence.

PM Modi’s visit to China in 2015  

  • The visit was rich in symbolism and substance and it opened up a new chapter in India-China relations. For the first time, Chinese President Xi Jinping travelled outside Beijing to receive a foreign leader, in Xi’an in his home province of Shaanxi.
  • President Xi also accompanied Prime Minister to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and organized a grand welcome∙ ceremony at the Xi’an city wall.  
  • There were 24 agreements signed on the government-to-government side, 26 MoUs on the business-tobusiness  side and two joint statements, including one on climate change.
  • The fact that India and China could come up with over 50 outcome documents in just eight months reveals the huge potential that exists between our two countries, as well as the efforts that we have made to elevate our partnership.  
  • They included such diverse fields as space cooperation, earthquake engineering, ocean sciences, mining,railways, skill development, education, culture, Yoga, tourism and many more.
  •  Prime Minister interacted with 21 CEOs of leading Chinese companies and over 40 prominent Indian CEOs attended the Business Forum along with their counterparts from China.
  • The 26 business understandings worth over US$ 22 billion signed at the Forum covered such varied sectors as industrial parks, renewable energy, thermal energy, telecommunication, steel, capital goods, IT and media.  
  • There was, moreover, an action-oriented accord on broad-basing the bilateral partnership, as could be seen from the range of agreements signed and in the establishment of new dialogue mechanisms, such as the one between the DRC and the NITI Aayog and the Think Tanks’ Forum, besides a bilateral consultative mechanism on WTO negotiations.  
  • Three new institutions were launched in partnership, the Centre for Gandhian and Indian Studies in Shanghai, Yoga College in Kunming, and National Institute for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in Ahmedabad.  Both sides decided to establish new Consulates in each other’s country, in Chengdu and Chennai and to∙ expand our interactions at the sub-national level.
  • Two agreements signed-one on cooperation between the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the∙ International Department of the Central Committee of the CPC and another on the establishment of a State/Provincial Leaders’ Forum-reflect this understanding.  
  • A number of sister-city and sister-state relations agreements between: Karnataka and Sichuan, Chennai and∙ Chongqing, Hyderabad and Qingdao, Aurangabad and Dunhuang were also signed.  Prime Minister also announced the extension of the e-visa facility to Chinese nationals wishing to travel to India.

Other Important issues




The One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative is part of China’s major policy framework to boost domestic development and foreign diplomacy. China also wants to ‘reconstruct’ the world order to fulfill its interests and become a dominant world power.

About OBOR

The “belt and road” have two components—the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) that would be established along the Eurasian land corridor from the Pacific coast to the Baltic Sea, and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR).

  • The “belt and road” run through the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and developed European economic circle at the other.
  • The SREB focuses on bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (the Baltic); linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia; and connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
  • On land, the initiative will focus on jointly building a new Eurasian Land Bridge and developing China- Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia and China-Indochina Peninsula economic corridors.
  • The 21st-Century MSR, in turn is designed to go from China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific in the other.
  •  To implement the concept, the Chinese have stressed on joint consultation and joint building. China sees this as the most effective model that can be used to safeguard mutual benefits.

What China expects from OBOR?

  • Address security threats
  • Achieve long-term economic benefits
  • Reduce America’s threat to trade lifelines


  • Analysts point out that the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, backed by a solid financial institutional network, once implemented, is expected to accelerate the shift of geo-economic power away from the United States, towards Eurasia.
  • More than 4.4 billion people, or 63 per cent of the global population countries, are expected to benefit from China’s game-changing plans.
  • Analysts say that the “belt and road” initiative could shift the center of geo-economic power towards Eurasia, and undermine the “Asia Pivot” of the United States and its allies.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping is hopeful that the mega-trade volumes among the Silk Road economies would touch $ 2.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

Pros of India joining OBOR  

The technical know-how the project will bring back could be used to develop or iron out issues facing∙ technical bottlenecks.  

The OBOR initiative could be icing on the cake for India’s flagship programs like Digital India.

The “Information Silk Route” has the telecom connectivity between the countries through fiber, trunk line and under-sea cables.  

This will expand the bandwidth capabilities for India significantly, without which offering e-Governance and∙ delivering public services in an efficient manner will remain a pipe dream and a good marketing campaign.  India will have excellent connectivity of various transport modes, and a great facilitator to Make In India∙ initiative if India joins such global infrastructure project.

India’s strategy to counter OBOR

India is not part of OBOR. India reaffirmed its opposition of One-Belt-One-Road initiative of China, with Foreign Secretary stating that New Delhi will join multilateral connectivity initiatives in Asia, only if they were pursued through a consultative process.

  • India has indicated that it sees China’s OBOR as a “national Chinese initiative”.
  • The defence establishment is concerned that the project might not be altogether benevolent and that these corridors in future could be used for military mobilisation.
  • There are concerns in India about being part of a “hegemonic project” that would ensure China led development in the Indian Ocean region.
  • The main point of contention for India is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC, which is also part of OBOR.
  • For New Delhi, OBOR may be a potential economic opportunity but it also threatens India’s interests.

India’s strategy to counter OBOR

  • India recently proposed the ‘Cotton Route’ (seen by many as its answer to the Silk Route) to strengthen economic ties between countries in the Indian Ocean rim.
  • It has also launched Project Mausam and Spice Route apparently in response to China’s Belt and Road initiative.
  • The ‘Mausam’ project envisages the re-establishment of India’s ancient maritime routes with its traditional trade partners along the Indian Ocean.
  • The ‘Spice Route of India’, visualises the India-centered linkup of historic sea routes in Asia, Europe and Africa.
  • Many people in India perceive the Mausam Project and the Spice Route as rivals to the Maritime SilkRoad.


The three million square kilometers South China Sea is the maritime heart of Southeast Asia but also a disputable property. Maritime boundaries in the South China Sea are particularly problematic because they involve six separate claimants in a mostly enclosed body of water with a large number of disputed land features.

The South China Sea is ringed by Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and dotted with hundreds of small islands, shoals and reefs, many of them occupied by the disputants.

The fundamental issue in the South China Sea is one of territorial sovereignty, that is, which state has sovereignty over the islands and their adjacent waters.

UNCLOS has no provisions on how to determine sovereignty over offshore islands. As there is no treaty that governs the issue of sovereignty, states have to look for guidance to the rules of customary international law on the acquisition and loss of territory.

Main Disputes:

The Spratly Islands are located in the central part of the South China Sea, north of the island of Borneo (which comprises Brunei Darussalam and the east Malaysian States of Sarawak and Sabah), east of Vietnam, west of the Philippines, and south of the Chinese island of Hainan.

The Spratly Islands are claimed in their entirety by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, while some islands and other features are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. The Spratly Islands consist of more than 140 islets, rocks, reefs, shoals and sandbanks (some totally or occasionally submerged while others are always dry) spread over an area of more than 410,000 square kilometres.

The Paracel Islands are located in the northern part of the South China Sea, approximately equidistant from the coastlines of Vietnam and China (Hainan). They are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. China forcibly ejected South Vietnamese troops from the Paracels in 1974, and they are now occupied exclusively by China.

China denies the existence of a dispute over these islands, but they are a continual source of tension between China and Vietnam. The Paracels consist of about thirty five islets, shoals, sandbanks and reefs with approximately 15,000 km² of ocean surface.

Woody Island, the largest island in the Paracels, which is about the same land area as all of the Spratly Islands combined. Woody Island is the location of Sansha City, a prefecture-level city established by China in June 2012 as its administrative centre for its claims in the South China Sea.

Scarborough Reef is located in the northern part of the South China Sea between the Philippines and the Paracels, and is claimed by China, the Philippines and Taiwan. Scarborough Reef is located about 130 miles from the Philippine island of Luzon. Most of the reef is either completely submerged or above water at low tide, but it contains several small rocks which are above water at high tide. It has been a major source of tension between China and the Philippines since the Philippines attempted arrest of Chinese fishermen in June 2012.

The Pratas Islands are located just over 200 miles southwest of Hong Kong. They are occupied by Taiwan, and are also claimed by China.

Macclesfield Bank, a large sunken reef that is completely submerged at low tide, is located between Scarborough Reef and the Paracels. It is claimed by China and Taiwan.

Resources as a Driver of Competition

Many analysts feel that resource competition has become one of the key drivers of territorial disputes and tension, particularly in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

The South China Sea, for example, is a major source of fish resources for each of the nations that borders it, and the largest source of fish for China, the Philippines and Vietnam. The over-fishing in coastal waters has led to depletion of resources thus competition has led fishing boats to work towards offshore.

Many energy industry observers believe that the sea also has substantial reserves of oil and natural gas. The rising energy demand in countries has encouraged more offshore energy development in their economic planning.

New technologies are making complicated offshore oil and gas development more feasible, and high energy prices are contributing to the desire to control these resources.

Energy Resources

Because much of the South China Sea has never been fully explored, accurate assessments of exploitable oil and gas reserves do not exist. A report by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2008 cited some of the most optimistic estimates-Chinese assessments that it could have reserves totaling 213 billion barrels of oil and 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Many analysts argue, however, that because much of the northern part of the South China Sea is deep, energy resources may not be exploitable on this scale.

In May 2012, the state-owned China National Overseas Oil Corp (CNOOC) unveiled a deep-water drilling rig that could extend its ability to exploit resources into waters deeper than its current capabilities allow. Still, industry analysts believe that international energy companies have considerably more technical ability to develop resources in difficult offshore settings-and thus, much of the sea will likely go undeveloped as long as the disputes continue.

Offshore energy development is based on assertion of sovereignty over parts of the sea, and because such assertions are still widely overlapping, there are increasing chances for conflict. For example, China warned international oil companies in 2006 that they should not work in regions with unsettled territorial disputes where Vietnam was seeking development partners.

In 2012, a Chinese state oil company, the Chinese National Overseas Oil Corp. (CNOOC) offered tenders for offshore oil and gas exploration within Vietnam’s EEZ, overlapping with areas Vietnam had already tendered and, in some cases, in which companies were already exploring and drilling. This action prompted angry reactions in Vietnam, which deemed the moves illegal.

Such disputes have created uncertainties that constrain offshore resource exploration and development, which requires long-term periods of stability.

There are, however, some examples of exploration and development that have taken place in disputed areas. China, the Philippines, and Vietnam have each undertaken oil-and-gas exploration in disputed parts of the South China Sea, and the Philippines and Vietnam have offered exploration and development contracts to international oil-andgas firms, including American companies.

Fishery Resources

Fishing presents another potential source of conflict. The South China Sea is the largest source of fish, an important foodstock, in each of the claimant countries.

The fishing industries of each of the disputants include large numbers of vessels which travel increasingly farther from their home coasts due to overfishing in coastal waters, bringing them into disputed waters. This has led to frequent incidents of harassment of vessels, confiscation of catches and equipment, and sometimes imprisonment of fishermen.

A 2012 dispute between the Philippines and China at Scarborough Shoal, an outcropping of rocks within the Philippines’ EEZ and China’s nine-dash line, began when Philippine coast guard officials boarded Chinese fishing vessels and confiscated illegally obtained shark and coral. Some analysts point to joint management of fisheries as a potential path towards lowering tensions and fostering functional cooperation among disputants.

Attempts for Resolution

  • Currently, states in Southeast Asia are utilizing four different strategies to try to solve the issue.
  • First, states are pushing for bilateral solutions in incremental stages. Beijing has repeatedly stated a preference for this method, but regional states widely regard it as an attempt to freeze resource development, while doing little to actually resolve the various claims. On the other hand, Vietnam and China recently used bilateral diplomacy to reduce tensions.
  • Second, attempts are being made to resolve the issue at the multilateral level, that is utilizing ASEAN. So far it is difficult to achieve much, as only four of ASEAN’s 10 member states are involved in the South China Sea issue, and China has been able to detach the other six members at various times from positions taken by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.
  • Third, fostering closer ties to the US also remains an option, as Washington is still the predominant power in the region. The Philippines and Vietnam in particular have sought strategic reassurance through new or renewed security agreements with the US; and Washington – concerned that China covets such a strategic sea line of communication – has responded warmly.
  • And fourth, Southeast Asian nations are involving non-regional states in the issue. Vietnam’s agreement with India on drilling in contested waters falls into this strategy, and follows a general campaign by Hanoi to engage external states and oil firms – such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BP and Zarubezhneft as a form of pressure on Beijing. But these strategies are not making the slightest difference, and serve only to exacerbate tensions.


India and South China Dispute

India has a strong interest in keeping sea lanes open in the South China Sea. The South China Sea is not only a strategic maritime link between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, but also a vital gateway for shipping in East Asia.

Almost, 55% of India’s trade with the Asia Pacific transits through the South China Sea. Apart from helping secure energy supplies for countries like Japan and Korea, India has the unique distinction of shipping oil from Sakhalin to Mangalore through sea routes of the region. Therefore, it is vital for India to have access to the region.

If China continues to assert dominance over these waters, it will be difficult for India to continue with its activities through this channel.

But China’s hard line on the South China Sea has affected India too. New Delhi was a bit taken aback after Beijing denounced plans by an Indian Company to develop oil fields in the region.

The Chinese objection was to ONGC Videsh’s (OVL) venture for off-shore oil exploration in water’s belonging to Vietnam (not recognized by China), Beijing urged India to refrain from entering into deals with Vietnamese firms exploring oil and gas in the disputed South China Sea over which China enjoys ‘indisputable’ sovereignty.

India however, in recent years, has been seen as a credible counterweight to China. Southeast Asian countries, wary of continued Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, have encouraged joint maritime exercises with India.

In February 2010, the Indian Navy concluded its Milan series of maritime exercises in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and almost all ASEAN countries participated in Milan exercise.

India, which has helped Malaysia in building up its Coast Guard in the past, must consider assisting other ASEAN countries. India has a strong Navy with technological credibility that can be leveraged by ASEAN. Collaboration on missile technology, radar systems, defence component systems and supporting hardware are again areas where ASEAN countries can work in partnership with India. China, naturally, does not welcome the ASEAN move to interact militarily with India.

India has also shown keenness to sell Brahmos missiles to friendly countries including the neighboring Southeast Asian countries. Most of the ASEAN countries have been engaged in a defense modernization programme and would like to obtain assistance in weapons up-gradation and systems integration.

Like India, most of the Southeast Asian countries also rely on Russia for their defence procurements. India with its long experience in using Russian products and developed the technological capabilities for low cost servicing could be a potential ally for ASEAN in this field. Assisting ASEAN will also improve India’s relations with the Southeast Asian countries bilaterally and multilaterally and it will also boost India’s morale in balancing China in the IOR.

India’s Interests in the SCS

India has a strong interest in keeping sea lanes open in the SCS.

  • The SCS is not only a strategic maritime link between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, but also a vital gateway for shipping in East Asia. Almost, 55% of India’s trade with the Asia Pacific transits through the SCS.
  • Apart from helping secure energy supplies for countries like Japan and Korea, India has the unique distinction of shipping oil from Sakhalin to Mangalore through sea routes of the region. Therefore, it is vital for India to have access to the region. If China continues to assert dominance over these waters, it will be difficult for India to continue with its activities through this channel.
  • Presence of India in SCS is not only Counter balance China in South East Asia but it will put pressure on China in South Asia too.
  • Presence in South China Sea will help India to have effective control over Malacca strait.
  • SCS is crucial in India’s Look East Policy-2.
South china sea dispute

Recent Ruling of the Tribunal

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, has ruled that China’s claims of historical rights over South China Sea (SCS) has no legal basis. The case was brought to the court in 2013 by the Philippines, centring on the Scarborough Shoal, but Beijing chose to boycott the proceedings.

What did the arbitration panel rule?

  • The court at The Hague ruled that China’s claims to the waters within the so-called “nine-dash line”, with wide-ranging economic interests, was in breach of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • The court slammed China for damaging parts of the ecosystem in the Spratly islands- a contested archipelago– on account of overfishing and development of artificial islands.
  • The Court also said that China violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights. It said China has caused “severe harm to the coral reef environment” by building artificial islands.

What is the ‘nine-dash’ line?

The ‘nine-dash line’ stretches hundreds of kilometers south and east of its southerly Hainan Island, covering the strategic Paracel and Spratly island chains. China buttresses its claims by citing 2,000 years of history when the two island chains were regarded as its integral parts.


Chinese response to ruling of PCA

  • China rejected an international ruling on the South China Sea as “null and void” and devoid of any “binding force”.
  • China is contemplating to establish a military Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea (SCS). The imposition of an ADIZ would require overflying planes to first notify China.
  • Many Chinese experts stressed that the entire episode was a cover to enforce the US’ “Pivot of Asia” or Rebalance strategy, aimed at the containment of China.

India’s response

India has made it clear that it recognised that the tribunal had been set up within the jurisdiction of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that must be given the “utmost respect”.


Despite gloomy predictions about the inevitability of competition between China and India, cooperation between Asia‘s two emerging powers is possible. It, will however, require a much more concerted effort to bridge the gap in socio-cultural understanding that existed between them, there remains a fundamental lack of appreciation on the part of each country of the underlying cultural and societal norms that define the other norms that influence each country‘s perception of its own national interest.

It is argued that greater appreciation of these elements is critical if China and India are to successfully address issues such as the ongoing border dispute and the mounting trade imbalance.

In present and future scenarios, strategic and diplomatic relations between China and India are fraught with complication, tensions and misgivings on both sides upon the historical legacies of relations between the two countries. Much of the mistrust and misgivings emanate from the legacy of the 1962 war between the two countries.

The following five decades have seen generation of Indians growing up with an inherent wariness of China and anything Chinese. The public popular imagination in India was fuelled by the often repeated stories of the great betrayal by the supposed ally nation.

In recent decades after India gained its independence from Britain in 1947, there was a lot of popular hope for a strong and mutually beneficial partnership between the two nations. This was reflected in the popular phrase that was chanted by Indian children in the 1950s: Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai, the general atmosphere of bonhomie and Friendship was such that most Indians could not imagine the advent of Chinese military aggression on their relative unguarded northeast.


Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
0 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of