Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Preventing a China-Taiwan conflict

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Reason behind the maintaining in China-Taiwan conflict

Why in the News?

India, with growing national interests, faces entanglements in disputes like Taiwan. While China claims Taiwan, India is unlikely to engage militarily, focusing on safeguarding its economic and security interests.

Context:

  • The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) recently achieved an unprecedented third consecutive term in Taiwan’s legislative elections, defying China’s threats and hostilities.
  • Taiwan’s legislative assembly faces a unique scenario with no clear majority for the first time in twenty years, which complicates policymaking and interactions with China.

Three reasons for Indian Government to maintain the Status quo:

  • Firstly, India is interested in maintaining the current state, wherein Taiwan operates as a self-governing territory without asserting independence.
  • Secondly, Chinese aggression against Taiwan would be catastrophically costly for India. A recent Bloomberg study estimates that the costs of a conflict would amount to over 10% of global GDP. India’s economy would suffer a greater shock than the U.S. economy and its most valuable sectors, from electronics to pharmaceuticals, would run dry of components and materials.
  • Thirdly, if China wins, it could become more confident and expand its influence, possibly reaching the Indian Ocean. This could pose significant challenges to India’s strategic interests and territorial integrity, potentially leading to increased tensions, especially in Arunachal Pradesh.

Scope for Indian Government:

  • Utilize International Law: India can leverage international legal frameworks to advocate for peaceful resolutions and oppose aggression against Taiwan.
  • Narrative Building: India can shape narratives against aggression, highlighting the risks and consequences of military conflict.
  • Diplomatic Coordination: India can work with other nations to coordinate diplomatic efforts aimed at dissuading China from military action.
  • Economic Measures: India can undertake economic de-risking measures to minimize vulnerabilities and reduce dependence on China like economic relations with other countries
  • Information Operations: India can engage in information campaigns to support the Taiwanese people and raise awareness about the situation.
  • Military Support: India can support U.S. forces in the Indian Ocean, enhancing deterrence capabilities and signalling commitment to regional stability.

Conclusion: India, prioritizing economic and security interests, maintains the Taiwan status quo. To prevent conflict, it leverages international law, builds narratives against aggression, coordinates diplomacy, and considers economic diversification while supporting regional stability.


Mains PYQ

Q China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’, In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbor. (UPSC IAS/2017)

Q With respect to the South China sea, maritime territorial disputes and rising tension affaire the need for safeguarding maritime security to ensure freedom of navigation and ever flight throughout the region. In this context, discuss the bilateral issues between India and China. ( UPSC IAS/2014)

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China objects to US recognizing Arunachal as Indian Territory

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Border dispute between India and china

Mains level: role of usa in resolving dispute between India and China

Why in the news? 

China on Thursday said it firmly opposes the US recognition of Arunachal Pradesh as part of Indian territory

Context-

  • China’s strong reaction came hours after US State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel’s remarks that the United States “recognises Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory.
  • US representative strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to advance territorial claims by incursions or encroachments, military or civilian, across the Line of Actual Control.

Border Issues between Indian and China-

  • Aksai Chin: China administers it as part of Xinjiang, while India claims it as part of Ladakh.Aksai Chin holds strategic importance due to its proximity to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its potential as a military route.
  • Arunachal Pradesh: China claims the entire state as “South Tibet,” while India administers it as a northeastern state.
  • Lack of Clear Demarcation: The border between India and China lacks clear demarcation throughout. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) was established after the 1962 Indo-China war, contributing to the complexity of the situation.Absence of a mutually agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC) along certain stretches leads to ambiguity and potential for conflicts.

Military Standoffs between India and China- 

  • 1962 Sino-Indian War– It was a conflict over border disputes, primarily centered around Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, resulting in a decisive victory for China.
  • Confrontations have escalated since 2013-The most serious  conflict were in Galwan Valley in Ladakh in 2020 and in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in 2022.

Border Dispute Settlement Mechanisms between India and China-

  • Panchsheel Agreement of 1954: The Panchsheel doctrine distinctly expressed a commitment to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • Peace and Tranquility Agreements1993: Both countries have signed several agreements aimed at maintaining peace and tranquility along the border, such as the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China Border Areas signed in 1993.
  • The Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC- It was signed in 1996, which laid down pledges on non-aggression, prior notification of large troop movements, and exchange of maps to resolve disagreements over the LAC.
  • Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC): This mechanism, established in 2012, aims to address day-to-day management of the border, enhance communication, and prevent misunderstandings or conflicts.
  • Joint Military Exercises: India and China occasionally conduct joint military exercises aimed at improving mutual understanding and cooperation, which indirectly contributes to confidence-building measures. For example Hand in Hand.

Suggestive measures to resolve the border dispute between India and China:

  • Diplomatic Dialogue: Both countries should engage in sustained diplomatic negotiations at various levels to address the underlying issues causing the dispute.
  • Bilateral Agreements: Continuation and reinforcement of existing bilateral agreements aimed at maintaining peace and tranquillity along the border.
  • Border Management Mechanisms: Strengthening and enhancing border management mechanisms such as Border Personnel Meetings (BPMs) and the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) to effectively manage and resolve disputes.
  • Clarification of LAC: Work towards mutual clarification and delineation of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to reduce ambiguity and prevent misunderstandings.
  • Disengagement and De-escalation: Prioritize efforts to disengage troops and de-escalate tensions in disputed areas along the border.
  • Conflict Prevention: Implement measures aimed at preventing confrontations and conflicts, such as prior notification of military exercises and troop movements.
  • Third-Party Mediation: Consider the involvement of neutral third-party mediators or international organizations to facilitate dialogue and negotiation.
  • People-to-People Contacts: Promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges to foster better understanding and trust between the two nations.

How USA can help to resolve border dispute between India and China- 

  • Facilitate Diplomatic Dialogue: The USA can encourage and facilitate diplomatic dialogue between India and China to resolve the border dispute peacefully.
  • Mediation Role: Offer to mediate or provide assistance as a neutral third-party mediator if both parties consent to such involvement.
  • Provide Strategic Support: Offer strategic support and expertise in conflict resolution to help address the complex issues underlying the dispute.
  • Pressure for Peaceful Resolution: Use diplomatic channels to exert pressure on both India and China to prioritize peaceful resolution of the dispute.
  • Regional Stability: Emphasize the importance of resolving the border dispute for regional stability and economic development.
  • Support Existing Mechanisms: Support existing border dispute settlement mechanisms, such as the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC), through funding or technical assistance.

Conclusion-

China’s objection to the US recognizing Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory underscores the need for diplomatic dialogue. The US can play a constructive role by facilitating negotiations and supporting existing mechanisms for peaceful resolution. 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s Xiaokang Border Defence Villages along LAC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Xiaokang Border Defence Villages

Mains level: China's motive to populate LAC

Xiaokang

Introduction

  • Recent reports reveal a concerning development along India’s northeastern border with China as the Chinese people have begun occupying several Xiaokang border defence villages. Let’s delve into the details of these villages, their significance, and India’s response to this escalating situation.

About Xiaokang Border Defence Villages

  • Construction Initiative: China initiated the construction of 628 Xiaokang or “well-off villages” along India’s borders with the Tibet Autonomous Region over five years ago, including areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Infrastructure: These villages boast mostly double-storey, spacious buildings, designed for dual-use purposes, raising concerns from a defense standpoint.

Purpose and Concerns

  • Dual-Use Infrastructure: The exact purpose of these villages remains unclear, but they are perceived as strategic assets, capable of serving both civil and military functions.
  • Territorial Assertions: Many in the strategic community view these villages as a means for China to assert its claims over specific areas along the LAC, exacerbating tensions between the two nations.

India’s Response

  • Vibrant Villages Programme: In response, India launched the Vibrant Villages Programme in 2022, aiming to modernize border villages and promote tourism.
  • Pilot Projects: At least 17 border villages along the China-India border have been selected for development, including areas in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Focus on Northeast: Villages in Arunachal Pradesh’s eastern region and the Tawang area are specifically targeted for development, highlighting India’s strategic focus in this region.

Infrastructure Developments

  • China’s Initiatives: China has been actively constructing infrastructure along the LAC, including roads, bridges, and housing in Bhutanese territory.
  • India’s Countermeasures: India is also bolstering its border infrastructure, focusing on enhancing connectivity and developing alternate routes to the LAC, particularly in the northeast region.

Conclusion

  • The occupation of Xiaokang border defence villages by China raises significant concerns about regional stability and territorial integrity.
  • India’s proactive response through developmental initiatives underscores its commitment to safeguarding its borders and promoting socio-economic progress in border areas.
  • As tensions persist, both nations continue to navigate this complex geopolitical landscape with vigilance and strategic foresight.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Complex China-Taiwan Relations: A Historical Perspective

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: China-Taiwan Relations

taiwan

Introduction

  • Taiwan’s presidential election on January 13, which saw the victory of the ruling party candidate Lai Ching-te, carries significant implications not only for the island but also for global geopolitics.
  • To understand the dynamics at play, it’s crucial to delve into the complex history and evolving relationship between China and Taiwan.

Taiwan Tension: A Historical Background

  • Early Settlement: Taiwan’s first known settlers were Austronesian tribal people, believed to have migrated from southern China.
  • Chinese Records: Chinese records from AD 239 mention Taiwan, forming part of China’s territorial claim.
  • Qing Dynasty and Japan: Taiwan was administered by China’s Qing dynasty and later ceded to Japan after the First Sino-Japanese War.
  • Post-World War II: After World War II, Taiwan was officially considered occupied by the Republic of China (ROC), with the consent of the US and UK.

Civil War and Exile

  • Civil War: A civil war broke out in China, leading Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang (KMT) government, along with supporters, to flee to Taiwan in 1949.
  • Dictatorship Era: Chiang established a dictatorship that ruled Taiwan until the 1980s.
  • Transition to Democracy: After Chiang’s death, Taiwan embarked on a transition to democracy, holding its first elections in 1996.

Status of Taiwan

  • Disagreement: There is disagreement regarding Taiwan’s status.
  • Independent Governance: Taiwan has its own constitution, democratically-elected leaders, and an armed forces.
  • Decline in Recognition: Over time, the number of countries recognizing Taiwan as the ROC government has dwindled, largely due to diplomatic pressure from China.

Evolving Relations with China

  • 1980s Improvement: Relations started improving in the 1980s as Taiwan relaxed rules on visits and investments in China.
  • One Country, Two Systems: China proposed the “one country, two systems” option, which Taiwan rejected.
  • Political Shift: The election of Chen Shui-bian in 2000 marked a shift, as he openly backed Taiwan “independence.”
  • Anti-Secession Law: China passed an anti-secession law in 2005, threatening non-peaceful means against Taiwan.
  • Cross-Strait Relations: Cross-strait relations soured under President Tsai Ing-wen, with China cutting off official communications due to her refusal to endorse a single Chinese nation concept.

US Involvement

  • US-Taiwan Relations: The US officially recognizes Beijing but remains Taiwan’s significant international supporter.
  • Defensive Commitment: The US is bound by law to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons, and President Joe Biden has stated a commitment to defending Taiwan militarily.
  • Contested Issue: Taiwan remains a contentious issue in US-China relations, with Beijing condemning perceived US support for Taipei.
  • Increased Tensions: China has intensified its “grey zone warfare” around Taiwan, sending fighter jets and conducting military drills in response to US-Taiwan exchanges.

Conclusion

  • The results of Taiwan’s presidential election and the evolving China-Taiwan relationship have far-reaching implications for global politics.
  • Balancing diplomatic recognition, territorial disputes, and US involvement, the delicate equilibrium in the Taiwan Strait will continue to shape the course of international relations in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The outlook for 2024, for the world and India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: importance of fortified Center-State relations for efficacious governance

Central idea 

The editorial examines the heightened global risks in 2024, navigating a precarious era marked by challenges to the existing international order. It anticipates potential flashpoints, including the war in Ukraine and Middle East tensions, while also scrutinizing India’s prospects and internal dynamics. Emphasizing the importance of robust Center-State relations, the editorial envisions a turbulent period demanding strategic foresight and diplomatic acuity.

Key Highlights:

  • The editorial explores the expected global risks and uncertainties in 2024, highlighting a period of significant danger.
  • Challenges to the existing international order are emphasized, coming not only from its supporters but also from those declaring it outdated.
  • Potential flashpoints, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine and escalating tensions in the Middle East, are identified.
  • Changing geopolitical dynamics in West Asia, where emerging alliances challenge Western dominance, are carefully examined.
  • India’s prospects in 2024, including the upcoming general election and potential economic challenges, are concisely discussed.
  • Sino-Indian relations are predicted to remain strained, with a focus on possible provocative actions by China.
  • The editorial acknowledges challenges to India’s influence in its neighborhood and the evolving landscape of West Asia.
  • Internal dynamics in India, encompassing a politically charged atmosphere and turmoil in Parliament, are thoughtfully explored.
  • The editorial underscores the importance of strong Center-State relations for effective governance.

Key Challenges:

  • The global landscape is filled with risks and uncertainties, presenting formidable challenges to stability.
  • The existing international order faces challenges not only from its critics but also from supporters questioning its relevance.
  • Potential flashpoints, including the enduring war in Ukraine and escalating tensions in the Middle East, increase geopolitical vulnerabilities.
  • Changing geopolitical dynamics introduce challenges to established Western leadership paradigms.
  • India faces potential challenges in the upcoming general election and contends with economic uncertainties.
  • Strained Sino-Indian relations and potential provocations by China introduce security challenges.
  • Internal challenges in India include heightened political tensions and parliamentary disarray.

Key Terms and Phrases:

  • Global risks and uncertainties
  • Rules-based international order
  • Geostrategic contradictions
  • Flashpoints
  • Shifting geopolitical dynamics
  • Unforeseen challenges (“black swans”)
  • Adventurist actions
  • Center-State relations

Key Quotes:

  • “Navigating an epoch of substantial peril.”
  • “Challenged by architects of the ‘rules-based international order’ and those deeming it antiquated.”
  • “An era fraught with substantial peril.”
  • “Potential ‘adventurist actions’ by China.”
  • “An impending period of turbulence.”
  • “Politically charged atmosphere.”
  • “Expulsion of the Trinamool Congress Member of Parliament, Mahua Moitra.”

Anecdotes:

  • Exploration of the enduring war in Ukraine and its potential ramifications on the U.S. presidential election.
  • Insight into the Israel-Hamas conflict as a catalyst for heightened tensions in the Middle East.
  • Brief anecdote concerning the ruling dispensation’s assurance in India’s forthcoming general election.

Key Statements:

  • “The world stands on the brink of a period marked by significant peril.”
  • “The existing international order grapples with multifaceted challenges.”
  • “Geostrategic contradictions are poised to escalate.”
  • “The internal landscape demands vigilant observation.”
  • “The nation approaches a potential turning point.”

Key Examples and References:

  • The enduring war in Ukraine and its potential influence on the U.S. presidential election.
  • Israel-Hamas conflict as a driver of heightened tensions in the Middle East.
  • Shifting geopolitics in West Asia and emerging alliances challenging Western leadership.

Critical Analysis:

  • The editorial furnishes a nuanced analysis of potential challenges and uncertainties on a global scale and within India.
  • Emphasis on the importance of fortified Center-State relations for efficacious governance.
  • Recognition of potential “black swans” and unforeseen challenges.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India’s growing neighbourhood dilemmas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: focus on reducing anti-India sentiments

McMOHAN LINE | UPSC Current Affairs | IAS GYAN

Central idea

The central idea revolves around the challenges in India’s neighborhood, marked by politically anti-India regimes, China’s growing influence, and a changing geopolitical landscape. The dilemmas stem from a shift in power dynamics, policy stances, and mistaken assumptions, necessitating a realistic approach, proactive diplomacy, and addressing workforce shortages for effective foreign policy implementation.

Key Highlights:

  • Neighbourhood Challenges: The Achilles heel of Indian foreign policy lies in its neighbourhood, posing three types of dilemmas: politically anti-India regimes, structural challenges from Beijing’s growing influence, and the overarching geopolitical architecture.
  • China’s Rising Influence: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and strategic outreach in South Asia present challenges, making India geopolitically vulnerable within an unfriendly neighbourhood.
  • Causes of Dilemmas: Regional geopolitical architecture, China’s ascendance, normative approach vs. China’s non-normative stance, and the shift from resident to non-resident power dynamics contribute to India’s dilemmas.
  • Policy Stance Dilemma: India’s status quo bias in dealing with regional politics and a focus on power centers contribute to path-dependencies and sometimes alienate other centers of power or opposition leaders.
  • Mistaken Assumptions: Assumptions that South Asia minus Pakistan would align with Indian geopolitical reasoning and that cultural connections would ensure better relations have proven inaccurate.

Key Challenges:

  • Changing Balance of Power: India must adapt to the changed balance of power in Southern Asia, acknowledging China’s emergence as a serious contender for regional primacy.
  • Involvement of External Actors: Proactively involving friendly external actors in the region is crucial to prevent it from becoming Sino-centric.
  • Flexible Diplomacy: Indian diplomacy needs to be flexible, engaging multiple actors in each neighboring country and focusing on lessening anti-India attitudes rather than solely dealing with those in power.
  • Diplomatic Workforce Shortage: The shortage of diplomats is a critical challenge, hindering India’s ability to implement foreign policy effectively and respond to global opportunities or crises.

Key Quotes:

  • “India’s neighbours and periphery are China’s too, even if we do not like it.”
  • “Dealing with whoever is in power is a good policy, but engaging only those in power is a bad policy.”

Critical Analysis:

  • India faces complex geopolitical challenges in its neighborhood, requiring a pragmatic approach to the changed power dynamics. The need for a mental switch, proactive diplomacy, and addressing workforce shortages emerges as critical. The evolving scenario necessitates a shift from traditional assumptions and a more nuanced engagement strategy.

Way Forward:

  • Realistic Framing: India should acknowledge the fundamental changes in the regional balance of power and operate within the framework of a new geopolitical reality.
  • External Actor Engagement: Actively involve friendly external actors to counterbalance China’s influence in the region.
  • Flexible Diplomacy: Adopt a flexible diplomatic approach that engages with multiple actors in neighboring countries, focusing on reducing anti-India sentiments.
  • Diplomatic Workforce Enhancement: Address the shortage of diplomats by significantly enhancing India’s diplomatic workforce to effectively implement foreign policy objectives.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Places in news: Julian Felipe Reef

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Julian Felipe Reef

Mains level: Not Much

Julian Felipe Reef

Central Idea

  • The Philippines confirmed that more than 135 Chinese vessels made incursion on Julian Felipe Reef (also known as Whitsun Reef), a place off its coast.

About Julian Felipe Reef

  • Julian Felipe Reef is part of the Spratly Islands, located in the West Philippine Sea, a portion of the South China Sea.
  • It lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
  • It is a large boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef.

Recent Dispute

  • The reef gained international attention in early 2021 when a large number of Chinese vessels, described by the Philippines as maritime militia, were spotted at the reef.
  • It is subject to a territorial dispute involving several countries, primarily the Philippines, China, and Vietnam.
  • The Philippines claims the Reef as part of its territory, specifically within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, under the UNCLOS.
  • This dispute is part of the larger and complex South China Sea territorial disputes involving various countries in the region.
  • The Philippines has sought international arbitration under UNCLOS to assert its claims.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Places in news: Julian Felipe (Whitson) Reef

Julian Felipe Reef

Central Idea

  • The Philippines confirmed that more than 135 Chinese vessels made incursion on Julian Felipe Reef (also known as Whitsun Reef), a place off its coast.

About Julian Felipe Reef

  • Julian Felipe Reef is part of the Spratly Islands, located in the West Philippine Sea, a portion of the South China Sea.
  • It lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
  • It is a large boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef.

Recent Dispute

  • The reef gained international attention in early 2021 when a large number of Chinese vessels, described by the Philippines as maritime militia, were spotted at the reef.
  • It is subject to a territorial dispute involving several countries, primarily the Philippines, China, and Vietnam.
  • The Philippines claims the Reef as part of its territory, specifically within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, under the UNCLOS.
  • This dispute is part of the larger and complex South China Sea territorial disputes involving various countries in the region.
  • The Philippines has sought international arbitration under UNCLOS to assert its claims.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

How Racism overshadowed India-Taiwan Co-operation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India Taiwan Relations

taiwan

Central Idea

  • Recent reports of India and Taiwan considering a MoU to facilitate Indian workers’ employment in Taiwan have revealed underlying issues of racism and stereotypes.
  • These negative perceptions have implications for both countries and the need for addressing such biases is paramount.

Racism in Taiwan and Stereotypes

  • MoU Announcement: Reports of a MoU between India and Taiwan sparked racism in Taiwan towards Indian men.
  • Negative Stereotypes: Taiwanese netizens labeled Indian men as dirty, uneducated, and even used derogatory terms like ‘rapists.’
  • China-Backed Media: China-backed media amplified stereotypes, perpetuating narratives about women’s safety in India.
  • Taiwan’s Response: Taiwan clarified that the news of Indian workers’ arrival was ‘inaccurate’ but acknowledged ongoing talks with India.

Reality of Indian Workers Globally

  • Worldwide Presence: Indian workers, both blue-collar and white-collar, are present globally, contributing significantly to economies.
  • Remittances: According to a World Bank report, Indian laborers remittances abroad reached a record USD 100 billion in 2021, highlighting their global acceptance.

Misconceptions and Global Gender Issues

  • Misplaced Blame: Associating crimes and issues with specific nationalities hinders cooperation.
  • Global Gender Inequality: Issues such as unequal pay, workplace harassment, and unfair work burdens affect women worldwide.

India-Taiwan Cooperation: Mutual Benefits

  • Taiwan’s Aging Population: Taiwan faces an impending ‘super-aged’ society by 2025 and requires a younger workforce.
  • India’s Labor Force: India can provide a youthful and skilled workforce to fill Taiwan’s labor gap.
  • Economic Benefits: Such cooperation benefits both countries by addressing unemployment and boosting foreign remittances for India and supporting Taiwan’s economy.

Taiwan’s Focus on India

  • Historical Perspective: Taiwan has traditionally focused on Europe and the US for economic growth, trade, and funding.
  • Need for Attention: India, as an economic and strategic partner, deserves more attention for stronger ties.

Taiwan’s Racism Problem

  • Past Instances: Taiwan has faced criticism for discriminatory policies against Southeast Asian workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Exploitative Practices: Some foreign workers in Taiwan experience exploitative practices bordering on forced labor.

Taiwan’s Reputation and India’s Support

  • Positive Image: Taiwan’s democratic credentials and resistance to China’s influence have earned it a positive image among Indians.
  • India’s Support: India’s support for Taiwan enhances its international standing and challenges China’s efforts to isolate it.

Conclusion

  • Addressing racism, stereotypes, and discriminatory policies is essential for nurturing the growing strategic and economic ties between India and Taiwan.
  • Both nations must work towards fostering a friendly and inclusive environment to protect the investment made in their relationship and counteract divisive narratives.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

1962 India-China War: Sudden Ceasefire and Withdrawal Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-China rivalry

1962 India-China War

Central Idea

  • On November 21, 1962, in a surprising move, China declared a ceasefire in a war against India, a conflict it seemed to be winning.
  • This war was a critical event for both countries, impacting India’s Prime Minister Nehru and showcasing China’s military strength.

Origins of the 1962 India-China War

  • India’s ‘Forward Policy’: India’s strategy of establishing outposts in contested areas is often seen as a trigger for the war. Critics suggest that these moves by an underprepared Indian Army might have forced China’s hand.
  • Sheltering the Dalai Lama: India’s choice to offer refuge to the Dalai Lama, fleeing from Chinese rule in Tibet, was another significant factor. China saw this as a chance to assert its dominance in Asia.
  • China’s Internal Struggles: Inside China, there was growing dissatisfaction with Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, a policy aimed at rapid modernization. A successful war could help improve Mao’s standing.

Ceasefire and Withdrawal

  • Stretched Chinese Supply Lines: China’s quick advance stretched its supply lines thin. With the Indian Army putting up a strong defense and the harsh winter setting in, the situation became more favorable for India. The difficult mountainous terrain also posed a challenge for China.
  • International Involvement: Nehru’s call for help to the US and UK led to quick support. President Kennedy sent weapons and supplies to India, and the Royal Air Force joined in. This global response hinted at a possible escalation of the conflict, which China might have wanted to avoid.
  • Changing Global Opinion: China’s capture of Tawang could have been a strategic stop, but its further advance into Indian Territory after October 24, 1962, shifted global opinion. Western powers started to view the situation more seriously, putting pressure on China.

Understanding China’s Strategy

  • A Tactic for Negotiation: Chinese scholar Hong Yuan suggested that China’s involvement in the war was not for conquest but for negotiation. The PLA’s military actions, reaching as far as New Delhi, were meant to facilitate peace talks.
  • Ensuring Long-Term Peace: The victory secured a peaceful border for China for the next fifty years. It showed that while war was a means to an end, it wasn’t the ultimate goal.

Conclusion

  • The 1962 India-China war, marked by China’s ceasefire and strategic retreat, is a complex and layered part of Indian history.
  • This ceasefire, though temporary, has a profound impact on the geopolitical landscape of the region and the world even today.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Explained: Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement (BPTA)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BPTA

Mains level: India-China Border disputes

bpta

Central Idea

  • India and China, historical adversaries who fought a war in 1962, reached their first-ever border agreement, known as the Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement (BPTA), in 1993, following years of border disputes.
  • The BPTA aimed to maintain peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and reduce the risk of unplanned confrontations.

Why discuss this?

  • Thirty years later, the legacy of this historic agreement is continued by contested interpretations and unfulfilled commitments, while the ongoing border crisis further highlights the challenges both nations face in reaching a resolution.

BPTA: A Historic Yet Contested Agreement

  • Context: The BPTA was negotiated in the aftermath of the Sumdorong Chu standoff, marking a significant diplomatic achievement in the early 1990s.
  • Signing: The agreement was signed in 1993 during the tenure of PV Narasimha Rao as PM.
  • Peaceful Coexistence: The agreement committed both nations to avoid using or threatening force against each other. It emphasized strict adherence to the LAC and mutual reduction of military forces to maintain friendly relations.
  • Legacy: While it played a crucial role in maintaining peace for nearly two decades, the BPTA also spurred infrastructure development and frequent incidents, ultimately leading to the Galwan clash in 2020.

Ambiguity Surrounding the LAC

  • Inherent Ambiguity: The primary issue undermining border agreements is the inherent ambiguity surrounding the LAC, which was embedded in the BPTA.
  • LAC Problem: India’s discomfort with the term “LAC” proposed by China in 1959 remained a contentious issue.
  • Ambiguous Formulation: The BPTA allowed both sides to clarify the LAC wherever necessary, implying a lack of shared perception about the 1959 LAC.
  • Compromised Clarity: This formulation didn’t definitively reject China’s version of the LAC but aimed to prevent constant confrontation.

Impact on Subsequent Agreements

  • Positive Developments: The BPTA paved the way for additional agreements, such as confidence-building measures in the Military Field along the LAC (1996) and the appointment of Special Representatives (2003).
  • Unfinished Business: Negotiations for a final boundary settlement stalled, and the mechanisms to clarify LAC claims remained incomplete.

Infrastructure Development and Tensions

  • Race for Facts on the Ground: Ambiguity over the LAC drove both countries to strengthen their claims through infrastructure development and increased patrols.
  • Frequent Encounters: Frequent encounters between patrols exacerbated tensions along the border.
  • Unforeseen Consequences: The BPTA inadvertently contributed to a slowdown in boundary negotiations, as both sides aimed to bolster their positions along the LAC.

The Current Crisis

  • Blatant Disregard: The ongoing crisis, beginning in 2020, saw both nations cast aside the commitments made in the first article of the BPTA.
  • Stalled Boundary Negotiations: Amidst the crisis, efforts to settle the boundary dispute have almost completely stalled.
  • A Challenging Relationship: The 30-year-old border remains unsettled, mirroring the broader complexities of the India-China relationship.

Conclusion

  • The BPTA reached 30 years ago, marked a significant milestone in India-China relations.
  • However, its legacy remains deeply contested and fraught with ambiguities.
  • As the ongoing border crisis unfolds, the challenges in achieving a lasting resolution and fostering peaceful coexistence between the two nations persist.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Mains level: Read the attached story

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Central Idea

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week is currently underway in San Francisco, bringing together leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to discuss pressing economic and trade issues.
  • Although India is not an APEC member, is participating at the forum.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): An Overview

  • Founding: APEC, established in 1989, is a regional economic forum aimed at promoting regional economic integration and greater prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. It consists of 21 member economies, termed “economies” due to their focus on trade and economic matters.
  • Member Economies: APEC’s member economies include Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong (as part of China), the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, and Chile, strategically located around the Pacific Ocean.

APEC’s Role over the Years

  • Champion of Free Trade: APEC has consistently advocated for free trade, reduction of trade tariffs, and economic liberalization.
  • Seoul Declaration: The 1991 Seoul Declaration marked the establishment of a liberalized free trade area around the Pacific Rim as APEC’s primary objective.
  • Economic Impact: APEC initiatives have contributed significantly to the development of a growing middle class in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC economies, comprising 2.9 billion citizens, account for approximately 60 percent of global GDP and 48 percent of global trade as of 2018.

India’s Interest in APEC

  • Historical Interest: India expressed interest in joining APEC in 1991, coinciding with the initiation of economic reforms for liberalization and globalization.
  • Rationale: India’s interest in APEC is based on its geographical location, the potential size of its economy, and its trade interactions with the Asia-Pacific.
  • Challenges: APEC has maintained an informal moratorium on expanding membership, despite India’s interest. The US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region in 2015 welcomed India’s interest in joining APEC but no formal progress has been made.

Highlights of APEC Summit 2023

  • Biden-Xi Meeting: The meeting between US President Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping is a significant highlight. While it may not result in immediate changes in US-China relations, it reflects ongoing high-level engagements.
  • Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF): The summit will focus on progress related to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), initiated after the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Fourteen members, including Fiji and India, are part of the IPEF, with the rest being APEC members.

Conclusion

  • The APEC Summit 2023 brings together leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to address economic and trade issues, with the Biden-Xi meeting and discussions on the IPEF among the key highlights.
  • Despite India’s historical interest in APEC, membership expansion remains a challenge, underscoring the importance of regional economic forums in shaping global economic policies and partnerships.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Bhutan-China Border Talks and Indian Concerns

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bhutan-China Border Talks

Mains level: Read the attached story

Bhutan-China Border Talks

Central Idea

  • In Beijing, the 25th round of Bhutan-China Border Talks culminated with the signing of a significant Cooperation Agreement.
  • This historic agreement reflects the progress made in their quest for border resolution, carrying forward the 3-Step Roadmap initiated in 2021.
  • Amid the backdrop of a seven-year gap in talks, these recent developments bear immense significance.

Bhutan-China Border Talks

  • Complex Border: Bhutan and the Tibetan Autonomous Region share an extensive contiguous border, spanning approximately 470 km. Prior to 2016, the two nations engaged in 24 rounds of talks to address border disputes.
  • Positive Momentum: Talks had been stalled due to the Doklam Standoff in 2017 and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic. However, this interlude witnessed discussions at other levels, especially after China raised concerns about a border dispute to Bhutan’s east.
  • A Seven-Year Hiatus Ends: After a prolonged pause in boundary talks lasting seven years, the resumption of discussions signals substantial headway.

3-Step Roadmap

  • Initiating Border Delimitation: The 3-Step roadmap, established through an MoU in 2021 and facilitated by the Joint Technical Team (JTT), aims to delineate the Bhutanese and Chinese territories conclusively. Despite the absence of diplomatic ties, Bhutan and China seek to formalize their border.
  • Steps in the Roadmap:
    1. Agreement on the border “on the table.”
    2. On-ground inspections of the border.
    3. Formal demarcation of the boundary.

India’s Vigilance and Concerns

  • Strained Sino-Indian Relations: In the context of deteriorating relations between India and China since the 2020 Line of Actual Control standoff, any warming of ties between China and one of India’s closest neighbours raises concerns in New Delhi.
  • Doklam: A Critical Focus: India closely observes discussions related to Doklam, where China has proposed a “swap” of areas under Bhutanese control with territories in Jakarlung and Pasamlung, claimed by China. The Doklam trijunction is strategically significant as it is in close proximity to India’s Siliguri corridor, a vital land link connecting northeastern states to the rest of India.
  • China’s Strategic Moves: Since the Doklam standoff in 2017, China has bolstered its presence in the Doklam plateau, constructing underground facilities, new roads, and villages in disputed areas within Bhutan, undermining India’s strategic interests.
  • Diplomatic Tensions: India remains cautious about China’s insistence on establishing full diplomatic relations with Bhutan and opening an embassy in Thimphu. Given India’s challenges with Chinese projects and funding in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, China’s presence in Bhutan raises apprehensions.

Conclusion

  • The Bhutan-China boundary talks represent a significant stride towards resolving longstanding disputes.
  • However, Bhutan’s leadership has emphasized that decisions will be made with due consideration for India’s concerns, maintaining a delicate balance in this Himalayan diplomatic endeavour.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

How the Sikh migration to Canada began?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Sikh Diaspora

canada sikh

Central Idea

  • Canadian PM recently shared evidence with India, alleging the involvement of Indian agents in the killing of pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
  • This claim triggered a diplomatic stand-off between Canada and India, with India accusing Canada of sheltering Khalistani terrorists and extremists.

Sikh Diaspora in Canada

  • Significant Population: According to the 2021 Canadian census, Sikhs account for 2.1% of Canada’s population, making Canada home to the largest Sikh population outside India.
  • Historical Migration: Sikhs have been migrating to Canada for over a century, primarily driven by their involvement in the British Empire’s armed services.
  • Expansion of the Empire: Wherever the British Empire expanded, Sikhs migrated, including countries in the Far East and East Africa.

Early Years of Sikh Migration

  • Queen Victoria’s Jubilee: Sikh migration to Canada began in 1897 during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Kesur Singh, a Risaldar Major in the British India Army, is considered one of the first Sikh settlers to arrive in Canada that year.
  • Laborers and Sojourners: The first significant wave of Sikh migration to Canada occurred in the early 1900s, with most migrants working as laborers in British Columbia’s logging industry and Ontario’s manufacturing sector.
  • Intent to Remit: Many of the early Sikh immigrants were sojourners, intending to stay for only a few years and remit their savings back to India.

Challenges and Pushback

  • Hostility and Prejudice: Sikh migrants faced hostility from locals who perceived them as job competitors. They also encountered racial and cultural prejudices.
  • Tightened Regulations: Due to mounting public pressure, the Canadian government imposed stringent regulations, such as requiring Asian immigrants to possess a specified sum of money and arrive only via a continuous journey from their country of origin.
  • Komagata Maru Incident: In 1914, the Komagata Maru incident occurred, where a ship carrying 376 South Asian passengers, mostly Sikhs, was detained in Vancouver for two months and then forced to return to Asia. This incident resulted in fatalities.

Turning Point after World War II

  • Relaxing Immigration Policy: After World War II, Canada’s immigration policy shifted for several reasons, including a commitment to the United Nations’ stance against racial discrimination, economic expansion, and a need for laborers.
  • Importance of Human Capital: Canada turned to third-world countries for the import of human capital, leading to a decline in European immigration.
  • Points System: In 1967, Canada introduced the ‘points system,’ focusing on skills as the main criterion for non-dependent relatives’ admission, eliminating racial preferences.

Conclusion

  • The history of Sikh migration to Canada spans over a century, marked by challenges, prejudice, and policy changes.
  • Today, Canada is home to a thriving Sikh community, showcasing the transformative journey from early struggles to a more inclusive and skill-based immigration system.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Tibetan Democracy Day: A Legacy of Struggle and Resilience

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tibetan Democracy Day

Mains level: Not Much

tibet

Central Idea

  • Tibetan Democracy Day on September 2 marks the founding of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala.
  • It signifies the establishment of Tibetan democracy after forced displacement.

Tibetan Govt in Exile: Historical Genesis

  • In 1960, a year after Tibetans were displaced, the first elected representatives of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile were sworn in.
  • His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s influence led to the enactment of the Tibetan constitution in 1963, emphasizing democracy.

Role of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)

  • The CTA, based in Dharamshala, manages over 100,000 Tibetan refugees globally.
  • It is the heart of Tibetan self-governance and resilience.
  • CTA’s Evolution:
  1. The first women representatives were elected in 1963 under the Tibetan constitution.
  2. In 1975, the CTA declared September 2 as the founding day of Tibetan democracy.
  3. The Charter of the Tibetans in exile was adopted in 1991, followed by the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission in 1992.

CTA’s Functioning

  • The CTA, led by the President (Sikyong), operates through departments: Religion and Culture, Home, Finance, Education, Security, Information and International Relations, and Health.
  • The Tibetan Parliament-in-exile has 45 members representing various aspects of the Tibetan community.

Leadership Transition

  • The Dalai Lama’s shift to semi-retirement led to direct elections of the executive head, Kalön Tripa.
  • In 2011, His Holiness delegated political authority to Sikyong, the President of the CTA.

Bodh Gaya’s Role

  • In 1960, the first elected Tibetan representatives took their oaths in Bodh Gaya, marking the inception of the democratic system.
  • Bodh Gaya played a pivotal role in the early days of Tibetan democracy.

India’s perception of Tibet

  • India respects the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader but does not officially recognize the CTA as a government.
  • It balances diplomatic considerations while supporting Tibetan refugees.

Global Recognition

  • The US stands as a vocal supporter, with bipartisan backing and specialized coordinators for Tibet.
  • While global recognition is limited, Tibetans value India’s consistent support.

Back2Basics: Tibetan Buddhism

Description
Origin and Development Form of Vajrayana Buddhism; emerged in Tibetan Plateau and Himalayan regions
Tantric Practices Emphasizes rapid spiritual awakening through rituals, visualizations, and energy transformation
Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) is spiritual leader; Panchen Lama is also significant
Monastic Traditions Strong monastic presence; monks and nuns preserve teachings and meditate
Deity Pantheon Diverse deities representing enlightenment qualities; depicted in mandalas and thangkas
Prayer Flags and Wheels Flags convey prayers; wheels accumulate merit and blessings
Reincarnation and Tulku System Belief in reincarnation; system to identify tulkus (reincarnated lamas)

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s Use of Stapled Visas and its Implications for India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Stapled Visa

Mains level: Not Much

stapled visa

Central Idea

  • The issuance of stapled visas by China to Indian nationals from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir has been a contentious issue between the two countries.

What is Stapled Visa?

  • A Stapled Visa is an unstamped piece of paper attached to the passport, different from a regular visa that is affixed and stamped.
  • China has been issuing stapled visas to Indian nationals from certain regions, notably Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, which are territories that China disputes with India.
  • By using stapled visas for residents of these regions, China is making a unilateral claim over the disputed territories, suggesting that it considers them as part of its own territory.

China’s Dispute over Indian Territory:

  • Sovereignty Dispute: China disputes India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh and questions the legal status of the McMahon Line, the boundary agreed upon between Tibet and British India in 1914. This dispute underlies Chinese claims over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and its repeated border transgressions into Indian Territory.
  • Unilateral Claim: China claims approximately 90,000 sq km of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory, referring to it as “Zangnan” or “South Tibet.” Chinese maps often depict Arunachal Pradesh as part of China.

Use of Stapled Visas:

  • Signaling Intentions: Chinese state media began referring to Arunachal Pradesh as “South Tibet” in 2005. In 2006, China refused to grant a visa to an Indian government official serving in Arunachal Pradesh. Subsequently, China started issuing stapled visas to all Indian citizens from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Timeline of Events: Stapled visas for Jammu and Kashmir residents appeared around 2008-09. Over the years, China repeatedly issued stapled visas to Indian nationals, including sports athletes, weightlifters, and archers, leading to tensions between the two countries.

India’s Response and Stance

  • Protest and Diplomatic Efforts: The Indian government has consistently protested against the issuance of stapled visas and conveyed its stance to China, asserting that there should be no discrimination based on domicile or ethnicity in the visa regime for Indian citizens.
  • Refusal to Accept Stapled Visas: India has refused to accept stapled visas as valid travel documents and cautioned Indian citizens that such visas are not considered valid for travel out of the country.
  • Sovereignty Assertion: India firmly asserts its sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh and maintains that stapled visas undermine its territorial integrity.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Why is China limiting exports of raw materials?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Read the attached story

china

Central Idea

  • China’s Ministry of Commerce recently announced export controls on gallium and germanium, citing national security interests.
  • The move has raised concerns due to the crucial role of these raw materials in semiconductor manufacturing and various other industries.

Why read this?

The restrictions imposed by China have prompted responses from other countries, highlighting the geopolitical backdrop of the ongoing ‘global chip war.’

 

Curbs Imposed by China

  • Specific Licensing Requirement: Export operators must acquire a specific license to restrict the export of gallium and germanium.
  • Application Process: Operators need to provide details of importers, end-users, end use, and the original export contract. Exporting without permission will be deemed a violation, leading to administrative penalties and potential criminal charges.

Significance and Concerns

  • Role of Gallium: Gallium is crucial for manufacturing semiconductor wafers, integrated circuits, mobile communications, satellite communications, LEDs, automotives, lighting, and sensor applications.
  • Role of Germanium: Germanium is used in fiber-optic cables, infrared imaging devices, optical devices, and solar cells due to its properties such as heat resistance and energy conversion efficiency.
  • Import Dependency: China dominates 80% of gallium production and 60% of germanium production, causing concerns for countries heavily reliant on imports, such as the European Commission and India.

International Responses

  • United States: The U.S. opposes China’s export controls and plans to consult with partners and allies to address the issue. The focus is on diversifying supply chains and building resilience.
  • European Commission: Expresses concerns about the development, raising doubts regarding its security-related nature.
  • Geopolitical Backdrop: The US, Japan, and the Netherlands have implemented export control measures for national security reasons, targeting advanced computing chips and semiconductor manufacturing capabilities.

China’s Perspective

  • Denial of Targeting Specific Countries: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson emphasizes that the export measures are not aimed at any particular country and highlights China’s commitment to secure and stable global supply chains.
  • Countermeasures: Some Chinese officials have suggested that the export controls are just the beginning, and China may escalate its countermeasures if restrictions intensify in the future.

Impact on India

  • Short-Term Disruption: India may experience short-term disruptions in its industries due to the disruption of immediate supply chains and increased prices.
  • Long-Term Consequences: The long-term impact on India’s chip-making plans and industries will depend on factors such as alternative supply sources, domestic semiconductor production capabilities, and strategic partnerships like the India-U.S. Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET).
  • Opportunity for India: India can explore waste recovery from zinc and alumina production for gallium and germanium, consider alternative substitutes like indium and silicon, and focus on domestic semiconductor production.

Conclusion

  • China’s export controls on gallium and germanium have raised concerns globally due to their critical role in various industries, particularly semiconductor manufacturing.
  • The responses from other countries reflect the geopolitical backdrop of the ongoing ‘chip war.’

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China-India Relations: A Path to Cooperation and Global Growth

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India- China potential for collaboration and China's inconsistencies in its words and actions

China

Central Idea

  • In a surprising turn of events, Ma Jia, China’s top diplomat to India, recently emphasized the potential for collaboration between China and India to promote global economic recovery and growth. While such statements from Chinese officials during summits are not uncommon, it is crucial to bridge the gap between China’s rhetoric and actions.

Beginning of India-China Relations

  • The two countries have played up their cultural links-such through the importation of Buddhism into China by wandering Chinese monks more than 1,500 years ago.
  • India and China got independence from the British yoke at the almost same time in the late 1940s. India and China established diplomatic relations on 1st April 1950.
  • India was the first non-socialist country to establish relations with the People’s Republic of China and the catchphrase ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’ became famous.
  • Both countries attended the Asian-African Conference in which 29 countries participated in Bandung, Indonesia and jointly advocated the Bandung Spirit of solidarity, friendship and cooperation

Potential for collaboration to promote global economic recovery and growth

  • Trade and Investment: China and India can enhance trade relations by reducing trade barriers, promoting fair and balanced trade practices, and exploring new areas of economic cooperation. Increased bilateral investments and the establishment of joint ventures can stimulate economic growth and create employment opportunities in both countries.
  • Infrastructure Development: Collaboration in infrastructure projects, such as transportation, energy, and telecommunications, can foster economic growth and connectivity. Joint investments in projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) can create synergies and facilitate regional trade.
  • Technology and Innovation: Joint research and development initiatives, exchange programs for scientists and technologists, and collaboration in emerging sectors like artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and digital technologies can drive innovation and productivity.
  • Manufacturing and Supply Chains: Collaboration in manufacturing and supply chains can enhance the competitiveness of both countries. By leveraging each other’s strengths, such as China’s manufacturing capabilities and India’s skilled workforce, they can create a robust ecosystem for production and supply of goods.
  • Financial Cooperation: Strengthening financial cooperation can facilitate economic recovery and growth. Enhanced cooperation in banking, investment, and capital markets can promote financial stability, facilitate cross-border investments, and support infrastructure financing.
  • Tourism and Cultural Exchanges: Encouraging tourism and cultural exchanges can foster people-to-people connections and deepen mutual understanding. Joint initiatives to promote tourism, exchange programs for students, and cultural festivals can boost bilateral relations and contribute to economic growth in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
  • Sustainable Development: Collaborating on sustainable development initiatives, such as renewable energy, climate change mitigation, and environmental protection, can benefit both countries and contribute to global goals. Joint efforts to address common challenges like air and water pollution can lead to cleaner and greener economies.
  • Regional and Global Cooperation: China and India can work together to address regional and global challenges, such as promoting regional integration, ensuring open and inclusive multilateralism, and strengthening institutions like the BRICS, SCO, and G20

China

Abnormalities in the India-China bilateral relationship

  • Rhetoric vs. Actions: There are inconsistency between the rhetoric of China’s top diplomats, such as Ma Jia, who express a desire for collaboration and growth, and the critical pieces published by state-run media outlets like the Global Times, which constantly criticize India. This discrepancy raises questions about China’s true intentions
  • Lack of Normalcy: India’s Foreign Minister, S Jaishankar, has openly admitted that the ties between India and China are not normal. This acknowledgment points to an abnormality in the relationship, which is likely attributed to the various contentious issues and conflicts between the two nations.
  • Unresolved Border Disputes: The ongoing border disputes, particularly along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), have created a significant abnormality in the relationship. The lack of resolution and recurring incidents of incursions and military standoffs have led to tensions and strained bilateral ties.
  • Strategic Motivations and Power Dynamics: China’s actions are driven by its desire to establish itself as a dominant power in Asia and the world, while potentially seeking to diminish India’s influence. This power dynamic and China’s perceived attempts to “cut India to size” contribute to the abnormality in their bilateral relationship.
  • Lack of Respect and Disenchantment: India’s belief that China’s foreign policy narrative is built on a lack of respect from the West. India expects China to treat rising powers like India with respect and acknowledge its growing significance as an Asian and global power. The perceived lack of respect and increasing disenchantment further strain the bilateral relationship.
  • Aggressive Posturing and Border Tensions: China’s aggressive actions along the borders, including capturing uninhabitable high grounds and pushing India into military alliances with the West, have intensified border tensions. These actions exacerbate the abnormality and pose challenges to the prospect of cooperation.
  • Shift in India’s Perception: The clashes in Galwan and China’s belligerent behavior have led to a shift in India’s perception of China. India’s increasing disenchantment with China’s behavior, particularly in terms of its promises of cooperation, has altered India’s approach and reduced the scope for cooperation in the current equilibrium.
  • Hesitations and Disillusionment: India’s initial enthusiasm for Asian multilateralism and cooperation, as demonstrated by its participation in initiatives like the RCEP negotiations and the AIIB, has been met with hesitations and disillusionment due to China’s behavior. This disenchantment contributes to the abnormality in their relationship.

Three proposed key steps to mend ties and pave the way for cooperation 

  • Psychological Makeover and Pragmatism: If Beijing truly desires to work with India, it should undergo a psychological makeover and inject pragmatism into its South Asia policy. This entails a shift away from dogmas and a recognition of India’s rising power and influence. China needs to treat India with respect and acknowledge it as an indispensable Asian and global power. Adopting a pragmatic approach will help bridge the gap between China’s desire for collaboration and its actions.
  • Good Faith Measures: Accompanying the psychological makeover, the article emphasizes the need for good faith measures. Calming the borders and ceasing to undermine India’s relationships with its neighbors in South Asia are crucial steps. The onus is on China to settle its land border disputes with India and Bhutan, thereby demonstrating a commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the region.
  • Acknowledging India’s Importance: China, which has built a foreign policy narrative based on a lack of respect from the West, should recognize the need to treat rising powers like India with respect. By acknowledging India’s importance and role as a counterweight in the region, China can establish a starting point for future cooperation

China

Conclusion

  • While border tensions may temporarily influence India’s actions, they will not impede its rise as a global player. India is rapidly gravitating towards the West, and the window of opportunity for fruitful collaboration may not remain open indefinitely. By embracing pragmatism and goodwill gestures, China can pave the way for a mutually beneficial partnership that contributes to global recovery and growth.

Must read:

Arunachal Pradesh: China’s Cartographic Deception

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Ensuring Stability and Peace on the Line of Actual Control (LAC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: LAC

Mains level: Tensions on Line of Actual Control (LAC) and need for peace and stability

LAC

Central Idea

  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China has been a hotbed of tension and occasional clashes in recent years, posing a significant risk of escalation. Both countries have invested heavily in defensive preparedness and military infrastructure near the LAC. While a permanent solution may not be immediately achievable due to the complexity of the border dispute, short-term and pragmatic steps can be implemented to reduce the chances of conflict and foster peaceful coexistence

Inadequacies in Existing Agreements

  • Lack of Clarity on LAC: The agreements are based on the assumption that both parties have a clear understanding and definition of the LAC. However, in reality, there are significant segments of the border where the exact demarcation is disputed or lacks clarity.
  • Insufficient Mechanisms for Dispute Resolution: The 1993 Agreement called for the creation of joint mechanisms to verify and settle LAC-related disputes. However, it took 19 years for the establishment of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) in 2012. While the WMCC meets twice a year, its effectiveness in resolving disputes and preventing escalations on the ground has been limited.
  • Limited Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) Points: The LAC, which stretches for 3,488 kilometers, currently has only four established BPM points. The 2005 Protocol proposed the establishment of a BPM point at Lipulekh, but it has not been implemented.
  • Lack of Progress in Force Reduction and Redeployment: The agreements, such as the 1993 Agreement and the 1996 Agreement, envisioned a mutually agreed reduction and redeployment of forces along the LAC. However, there has been little progress in implementing these provisions. The absence of substantial force reductions contributes to the prevailing tensions and increases the risk of confrontations.

Facts for prelims

States Border with China Important Passes
Jammu and Kashmir 1597 km Khardung La Pass, Chang La Pass, Marsimik La Pass, Saser La Pass
Arunachal Pradesh

 

1126 km

 

Bum La Pass, Kibithu Pass, Tawang
Uttarakhand 345 km Mana Pass, Lipulekh Pass, Niti Pass
Sikkim 220 km Nathu La Pass, Jelep La Pass
Himachal Pradesh 200 km Shipki La Pass, Kaurik Pass

The Need for Effective and Immediate Measures

  • Fragile and Dangerous Situation: As stated by India’s External Affairs Minister, the situation along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh remains fragile and dangerous from a military assessment perspective. The potential for escalation and the risk of conflict are significant.
  • Escalation of Aggression: Following the Galwan crisis, there has been a significant mobilization of Chinese forces into Tibet, accompanied by heightened rhetoric and jingoism from both countries.
  • Complexity of Border Dispute: The border dispute between India and China, encompassing areas such as Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, is intricate and has deep historical and geopolitical roots. Achieving a permanent solution to the dispute may not be immediately feasible.
  • Uncertainty of War Outcomes: While there might be voices advocating for a more confrontational approach, it is essential to consider the potential outcomes of a full-fledged war. Despite assurances from the government, there is no guarantee that the results of such a conflict would be favorable to either India or China.

Proposed Steps for Peace and Stability

  • Conversion of LAC into a Line of Control (LC): Both India and China should delineate the LAC on maps and on the ground without prejudicing their respective border claims. This transformation would help reduce the urge among forward troops to make incremental advances and could be accomplished through mature dialogue and the use of technology.
  • Treatment of Disputed Areas as No Entry Zones or Joint Patrolling: The disputed areas along the LAC could be designated as no entry zones, preventing either side from establishing a permanent presence. Alternatively, both countries can explore the possibility of allowing mutually agreed-upon patrolling of these areas. Joint patrolling would help maintain the status quo and build confidence between the troops.
  • Strengthening Existing Confidence Building Measures (CBMs): The WMCC, established in 2012, should be empowered with more authority and resources to effectively address LAC-related disputes. Additionally, establishing more BPM points along the LAC would facilitate quicker resolution of local issues and enhance communication and cooperation between the Indian and Chinese troops.

Conclusion

  • The tense situation along the Line of Actual Control calls for immediate action to ensure stability and prevent the outbreak of a major conflict. It is crucial for both nations to prioritize dialogue, cooperation, and a commitment to regional stability in order to safeguard their own interests as well as those of the world, politically and economically.

Also read:

India-China clash: Why China has opened new front?

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Shifting US Policy: From Decoupling to De-risking in China Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: G7

Mains level: US delinking from China, Implications for India

china

Central Idea

  • The US is transitioning its policy on China from decoupling to de-risking, signalling a new approach.
  • The EU has already adopted a de-risking approach in its China policy, and the G-7 summit also expressed consensus on de-risking.

Understanding the De-risking

  • After establishing diplomatic ties in 1979, the US and China developed a deep economic interdependence, benefiting China’s global engagement.
  • China’s rise challenged US global clout and impacted its domestic industries.
  • The Trump administration initiated a “decoupling” strategy to address the techno-economic challenge from China.
  • The Biden administration continues with a modified approach, shifting from decoupling to de-risking.
  • De-risking focuses on resilient supply chains to ensure the US is not subjected to coercion from other countries.

Rationale behind De-risking

  • Geopolitical Competition: China’s rise as a strategic competitor challenges US global influence, prompting de-risking to reduce vulnerabilities and maintain an advantage.
  • National Security: Concerns about risks like intellectual property theft and cyber threats lead to de-risking to safeguard sensitive technologies and protect national security interests.
  • Resilient Supply Chains: The COVID-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in supply chains, driving the need for de-risking to ensure diversified and resilient networks.
  • Fair Trade Practices: De-risking addresses concerns over China’s trade practices, such as intellectual property infringement and forced technology transfers, aiming for fairer trade by diversifying partners.
  • Alliance Building: De-risking aligns with allies’ interests, promoting collaboration and a united front against China’s rise.

Geopolitical Ramifications

  • De-risking for Stronger Alliances: The US adopts de-risking to strengthen alliances in its rivalry with China, as seen in the G-7 summit declaration.
  • China’s Skepticism: China views de-risking as disguised decoupling, shifting blame for risks to China.
  • Aligning with Decoupling and United Front: De-risking aligns with decoupling by diversifying supply chains, while fostering a united front among allies.
  • Uncertain Effectiveness: The effectiveness of de-risking is uncertain, influenced by China’s response and challenges in diversifying supply chains.
  • Short-Term Indo-Pacific Impact: De-risking may temporarily divert focus from the Indo-Pacific, necessitating a balance with maintaining a robust strategy in the region.

Way forward

  • The de-risking approach should be further developed and coordinated with allies to effectively counter China’s rise.
  • Balancing the benefits of de-risking with the need to maintain a robust Indo-Pacific strategy is crucial.
  • Engaging in strategic dialogues and strengthening alliances can help shape a cohesive approach in addressing China’s influence while minimizing risks.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India-China Border Tensions: An Assessment of the Current Situation and Proactive Steps for India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Border states, Places in news, Prelims box

Mains level: India- China border conflicts and measures

Border

Central Idea

  • India needs to take proactive measures to address the ongoing border crisis with China in Ladakh, rather than relying on a status quo approach. The government’s silence and euphemistic language on the issue have given the impression of incompetence and inaction, leading to concerns over India’s capability to handle the situation

Brief background on the Ladakh border issue

  • The border dispute dates back to the 1950s and 60s, when China made claims to the region and occupied large parts of it.
  • In 1962, the two countries fought a brief war over the issue, which ended in a Chinese victory and the establishment of a de facto border line known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Since then, the two countries have had several standoffs and skirmishes in the region, with tensions escalating in recent years. T
  • he latest border standoff in Ladakh began in May 2020 and continues to remain unresolved.

The Depsang crisis of 2013

  • Depsang Plains of Ladakh: The Depsang crisis of 2013 refers to a tense border standoff between India and China that took place in the Depsang Plains of Ladakh in April-May 2013.
  • Chinese troops set up a camp: The crisis began when Chinese troops set up a camp in the Depsang Plains, which is located about 19 km inside what India considers to be its territory.
  • Strategically important area: The area is strategically important as it overlooks the strategically important Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road that India had built to improve its connectivity to the border areas.
  • Negotiations and agreement over the withdrawal: The situation was resolved after three weeks of negotiations, with the Chinese agreeing to withdraw their troops in exchange for a pledge from India to scale down its military presence in the area.
  • The crisis led to other standoffs: The crisis highlighted the long-standing boundary dispute between India and China, which has led to several other standoffs and skirmishes over the years.

What is the current situation?

  • The current situation at the Ladakh border is that some areas have witnessed disengagement, while two areas, Depsang and Demchok, remain unresolved. Indian soldiers are not allowed to touch 26 of the 65 patrolling points in Ladakh.
  • Diplomatic meetings and talks between corps commanders have not elicited any progress since September last year. Regular meetings between Indian and Chinese Ministers, Foreign and Defence, have not yielded results either.
  • India needs to find a way to transfer the pressure back to China, as Beijing has never compromised unless it has been forced into an uncomfortable spot.

Border

Facts for prelims

States

Border with China

Important Passes

Jammu and Kashmir 1597 km Khardung La Pass, Chang La Pass, Marsimik La Pass, Saser La Pass
Arunachal Pradesh

 

1126 km

 

Bum La Pass, Kibithu Pass, Tawang
Uttarakhand 345 km Mana Pass, Lipulekh Pass, Niti Pass
Sikkim 220 km Nathu La Pass, Jelep La Pass
Himachal Pradesh 200 km Shipki La Pass, Kaurik Pass

Way ahead: Steps to transfer the pressure back to China

  • Bold use of imagination: The political leadership needs to use its imagination boldly to find a way to impose its will upon China.
  • Be proactive: India needs to be proactive in dealing with China, as Beijing has never compromised unless it has been forced into an uncomfortable spot.
  • Tactful action on LAC: Tactical actions on the LAC need to be daring, and the military needs to be used as an instrument to pursue policy ends and try to impose its will upon the adversary.
  • Increase strategic thought: Strategic thought in Delhi needs to be bold and innovative to find a way to wrest the initiative from China.
  • Avoid fear of military escalation: India’s fear of military escalation is holding back progress in the Ladakh border issue, and the government needs to overcome this fear to take proactive steps.
  • Utilize diplomatic channels: India should leverage diplomatic channels and international forums to put pressure on China to resolve the border issue.
  • Strengthen domestic capabilities: India should focus on building domestic capabilities, including military and economic, to match up to China’s strengths and position itself better in negotiations.

Border

Conclusion

  • India needs to take proactive measures to address the ongoing border crisis with China in Ladakh. A status quo approach can no longer be the answer, and India will have to wrest the initiative from China. Failure to do so would be a national failure for India, and the government must show boldness and imagination to resolve the crisis.

Mains Question

Q. India is going through the tough phase over the issues of border with China. In this backdrop discuss what proactive measures that India needs to take considering the current developments situation of the border conflicts?

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India-China: Border Management Mechanism

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

SCO and Its Broader Geopolitical Evolution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SCO and its members

Mains level: SCO challenges and opportunities

SCO

Central Idea

  • The visit of Chinese and Russian defence ministers to attend a ministerial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Delhi has drawn attention to the broader geopolitical evolution of the SCO. While the clamour for membership shows the attractiveness of the forum, its internal contradictions and inability to cope with intra-state and inter-state conflicts among member states are raising questions about its strategic coherence.

All you need to know about SCO

  • Background: After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the then security and economic architecture in the Eurasian region dissolved and new structures had to come up. The original Shanghai Five were China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
  • SCO formation: The SCO was formed in 2001, with Uzbekistan included. It expanded in 2017 to include India and Pakistan. Since its formation, the SCO has focused on regional non-traditional security, with counter-terrorism as a priority.
  • Partner countries: Eight Member States are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan. While four observer states are Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia and six dialogue partners include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.
  • Functionaries of SCO
  1. Executive Branch: The SCO has an executive branch, which is headed by the Secretary-General and is responsible for the day-to-day functioning of the organization.
  2. Council of Heads of State: The highest decision-making body of the SCO is the Council of Heads of State, which meets annually to discuss and decide on important issues.
  3. Council of Heads of Government: The Council of Heads of Government is the second most important decision-making body of the SCO, which meets annually to discuss and decide on economic and trade-related issues.
  4. Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS): The SCO has RATS, which is responsible for coordinating the efforts of member states in the fight against terrorism, separatism, and extremism.

Facts for prelims

SCO RATS:

  • Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is a permanent organ of the SCO which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
  • It is headquartered in Tashkent.
  • Its head is elected to three-year term.
  • Each member state of SCO sends permanent representative to RATS.

The SCO paradox

  • Shadow over its strategic coherence: Even as the Eurasian forum looks attractive to a growing number of regional states, its internal contradictions are casting a shadow over its strategic coherence.
  • Russia-Ukraine war: Russia’s war in Ukraine is raising questions about Moscow’s capacity to sustain primacy in its backyard.
  • China’s dominance in Asia: China’s rise is increasing the prospects for Beijing’s emergence as the dominant force in inner Asia.

SCO

Membership Clamour and Attractiveness of the SCO

  • Comparison between the long lines for membership at the doors of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the SCO:
  • Central European countries towards NATO: Many countries in Central Europe, including Ukraine, want to follow Finland and Sweden into NATO.
  • Several countries queuing up to join SCO: Several important regional states in India’s neighbourhood are queuing up to join the SCO, which now has eight members – China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
  • Iran set to join: Iran is set to join the SCO and Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia are observers and would like to follow Tehran.
  • Impressive list of dialogue partners: Then there is the impressive list of current and incipient dialogue partners that includes Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates from the Middle East and Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka from the Subcontinent.
  • SCO is inclusive: Unlike NATO the SCO is inclusive, and its attractiveness underlines the rise of non-Western security institutions.
  • Turkey wants to be part of SCO: Turkey, a long-standing member of NATO, wants to be part of SCO certainly highlights the value of being part of a forum led by Russia and China that today are at loggerheads with the West.

Internal Conflicts and Counter-terrorism Preoccupation

  • Internal conflicts becoming high priority: Counter-terrorism has been the principal preoccupation of the SCO for all these years. The internal conflicts within and between the member states and associates are becoming a higher priority for the SCO.
  • For example: Afghanistan’s internal instabilities have been a major driver for the SCO. However, for all the talk of the SCO becoming the regional security arbiter, it was a direct deal between the US and the Taliban that reshaped the Afghan dynamic.
  • Russia’s Role and Ambitions in Central Asia: Russia’s muscle and Beijing’s money provide a sensible basis for their strategic division of labour in Central Asia to keep the Western powers out of the region. However, if Russia is a protector of the Central Asian regimes, it could also be a potential predator.
  • China’s Growing Regional Influence: China’s growing regional influence will come at Russia’s expense, as China becomes the senior partner in the bilateral relationship with Russia after Ukraine. China’s explicit support of the sovereignty of the Central Asian states is a straw in the wind. Shared borders, growing political salience, and rising regional security profiles promise to make China a force to reckon with in Central Asia in the not-too-distant future.

Significance of SCO for India

  • Central Asia connection: SCO membership provides India with an opportunity to engage with Central Asian nations, Russia, and China, and work towards promoting regional stability, security, and economic cooperation.
  • Security cooperation: SCO focuses on combating terrorism, separatism, and extremism in the region, which is of particular concern to India.
  • Consensus over CBT: India has been a victim of cross-border terrorism for decades. India has been working closely with the RATS to share intelligence and coordinate counter-terrorism operations in the region.
  • Economic push: SCO has set up mechanisms for trade and economic cooperation, including the SCO Business Council, the SCO Interbank Consortium, and the SCO Development Bank.
  • Cultural cooperation: The organization aims to promote cultural exchanges among member states and has set up mechanisms for cooperation in fields such as education, science, and technology

Issues with SCO (Indian context)

  • Pakistan’s presence: India has accused Pakistan of using SCO forums to spread propaganda and misinformation against India.
  • China’s dominance: India has also expressed concerns over China’s dominance in the organization and its attempts to use the platform to push its strategic interests in the region.
  • Limited economic benefits: Despite being a member of the organization for over a decade, India’s trade with other SCO members remains limited and has not been able to tap the full potential of the organization.
  • Limited counter-terrorism cooperation: While the primary objective of the organization is to combat terrorism, India has expressed concerns over the limited counter-terrorism cooperation among member states.
  • Limited influence: Despite being a major power in the region, India’s voice and concerns have not been adequately represented in the organization.

India’s challenging role in the SCO

  • India’s engagement with the SCO all these decades was premised on Russian primacy in the region and Moscow’s support of India’s regional interests.
  • For India, a strong and independent Russia is critical for maintaining the inner Asian balance. However, Delhi is in no position to ensure Moscow’s strategic autonomy from Beijing; that depends on Russian strategic choices.
  • India’s burden in the SCO must now be to protect its own interests amidst a rapidly changing regional power distribution in China’s favour.

Conclusion

  • India, which is chairing the Eurasian regional forum this year, has a range of bilateral problems to discuss with its fellow SCO members. However, its burden in SCO must now be to protect its own interests amidst a rapidly changing regional power distribution in China’s favour. The challenge is particularly demanding as India does not have direct geographic access to the landlocked region.

Mains Question

Q. The clamour for membership is a measure of a forum’s success the increasing clamour for the membership of the SCO is doing well. Discuss and highlight the internal challenges that the SCO is facing.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Vibrant Villages Program to be integrated with PM Gati Shakti

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vibrant Village Programme

Mains level: Not Much

The Centre’s Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) which aims to develop infrastructure and open up villages to tourists along the China border will be integrated with the Gati Shakti Mega Project.

What is Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP)?

  • Under the VVP, the selected villages will be provided with basic facilities like all-weather roads, potable piped water, 24×7 electricity, good mobile and internet connectivity, healthcare, and enhanced livelihood options.
  • The VVP aims to prevent migration of border population, catalyze reverse migration, and keep all villages along the LAC well-populated from the strategic and security point of view.

Villages selected

  • Kibithoo, one of the remotest circle headquarters of Arunachal Pradesh, is the first village to be developed under the VVP.
  • The villages will also serve as the Indian Army’s eyes and ears in these remote areas.
  • 2,967 villages in 19 border districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh will be developed under the VVP, with 662 villages being developed in the first phase of the project.

Components

  • The VVP programme involves a number of livelihood programmes, including bee-keeping, improving agricultural yields, encouraging handicrafts and local products, and providing market linkages to them.
  • The programme also focuses on promoting high-end tourism and training local people to cater to tourists.
  • Provision of 24×7 power through micro-hydel power plants, solar power panels, and windmills is also a vital component of the programme.

Impact

  • The development of border villages under the VVP will help provide a better livelihood for the locals, improve the quality of life and prevent migration from these remote areas.
  • It will also help in gathering intelligence from the people of border villages and provide the Indian Army with better access to these areas.

Comparison with China’s Model

  • India’s Vibrant Village Programme (VVP) is people-centric and aims to enhance the quality of life of the locals.
  • China’s Xiaokang villages lack proper planning for providing livelihood opportunities, healthcare and education facilities, and proper transportation.
  • Beijing’s aim of keeping civilian residents of these villages as watchful eyes over activities across the LAC and on Indian Army patrols has been negated.
  • Most of the villages now serve as residential quarters and logistical facilities for the PLA.
  • India’s VVP scores over China’s building of new Xiaokang villages as it has a holistic approach to development.

Why merged with Gati Shakti?

  • Gati Shakti brings 16 ministries, including Railways and Roadways, together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.
  • It allows government departments to break operational silos.
  • By integrating VVP with Gati Shakti, there can be better coordination between various ministries and departments to ensure the smooth implementation of the programme and to avoid any duplication of efforts.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s Renaming Exercise Undermines International Law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: China's renaming strategy and its implications

Central Idea

  • China’s recent move to rename 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh and standardise those names on the basis of a map is an exercise of the Chinese perspective of international law, which goes against the international law widely adhered to by most members of the United Nations.

Historical Basis of China’s Claims

  • China’s claims over disputed territories, such as the South China Sea, are often based on historical records, maps, and cultural relics.
  • China argues that these territories had been its territory since the Song Dynasty and, therefore, should be considered part of its sovereign territory. However, this approach is not recognized under international law and undermines the basis of the international legal system.

Chinese perspective of international law

  • Jurisdiction rights: The Chinese perspective of international law is based on its strong stress on the principle of sovereignty. According to this view, sovereign states have an inalienable right to exercise jurisdiction over their territories and their people without interference from other states.
  • Historic rights: China combines its vision of sovereignty with the historic right to exercise jurisdiction over those territories or maritime areas as well, which were once ruled by a Chinese dynasty in the mediaeval or ancient era.
  • Undermines international legal system: The historic right approach makes China undermine the basis of the international legal system grounded in the sovereign equality of states and the general rules of international law.

Contravention of international courts and tribunals

  • Contravenes the decisions of international courts and tribunals: China’s attempt to rename 11 disputed locations on historical and administrative bases contravenes the decisions of international courts and tribunals.
  • No convincing proofs: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) considers direct evidence of possession and the actual exercise of sovereignty as more convincing proof of title to a territory than indirect presumption from events in history.
  • Against the principle of uti possidetis juris: China’s renaming exercise goes against the principle of uti possidetis juris, which is the principle that the boundaries of newly independent states should follow those of the previous colonies.
  • Help of cartographic materials: China tries to buttress its territorial and maritime claims with the support of maps, but cartographic materials do not have any legal value by themselves. They constitute extrinsic evidence of varying reliability that might, depending on the circumstances, be used together with other evidence to establish a fact.

What is the principle of uti possidetis juris?

  • The principle of uti possidetis juris is a Latin phrase that means as you possess under law.
  • It is a principle of international law that was developed in the context of decolonization. The principle holds that newly independent states should inherit the territorial boundaries that existed at the time of their independence.
  • The idea is that the territorial integrity of a new state should be protected and that the boundaries of the state should not be subject to change without the consent of the state.
  • The principle of uti possidetis juris is meant to prevent disputes over territorial boundaries that could lead to instability or conflict.

Implications of China’s actions

  • China’s actions in Arunachal Pradesh undermine the international legal system based on the sovereign equality of states and the general rules of international law.
  • China’s historic right approach to sovereignty over territories and maritime areas is a cause for concern for other countries with territorial disputes with China.
  • China’s use of maps to support its territorial and maritime claims is not a legally valid argument and undermines the legal basis for resolving territorial disputes.

Conclusion

  • China’s attempt to rename disputed territories in Arunachal Pradesh goes against established principles of international law and undermines the sovereign equality of states. The use of historical claims and maps to support territorial and maritime claims is not recognized in international law. This renaming exercise is likely to further strain India-China relations and impact regional stability. It is essential to uphold the principles of international law to ensure the independence and stability of new states and prevent challenges to territorial boundaries.

Mains Question

Q. What is the principle of uti possidetis juris? How does China’s attempt to rename territories in Arunachal Pradesh contravene the decisions of international courts and tribunals?

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Russia and China Aim To Build A Post-Western Order

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Russia, China and the West

Central Idea

  • Russia and China aim to exploit divisions within the West to transform the global order and build a post-Western order. However, the Indian strategic community should not expect the fault lines within the West to be fatal, as history has shown that such dreams have not come to fruition.

Post-Western Order

  • Building a post-Western order: Russia and China have talked of upending the world order before, with the history of international communism in the 20th century being about building a post-Western order.
  • America’s internal fissures and divisions between the US and Europe: While Moscow and Beijing are convinced that they can put the West on the defensive by pooling their strengths, the success of this strategy rests on the Moscow-Beijing axis successfully leveraging America’s internal fissures and divisions between the US and Europe.

Dividing America from Europe

  • The Moscow and Beijing are hoping to divide America from Europe: Russia’s latest version of its foreign policy doctrine singles out the US as the main instigator, organizer, and executor of the aggressive anti-Russian policy of the collective West.
  • China’s diplomatic Europe strategy: China’s love for Europe’s strategic autonomy is equally passionate. However, it is unlikely that there will be a decisive movement on either issue, but both sides see the diplomatic dance as a valuable exercise.

Sino-European Engagement

  • Europe’s pressure on Russia: Europe wants Xi to put pressure on Putin to end the war in Ukraine, and Beijing would like Europe to distance itself from the US on its China policy.
  • Europe not ready to busy China’s peace initiative: While Europe is not ready to buy China’s peace initiative on Ukraine, it has convinced itself that Xi is the only leader who can nudge Putin towards peace.

India’s Perspective

  • The realists in India are aware of the many differences between the US and Europe, but they are also aware that Western strategic unity has endured since World War II.
  • The Russian and Chinese overreach has cemented broad Western unity rather than separating Europe from the US.

Conclusion

  • While Russia and China aim to exploit divisions within the West to transform the global order, it is unlikely that they will succeed in building a post-Western order. The fault lines within the West are real, but they are by no means fatal.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Arunachal Pradesh: China’s Cartographic Deception

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: China's attempts to use cartography as a weapon

Central Idea

  • The Chinese leadership has been using cartographic deception as a weapon to violate the sovereign national boundaries of its neighbours, and India has been a victim of this deception since Independence. The recent rechristening of villages and areas in Arunachal Pradesh is another example of China’s cartographic deception, and India must remain vigilant against such tactics.

Background: India-China relations

  1. Historical context:
  • India has been a victim of China’s deception since its independence.
  • Mao’s Red Army sent messages to Indian Communists promising support in their violent liberation struggle to overthrow the government of Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • In the early 1950s, China started staking claims to large parts of Indian territory.
  1. Cartographic deception used by China:
  • Cartographic deception is integral to the Chinese leadership’s machinations.
  • China has been indulging in cartographic deception by staking claims to large parts of Indian territory.
  • The recent rechristening of villages and areas in Arunachal Pradesh by the Chinese cabinet is another example of that cartographic deception.
  • Despite President Xi Jinping’s claims of standing guard over the world order based on international law, China continues to use cartography as a weapon to violate sovereign national boundaries of its neighbours.

How cartography is used as a weapon?

  • Deliberate manipulation of maps: The term use of cartography as a weapon refers to the deliberate manipulation of maps for political and strategic purposes. This can involve drawing new borders or redefining existing borders, claiming territory that was previously not contested or that belonged to another country, and renaming places to support these claims.
  • Psychological warfare technique: It is often accompanied by historical revisionism, propaganda, and the creation of artificial historical links to justify these claims. This approach can be seen as a form of psychological warfare, intended to create confusion, weaken the opponent’s resolve, and undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the international community.

Historical background of Arunachal Pradesh

  • No contact with China: Historically, Arunachal Pradesh had no contact with China, and there was never any Chinese presence there.
  • Shimla Agreement: The McMahon Line, which became the international boundary between India and Tibet through the Shimla Agreement between the British and Tibetan governments in 1914, clearly puts Tawang, which fell south of the McMahon Line, out of Tibetan administrative control.
  • Claims over Tawang: Attempts by pro-China historians to claim that parts of Western Arunachal Pradesh like Tawang were under the rule of Lhasa before 1950 are negated by historical records.

Chinese invasion of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962

  • During the Chinese invasion of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962, they were extra-cordial with the locals and made special efforts to convince them about the greater racial affinity between them.
  • However, despite all the deceptive maneuvers during the 49-day-long occupation, the Chinese could not win over the hearts and minds of the people of NEFA.

Conclusion

  • India must remain vigilant against China’s cartographic deception, as it was through a similar deception in 1962 that China annexed territory. India has dismissed the recent rechristening exercise by China, and rightly emphasised that Arunachal Pradesh is, has been, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. India must continue to stand firm against China’s attempts to use cartography as a weapon to violate its sovereign national boundaries.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India-Bhutan Relationship Built On Faith and Mutual trust

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India- Bhutan border and trijunction

Mains level: India- Bhutan relationship

Relationship

Central Idea

  • India-Bhutan’s exemplary relationship has been a key factor in ensuring the stability and security of the region. The recent visit of Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to India was focused on enhancing the bilateral relationship between the two countries. However, the unspoken part of the visit was the Bhutan-China boundary talks, which have gained momentum in recent times.

Exemplary India-Bhutan Relationship

  • Special and strategic relationship: India and Bhutan share a special and strategic relationship with a border of over 600 km. The bond has been strengthened since India’s independence, and it has been a buffer between China and India.
  • India is Bhutan’s largest development partner: The relationship is not limited to rhetoric but extends to an institutional and economic framework. India is Bhutan’s largest development partner, and Bhutan is India’s biggest trade partner in the region.
  • Hydroelectricity, a crucial factor: Hydroelectricity has become the biggest revenue earner of Bhutan, and India buys power generated in Bhutan. It makes Bhutan the country with the highest per capita income in South Asia today.
  • Historical and theological relations: Bhutan is a Buddhist theocracy, monarchy, and modern state. The relationship between India and Bhutan is special from a historical, theological, strategic, and economic perspective.

Bhutan-China Boundary Talks

  • Considerable progress but no decision yet: Before the King’s visit to India, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering had said in an interview that Bhutan and China have made considerable progress on demarcating border lines. Bhutan has been having talks with China on the boundary question for years, and there has been no decision yet.
  • There will be adjustment of territory: Bhutan and China are adopting a modern methodology to draw boundary lines on the ground, and there may be some adjustment of territory as a result of that.
  • India’s strategic interests: India’s strategic interests are involved in the boundary talks between Bhutan and China. China has been seeking a toehold in Bhutan for decades. Bhutan is fully conscious of India’s strategic needs.
  • Trijunction: Where Bhutan decides its boundary with China (to the west) is of exceptional relevance to India because that is a trijunction of the three countries.

Relationship

India’s Strategic Interests

  • No compromise on national security: India will not talk about Bhutan-China negotiations publicly; however, when it comes to India’s national security, there will be no compromise.
  • Siliguri corridor: Doklam plateau overlooks the Chumbi Valley, which overlooks the chicken’s neck (Siliguri corridor). India says this not because Bhutan is threatening its cooperation with India on this front, but to send a message to China that we will draw a line here in conformity with our national interest.

Why India needs Bhutan?

  • Strategic location: Bhutan is strategically located between India and China, which makes it an important buffer state for India. Bhutan’s strategic location ensures India’s security and helps in maintaining regional stability.
  • Water resources: Bhutan is the source of several rivers that flow into India, including the Brahmaputra, the Sankosh, and the Manas. India needs access to these rivers for irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, and other purposes. India has helped Bhutan in developing its hydropower potential and has signed several agreements for the purchase of hydropower from Bhutan.
  • Trade and economic ties: India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner, and Bhutan relies heavily on India for its imports and exports. India provides Bhutan with various economic assistance and has helped Bhutan in its development process.
  • Cultural and historical ties: India and Bhutan share a common cultural heritage and have historical ties dating back centuries. India has helped Bhutan preserve its cultural heritage and has supported Bhutan in its efforts to promote tourism.

Why Bhutan needs India?

  • Security: Bhutan does not have a large army, and India provides security assistance to Bhutan. India has helped Bhutan in building its border infrastructure and has helped in the development of the Bhutanese army.
  • Economic ties: India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner, and Bhutan relies heavily on India for its imports and exports. India provides economic assistance to Bhutan, and Indian companies have invested in various sectors in Bhutan.
  • Infrastructure: India has helped Bhutan in building its infrastructure, including roads, airports, and telecommunication networks. India has also helped Bhutan in developing its hydropower potential, and several hydropower projects in Bhutan have been built with Indian assistance.
  • Education and healthcare: India has helped Bhutan in the field of education and healthcare. Many Bhutanese students study in India, and India provides scholarships and grants to Bhutanese students. India has also helped Bhutan in building hospitals and providing medical assistance.
  • Cultural and historical ties: Bhutan and India share a common cultural heritage and have historical ties dating back centuries. India has helped Bhutan in preserving its cultural heritage and has supported Bhutan in its efforts to promote tourism.

Future of India-Bhutan Relations

  • The Bhutan-India relationship has survived because of spiritual underpinnings, geography, economy, and connectivity, all of which strengthen the relationship.
  • India and Bhutan have survived mainly because it was built on mutual trust, which means Bhutan has equally driven the relationship. India should pursue this relationship with trust and complete faith.
  • India must reach out to the new generation in Bhutan, which is being influenced by social media negativity and wrong information about India.

Conclusion

  • The India-Bhutan relationship has been a key factor in ensuring the stability and security of the region. The relationship between the two countries has been built on mutual trust and has been strengthened by an institutional and economic framework. India’s strategic interests are involved in the boundary talks between Bhutan and China. India should pursue the relationship with trust and complete faith and should reach out to the new generation in Bhutan.

Mains Question

Q. Highlight the significance of the India-Bhutan relationship in ensuring regional stability and security? Discuss why India and Bhutan need each other?

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China issues ‘official’ names for some places in Arunachal Pradesh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: McMahon Line

Mains level: LAC disputes

china

Central idea: The Chinese government has announced it would “standardize” the names of 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh.

MEA clarification

  • The Ministry of External Affairs has dismissed the Chinese “invention”.
  • Arunachal Pradesh has always been, and will always be, an integral part of India, said MEA.

Why is China giving names to places that are in India?

  • China claims some 90,000 sq km of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory.
  • It calls the area “Zangnan” in the Chinese language and makes repeated references to “South Tibet”.
  • Chinese maps show Arunachal Pradesh as part of China, and sometimes parenthetically refer to it as “so-called Arunachal Pradesh”.
  • China makes periodic efforts to underline this unilateral claim to Indian territory.
  • Giving Chinese names to places in Arunachal Pradesh is part of that effort.

Earlier unilateral renaming

  • This is the third lot of “standardized” names of places in Arunachal Pradesh that China has announced.
  • Earlier in 2017, it had issued “official” Chinese names for six places spanning the breadth of Arunachal Pradesh

What is China’s argument for claiming these areas?

  • The PRC disputes the legal status of the McMahon Line, the official boundary under the ‘Convention between Great Britain, China, and Tibet’ — of 1914 (Simla Convention).
  • China was represented at the Simla Convention by a plenipotentiary of the Republic of China, which had been declared in 1912 after the Qing dynasty was overthrown.
  • The present communist government came to power only in 1949, when the People’s Republic was proclaimed.
  • The Chinese representative did not consent to the Simla Convention, saying Tibet had no independent authority to enter into international agreements.

What is the McMohan Line?

  • The McMohan Line, named after Henry McMahon, the chief British negotiator at Shimla, was drawn from the eastern border of Bhutan to the Isu Razi pass on the China-Myanmar border.
  • China claims territory to the south of the McMahon Line, lying in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • China also bases its claims on the historical ties that have existed between the monasteries in Tawang and Lhasa.

Intention behind these renamings

  • This renaming is a part of the Chinese strategy to assert its territorial claims over Indian territory.
  • As part of this strategy, China routinely issues statements of outrage whenever an Indian dignitary visits Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Beijing keeps harping on its “consistent” and “clear” position that the Indian possession of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • These claims have been firmly established and recognized by the world, as “illegal”.

Arunachal not all-alone

  • Laying aggressive claims to territories on the basis of alleged historical injustices done to China is a part of Beijing’s foreign policy playbook.
  • The claim on Taiwan is one such example, as are the consistent efforts to change the “facts on the ground” in several disputed islands in the South China Sea.
  • The aggression is at all times backed in overt and covert ways by the use of China’s economic and military muscle.

 


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Taiwan- China: India in the Event of a Cross-Strait Conflict

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Taiwan-China conflict and India's role

Conflict

Central Idea

 

  • India needs to proactively consider its military, diplomatic, and economic responses to a potential cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan.

 

Background

 

  • PLA’s frequent military exercises near Taiwan: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting frequent military exercises near Taiwan, increasing the risk of escalation in the Taiwan Strait.
  • Forceful reunification: Some analysts believe that China, under President Xi Jinping, is preparing for a forceful reunification campaign by 2027.

 

Conflict

The impact of a cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan on India

 

  • Disruption of trade: India’s trade through the South China Sea (SCS) accounts for nearly 55% of its total trade with the Indo-Pacific region. A conflict in the Taiwan Strait could severely disrupt this trade, affecting India’s economy. Additionally, trade with Taiwan, China (India’s second-largest trading partner), East Asia, and some Southeast Asian countries would also be severely impacted.
  • Strategic implications: As a member of the Quad, India would face serious strategic consequences in the event of a cross-strait conflict. New Delhi would be expected to respond in support of its partners, particularly the United States, which may lead to a significant shift in the regional balance of power and India’s international commitments.
  • Escalation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC): India’s involvement in a conflict over Taiwan may prompt China to escalate tensions along the LAC, leading to an increased risk of military confrontation between India and China. This would put additional pressure on India’s military and resources, as it would have to prepare for a potential two-front conflict.
  • Diplomatic challenges: India’s involvement in a conflict over Taiwan would strain its diplomatic relations with China and complicate its foreign policy priorities in the region. New Delhi would have to balance its commitments to its allies and partners with the need to maintain a stable relationship with Beijing.
  • Economic costs: The economic fallout from a cross-strait conflict could be considerable for India, with potential disruptions to supply chains, investment flows, and regional economic integration efforts. This could hinder India’s economic growth and development objectives in the short to medium term.
  • Security concerns: A cross-strait conflict could lead to increased military deployments, escalations, and proxy conflicts in the region, raising security concerns for India. This would necessitate greater vigilance and preparedness from the Indian military and intelligence agencies to address potential threats.
  • Humanitarian consequences: In the event of a large-scale conflict, India may face the challenge of responding to humanitarian crises resulting from displaced populations, refugees, and the disruption of essential services in the region. This could put additional strain on India’s resources and infrastructure.

 

India’s likely responses

 

  • Military response: India could assist partner countries, including the US, by sharing experience and intelligence on dealing with the PLA. It could also offer its mainland for refuelling aircraft and access to its Andaman and Nicobar Island bases.
  • Diplomatic response: India could participate in a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Chinese aggression.
  • Economic response: India is unlikely to impose targeted sanctions on China due to the negative trade balance between the two countries.

 

Conflict

India’s proactive measures

 

  • Information sharing: India can establish a secure communication channel with Taiwan to exchange vital intelligence and real-time information on Chinese military movements and strategies. This would help Taiwan to better anticipate potential threats and improve its defensive capabilities.
  • Training Taiwanese armed forces personnel: India can secretly collaborate with Taiwan to train its armed forces personnel in specific operations and tactics. This may include joint exercises and training programs in areas like counterinsurgency, mountain warfare, and special operations, which could enhance Taiwan’s military preparedness.
  • Consultative mechanisms: India can set up consultative mechanisms with Taipei, Tokyo, and Washington to discuss and coordinate their strategic approaches towards deterring a Chinese attack on Taiwan. This collaboration can lead to the development of joint strategies, contingency plans, and a coordinated response in case of a conflict.
  • Strengthening defense ties: India can explore options to strengthen defense ties with Taiwan by providing it with military equipment, technology, and logistical support. This could help Taiwan build a more robust defense system and deter potential Chinese aggression.
  • Economic diversification for Taiwan: India can play a significant role in helping Taiwan diversify its trade and economic dependencies away from China. By increasing bilateral trade, investment, and technological cooperation, India can provide Taiwan with the scale it needs to reduce its overdependence on Beijing.
  • Soft power diplomacy: India can leverage its soft power and cultural ties to build stronger relationships with Taiwan, promoting people-to-people exchanges, educational collaborations, and cultural events. This would not only strengthen the bond between the two countries but also raise awareness and support for Taiwan’s cause on the international stage.
  • Encouraging international support: India can work with its allies and partners in the Quad, as well as other regional and global forums, to build a broader coalition supporting Taiwan’s sovereignty and security. By advocating for Taiwan’s inclusion in international organizations and platforms, India can help raise its global profile and encourage other countries to support Taiwan in the event of a conflict.

 

Conclusion

 

  • While India would face challenges in the event of a cross-strait conflict, it is crucial for New Delhi to plan for the inevitable and proactively consider its military, diplomatic, and economic responses to such a crisis.

Mains Question

Q. There are signs of potential cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan. In this backdrop discuss its impact on India

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Saudi Arabia set to become SCO member

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SCO

Mains level: Expansion of SCO, Saudi distancing itself from West

saudi-sco

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet decided to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as Riyadh builds a long-term partnership with China despite US security concerns.

What is SCO?

  • The SCO is primarily a geopolitical and security organisation with limited infrastructures to pursue economic integration.
  • The group accounts for about one-third of the world’s land and exports trillions of dollars annually.
  • It is governed by consensus, which limits the scope of major cooperation between its member states.
  • It also functions more as a venue for discussion and engagement where high-level dignitaries from across the region can gather to confer, rather than an alliance like the EU, whose members have a common currency, or NATO.

Its establishment

  • The SCO was founded in June 2001 by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and China.
  • The genesis of the grouping can be traced back to the post-soviet era in 1996 when these countries, termed ‘Shanghai Five’, came together
  • Earlier, it focused on regional security to work on regional security, reduction of border troops, and terrorism.
  • Its particular focus has been on “conflict resolution”, which provided early successes between China and Russia, and then within the Central Asian Republics.

Structure of SCO

  • The organisation has two permanent bodies —
  1. SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and
  2. Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.
  • The SCO Secretary-General and the Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS are appointed by the Council of Heads of State for a term of three years.
  • But the venue of the SCO council meetings shifts between the eight members (including India and Pakistan).

Members of SCO

  • Apart from the above-mentioned countries— Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and China.
  • India and Pakistan are also members of this organisation, both included in 2017.
  • The SCO also has four observer states — Afghanistan, Belarus , Iran and Mongolia — which may be inducted at a later date.
  • And “Dialogue Partners” —Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkey Egypt, Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia.

Main goals

The main goals of the SCO, as adopted in its Charter in St. Petersburg in 2002, is:

  1. Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states;
  2. Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research and technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas;
  3. Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and
  4. Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.”

Why did Saudi Arabia join SCO?

  • Saudi Arabia could benefit in several ways, such as increased trade and economic cooperation with member states, particularly with China and Russia.
  • It could also gain a stronger voice in regional security issues and access to the SCO’s anti-terrorism framework.
  • Additionally, Saudi Arabia could help the organization expand its influence in the Middle East and increase its strategic weight in global affairs.
  • This is definitely a result of straining its ties with Washington.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The Global Security Initiative (GSI) : China’s Sincere Effort or a Mere Counter-Narrative?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global Security Initiative

Mains level: Global Security Initiative, India- china relations

Central Idea

  • The Global Security Initiative (GSI), a China-led framework aiming to restore stability and security in Asia, appears to be more of a counter-narrative to U.S. leadership rather than a genuine attempt to establish a sustainable security order.

What is GSI?

  • The GSI was introduced by Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang at the Lanting Forum in Beijing.
  • The initiative is based on five pillars: mutual respect, openness and inclusion, multilateralism, mutual benefit, and a holistic approach.

Analysis: China’s track record shows a different picture than what the GSI envisions

  1. Mutual Respect and Adherence to International Law:
  • China’s relations with neighbors like India and Southeast Asian countries demonstrate a lack of respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • China’s assertive manoeuvres in the South China Sea, rejection of UNCLOS, and undermining of India’s territorial integrity are at odds with the GSI’s first principle.
  1. Openness and Inclusion:
  • Despite advocating for openness and inclusion, China engages in exclusionary policies in the East and South China Seas, rejecting freedom of navigation and consolidating its sphere of influence.
  1. Multilateralism and Security Cooperation:
  • China’s involvement in multilateral institutions often involves asymmetric power relations, as seen in its dealings with ASEAN members.
  • Its delay in establishing a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea and ongoing militarization in the region undermine this principle.
  1. Mutual Benefit:
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has the potential to benefit all parties involved. However, its funding of unsustainable projects for countries with low credit ratings creates debt burdens and destabilizes international macroeconomic stability.
  • China’s insistence on a larger share in joint resource exploration with the Philippines is another example of disregarding mutual benefit.
  1. Holistic Approach:
  • China’s rise in a transitioning multipolar international system has led to power competitions with established and rising powers, such as the U.S. and India.
  • Its engagements with these powers indicate a narrowly defined goal for its power interests. Furthermore, China’s involvement in non-traditional security threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and arming terror groups, shows a lack of holistic approach.

Conclusion

  • China’s rise in a transitioning multipolar international system has led to power competitions with established and rising powers, and its involvement in non-traditional security threats shows a lack of holistic approach. It’s Global Security Initiative, which is a vision of a future security order, is vastly different from China’s recent track record of external engagement.

Mains Question

Q. What is China’s Global Security Initiative (GSI)? It is said that China’s GSI is vastly different from China’s recent track record of external engagement. Discuss


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India-China: Border Management Mechanism

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-China border issues and management

Central Idea

  • India and China appear to be moving towards a new modus vivendi to maintain peace and tranquillity along their disputed 4,000 kilometre border. They are discussing measures to ease the border situation, including creating no-patrol zones along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and upgrading the border management mechanism.

Older arrangements and need for new measures

  • Blockades: In 2020, the older arrangements, shaped by the agreements of 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2013, came apart in Ladakh after the Chinese massed troops in Tibet and established blockades at six points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to prevent Indian troops from patrolling the border.
  • Clashes: A clash at Galwan in June 2020 led to the deaths of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers, the first such losses on the LAC since 1975. The Sino-Indian clash, in December 2022, at Yangtse, north-east of Tawang, suggests that new measures may be needed across the LAC, and not just in Ladakh.

Attempts to Ease the Border Situation

  • Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC): Important discussions that took place between Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China, met in Beijing for the 26th Meeting of the Working WMCC on China-India Border Affairs, on February 22, 2023. This was the first in-person meeting of the WMCC that had held the previous 11 rounds since the 2020 events by video conference.
  • Other Measures: Discussions have taken up the issue of upgrading the border management means to replace the WMCC with a mechanism that will have both military and civilian officers. The no-patrol zones could lead to a package settlement in the two remaining areas of Depsang and Charding Nala.
  • Confidence-building Measures: The entire range of confidence-building measures since 1993 was premised on the belief that both sides largely accepted the lay of the LAC, though they had differences that related to some 18-20 points on it. The 1993 and 1996 agreements specifically spoke about the importance of identifying and resolving these differences.
  • No-patrol zones: The no-patrol zones could be confined to the places where the two sides have overlapping claims. Chinese journalist-scholar Qian Feng suggested that the concept of the zone of actual control could replace the “line of actual control” in some areas that had no obvious geomorphological features or population.

The Idea of Shifting the Goalposts

  • The idea of creating no-patrol zones is an echo of the original proposal by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai following a similar set of circumstances experienced today.
  • In October 1959, an Indian police party was ambushed at Kongka La leading to the deaths of 10 personnel and the capture of another dozen.
  • Zhou proposed to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in a letter of November 7, 1959, that both sides withdraw 20 kilometers from the so-called McMahon Line, as well as the line up to which each side exercises control in the west.

Conclusion

  • Creating no-patrol zones along the LAC could be a possible solution to the border conflict, as well as upgrading the border management mechanism to include both military and civilian officers.

Mains Question

Q. Discuss the recent developments in the India-China border conflict and the measures being taken to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China-India: Facilitating an Asian Century

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-china Trade, development and Bilateral Relations

China

Central idea

  • China’s recent developments in steady growth, people’s well-being, opening up, and win-win cooperation, as well as its willingness to strengthen communication and coordination with India, can provide new opportunities for all countries in the world, especially neighbouring countries. importance of China-India relations and their role in facilitating an Asian Century.

China’s focus areas of development 

  • Modernization: China is currently advancing modernization in all fronts, based on its practices, and a focus on high-quality development.
  • Overall development: The country aims to modernize its huge population, ensuring common prosperity for all, material and cultural-ethical advancement, harmony between humanity and nature, and peaceful development.
  • New opportunities: China’s development will create new opportunities for all countries, especially neighbouring countries.

China

The development of China in recent years

  1. Steady Growth:
  • In 2022, China’s economy grew by 3%, and the country added a total of 12.06 million urban jobs.
  • The country’s GDP increased to 121 trillion yuan (approximately $18 trillion), registering an annual growth rate of 5.2% over the past five years and an annual growth of 6.2% over the past decade, with GDP increasing by nearly 70 trillion yuan.
  • China’s economic strength is steadily reaching new heights.
  1. People’s Well-being:
  • China has historically resolved absolute poverty, with the alleviation of close to 100 million rural residents from poverty.
  • Over 70% of the government’s expenditure went toward ensuring people’s well-being.
  • Basic old age insurance covers 1.05 billion people, an increase of 140 million. Living standards continue to witness new improvements.
  1. Opening Up:
  • In 2022, China’s total volume of trade in goods exceeded 40 trillion yuan, registering an annual growth rate of 8.6%.
  • China’s actual use of foreign capital was up by 8%, and the country remained one of the top destinations for foreign investors.
  • The overall tariff level continues to fall, from 9.8% to 7.4%. China’s doors to the outside world are opening even wider.
  1. Win-Win Cooperation
  • In the period 2013-2021, China’s contribution to global economic growth averaged 38.6%, higher than that of G7 countries combined (25.7%).
  • More than 100 countries have expressed their support, and over 60 countries have joined the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI) since Chinese President, Xi Jinping, proposed it in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in 2021.

China

China-India Relations

  • Emerged as Representatives: As neighboring and ancient civilizations, China, and India are representatives of developing countries and emerging economies.
  • National rejuvenation: Both countries are currently in the process of national rejuvenation and a crucial period of modernization where challenges need to be overcome and problems need to be solved.
  • Interests than differences: China and India have far more common interests than differences.

China- India Trade

  • China and India are important trading partners, with bilateral trade volume reaching $135.984 billion in 2022.
  • Although there is a trade deficit, India’s import of equipment and materials from China reduces the overall cost of Made-in-India products, benefits Indian downstream industries and consumers, enhances the competitiveness of Indian exports, and in turn facilitates India’s integration into global industrial and supply chains.

China

Facilitating an Asian Century

  • Chinese Foreign Minister recently stated that the development and revitalization of China and India embody a boost to the force of developing countries, which will change the destiny of a third of the world’s population and have a bearing on the future of Asia and beyond.
  • This echoes what India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had expressed in 2022 that the Asian Century will happen when China and India come together.

Conclusion

  • China’s development and its relationship with India are important for the region and the world. Both countries are in the process of modernization and face challenges that need to be overcome. China and India are important trading partners, and their cooperation can facilitate an Asian Century and contribute to peace and stability in the region and beyond.

Mains Question

Q. Provide your insights on the role of China and India in shaping the destiny of the developing countries and their impact on the future of Asia and beyond


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

What is the McMahon Line?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: McMahon Line

Mains level: Not Much

McMahon

Central idea: Republican and Democrat senators introduced a resolution in US Congress reiterating that the US recognises the McMahon Line as the international boundary between China and India in Arunachal Pradesh.

Significance of such move

  • This resolute confirms US (both ruling and opposition) stand with India at a time when China poses a threat to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
  • The resolution reaffirms India’s position that Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls ‘South Tibet’, is an integral part of India.

What is the McMahon Line?

  • The McMahon Line serves as the de facto boundary between China and India in the Eastern Sector and represents the boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet.
  • China disputes the boundary and claims the state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

Under what circumstances was the McMahon Line drawn?

  • The McMahon Line was drawn during the Simla Convention of 1914, officially described as the Convention between Great Britain, China, and Tibet.
  • The British led an expedition into Tibet and signed the Convention of Lhasa in 1904, alarmed at the growing Russian influence in the region.
  • China invaded at the same time, taking control of the southeastern Kham region and pushing British officials to advocate extending British jurisdiction into the tribal territory.
  • The convention attempted to settle the question of Tibet’s sovereignty and avoid further territorial disputes in the region.

What happened at the Simla Convention of 1913-14?

  • The Tibetan government in Lhasa was represented by its plenipotentiary Paljor Dorje Shatra, and Britain by Sir Arthur Henry McMahon, foreign secretary of British India at Delhi.
  • The Chinese plenipotentiary was Ivan Chen.
  • The treaty divided the Buddhist region into “Outer Tibet” and “Inner Tibet” and determined the border between China proper and Tibet as well as Tibet and British India.
  • The final convention was only signed by McMahon on behalf of the British government and Shatra on behalf of Lhasa.
  • Ivan Chen did not consent to the convention, arguing that Tibet had no independent authority to enter into international agreements.

How was the border between British India and China decided?

  • The 890-km border from the corner of Bhutan to the Isu Razi Pass on the Burma border was drawn largely along the crest of the Himalayas, following the “highest watershed principle”.
  • However, exceptions were made, such as Tawang, which was included in British India due to its proximity to the Assam Valley.

What has the status of the McMahon line been since 1914?

  • While there were disputes regarding the McMahon line from the beginning, after the communists took power in 1949, they pulled China out of all international agreements.
  • The McMahon line was not mentioned during the Bandung Conference of 1955, which was held in Indonesia and saw Asian and African leaders agree to a common stand against colonialism and the Cold War.
  • However, the Chinese have recently raised the issue of the McMahon line, and in 2017, Beijing officially renamed six places in the Arunachal Pradesh region, including the disputed area of Tawang.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Australia to buy US nuclear submarines under AUKUS

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AUKUS

Mains level: AUKUS as a response to China

aukus

Australia will buy up to 5 US nuclear-powered submarines and build a new model with US and British technology under the AUKUS.

AUKUS: A Backgrounder

  • This new partnership is known as AUKUS and the major highlight of this arrangement is the sharing of US nuclear submarine technology with Australia.
  • The first major initiative of AUKUS would be to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia thereby giving it a nuclear heft in the Pacific where China has been particularly aggressive.
  • Apart from this AUKUS will also involve the sharing of cyber capabilities and other undersea technologies.
  • This alliance is considered to be most significant security arrangement between these three nations.

Ripples created by AUKUS

(A) US shift of focus

  • AUKUS is both an acknowledgment of and a concession to the loss of US strategic primacy.
  • It gives justification for the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan — to be able to better focus on the strategic rivalry and trade competition with China.

(B) Resentment in the EU and France

  • The deal has complicated the relations between France and Australia, and also France and the US. France is upset as it has been kept out of the loop.
  • France has even ordered the recall of its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.

(C) Chinese offensive reception

  • China, expectedly, has strongly criticised AUKUS and the submarine deal as promoting instability and stoking an arms race.

(D) Confusion among the SE nations

  • The new great power contestation might actually generate much room for the Southeast Asian states to manoeuvre, as they are wooed simultaneously by China, AUKUS, and the Quad.
  • They realise that AUKUS is a challenge to the hallowed notion of “ASEAN centrality”, a totemic rhetorical device which seeks to have others acknowledge its relevance.

Why such an alliance?

(A) Deteriorating China-AU relations

  • Tensions have been high between Australia and an increasingly assertive China, its largest trade partner.
  • Australia banned Chinese telecom giant Huawei in 2108 and its PM called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 last year.
  • China retaliated by imposing tariffs on or capping Australian exports.

(B) US act of counterbalancing

  • China has nuclear-powered submarines, as well as submarines that can launch nuclear missiles.
  • The three signatories to the AUKUS deal have made it clear though, that their aim is not to arm the new subs with nuclear weapons.

(C) Bringing Australia at the centrestage of Indo-Pacific

  • In the context of the AUKUS agreement, nuclear-powered submarines will give the Royal Australian Navy the capability to go into the South China Sea.
  • This is primarily because a nuclear-powered submarine gives a navy the capability to reach far out into the ocean and launch attacks.
  • A nuclear-powered submarine offers long distances dives, at a higher speed, without being detected gives a nation the ability to protect its interests far from its shores.

Exactly, How?

  • To go from a diesel-electric fleet to a nuclear fleet is thus a change of strategy, not just of propulsion.
  • It provides a way to project power from the shipping lanes which feed the all-important Malacca Strait to the waters off Taiwan.
  • Add on the capacity to launch much longer-range missiles—a submarine could deliver missiles to China’s mainland while sitting to the east of the Philippines—and the country has a greatly expanded offensive capacity.

AU: Another US Base

  • If Australia’s strategic stance is changed by the deal, so is America’s.
  • Since the Second World War the US has projected power across the region called as an archipelago of empire.
  • There are the island bases from Hawaii in the east to Guam, Okinawa in Japan and, in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia, leased from Britain without the consent of its natives.
  • In Australia, America has now, in effect, a beefed-up continent-sized base for its own operations as well as a reinvigorated ally.

Outcomes of AUKUS

(A) Offensive front against China

  • There is no gainsaying the fact that rapid accretion in China’s economic and military capacities, but more particularly its belligerence, has led to a tectonic shift in regional security paradigms.
  • Several countries have been obliged to review their defence preparedness in response to China’s rising military power and its adverse impact on regional stability.

(B) India as a bridge in Anglosphere

  • The transatlantic fissure has also pointed to something inconceivable—that India could emerge as a potential bridge between different parts of the West.
  • Our PM was on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirming India’s strong commitment to the Indo-Pacific partnership with France.
  • India’s solidarity with France at a difficult moment is rooted in New Delhi’s conviction that preserving the West’s unity is critical in shaping the strategic future of the Indo-Pacific.

(C) Exposed Chinese double standards

  • China has the world’s fastest-growing fleet of sub-surface combatants.
  • This includes the Type 093 Shang-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) and the Type 094 nuclear-powered Jin-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).
  • Its nuclear submarines are on the prowl in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Yet, China denies Australia and others the sovereign right to decide on their defence requirements.

Implications on QUAD

  • Not superseding: This alliance does not and will not supersede or outrank existing arrangements in the Indo-Pacific region such as the Quad, which the US and Australia form with India and Japan, and ASEAN.
  • Complimentary to QUAD: AUKUS will complement these groups and others.

Opportunities for India

While the Quad and Washington’s Indo-Pacific pivot generate much interest and anxiety, it is easy to forget that the two ideas are, in essence, about India.

  • India’s role has enhanced: Balancing China is the challenge confronting the United States, and Washington has recognized that India is an indispensable part of the answer.
  • Just another alliance: New Delhi has no reason to complain if Australia, Britain, and the United States raise the military capabilities of their coalition. The submarine deal is an undiluted example of strategic defence collaboration.
  • Intimidating China: The introduction of nuclear-powered submarine through AUKUS has a complicating impact on the Chinese maritime calculus. Anything that maintains a balance of power in the region is desirable.
  • Focusing inside on land border: AUKUS also leaves India with a less of a headache in securing its maritime flank from Chinese aggression and New Delhi may focus more fully on the threat emanating from the land border with China.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Chinese hydro-hegemony over Brahmaputra

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Brahmaputra and its tributaries

Mains level: Hydrodiplomacy over Brahmaputra River

brahmaputra

India has planned to build a buffer reservoir in the proposed Arunachal hydropower project to counter China’s proposed 60,000 MW Medog hydropower project on the Brahmaputra River.

Brahmaputra hydrology: A tool of aggression for China

  • China has continued to use the water of river Brahmaputra for its interest and has intentionally created hazardous conditions for downstream states like India and Bangladesh.
  • Concerns over China’s proposed 60,000 MW hydropower in Medog, Tibet are influencing the design of a proposed hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Siang district.
  • Still only in the planning stage, a ‘pre-feasibility report’ on the 11,000 MW project, or more than five times the size of the largest such projects in India – has been submitted.

What is Medog super-dam Project?

  • China is planning a mega dam in Tibet able to produce triple the electricity generated by the Three Gorges—the world’s largest power station.
  • The structure will span the Brahmaputra River before the waterway leaves the Himalayas and flows into India.
  • It is billed as able to produce 300 billion kilowatts of electricity each year and said to be largest dam in the world once completed.

India’s plan: To build buffer reservoir

  • The design of the proposed project incorporates a buffer storage” of 9 billion cubic metres (or about 9 billion tonnes of water) during monsoonal flow.
  • This could act as a store of water worth a year’s flow that would normally be available from the Brahmaputra or buffer against sudden releases.

Threats posed by Medog Project

Chinese dams can hold large amounts of water, during times of droughts China could stop the flow of the river, jeopardizing the lives of millions of people in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Bangladesh.

  • Reduced flow in the Brahmaputra: The 60,000 MW dam in Medog could reduce the natural flow of water from the Brahmaputra.
  • Triggering artificial floods: Away from India during lean patches, it might be used to trigger “artificial floods” in the Brahmaputra basin.
  • Degradation of the entire basin: Silt carried by the river would get blocked by dams leading to a fall in the quality of soil and eventual reduction in agricultural productivity.
  • Seismic threats: Seismologists consider the Himalayas as most vulnerable to earthquakes and seismic activity.
  • Ecological threats: The cumulative impact of these two megaprojects might aggravate ecological degradation, converting lotic ecosystems into lentic ones.
  • Water security: Damming Brahmaputra would result in water security in an era of unprecedented shifting climate patterns.
  • Catastrophic threat: Any damage to the mega dam, if constructed here, will cause dam breaching and consequent flood havoc in India and Bangladesh.

Why are such issues unaddressed?

  • No treaty on water sharing: We do not have any bilateral or multilateral treaty or any other effective and formal instrument of understanding for collaborative management of the Brahmaputra River.
  • Hostility over borders: Undemarcated borders are at the core of all hostilities between India and China.

India’s dilemma

  • Flood control dichotomy: India’s hydropower projects, while potentially beneficial in controlling flooding from the Brahmaputra in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • No deterrence to China: This might not necessarily serve as a strategic deterrent to China.
  • Resentment to Bangladesh: A large dam in India may help control floods within India but might open fresh disputes over water sharing with Bangladesh downstream.

Way forward

  • There must be collaborative management of our shared rivers.
  • Hydro-diplomacy should form an important ingredient of Indian foreign policy, especially as India shares river basins with neighbors.

Brahmaputra River

brahmaputra

  • Origin → Chemayungdung Glacier (Kailash Range, Tibet)
  •     In Tibet, known as TSANG – PO
  •     In China, known as YARLUNG ZANBO
  •     Forms grand canyon in Tibet
  •     Turns southward near Namcha – Barwa
  •     Enters Arunachal Pradesh as Dihang River at Sadiya, emerging from the mountains
  •     Joined by Dibang river from the north & Lohit river from the south → Known as Brahamputra
  •     Turns at Dhubri to enter into Bangladesh
  •     After joining Teesta, known as Jamuna in BD
  •     Joins Ganga & Megna → Merges to BOB.
  •     Forms many river island of which Majuli is world 2nd largest one
  •     Major tributaries → Dihang, Lohit, Subansiri, Teesta, Meghna (Barack in Assam), Manas

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India-China relations: China Inconsistent in its words and actions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India- china strained relations

India-China

Context

  • India-China relations have been under enormous strain in recent years. The Indian foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, on many occasions has stated that India-China relations are going through an extremely difficult phase. For the two to return to normalcy in the relationship, he added that it will depend on three mutuals: mutual sensitivity, mutual respect and mutual interest.

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India-China

Chinese foreign minister statement

  • Statement by Wang Yi: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that China is ready to work with India in improving bilateral ties.
  • Statement said China will work with India for steady China-India growth: Speaking at a symposium on the international situation and China’s foreign relations in 2022, Wang reportedly said that both countries “have maintained communication through the diplomatic and military-to-military channels, and both countries are committed to upholding stability in the border areas. We stand ready to work with India in the direction toward steady and sound growth of China-India relations.
  • Statement against the backdrop of Tawang clash: The Chinese foreign minister’s statement comes against the backdrop of the December 9 clash near Tawang in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, where soldiers on both sides sustained minor injuries.

Strained relationship between India-China

  • No sign of taking a back step: Even though the two sides managed to bring the Tawang situation under control, the reality is that the number of forces on deployment on either side of the border after the Galwan clash two years back shows no sign of being pulled back, a stark reminder of the far-from-normal state of relations between India and China.
  • Despite of commander level talks, no fruitful negotiation on disengagement: Despite 17 rounds of military talks at the army commander level, the two sides have not been able to resolve their differences and accomplish a complete disengagement of their military forces.
  • Statement by India: Following the 17th session of military talks last week, the Indian Ministry of Defense issued a statement that blandly stated that both sides will maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector and that they agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest.

India-China

Is there any positive change in Chinese strategic thinking?

  • Chinese foreign policy is just the same: It is unclear if Wang’s comment on India-China relations reflects any fundamental change in China’s foreign policy. Clearly, there has been no general softening of China’s attitude.
  • Speech was a part of diplomacy: The minister’s statement on India was part of a long speech taking stock of China’s diplomacy and foreign relations in 2022.
  • Particular focus on United states: In the statement, there was a particular focus on the troubled nature of its ties with the United States, calling out Washington’s erroneous China policy. Wang went on to say that it was U.S. stubbornness in seeing China as its peer competitor and Washington’s “blatant blockade, suppression and provocation against China” that has put the relationship in “serious difficulties.
  • Concerned about Taiwan: The minister noted Taiwan is a red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations. He also made note of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan to which the minister said that China has taken firm and resolute measures, which have strongly deterred anti-China elements in the United States and the Taiwan independence forces.
  • Indirect reference to QUAD: The Quad, which comprises the U.S., Japan, India and Australia, also found an indirect mention in Wang’s speech. He stated that China is opposed to “bloc confrontation and zero-sum competition.
  • Aggressive with each of India’s security partner: Each of India’s new security partners among the Quad countries has been subjected to China’s aggressive behavior in military, political and economic terms, which has brought a new depth of strategic purpose to the Quad.

India-China

Way ahead

  • India’s relationship with China has been teetering from bad to worse over the last 32 months since the standoff in Ladakh began, and it seems unlikely to improve unless Beijing’s calculus vis a vis India and the region undergoes a drastic change.
  • On the current status of the ties Indian foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, remarked that “the state of the border will determine the state of the relationship.”
  • While Delhi’s G20 leadership may bring opportunities for engagement with Beijing, what is required first is a clear vision and a grand strategy to deal with the China challenge, instead of reacting to each crisis as it emerges

Conclusion

  • Inconsistencies, both in China’s words and also between words and actions, will likely reduce the willingness of other countries, including India, to take seriously China’s statements about wanting a reset of ties.

Mains question

Q. India-China relations, though occasionally showing signs of peace and cooperation, have often been afflicted by tension and mistrust. China is inconsistent in words and actions. Discuss.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Latest round of commander-level talks at Line of Actual control (LAC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-China Border issues, friction points

talks

Context

  • A week after the clash in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, convening of the 17th round of India-China corps commander-level talks at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point in eastern Ladakh is a positive development. But unfortunately, it does not inspire confidence about Chinese intentions vis a vis the Line of Actual Control.

 Background

  • Disengagement at Gogra Hot springs in last round of talks: The last round of talks was held in July, and in September, the government announced that the two sides had finished disengaging at Gogra Hot Springs, as had been agreed in the 16th round.
  • Beijing reluctant for further rounds of talks: Beijing appeared reluctant to accede to Delhi’s push for another round,
  • No return to the status quo: China signals that there is nothing more to discuss about the situation in eastern Ladakh, and certainly not a return to the status quo that existed before its incursions in April-May 2020.

What is outcome of the latest round of talks and the current status?

  • No mutually acceptable resolution on remaining issues: A joint statement that the two sides agreed to keep talking through military and diplomatic channels toward a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest suggests that there was no outcome from this round. It is also not clear if the remaining issues have been agreed upon by both sides.
  • India facing an altered status quo: Apart from the fact that India now faces an altered status quo and that the PLA is rapidly building war-like infrastructure on its side, for India, the remaining issues are the presence of Chinese troops in the Depsang plains, and intrusions in the Demchok area.
  • Tensions seems manageable but situation is unpredictable: The sector-wise compartmentalisation makes the tensions seem manageable, but the reality appears to be that there is no predicting which part of the 3,500 km of the line will flare up suddenly, as it did recently.
  • Situation is very serious: Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar flagged the seriousness of the situation when he told Parliament that the Indian deployment at the LAC is at its highest level.
  • Despite the advanced surveillance, no clarity on Army’s preparedness: From the short statement by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, it is unclear how prepared the Army was for the transgression at Tawang, despite the advanced Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance devices that have reportedly been installed in that area.

talks

Why China has opened new front in Tawang?

  • Status quo along the boundary not only limited to the Western Sector: China has traditionally been active in areas close to Ladakh given the significance of the Xinjiang-Tibet region in its domestic narrative. However, with its sights on an ageing Dalai Lama, and the issue of his succession, Beijing will want to bring into focus its claims on Tawang, and the rest of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Huge investment in infrastructure in eastern sector: China has invested in infrastructure in the Eastern Sector over many years. This includes rail, road, and air connectivity, better telecommunications, as well as improved capacity to station and supply troops and artillery.
  • Centrality of the boundary issue in the India-China relationship: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has repeatedly asserted that it is no longer possible to separate the boundary question from the overall relationship and that peace and tranquillity on the LAC is the key to restoring relations. However, China is likely to keep up the pressure on the ground along the LAC, even as they continue to suggest that the two countries look beyond the differences, much like Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s comments during his March 2022 visit when he claimed that the two sides need to “inject more positive energy” into the relationship.

talks

Way ahead

  • Delhi should make a push for talks at the diplomatic level even as it ramps up military preparedness.
  • Whatever the facts on the ground and regardless of how the tensions will unfold, the government would be well advised to take the Opposition parties into confidence at the earliest.
  • A wide political consensus is what the country needs when confronted with tensions at the borders and it is the government’s task and responsibility to build it.

Conclusion

  • Delhi should make a push for talks at the diplomatic level even as it ramps up military preparedness. Whatever the facts on the ground and regardless of how the tensions will unfold, the government should take the Opposition parties into confidence at the earliest. A wide political consensus is what the country needs when confronted with tensions at the borders

Mains Question

Q. China has opened new front in the eastern sector. Even after the commander level talks multiple times, frictions between the two continues at LAC. Discuss.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India-China clash: Why China has opened new front?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India china border areas

Mains level: Chinese Transgression, India's preparedness and challenges

China

Context

  • There has been yet another transgression by Chinese troops across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. That it culminated in violence, that it took place this time in the Eastern Sector of their boundary dispute, or that it should take place in the middle of winter should surprise no one. If there is one lesson that can be drawn from India’s experiences with Chinese transgressions over the last decade or so, it is that the Chinese seem to set the pace on the nature and timing of these transgressions.

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Army’s statement about the clash

  • On December 9, 2022, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops contacted the LAC in the Tawang sector, which was contested by own troops in a firm and resolute manner.
  • This face-off led to minor injuries to a few personnel from both sides,” “Both sides immediately disengaged from the area.”

China

Events of Chinese transgressions: Need to understand the nature and timing

  • Depsang in Ladakh, 2013: Chinese troops came across the LAC, pitched tents and refused to move for several weeks until New Delhi threatened to cancel the planned visit of Premier Li Keqiang to India. This might have been a diplomatic victory for the Indian government but it also highlighted the inability of the Indian military to bring an end to the standoff or the unwillingness of the government to let the military take the lead in responding.
  • Chumar in Ladakh, Sept, 2014 in the middle of the Xi Jinping’s first visit to India: Chinese intruded at Chumar, also in Ladakh, in the middle of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to India. This was in keeping with a reasonably long tradition of Chinese transgressions during important visits but it was also notable for confronting Indian troops in an area where they enjoyed a degree of military advantage.
  • Doklam in 2017: China provoked India with infrastructure development in a third country in Bhutan’s Doklam territory. This was a case of China trying to browbeat an Indian treaty ally.
  • Transgression across multiple locations in 2020 and Galwan valley clash: The Chinese PLA took advantage of Covid-19 and a lack of Indian military alertness to transgress across multiple locations on the LAC in eastern Ladakh. On June 15, 2020 episode when 20 Indian soldiers were killed and several others were injured in violent clashes with the PLA troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.

Why China has opened new front in Tawang?

  • Status quo along the boundary are no longer going to be limited to the Western Sector: China has traditionally been active in areas close to Ladakh given the significance of the Xinjiang-Tibet region in its domestic narrative. However, with its sights on an ageing Dalai Lama, and the issue of his succession, Beijing will want to bring into focus its claims on Tawang, and the rest of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Huge investment in infrastructure in eastern sector: China has invested in infrastructure in the Eastern Sector over many years. This includes rail, road, and air connectivity, better telecommunications, as well as improved capacity to station and supply troops and artillery.
  • Centrality of the boundary issue in the India-China relationship: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has repeatedly asserted that it is no longer possible to separate the boundary question from the overall relationship and that peace and tranquillity on the LAC is the key to restoring relations. However, China is likely to keep up the pressure on the ground along the LAC, even as they continue to suggest that the two countries look beyond the differences, much like Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s comments during his March 2022 visit when he claimed that the two sides need to “inject more positive energy” into the relationship.

China

India’s preparedness and learnings from the incident

  • Indian Army anticipated such kind of transgression in eastern sector: The Indian Army had for long anticipated that the PLA would activate the eastern sector of the LAC, and to that extent, it is evident that steps were taken to beef up military preparedness in the region.
  • Light on what gaps to address: What the incident has effectively achieved though is the lighting up of one more section of the LAC at a time the issues in Ladakh have not yet been settled, from the point of view of India.
  • China appears not want to disengage: After 16 rounds of talks, a disengagement has taken place in eastern Ladakh, but it has not restored the status quo that prevailed in April 2020. China, for its part, appears reluctant to hold any further rounds of talks on the leftover problems in Ladakh, including its play in Depsang and Demchok areas.
  • China is only increasing the economic gap between itself and India: China has only increased the economic gap between itself and India and in the intervening years, not only built up more infrastructure in its border provinces but also tried to integrate these regions much more closely with neighbouring economies such as Pakistan and Nepal through grand projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative and pressuring Thimphu to open formal diplomatic ties with Beijing.

Way ahead

  • India’s relationship with China has been teetering from bad to worse over the last 32 months since the standoff in Ladakh began, and it seems unlikely to improve unless Beijing’s calculus vis a vis India and the region undergoes a drastic change.
  • While Delhi’s G20 leadership may bring opportunities for engagement with Beijing, what is required first is a clear vision and a grand strategy to deal with the China challenge, instead of reacting to each crisis as it emerges.

China

Conclusion

  • With its sights on an ageing Dalai Lama, and the issue of his succession, Beijing will want to bring into focus its claims on Arunachal Pradesh. The border stand-off seems to have been managed for now, but Delhi needs a clear vision, grand strategy to deal with China instead of reacting to each crisis as it emerges.

Mains question

Q. There has been yet another transgression by Chinese troops across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. Why China has opened new front in eastern sector? Discuss.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Indian Army and PLA clash near Arunachal Border

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: LAC

Mains level: LAC skirmishes

arunachal-lac

The Indian troops deployed in the area of face-off in Tawang sector gave a befitting response to the Chinese troops and the number of Chinese soldiers injured in the clash is more than the Indian soldiers.

Increased clashes at LAC

  • In January 2021, Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a face-off in a disputed stretch in Nakula area of North Sikkim.
  • In 2017, troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction area which even triggered fears of a war between the two neighbours.

What is LAC- the Line of Actual Control?

  • The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
  • India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
  • It is divided into three sectors: the eastern sector which spans Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the western sector in Ladakh.
  • The LAC is only a concept – it is not agreed upon by the two countries, neither delineated on a map nor demarcated on the ground.

When did India accept the LAC?

  • The LAC was discussed during Chinese Premier Li Peng’s 1991 visit to India, where PM P V Narasimha Rao and Li reached an understanding to maintain peace and tranquillity at the LAC.
  • India formally accepted the concept of the LAC when Rao paid a return visit to Beijing in 1993 and the two sides signed the Agreement to Maintain Peace and Tranquillity at the LAC.
  • The reference to the LAC was unqualified to make it clear that it was not referring to the LAC of 1959 or 1962 but to the ‘LAC’ at the time when the agreement was signed.
  • To reconcile the differences about some areas, the two countries agreed that the Joint Working Group on the border issue would take up the task of clarifying the alignment of the LAC.

Issues with LAC

  • India’s claim line is the line seen in the official boundary marked on the maps as released by the Survey of India, including both Aksai Chin and Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • In China’s case, it corresponds mostly to its claim line, but in the eastern sector, it claims entire Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet.
  • However, the claim lines come into question when a discussion on the final international boundaries takes place, and not when the conversation is about a working border, say the LAC.

Why is LAC so disputed?

  • The delineation of the LAC has also not been done based on the accepted norms of control.
  • This has resulted in the existence of a number of areas of differing perceptions all across the LAC which is the primary cause of conflict.
  • China has changed its documented stance and has been looking for justifications for the conflict escalation.

Worry for India

  • China is developing infrastructure in the Indian-claimed areas.
  • Moreover, it is being developed at an unprecedented pace by China in these areas.
  • These are potential sovereignty markers which will be a restricting factor for future negotiations.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Understanding the principal contradiction, keeping China at the Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India's foreign policy

contradiction

Context

  • If principal contradictions must determine strategic priorities, New Delhi should decide what its principal contradiction is. China is contemporary India’s principal strategic contradiction. Every other challenge, be it Pakistan, internal insurgencies, and difficulties in relations with its neighbours, fall in the category of secondary contradictions.

What is principal contradiction?

  • The concept of a principal contradiction is one that poses the most intense challenge to an individual/organisation, and has the power to shape its future choices and consequent outcomes useful method of optimising and prioritising strategic decision-making.

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Principal contradiction with China

  • Straightforward question over the decisions taken by the policymakers: Major decisions in New Delhi’s strategic decision matrix should pass the China test, which amounts to asking and answering a rather straightforward question: “does x or y decision/development/relationship help deal with the China challenge, or not?”
  • China test a tool for policy making: A perspicacious ‘China test’ can help prioritise strategic decision making in the longer run, at least as an analytical tool with potential policy utility.

Elements of ‘China test’

  • From an operational point of view, the ‘China test’ consists of three distinct elements.
  • Assessment of Indian decisions: an assessment of how a certain Indian decision or a specific regional development square with Chinese regional strategy or interests.
  • Assessment if the decisions need Modifications: An assessment of whether India’s decision or a certain regional development would require India to make modifications at the level of secondary contradictions.
  • Assessment if it requires a major policy change: An assessment of whether this would require any major policy changes internally. Let me highlight the utility of the ‘China test’ using a few examples.

contradiction

Analysis of India-U.S. relations applying the China test

  • Relations are more of Interest driven: New Delhi has had a complicated relationship with Washington which is increasingly getting normalised and interests-driven. Despite its withdrawal from the region, Washington is seeking to re-engage southern Asia (Pakistan, South Asia in general, the Indo-Pacific, and perhaps even the Taliban).
  • India’s growing proximity to the U.S: It appears that one of the lessons New Delhi learnt from the standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control in 2020 was that it was perhaps a consequence of India’s growing proximity to the U.S.
  • lack of/lukewarm India-U.S. strategic engagement in the region may help China: Given that Beijing seeks to dominate the region, it is clearly not in its interest to see an American reengagement of the region or growing India-U.S. proximity. If so, the lack of/lukewarm India-U.S. strategic engagement in the region is precisely what would help Beijing’s long-term objectives.

contradiction

Analysis of India-Russia relations applying the China test

  • Relations in the wake of Ukraine war: India-Russia relations in the wake of the Ukraine war are among the most debated bilateral relationships in the world today.
  • Question arises by applying the China test: India-Russia relations in the face of western pressure on India to decouple from Moscow. “Does continuing its relationship with Moscow help New Delhi better deal with the China challenge?”
  • What the U.S. and its allies offer India to condemn Russia: The U.S. and its allies would like India to stop engaging with Moscow and condemn its aggression against Ukraine which India has refused to do so far. In return, there is on offer greater accommodation of Indian interests including perhaps diplomatic and political support against Chinese aggression.
  • The challenge of growing proximity between Moscow and Beijing: There is also the growing proximity between Moscow and Beijing which reduces the robustness of India-Russia relations. So, does the China test require New Delhi to continue to engage with Moscow against all these odds?

contradiction

What could be the consequences If India chooses to accept the US offer and deviate from strong India-Russia ties?

  • Sino-Russian cooperation is likely to strengthen: In the absence of an India-Russia relationship, the extent of Sino-Russian cooperation is likely to strengthen, and India will be cut out of the continental space to its north and west.
  • China may replace India as a Natural beneficiary of energy at discounted price and thereby support to Pakistan: New Delhi continues to get discounted energy, cheaper defence equipment If India decides to break away from Russia, many of these could come to a grinding halt, and the natural beneficiary of such an eventuality will, undoubtedly, be China. This could also push Moscow towards Pakistan with or without some nudging from Beijing.
  • India a trusted partner for Russia: It is also important to note that Moscow is not keen to have China dominate the strategic space around it and has been keen to balance the growing influence of China in Central Asia with partners such as New Delhi. New Delhi’s turn away from Moscow will ensure that China gets a free hand in Central Asia too. In one sense, therefore, the China piece best explains the enigma called India-Russia relations.

What the China test suggests?

  • Avoiding the short-term temptation and look a bigger picture: New Delhi should not give into the short-term temptation of not being on the wrong side of China given its long-term implications. While the fears of such a relationship irking China may not be entirely unjustified, they invariably play into the Chinese strategy of boxing India in the region.
  • Break away from Russia may likely to play in Chinese strategy for Boxing India: If indeed New Delhi was to completely break away from Russia (as India’s U.S. and western partners have asked India to), Such a decision is most likely to play into China’s hands. India-Russia relations are on the wane, there is a strong rationale for New Delhi to continue its relationship with Moscow which is China.
  • China test require India to pacify its relationship with Pakistan: The question to ask here is “does making (relative) peace with Pakistan help India better deal with China?”. For China, the best-case scenario is an India vigorously preoccupied with Pakistan which ensures that India is not focused on the growing threat from China, thereby providing Beijing with the opportunity to displace traditional Indian primacy in South Asia. So, for India, a course-correction on Pakistan, even if it is only post facto, is a strategically sensible one.
  • Focus should on China, more than the Pakistan: What India should actively seek is not a balance of power in South Asia with Pakistan but balancing Chinese power in Southern Asia. Hence, India’s objective in South Asia should be to seek a pacification of conflicts with Pakistan, so that it can focus on China.

Conclusion

  • For New Delhi, the message from the China test is a rather straightforward one that the smart balancing China in Southern Asia and beyond must form a key element in India’s grand strategic planning and decision making.

Mains question

Q. What do you understand by the concept of principal contradiction? Explain it shortly keeping China at the Centre of India’s strategic planning and decision making.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

In news: China Indian Ocean Region Forum

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: China Indian Ocean Region Forum, USAID

Mains level: Read the attached story

china

China’s top development aid agency convened the first “China-Indian Ocean Region Forum” in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming.

What is the China Indian Ocean Region Forum?

  • It is organised by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).
  • It is the latest Chinese initiative focusing on the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • It underlines Beijing’s growing strategic interests in a region where its economic footprint has been deepening.

What is it about?

  • The CIDCA is China’s new development aid agency similar to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • It aims to-
  1. Strengthen policy coordination,
  2. Deepen development cooperation,
  3. Increase resilience to shocks and disasters, and
  4. Enhance relevant countries’ capacity to obtain economic benefits through use of marine resources such as fisheries, renewable energy, tourism, and shipping in a sustainable way

Which countries have backed the forum?

  • The organisers have said the forum was attended by high-level representatives and senior officials from 19 countries.
  • But at least two of those countries, Australia and Maldives, subsequently released statements rebutting the claim, emphasising that they did not participate officially.

Why such a move by China?

China’s ambitions in the Indian Ocean have been motivated by three factors-

  • Gaining significance of Indo-Pacific: As the new world order unveils around the Indo-Pacific, Beijing aims to challenge other major powers, such as India, and establish its hegemony.
  • Domestic energy security: Beijing needs the Indian Ocean to ensure its energy security and continue fuelling its growth, which defines its foreign policy and international leverage.
  • Hegemony establishment: Establishing new and alternative institutions with IOR countries helps China display its presence and influence from the China Sea to the Indian Ocean, reflecting its status as a significant power.

How is China perceiving its interests?

  1. Political corruption: Beijing has cultivated close and personal relationships with political elites and parties of IOR countries, usually through corruption, party funding, and by turning a blind eye to their human rights abuses and democratic infirmities.
  2. Fractionalization: Friendship with different political parties in Pakistan; bonhomie with the Rajapaksa clan in Sri Lanka, and close relations with Maldives’ Abdulla Yameen are some examples of this widespread phenomenon.
  3. Elite capture: In addition, China has often used the elite capture tactic to ensure a pro-China policy and bag geo-economically and strategically significant projects. This includes concessions on Pakistan’s Gwadar Port and Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port City project.

Where does India stand?

  • India was the lone absentee in the forum ignoring the invitation.
  • China has exposed its intention with the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries.
  • New Delhi has viewed China’s recent moves in the region warily, including the recent visit of a Chinese military tracking vessel, the Yuan Wang 5, to Sri Lanka.
  • Moreover, India sees the Indian-Ocean Rim Association (IORA) as an already established platform for the region.

China’s plans for the IOR

  • The forum has underlined China’s stepped-up interest in the IOR, where it is already a major trading partner for most countries and where sea routes lie vital to China’s economic interests.
  • The CIDCA forum is the latest initiative to reflect Beijing’s view that it has a clear stake in the region, and that more such initiatives are likely.

Has China out-powered India in the IOR with this move?

  • The Chinese initiative looks like a kind of delayed response.
  • It can be seen only as a comparison and competitor to India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), as outlined by PM Modi in Mauritius in 2015.
  • The Indian idea is implemented through the nation’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and such other initiatives as ‘‘Project Mausam’ and ‘Integrated Coastal Surveillance System’ (now shared with Maldives).
  • All of them are confined to the Indian Ocean, where India too belongs legitimately, unlike China.

Conclusion

  • In a way, the new initiative reflects China’s unending greed.
  • It also reflects China’s desire and ambition to measure up to the US in reach and outreach, and through them, geo-economics, geopolitical, and geostrategic comparability.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Understanding the “China’s BRICS” game

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: China BRICS strategy, Role of India

BRICS

Context

  • At the 14thLeaders’ Meeting of the BRICS, held virtually in June 2022, China dwelt on the issue of expanding the group beyond its five existing members to include more emerging economies. At a time when China-India relations are at a low point, the proposal has raised concerns in New Delhi. As India deliberates its stance on this contentious issue, it is important to understand China’s approach towards BRICS.

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BRICS

All you need to know about BRICS

  • BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • Jim O’Neill, a British economist, coined the term ‘BRIC’ to describe the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. He made a case for BRIC on the basis of econometric analyses projecting that the four economies would individually and collectively occupy far greater economic space and become among the world’s largest economies.
  • The importance of BRICS is self-evident: It represents 42% of the world’s population, 30% of the land area, 24% of global GDP and 16% of international trade.
  • The five BRICS countries are also members of G-20.

BRICS for China

  • Strategy of multiple engagements: For China, it is the grand strategy that is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that threads its many engagements: BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) where it is not directly a member, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • Projecting the connection between BRICS and BRI: BRICS as an entity, has not signed any memorandum of cooperation with the BRI, In Chinese strategic thinking, the BRI and BRICS are deeply connected.
  • Repeated assertion by Xi Jinping: President Xi Jinping himself has harped on this notion in his speeches on multiple occasions, such as the 9th BRICS Business Forum in September 2017 and the 11th BRICS Leaders’ Meeting in November 2019. In his speech he stated that China would cooperate with other multilateral development institutions such as the BRICS New Development Bank to support BRI and jointly formulate guidelines to finance development projects. 

BRICS

China’s Approach towards BRICS: The Link with BRI

  • Policy of Five connectivities: Chinese scholars are of the opinion that the “five connectivities” in policy, infrastructure, trade, finance, and people-to-people constitute the common way forward for both the BRI and BRICS.
  • Economic development strategy: China has been working towards strengthening the interconnection of economic development strategies of different states along the BRI, particularly the BRICS nations, aligning and integrating BRI and BRICS infrastructure projects, ensuring unimpeded trade, pursuing multiple forms of cooperation.
  • China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and EEU: The most significant progress made so far by China in this regard has been the official docking between China’s Silk Road Economic Belt (the land part of the BRI) and the EEU (where Russia is the dominant player) in May 2015.
  • Infrastructure models that China is emphasising: A high-speed railway project from Moscow to Kazan is being constructed under this strategic cooperation, funded by the BRICS New Development Bank. This is the model that China wants to replicate with other BRICS nations as well. In December 2015, South Africa and China signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly promoting the construction of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road.”

Why China needs BRICS to promote the BRI?

  • To avoid direct conflicts: Chinese policymakers believe that although China is the main proponent of the BRI, it needs to avoid both strategic overdraft and direct conflicts with the pillars of the present international order while implementing the strategy.
  • To use resources effectively: To improve efficiency in the use of funds and other resources, China, it is argued, should shift from individually leading specific projects to constructing and leading various international institutions and exerting itself through institutional norms.
  • Strategic alignment and ambition to lead: President Xi emphasised this as well at the ‘Belt and Road’ International Cooperation Summit Forum in May 2017, saying that the BRI “is not about starting from scratch and reinventing the wheel, but realising strategic alignment and (reaping) complementary advantages (of various existing or new mechanisms).”
  • Dominating the financial mechanism through BRI partnership: Chinese scholars point out that all the BRICS countries have already been made part of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), one of China’s key financing mechanisms for the BRI. Further, given China’s clear dominance in the New Development Bank (NDB), Contingency Reserve Fund (CRA), the AIIB, as well as Silk Road Fund, it is only imperative for it to use these institutions to incentivise more BRICS countries to participate in the BRI, and to lay the foundation of a global financial system for the Chinese currency (RMB) trade settlement.
  • Creating an acceptable front: China is aware that the BRI has provoked extensive discussion around the world. It has been interpreted differently by different countries and has even drawn suspicion and caution in certain quarters. China is aware that to implement the BRI smoothly, it needs an additional front that is less controversial and more acceptable to the international community at large, and in particular, to developing countries.

BRICS

What are the concerns for India?

  • Promoting priorities in contrast: China prioritises the ‘BRICS + Asia’ cooperation mechanism – ‘BRICS + ASEAN’ on the one hand, and ‘BRICS + Bay of Bengal’ on the other, thereby integrating BRICS more closely with the Southeast Asian countries as well as with the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) nations.
  • Aligning with BIMSTEC to counter India’s resistance to BRI: The aligning with BIMSTEC is particularly aimed at countering India’s reticence to endorse the BRI, while seeking its cooperation through either coercion (i.e., using other member states of the said groupings as bargaining chips to pressure India to cooperate) or deception (i.e., temporarily ignoring the BRI banner).
  • Using BRICS at its advantage: China wants to use the BRICS platform to establish links and influence policies of these key regional organisations, including the African Union in Africa, the Arab League in West Asia, the SCO in Central Asia, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in South Asia, and ASEAN in Southeast Asia.
  • Ambition to formulate the world order in its own way: It wants BRICS, especially the BRICS New Development Bank, to strengthen cooperation with the IMF, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. This will enable China, through BRICS, to strengthen its international leadership, play a bigger role in the formulation of international rules, and influence the overall global governance mechanism.

Conclusion

  • As China-US rivalry intensifies and the BRI faces a plethora of challenges, BRICS is increasingly gaining significance for China. Within the grouping, China sees itself as the ‘core’ of BRICS, while India as its weakest link.
  • India needs to accurately grasp the geopolitical shifts taking place within BRICS and deftly navigate the complex dynamics between the member states to safeguard its own interests within the grouping and avoid being drawn passively into China’s Great Game.

Mains Question

Q. China has focused on expanding the BRICS group to achieve its own ambitions. Discuss the significance of BRICS for China and India’s concerns.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Assertive China, Implication for world and India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Assertive china and its implications on India and the world

China

Context

  • China’s 20th Party Congress concluded with hardly any surprises, and a predetermined script was implemented without any hitch. Xi Jinping was anointed President for an unprecedented third term, and all six of his acolytes made it to the powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

Why China’s 20th Party Congress is important?

  • Extension of tenure of Xi Jinping: Xi’s ‘core’ status has been further reinforced, and he is now set to eclipse Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, placing him next only to Mao. Mr. Xi’s Thought on ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’ will be the Chinese Communist Party/Communist Party of China (CCP)’s guiding philosophy for the future.
  • Xi’s control over party: It was also evident that Mr. Xi enjoys wide, if not overwhelming, support within the Party elite, enabling him to infuse a renewed sense of purpose alongside tightening of controls over it.
  • High focus on national security: National security would be the key factor dictating all aspects of governance. A common theme that permeated the proceedings was affirmation of the CCP’s historical mission.
  • Emphasized ideological coherence: There was only a single narrative, crafted in a manner that extolled Mr. Xi’s role in revitalization of the CCP, further enhancing his cult status. Unequivocally rejected was an earlier Xi thesis of a ‘Community of Common Destiny’ which has been replaced by the belief that international public opinion was currently anti-China and also included an incitement to overthrow the existing Communist regime. To counter such disruptive philosophies, it had become necessary for the CCP to emphasize ideological coherence and internal discipline.
  • Avoiding the soviet style collapse: This would help to avoid the danger of a ‘Soviet style collapse’ caused by ideological laxity, corruption, divisions within the party and attempts by outsiders to foment unrest.

China

What are the problematic declarations at 20th party congress?

  • Undermining the USA: In the realm of geopolitics, the Congress declared that the objective is to effectively reduce the authority and the power of the United States.
  • Rejecting the Indo-pacific: This was especially true of China’s neighborhood, essentially the Indo-Pacific.
  • Achieving the lost glory: Also, to be eschewed by China were the vague and contradictory goals of the past, made at a time when China sought to make rapid progress in several directions.
  • Theory of victimhood of international conspiracy: Implicit in the proceedings was the belief that China was being deliberately denied access, and the ability, to import certain vital technological items, and in this regard, of being a victim of major international conspiracies. Earlier pragmatism was replaced by concerns about western pressures to derail China’s progress.
  • Possible lifelong tenure to Xi: The Party Congress is indicative of the fact that Mr. Xi is much more than a mere party ‘restorer’, and that he adheres to the belief that the CCP’s role is central to Chinese society and critical to determining China’s role in world affairs.
  • Raising the national strength and international influence: In terms of China’s world view, the Party Congress reiterated that the goal is to make China a modern socialist power by 2035, boost per capita income to middle income levels, and modernise the armed forces. By 2049, the 100th anniversary of the Peoples’ Republic of China, China is determined to lead the world in terms of composite national strength and international influence.

China

What are the implications for the world?

  • Premature takeover of Taiwan: one can expect that notwithstanding the level of rhetoric and assertions that this is a dangerous phase, China is unlikely to take any premature step to take over Taiwan, and thereby risk a wider conflict with the U.S. and the rest of the world at this point. Mr. Xi is far more likely to devote attention to internal matters within China, since unity within the Communist Party remains ephemeral; while dissent has been stamped out for the present, more consolidation would be necessary.
  • Short term conciliation with world: Consequently, one might well see China stepping back from its present confrontational posture with the U.S. and several other countries, and adopting a more conciliatory approach in the near future.
  • Conflicts are likely to happen: There are, of course, certain red lines any attempt at provocation within the ‘First Island Chain’, or encouraging Taiwan to seek independence or break away from China are certain to lead to a conflict, irrespective of how it would adversely affect China’s 2049 plans and objectives.

China

Implications for India

  • Border incursion will rise: In India’s case, further skirmishes between the two countries along the several thousand kilometres of the undefined land border is to be expected.
  • Conflicts in Indian ocean: China is unlikely to embark on an open conflict with it anywhere else in the Indian Ocean region. This could alter, if India were to pursue a more aggressive policy in support of the West’s ‘open seas policy’ in waters in China’s vicinity.
  • Prime target in west vs China battle: India is, however, likely to be a principal target of Chinese wrath in the next few years. As India’s economic fortunes steadily improve even as China’s declines, the perception conflict will become more intense.
  • China’s progress at the cost of India: Moreover, if India is seen as a major recipient of western technology, the kind being denied to China, China would make it a point to use its economic, rather than military muscle, to deter India’s progress. For China to achieve greatness by 2049, subduing India economically, and reducing its image in the eyes of the world would be critically important.

Conclusion

  • China’s middle kingdom complex, unjustified assertion, paranoic claims on borders and seas and wolf warrior diplomacy is against the international rules and order. China has challenged the USA’s hegemony and entire international system without any tangible punishment. India has to choose its options carefully without compromising national security and ambitions.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

What is China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomacy?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Wolf warrior diplomacy

Mains level: Read the attached story

wolf

Chinese President Xi Jinping will get an endorsement for a third term as President. His “wolf warrior” style of diplomacy has particularly attracted attention.

What does Wolf Warrior’ Diplomacy mean?

  • A term that gained popularity, especially after Xi became President, “wolf warrior diplomacy” is a tactic for the Chinese government to extend its ideology beyond China and counter the West and defend itself.
  • It is an unofficial term for the more aggressive and confrontational style of communication that Chinese diplomats have taken to in the last decade.
  • A 2015 Chinese action film, titled ‘Wolf Warrior’, and its sequel have served as the inspiration for the term.
  • The films, with their nationalist themes and dialogues, focus on Chinese fighters who frequently face off against Western mercenaries.

Do you know?

Panchasheel also called the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence was signed on 29p April 1954 and since then it has become a guiding principle of India’s bilateral relations with other countries.

Why China resorts to such diplomacy?

The change in strategy has been attributed to many reasons, such as:

  1. Xi’s more authoritarian tendencies as compared to earlier leaders
  2. Deteriorating US-China relations under former US President Donald Trump and
  3. Coronavirus pandemic-related accusations on China, etc.

What does this look like in practice?

  • Some examples can be seen in the form of messaging on social media too, where Chinese officials are quick to counter any allegations by the West and proactively launch attacks.
  • For instance, in 2021 Chinese government spokesperson Lijian Zhao tweeted a digitally morphed photo of an Australian soldier killing a child, claiming the Australian army was killing children in Afghanistan.
  • This led the Australian Prime Minister to announce he would seek an official apology, but China did not budge.
  • But this is not limited to Western countries.

Indian experience

  • The new ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’ confronts head-on any criticism of China in the public sphere.
  • They lecture host governments and don’t always show up when ‘summoned’ by foreign offices.
  • Delhi has been at the receiving end for a while — especially during the recent crises of Doklam and Ladakh.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Private: Taiwan crisis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Location of Taiwan

Mains level: Sovereign nations, Bilateral ties ,One china policy

Context

  • Taiwan showcases most advanced fighter jet after China drills. Taipei has carried out its own drills to simulate defence against invasion by China, and unveiled the F-16V fighter jet.

What is the issue?

  • As per the PRC, Taiwan’s sovereignty belongs to China, the PRC’s government and supporters believe that the secession of Taiwan should be agreed upon by all 1.3 billion Chinese citizens instead of just the 23 million residents of Taiwan.

Why in news?

  • Chinese stand: Taiwan has been governed independently of China since 1949, but Beijing views the island as part of its territory. Beijing has vowed to eventually “unify” Taiwan with the mainland, using force if necessary.
  • Tensions are rising: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party platform favours independence, has rebuked Beijing’s efforts to undermine democracy. Beijing has ramped up political and military pressure on Taipei.
  • War situation: Some analysts fear the United States and China could go to war over Taiwan. S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the island in 2022 heightened tensions between the countries.

Is Taiwan part of China?

  • One china principle: Beijing asserts that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is part of it. It views the PRC as the only legitimate government of China, an approach it calls the One-China principle, and seeks Taiwan’s eventual “unification” with the mainland.
  • Chinese claim: Beijing claims that Taiwan is bound by an understanding known as the 1992 Consensus, which was reached between representatives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) party that then ruled Taiwan.

Status of Taiwan as member of UN

  • Taipei protest exclusion: China rejects Taiwan’s participation as a member in UN agencies and other international organizations that limit membership to states. Taipei regularly protests its exclusion; the United States also pushes for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in such organizations.
  • Membership of other groups: Taiwan does, however, hold member status in more than forty organizations, most of them regional, such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as well as in the World Trade Organization. It holds observer or other status on several other bodies.

Value addition for mains

  • An Introduction to Sovereignty: A Case Study of Taiwan examines the key issue of sovereignty and provides an in-depth look at the unique status of Taiwan among nations of the world.
  • Although Taiwan has control over its internal affairs (domestic sovereignty) and is able to keep outsiders from operating within its borders or influencing internal decisions (Westphalian sovereignty), the island does not have international legal sovereignty, which would confirm its status as an independent country.
  • Despite lacking the advantages of having international legal sovereignty—including the ability to negotiate trade agreements and treaties, among others—Taiwan has evolved into an economic powerhouse and has successfully developed and maintained international relations with many independent countries.

How has China tried to intimidate Taiwan?

  • Coercion tactics: China has employed a variety of coercive tactics short of armed conflict, and it has ramped up these measures since Tsai’s election in 2016. Its objective is to wear down Taiwan and prompt the island’s people to conclude that their best option is unification with the mainland.
  • Military pressure: China has increased the frequency and scale of patrols of PLA bombers, fighter jets, and surveillance aircraft over and around Taiwan. It has also increasingly sailed its warships and aircraft carriers through the Taiwan Strait in shows of force.

What Taiwanese people say?

  • An increasing number of Taiwanese people feel more closely tied to Taiwan than to the mainland. More than 62 percent of the island’s residents regarded themselves as exclusively Taiwanese in 2021.

Opportunity for India

  • Taiwan’s position as a semiconductor superpower opens the door for more intensive strategic-economic cooperation between Delhi and Taipei.
  • Part of the problem is that India’s strategic community continues to view Taiwan as an adjunct to India’s “One-China policy”.

Conclusion

  • As Taiwan becomes the world’s most dangerous flashpoint, the geopolitical consequences for Asia are real. Although Delhi has embraced the Indo-Pacific maritime construct, it is yet to come to terms with Taiwan’s critical role in shaping the strategic future of Asia’s waters.

Mains question

Q.Do you consider Taiwan has become the world’s most dangerous flashpoint, the geopolitical consequences for Asia are real? Critically examine.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Why the India China Border situation is still risky?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: border security

india china borderContext

  • According to the consensus reached in the 16th round of India China Corps Commander Level Meeting, the Indian and Chinese troops in the area of Gogra-Hotsprings (PP-15) have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way. With disengagement at PP 15 India China border, forces of the two countries have disengaged at all friction points in the region which included the North and South banks of the Pangong Tso, PP 14, PP 15 and PP 17A.

India china borderWhy the India-China Border situation is still risky?

The tentative conciliatory steps between two nuclear-armed rivals are important; but they also carry risks, especially for India. The risks are as follows:

  • Uneasy peace: Despite the latest round of disengagement, the LAC remains deeply unsettled. Observers have pointed out that the buffer zones produced by the crisis inhibit India’s ability to patrol its own territory.
  • Un-resolve areas: India and China have tacitly agreed to postpone settlement at two other confrontation sites, particularly tactically valuable area known as Depsangand Charding Nala regions.
  • Persisting threat: The reinforcements that each side deployed since 2020 have not returned to garrison. Even if future rounds of talks continue “disengagement and de-escalation,” and reduce those forces, returning to the status quo ante is now impossible.
  • Border infrastructure: Both sides on India China border are racing towards building permanent military infrastructure near the border, to help them surge forces to the border. Unsurprisingly, China seems to have outpaced India in building these roads, helipads, and communications nodes.
  • Possibility of conflict: The increasing capabilities and mobility on both sides of the border means that a crisis can more quickly escalate to a large military stand-off anywhere on the LAC, and possibly even trigger a conflict

india china borderWhat are the Strategic implications?

  • Changing priorities: India has reassigned one of three originally Pakistan-facing Strike Corps to the China front. It has deployed its newest artillery, jets, and drones to the China border.
  • Unattended Indian Ocean: India has not yet improved its capabilities or posture in the Indian Ocean region significantly.
  • Diversion from real threat: With the border crisis, China seems to have successfully fixed India’s gaze to the land border, at the expense of that more consequential competition over the Indian Ocean.
  • Loss of grazing: Ladakh’s elected representatives said the disengagement has caused loss of huge grazing land as it would now be converted into no man’s land.

india china borderSteps taken by India

  • Increasing capability: from cruise missile-equipped fighter jets and U.S.-origin naval helicopters to a brand-new indigenously-built aircraft carrier.
  • Atmanirbhar Bharat: India undertook several structural economic reforms for strengthening domestic capability and reducing the economic parity between two nations. Defence ministry has decided to increase CAB (capital acquisition budget), around 64% of modernization fund around 70000 cr. has been allocated for purchasing from domestic market. Atma Nirbhar Bharat and Make in India mission will also include Defence sector, we can see the local or private companies can also participate in procurement of defence equipment
  • Defence India Start-up Challenge (DISC): Started by the defence ministry and over 1200 MSMEs participated in the fourth edition of the DISC in 2020. The government has prepared a negative list, it include light combat helicopters, artillery guns; these items will not be imported by anyone thus encouraging self-reliant India.
  • The SRIJAN portal: Launched to facilitate the two initiatives, Atmanirbhar Bharat and make in India
  • Sagarmala project: The sagarmala project has been started to revamp port Infrastructure which is a welcome step in modernization.

Conclusion

  • For china Deception is diplomacy. Time and again China tries a deception strategy from its Confucius doctrine to defeat its enemy. From 1962 to 2022 India has made a lot of progress in military and economic sphere but China is way ahead than us. Strategic competition between two Asian giants will continue foreseeable future. So as long as India doesn’t gain domestic capabilities it would be prudent step to undertake strategic balancing.

Mains Question

Q. India has decided to maintain a strategic balance with china rather than being subsidiary to china. Discuss.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

PM Modi to attend SCO meet

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SCO

Mains level: Read the attached story

sco

PM Modi will travel to Samarkand in Uzbekistan to attend the first in-person summit of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) countries since the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is SCO?

  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the then security and economic architecture in the Eurasian region dissolved and new structures had to come up.
  • The original Shanghai Five were China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
  • The SCO was formed in 2001, with Uzbekistan included. It expanded in 2017 to include India and Pakistan.
  • Since its formation, the SCO has focused on regional non-traditional security, with counter-terrorism as a priority.
  • The fight against the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism and extremism has become its mantra. Today, areas of cooperation include themes such as economics and culture.

India’s entry to the SCO

  • India and Pakistan both were observer countries.
  • While Central Asian countries and China were not in favor of expansion initially, the main supporter — of India’s entry in particular — was Russia.
  • A widely held view is that Russia’s growing unease about an increasingly powerful China prompted it to push for its expansion.
  • From 2009 onwards, Russia officially supported India’s ambition to join the SCO in 2017.
  • China then asked for its all-weather friend Pakistan’s entry.

Changing the narrative of SCO

Infographic: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: An Explainer - Times of India

  • There has been discussion in the international arena that the trend of non-alignment is back.
  • NATO is based on Cold War thinking.
  • The logic of NATO is creating new enemies to sustain its own existence.
  • However, SCO is a cooperative organisation based on non-alignment and not targeting a third party.

India and SCO: Present status

  • India will host the SCO summit next year, and Varanasi has been selected as the SCO region’s first “Tourism and Cultural Capital”.
  • India will also be chairing the summit.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India- China disengage at LAC friction points in Ladakh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: LAC

Mains level: India-China border issues

lac

India and China have announced that their Armies have begun to disengage from Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hot springs area at LAC.

What is LAC- the Line of Actual Control?

  • The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
  • India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
  • It is divided into three sectors: the eastern sector which spans Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the western sector in Ladakh.
  • The LAC is only a concept – it is not agreed upon by the two countries, neither delineated on a map nor demarcated on the ground.

What is the disagreement?

  • The alignment of the LAC in the eastern sector is along the 1914 McMahon Line, and there are minor disputes about the positions on the ground as per the principle of the high Himalayan watershed.
  • The major disagreements are in the western sector where the LAC emerged from two letters written by Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to PM Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959, after he had first mentioned such a ‘line’ in 1956.

When did India accept the LAC?

  • The LAC was discussed during Chinese Premier Li Peng’s 1991 visit to India, where PM P V Narasimha Rao and Li reached an understanding to maintain peace and tranquillity at the LAC.
  • India formally accepted the concept of the LAC when Rao paid a return visit to Beijing in 1993 and the two sides signed the Agreement to Maintain Peace and Tranquillity at the LAC.
  • The reference to the LAC was unqualified to make it clear that it was not referring to the LAC of 1959 or 1962 but to the ‘LAC’ at the time when the agreement was signed.
  • To reconcile the differences about some areas, the two countries agreed that the Joint Working Group on the border issue would take up the task of clarifying the alignment of the LAC.

How was the disengagement carried on?

  • As per the understanding reached earlier on disengagement, a buffer zone is to be created at the friction points.
  • Once troops are withdrawn by both sides, new patrolling norms are to be worked out after complete disengagement and de-escalation.

Why sudden disengagement?

  • The move comes ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan next week.
  • However, neither side has, so far, confirmed if the two leaders would hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summit.
  • The leaders have not spoken to each other since a November 2019 meeting during the BRICS Summit in Brasilia and the beginning of the stand-off in April 2020.

Significance of the disengagement

  • Since the stand-off began in May 2020, the two sides have so far held 16 rounds of talks.
  • Earlier, disengagement was undertaken from both sides of Pangong Tso in February 2021, and from PP-17 in the Gogra-Hot springs area in August, in addition to Galwan in 2020 after the violent clash.
  • The friction points that remain now are Demchok and Depsang, which China has constantly refused to accept, maintaining that they are not a part of the current stand-off.

What was the dispute over LAC?

  • In what was the worst clash between the two countries in over 40 years, the Galwan incident reverberated around the world.
  • The casualties in the clash were the first in the disputed Sino-Indian border since 1975.
  • The Galwan episode led to a rapid build-up of forces on both sides of the Line of Actual Control.
  • This incident is being seen as major punctuation in the bilateral relations between India and China and what does the future hold for both neighbors.

Why did India change its stance on the Line of Actual Control?

  • Indian and Chinese patrols were coming in more frequent contact during the mid-1980s.
  • This was after the government formed a China Study Group in 1976 which revised the patrolling limits, rules of engagement and pattern of Indian presence along the border.

Is the LAC also the claim line for both countries?

  • Not for India. India’s claim line is the line seen in the official boundary marked on the maps as released by the Survey of India, including both Aksai Chin and Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • In China’s case, it corresponds mostly to its claim line, but in the eastern sector, it claims entire Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet.
  • However, the claim lines come into question when a discussion on the final international boundaries takes place, and not when the conversation is about a working border, say the LAC.

Why are these claim lines controversial in Ladakh?

  • When the Shimla Agreement on the McMahon Line was signed by British India, Aksai Chin in Ladakh province of the princely state of J&K was not part of British India, although it was a part of the British Empire.
  • Thus, the eastern boundary was well defined in 1914 but in the west in Ladakh, it was not.
  • India, in July 1948, had two maps: one had no boundary shown in the western sector, only a partial colour wash; the second one extended the colour wash in yellow to the entire state of J&K, but mentioned “boundary undefined”.

Way forward

  • The impasse in India-China relations CANNOT be overcome by more talks through diplomatic and military channels, and possibly require the intervention of the top leadership of both countries.
  • Therefore, as Dr. Jaishankar put it, the management of the fissures within Asia will require adherence to established laws, norms, and rules.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Importance of Tibetan Democracy Day

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tibetan Democracy Day

Mains level: India's asylum to Tibetans

A little more than six decades ago, Tibetan Democracy Day was marked with the inauguration of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala on September 2.

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 program 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.

Parliament-in-Exile

  • 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.

What is India’s official policy towards the CTA?

  • India considers the Dalai Lama as a revered religious leader and an honored guest, but it does not encourage political activities by Tibetans.
  • It does not recognize any separate government of Tibet functioning in India.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Why has the Solomon Islands blocked foreign navy vessels?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Solomon Islands

Mains level: Chinese expansion in Pacific

After refusing access to US and UK ships to its ports earlier this month, the Solomon Islands has now temporarily halted all naval visits.

Why in news?

  • The country’s move is a departure from the norm and is been seen as an attempt to appease China.
  • This raises concerns about China’s growing influence in the country and the region at large.

Where is the Solomon Islands located?

  • The Solomon Islands is a sovereign country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu.
  • Its capital, Honiara, is located on the largest island, Guadalcanal.
  • It is part of the ethnically Melanesian group of islands in the Pacific and lies between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.
  • The country takes its name from the Solomon Islands archipelago, which is a collection of Melanesian islands that also includes the North Solomon Islands (a part of Papua New Guinea).
  • It excludes outlying islands, such as the Santa Cruz Islands and Rennell and Bellona.

Quick recap of its past

  • The islands, which were initially controlled by the British Empire during the colonial era, went through the hands of Germany and Japan.
  • It then went back to the UK after the Americans took over the islands from the Japanese during World War II.
  • The islands became independent in 1978 to become a constitutional monarchy under the British Crown, with a parliamentary system of government.
  • Nevertheless, its inability to manage domestic ethnic conflicts led to close security relations with Australia, which is the traditional first responder to any crisis in the South Pacific.

How did China enter the picture?

  • Earlier this year, the Solomon Islands established a security agreement with China, saying it needed Beijing’s assistance with its domestic security situation.
  • But the announcement had rattled the west, esp. the US, Australia and others in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The concerns were that the agreement could potentially lead to a Chinese military base on the island nation and a gain in power-projection capabilities.
  • At that time, following intense scrutiny, the Solomon Islands had denied that the agreement would allow China to establish a naval base.
  • The Island insisted that the agreement was only to assist the Solomon Islands with what he called “hard internal threats”.

What is the Solomon Islands’ stance?

  • The government has asked all partner countries with plans to conduct naval visits or patrols to put them on hold until a revised national mechanism is in place.
  • The revised national mechanism applied to all foreign vessels seeking access to the country’s ports.
  • The nation wanted to build up its own naval capacity.
  • It has some unfortunate experiences of foreign naval vessels entering its waters without any diplomatic clearance.

What is behind China’s growing influence in the region?

  • There is no dispute that China has been rapidly increasing its presence and influence in the region for over three decades, particularly in the South Pacific.
  • Certainly Beijing views the Pacific Island region as an important component of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Specifically, it sees the region as a critical air freight hub in its so-called Air Silk Road, which connects Asia with Central and South America.

Concerns of the West

  • The United States and its regional allies, such as Australia and New Zealand, are concerned that the China-Solomon Islands security pact allows Chinese naval vessels to replenish there.
  • That could open the door to a Chinese naval base, which would significantly extend China’s military reach in the South Pacific.”
  • It is likely that this security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands has been driven by, what the CFR calls, Beijing’s “sense of vulnerability” in the region.

What is the rationale for the Solomon Islands’ increasing proximity to China?

  • The Solomon Islands had cultivated strong ties with Taiwan, which ended with the emergence of the current government in Honiara.
  • In 2019, the regime change switched Taiwan for China.
  • This was supposedly after Beijing offered half a billion US dollars in financial aid, roughly five times what Taiwan spent on the islands in the past two decades.
  • It has been alleged by the pro-Taiwan Opposition that the incumbent government has been bribed by China.

Why is China interested in the Solomon Islands?

  • Isolating Taiwan: The Solomon Islands was one among the six Pacific island states which had official bilateral relations with Taiwan.
  • Supporter in UN: The small Pacific island states act as potential vote banks for mobilising support for the great powers in international fora like the United Nations.
  • Larger EEZ: These states have disproportionately large maritime Exclusive Economic Zones when compared to their small sizes.
  • Natural resources: Solomon Islands, in particular, have significant reserves of timber and mineral resources, along with fisheries.
  • Countering US: But more importantly, they are strategically located for China to insert itself between America’s military bases in the Pacific islands and Australia.

What does this mean for the established geopolitical configuration in the region?

  • Diminishing western influence: The Pacific islands, in the post-World War II scenario, were exclusively under the spheres of influence of the Western powers, in particular, the US, UK, France and Australia and New Zealand.
  • Inserting into western hegemony: All of them have territorial possessions in the region, with the three nuclear powers among them having used the region as a nuclear weapons testing ground.
  • Shifting of dependencies: The smaller island nations of the region are heavily dependent on them, especially Australia as it is a resident power.

Damage control by West

  • Australia has reacted with boosted finances, and by extending its current security mission till 2023 when the islands will host the Pacific Games.
  • The US has responded by considering reopening its embassy in Honiara after a long 29-year gap.
  • New Zealand has shed its typical restraint about China and has criticised it for attempting to militarise the Pacific islands.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Places in news: Taiwan Strait

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Taiwan Strait

Mains level: One China Policy

India has for the first time referred to what it called “the militarization of the Taiwan Strait”, marking a rare instance of New Delhi appearing to comment on China’s actions towards Taiwan.

What is the news?

  • Two American warships have recently sailed very close to China through Taiwan Strait.
  • This has intimidated the China which is already fuming due to the visit of Nancy Pelosi.

Taiwan Strait

  • The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometer wide strait separating the island of Taiwan and continental China (and Asia of course).
  • The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north.
  • The narrowest part is 130 km wide.

Issues over Taiwan Strait

  • The Taiwan Strait is itself a subject of an international dispute over its political status.
  • China claims to enjoy sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait” and regards the waterway as “internal territorial waters” instead of being international waters.
  • This means that the Chinese government denies any foreign vessel having the freedom of navigation in the strait.
  • This position has drawn strong objections from the western World.

India’s change of stance

  • India has followed a “One China policy” since its recognition of the PRC in 1949, and only maintains trade and cultural relations with Taiwan.
  • India routinely reiterated this policy until 2008 after which it stopped mentioning it in official statements.
  • This is a demand that China usually asks of most countries in official declarations.

Why is India shifting its stance?

  • China often make provocative statements claiming Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It often moves to issue “stapled visas” to Indian citizens in Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Lessons for India from the Taiwan standoff

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Lessons for India in China-Taiwan crisis

Context

The brief visit by the United States House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan, against stern warnings issued by China, has the potential to increase the already deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and China. For those of us in India watching the events as they unfold around Taiwan, there are valuable lessons to be learnt.

Background

  • The crisis that began with the visit of Ms. Pelosi to Taipei is still unfolding and there is little clarity today on how it will wind down.
  •  For China, its claims about a rising superpower might ring hollow if it is unable to unify its claimed territories, in particular Taiwan.
  • For the U.S., it is about re-establishing steadily-diminishing American credibility in the eyes of its friends and foes.
  • For Taiwan, it is about standing up to Chinese bullying and making its red lines clear to Beijing.
  • Lessons for India: To be fair, there is growing recognition in New Delhi that it is important to meet the challenge posed by a belligerent China, but there appears to be a lack of clarity on how to meet this challenge.
  • To that extent, the Taiwan crisis offers New Delhi three lessons, at the very least.

Takeaways for India

1] Articulate red lines

  • The most important lesson from the Taiwan standoff for policymakers in New Delhi is the importance of articulating red lines and sovereign positions in an unambiguous manner.
  •  New Delhi needs to unambiguously highlight the threat from China and the sources of such a threat.
  • Any absence of such clarity will be cleverly utilised by Beijing to push Indian limits, as we have already seen.
  • Stop confusing international community: Even worse, ambiguous messaging by India also confuses its friends in the international community.
  • If India does not clearly articulate that China is in illegal occupation of its territory, how can it expect its friends in the international community to support India diplomatically or otherwise?
  • In other words, India’s current policy amounts to poor messaging, and confusing to its own people as well as the larger international community, and is therefore counterproductive.

2] Avoid appeasement

  • Taiwan could have avoided the ongoing confrontation and the economic blockade during Chinese retaliatory military exercises around its territory by avoiding Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, or perhaps even keeping it low key.
  • Appeasement of China, Taiwan knows, is not the answer to Beijing’s aggression.
  •  India’s policy of meeting/hosting Chinese leaders while the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continue(d) to violate established territorial norms on the LAC is a deeply flawed one.
  • Unilaterally catering to Chinese sensitivities even during the standoffs between the two militaries is a mistake.
  • For instance, the parliamentary delegation visits and legislature-level dialogues between India and Taiwan have not taken place since 2017.
  • Soft-peddling of the Quad was a mistake: During the 2000s, India (as well as Australia) decided to soft-peddle the Quad in the face of strong Chinese objections.
  • It is only in the last two years or so that we have witnessed renewed enthusiasm around the Quad.
  • In retrospect, appeasing Beijing by almost abandoning the Quad was bad strategy.

3] Economic relationship is a two way process

  • Given that the economic relationship is a two-way process and that, as a matter of fact, the trade deficit is in China’s favour, China too has a lot to lose from a damaged trade relationship with India.
  • More so, if the Taiwan example (as well as the India-China standoff in 2020) is anything to go by, trade can continue to take place despite tensions and without India making any compromises vis-à-vis its sovereign claims.
  • India for sure should do business with China, but not on China’s own terms.

Conclusion

The recent crisis offers valuable lessons for India in its dealing with China.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s problem with top US senator visiting Taiwan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: US meddling in China-Tawian friction

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, landed in Taiwan, ignoring Chinese threats and a warning by President Xi Jinping to “not play with fire”.

Why in news?

  • Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is the highest-level visit by an American official to the island in a quarter century.
  • The senior US politician has been critical of China on multiple fronts over the decades.

US defiance of One China Policy

  • The US has maintained a ‘One China’ policy since the 1970s, under which it recognises Taiwan as a part of China.
  • But it has unofficial ties with Taiwan as well — a strategy that is known as strategic or deliberate ambiguity.
  • Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China, threatens it frequently, and has not ruled out taking the island by military force at any time.

Why does China have a problem with Pelosi visiting Taiwan?

  • For China, the presence of a senior American figure in Taiwan would indicate some kind of US support for Taiwan’s independence.
  • This move severely undermined China’s perception of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Brief history of China-Taiwan Tensions

  • Taiwan is an island about 160 km off the coast of southeastern China, opposite the Chinese cities of Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Xiamen.
  • It was administered by the imperial Qing dynasty, but its control passed to the Japanese in 1895.
  • After the defeat of Japan in World War II, the island passed back into Chinese hands.
  • After the communists led by Mao Zedong won the civil war in mainland China, Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the nationalist Kuomintang party, fled to Taiwan in 1949.
  • Chiang Kai-shek set up the government of the Republic of China on the island, and remained President until 1975.
  • Beijing has never recognised the existence of Taiwan as an independent political entity, arguing that it was always a Chinese province.

Taiwanese stance

  • Taiwan says that the modern Chinese state was only formed after the revolution of 1911.
  • It was not a part of that state or of the People’s Republic of China that was established after the communist revolution.
  • While the political tensions have continued, China and Taiwan have had economic ties.
  • Many migrants from Taiwan work in China, and China has investments in Taiwan.
  • No doubt, cultural ties are indispensable.
  • In recent years, Taiwan’s government has said only the island’s 23 million people have the right to decide their future and that it will defend itself when attacked.
  • Since 2016, Taiwan has elected a party that leans towards independence.

How does the world, and US, view Taiwan?

  • The UN does NOT recognise Taiwan as a separate country; in fact, only 13 countries around the world — mainly in South America, the Caribbean, Oceania, and the Vatican — do.
  • In June, President Biden said that the US would defend Taiwan if it was invaded, but it was clarified soon afterward but America does not support Taiwan’s independence.
  • While the US has no formal ties with Taipei, it remains Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Taiwan between giants

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Taiwan issue

Context

The US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan evoking strong protest from China.

Brief history of China-Taiwan Tensions

  • Taiwan is an island about 160 km off the coast of southeastern China, opposite the Chinese cities of Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Xiamen.
  • It was administered by the imperial Qing dynasty, but its control passed to the Japanese in 1895.
  • After the defeat of Japan in World War II, the island passed back into Chinese hands.
  • After the communists led by Mao Zedong won the civil war in mainland China, Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the nationalist Kuomintang party, fled to Taiwan in 1949.
  • Chiang Kai-shek set up the government of the Republic of China on the island, and remained President until 1975.
  • Beijing has never recognised the existence of Taiwan as an independent political entity, arguing that it was always a Chinese province.

The US and One-China Principle

  • With the shifting geopolitics of the Cold War, the PRC and the U.S. were forced to come together in the 1970s to counter the growing influence of the USSR.
  • This led to the US-China rapprochement demonstrated by the historic visit of then US President Richard Nixon to PRC in 1972.
  • The same year, the PRC displaced ROC as the official representative of the Chinese nation at the UN.
  • Diplomatic relations with the PRC became possible only if countries abided by its “One China Principle” — recognizing PRC and not the ROC as China.

Why does China have a problem with Pelosi visiting Taiwan?

  • For China, the presence of a senior American figure in Taiwan would indicate some kind of US support for Taiwan’s independence.
  • This move severely undermined China’s perception of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China’s reaction

  • Increased military exercises around Taiwa : Military exercises around Taiwan have been expanded, with Chinese aircraft intruding more frequently across the informal median line which defines the zone of operations on each side.
  • Increased naval presence: Chinese naval ships are cruising within the Taiwan Straits and around the island itself.
  • Economic sanctions have been announced, prohibiting imports of a whole range of foodstuffs from Taiwan.
  • One item which will be left out is semi-conductors, a critical import for a range of Chinese high-tech industries.
  • Taiwanese firms like the Taiwan Semi-Conductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) are world leaders in the most sophisticated brands of chips imported by a large number of countries.
  •  The main target of China’s escalating response will be Taiwan.
  • Taiwan is indeed caught in the crossfire between China and the US and being a proxy in a fight between giants.

Implications for East Asia and South East Asia

  • Forced into making a choice: Just as Taiwan is caught in a crossfire between the US and China, so are the East Asian and South East Asian countries.
  • Prefer US military presence: They feel reassured by the considerable US military presence deployed in the region and tacitly support its Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • Strong economic ties with China: However, their economic and commercial interests are bound ever tighter with the large and growing Chinese economy.
  • This having it both ways strategy is beginning to fray at the edges with the escalating tensions between the US and China.
  • Most do not wish to be forced into making a choice.

What should be India’s approach?

  • Advantageous for India: In one sense, China’s preoccupation with its eastern ocean flank of the Yellow Sea, the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea is good for India.
  • It diminishes Chinese attention toward the Indian Ocean, India’s primary security theatre.
  • Adhere to One China Policy: Prudence demands that India hew closely to its consistent one China policy even while maintaining and even expanding non-official relations with Taiwan.
  • For the US, Japan and Australia, members of the Quad, Taiwan is a key component of the Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • It is not for India.

Conclusion

One should use the opportunity to expand India’s naval capabilities and maritime profile in this theatre before the Chinese begin to look to our extended neighbourhood with renewed interest and energy.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Taiwan Crisis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: One-China Principle

Mains level: India-Taiwan Relations

As US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived upsetting China, India was keenly watching the developments, although it has not yet commented on it.

What is the ‘One China’ policy?

  • It is the diplomatic acknowledgment of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government.
  • Taiwan’s government was set up by the Kuomintang, whose party logo is reflected in Taiwan’s flag
  • Initially, many governments including the US recognised Taiwan as they shied away from Communist China.
  • But the diplomatic winds shifted as China and the United States saw a mutual need to develop relations beginning in the 1970s, with the US and other countries cutting ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing.

Why is China obsessed with Taiwan?

  • Taiwan is the largest producer of electronic chips, which are supplied to almost all the industries, from phones to laptops, watches to game consoles, industrial equipment to automotive, and aircraft and fighter jets.
  • TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is the largest foundry in the world and holds around 65 percent of the global production of chips.
  • Any potential conflict with China would completely disrupt the entire supply chain of TSMC and labor availability, and could cause major shortage of electronic chips.
  • Additionally, China controls five percent of the global production of chips, which could also be affected.
  • This could further impact the already existing supply-demand gap for electronic components.

India- Taiwan Relations

Background

  • India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan yet, as it follows the One-China policy.
  • However, during then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December 2010, India did not mention support for the One-China policy in the joint communique.
  • In 2014, when PM Modi came to power, he invited Taiwan’s Ambassador Chung-Kwang Tien, along with Lobsang Sangay, president of the Central Tibetan Administration to his swearing-in.

Diplomatic ties

  • While following the One-China policy, India has an office in Taipei for diplomatic functions — India-Taipei Association (ITA) is headed by a senior diplomat.
  • Taiwan has the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in New Delhi. Both were established in 1995.
  • Their ties focus on commerce, culture and education.
  • Now in their third decade, these have been deliberately kept low-profile, owing to China’s sensitivities.
  • For example, parliamentary delegation visits and legislature-level dialogues have stopped since 2017, around the time the India-China border standoff happened in Doklam.

The new push

  • Any significant development in India-Taiwan relations runs the risk of meeting with a likely stern reaction from Beijing.
  • This explains India’s steady, albeit slow, outreach to Taiwan.
  • Given that India-China relations are not likely to witness a return to normalcy in the near future, India should consider adopting a bold, comprehensive and long-term approach to engage Taiwan.

 

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

UN panel tells Hong Kong to repeal National Security Law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Honkong, Taiwan

Mains level: Honkong, Taiwan issue

Hong Kong’s controversial national security law should be repealed, experts on the UN Human Rights Committee said, amid concerns the legislation is being used to crack down on free speech and dissent in the former British colony.

Why in news?

  • Chinese and Hong Kong officials have repeatedly used the NSL imposed by Beijing in 2020 to restore stability after the city was rocked for months by sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests in 2019.
  • The committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by state parties, released its findings on Hong Kong following a periodic review.
  • The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is a signatory to the ICCPR but China is not.

About Hong Kong

  • A former British Colony and Autonomous Territory: Hong Kong is an autonomous territory, and a former British colony, in south-eastern China.
  • It became a colony of the British Empire at the end of the First Opium War in 1842.
  • Sovereignty over the territory was returned to China in 1997.
  • Special Administrative Region (SAR): As a SAR, Hong Kong maintains governing power and economic systems that are separate from those of mainland China.
  • The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration guarantees the Basic Law for 50 years after the transfer of sovereignty.
  • It does not specify how Hong Kong will be governed after 2047.
  • Thus, the central government’s role in determining the territory’s future system of government is the subject of political debate and speculation in Hong kong.

What is this law all about?

  • Hong Kong was always meant to have a security law, but could never pass one because it was so unpopular.
  • So this is about China stepping in to ensure the city has a legal framework to deal with what it sees as serious challenges to its authority.
  • The details of the law’s 66 articles were kept secret until after it was passed. It criminalises any act of:
  1. Secession – breaking away from the country
  2. Subversion – undermining the power or authority of the central government
  3. Terrorism – using violence or intimidation against people
  4. Collusion–  with foreign or external forces

What provisions do fall under the law?

  • The law came into effect at 23:00 local time on 30 June 2020, an hour before the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover to China from British rule.
  • It gives Beijing power to shape life in Hong Kong it has never had before.
  • Its key provisions include:
  1. Crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces are punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison
  2. Damaging public transport facilities can be considered terrorism
  3. Those found guilty will not be allowed to stand for public office
  4. Companies can be fined if convicted under the law
  5. This office can send some cases to be tried in mainland China – but Beijing has said it will only have that power over a “tiny number” of cases
  6. In addition, Hong Kong will have to establish its own national security commission to enforce the laws, with a Beijing-appointed adviser
  7. Hong Kong’s chief executive will have the power to appoint judges to hear national security cases, raising fears about judicial autonomy
  8. Importantly, Beijing will have power over how the law should be interpreted, not any Hong Kong judicial or policy body. If the law conflicts with any Hong Kong law, the Beijing law takes priority
  9. Some trials will be heard behind closed doors.
  10. People suspected of breaking the law can be wire-tapped and put under surveillance
  11. Management of foreign non-governmental organizations and news agencies will be strengthened
  12. The law will also apply to non-permanent residents and people “from outside [Hong Kong]… who are not permanent residents of Hong Kong“.

What has changed in Hong Kong since the law was introduced?

  • Hundreds of protestors, activists and former opposition lawmakers have been arrested since the law came into force.
  • The arrests are an ominous sign that its crackdown on Hong Kong is only going to escalate.
  • Beijing has said the law is needed to bring stability to the city, but critics say it is designed to squash dissent.

Why did China do this?

  • Hong Kong was handed back to China from British control in 1997.
  • But under a unique agreement – a mini-constitution called the Basic Law and a so-called “one country, two systems” principle.
  • They are supposed to protect certain freedoms for Hong Kong: freedom of assembly and speech, an independent judiciary and some democratic rights – freedoms that no other part of mainland China has.
  • Under the same agreement, Hong Kong had to enact its own national security law – this was set out in Article 23 of the Basic Law – but it never happened because of its unpopularity.

How can China do this?

  • Many might ask how China can do this if the city was supposed to have freedoms guaranteed under the handover agreement.
  • The Basic Law says Chinese laws can’t be applied in Hong Kong unless they are listed in a section called Annex III – there are already a few listed there, mostly uncontroversial and around foreign policy.
  • These laws can be introduced by decree – which means they bypass the city’s parliament.
  • Critics say the introduction of the law this way amounts to a breach of the “one country, two systems” principle, which is so important to Hong Kong – but clearly, it is technically possible to do this.

Must read:

[Burning Issue] National Security Law debate in Hong Kong

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Understanding the nature of US-Taiwan Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Taiwan as a new global flashpoint

The US President made a controversial statement on whether the US will come to the aid of Taiwan militarily in case of an invasion by China.

What is the Taiwan issue?

  • Taiwan is an island territory located off the coast of mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait.
  • After their defeat to the communist forces in the Chinese civil war (1945-1949), the ruling Kuomintang (Nationalist) government of China fled to Taiwan.
  • They transplanted the Republic of China (ROC) government in Taiwan, while the Communist Party of China (CPC) established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the mainland.
  • Since then, the PRC considers the island as a renegade province awaiting reunification by peaceful means, if possible.

Game changer: Cold war affiliations

  • Meanwhile, the ROC retained its membership at the United Nations and its permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC).
  • The cross-strait relations became strained as a result of the Cold War, with the PRC allying itself with the Soviet Union (USSR) and ROC with the U.S.
  • This resulted in the two Taiwan Strait crises of the 1950s.

The US and One-China Principle

  • With the shifting geopolitics of the Cold War, the PRC and the U.S. were forced to come together in the 1970s to counter the growing influence of the USSR.
  • This led to the US-China rapprochement demonstrated by the historic visit of then US President Richard Nixon to PRC in 1972.
  • The same year, the PRC displaced ROC as the official representative of the Chinese nation at the UN.
  • Diplomatic relations with the PRC became possible only if countries abided by its “One China Principle” — recognizing PRC and not the ROC as China.

Rise of Taiwan

  • Taiwan transitioned from a single party state to a multi-party democracy.
  • At the same time that China reformed its economic system under Deng Xiaoping, and by the end of the Cold War they became economically entangled.
  • Nevertheless, they continue to compete for international recognition and preparing themselves for the worst possible scenario.

How has the US’s stance on the Taiwan question evolved vis-à-vis China?

  • The very foundation of the US rapprochement as well as its recognition of the PRC is a mutual understanding on the Taiwan question.
  • This has been outlined in three documents — the Shanghai Communique (1972), the Normalisation Communique (1979) and the 1982 Communique.
  • According to the 1972 communique, the US agreed to the ‘one China principle’, with an understanding that it “acknowledges” and “does not challenge” that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait.
  • It maintained that there is one China and Taiwan is a part of China.
  • However, the US also established unofficial relations with Taiwan through this communique in the name of the people of both the countries.

 Why is the issue significant today?

  • As Taiwan’s democracy flourished, the popular mood drifted towards a new Taiwanese identity and a pro-independence stance on sovereignty.
  • The past decade has seen considerable souring of ties across the Strait, as the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) became the most powerful political force in Taiwan.
  • The DPP government has been catering to the pro-independence constituency in Taiwan and seeks to diversify economic relations away from China.
  • China has always seen Taiwan as a territory with high geopolitical significance.
  • This is due to its central location in the First Island Chain between Japan and the South China Sea, which is seen as the first benchmark or barrier for China’s power projection.

Why is China so obsessed with Taiwan?

  • Taiwan is at China’s geostrategic calculus.
  • Moreover, its reunification will formally bury the remaining ghosts of China’s “century of humiliation”.
  • China under Xi Jinping seems to have lost its patience and currently sees very slim chances of a peaceful reunification.
  • China usually makes aerial transgressions in Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).
  • Also, this build-up of tensions is happening simultaneously and drawing parallels with the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.

Is US strategy towards Taiwan witnessing a major transformation?

  • The US strategy towards Taiwan in light of the unresolved nature of the cross-Strait relations has been marked by what has been called “strategic ambiguity”.
  • This is under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) of 1979.
  • As per the TRA, the US has stated clearly that the establishment of bilateral relations with the PRC rests upon “the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means”.
  • It also states the US policy to maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardise the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.
  • Hence, there is no clear guarantee here that the US will militarily involve in a situation where China attempts to invade Taiwan, short of supplying “defensive weapons”.

Enjoying the ambiguity

  • The US has for long utilized this strategic ambiguity with its own interpretation of the ‘one China principle to maintain its strategic interests in the Western Pacific.
  • It is in this context that Mr. Biden’s statements have made controversy.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Illegal fishing by China in the Indo-Pacific

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: QUAD

Mains level: IIU fishing and related issues

In order to check China’s illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific region, the Quadrilateral Security Alliance (Quad) has planned to launch a satellite-based surveillance initiative.

What is the news?

  • The leaders of Quad are reported to be getting ready to unveil a maritime surveillance initiative to protect exclusive economic zones in the Indo-Pacific against environmental damage.

How will the proposed maritime surveillance system work?

  • The initiative will use satellite technology to connect existing surveillance centres in India, Singapore and the Pacific.
  • This will help establish a tracking system to combat illegal, unregulated and unprotected (IUU) fishing.
  • The satellite-enabled dragnet will track IUU fishing activities from the Indian Ocean and South-east Asia to the South Pacific.
  • The idea is to monitor illicit fishing vessels that have their AIS (automatic identification system) transponders turned off to evade tracking.
  • The move by the Quad security group is also seen to be aimed at reducing the small Pacific island nations’ growing reliance on China.

Why is illegal fishing seen as such a big threat?

  • The unregulated plunder of global fishing stock poses a grave threat to the livelihood and food security of millions of people.
  • Globally, fish provide about 3.3 billion people with 20% of their average animal protein intake.
  • According to an FAO report, around 60 million people are engaged in the sector of fisheries and aquaculture.
  • While the economic loss from illegal fishing has been difficult to precisely quantify, some estimates peg it around USD 20 billion annually.

Threats posed by IUU Fishing

  • Illegal fishing has now replaced piracy as a global maritime threat.
  • In the Indo-Pacific region, like elsewhere, the collapse of fisheries can destabilise coastal nations.
  • It poses a much bigger security risk, as it can fuel human trafficking, drug crime and terror recruiting.

Why is China in the dock?

  • The 2021 IUU Fishing Index, which maps 152 coastal countries, ranked China as the worst offender.
  • China is considered responsible for 80% to 95% illegal fishing in the region after having overfished its own waters.
  • It, in fact, is known to incentivise illegal fishing with generous subsidies to meet its growing domestic demand.

China and distant-water fishing (DWF)

  • China’s DWF fleet has almost 17,000 vessels and is the largest in the world.
  • Vessel ownership is highly fragmented among many small companies and the fleet includes vessels registered in other jurisdictions.

Issues with Chinese IUU Fishing

  • Chinese are often accused of pillaging ocean wealth with great sophistication and with little regard for maritime boundaries.
  • China also uses them to project strategic influence and to bully fishing vessels from weaker nations.
  • China uses destructive practises such as bottom trawling and forced, bonded and slave labour and trafficked crew, alongside the widespread abuse of migrant crewmembers.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

What is China’s Global Security Initiative?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: GSI

Mains level: Chinese counter to Western Indo-Pacific strategy

Chinese President Xi Jinping last week proposed a “Global Security Initiative” to promote security for all in the globe.

What is Global Security Initiative?

  • Conceived as a global public good, the initiative seeks to promote world peace and stability by fostering equity and justice among nations.
  • To do this, Xi defined his proposal in six areas:
  1. Stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and work together to maintain world peace and security;
  2. Stay committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, uphold non-interference in internal affairs, and respect the independent choices of development paths and social systems made by people in different countries;
  3. Stay committed to abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, reject the Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism, and say no to group politics and bloc confrontation;
  4. Stay committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously, uphold the principle of indivisible security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security;
  5. Stay committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation, support all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises, reject double standards, and oppose the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction;
  6. Stay committed to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains, and work together on regional disputes and global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity, and biosecurity.

It is quite ironic that China has never adhered to any of the above-stated lofty principles and now is preaching them to the world.

Key propositions made by Xi

  • China opposes the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction, appearing to refer to Western sanctions.
  • He said “some countries” were “eager to engage in exclusive ‘small circles’ and ‘small groups’”, terms Chinese officials have used previously to describe the Quad and the AUKUS (Australia-U.K.-U.S.) security pact.
  • He firmly opposed the use of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ strategy to divide the region and create a ‘new Cold War’, and the use of military alliances to put together an ‘Asian version of NATO’.
  • According to him, China upholds true spirit of multilateralism.

A critical assessment of Xi’s speech

  • The idea of a world-encompassing security mechanism sounds like what China’s ancient emperors might have proposed.
  • Diplomats are under pressure to dissect the meaning but are having a hard time: Xi’s speech contained only abstract Chinese words and idioms.
  • One thing is very clear, China always comes out with an excessively large framework that nobody objects to.
  • The idea is that even if countries don’t agree wholeheartedly, at least they can’t fully oppose it.

Conclusion

  • Chinese criticism of unilateralism, hegemony and double standards is usually aimed at the U.S.
  • Xi envisions a gradually weakening America replaced by a multipolar world in which China is a major player.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Nepal’s dwindling Forex Reserves

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Forex reserves, BoP

Mains level: Economic crisis in India's neighbourhood

In an unusual development, the Nepali PM sacked the head of its central bank accusing him of leaking sensitive information and for failing to perform his duties.

What is the news?

  • Nepal’s forex reserves have plummeted by 18.5% to $9.58 billion in March from $11.75 billion in July 2021.
  • The current forex reserves are not enough to pay the government’s import bills beyond the next seven months or so.
  • Nepal’s central bank recently announced a ban on the import of vehicles and other luxury items, citing liquidity crunch and declining foreign exchange reserves.
  • It is rumoured that the Nepali economy will go into a crisis like Sri Lanka.

Why have Nepal’s forex reserves fallen?

  • Nepal’s forex reserves situation appears healthy as of now as the country, unlike Sri Lanka, is not burdened by external debt.
  • There are, however, concerns that the lower middle-income economy is being battered repeatedly by external factors and that may precipitate a crisis sometime soon.
  • Nepal which is blessed with one of the finest tourism sectors in South Asia, because of the Himalayan mountain range, suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic as global tourist flow fell.
  • This is followed by the global energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • This has put extraordinary inflationary pressure on the economy.

How bad is the situation?

  • Nepal’s economy is highly dependent on imports as the country buys a range of merchandise goods apart from fuel.
  • The prevailing weak economic indicators mean that Nepal is spending from its forex reserves faster than it can save.
  • Economists contend that Nepal will soon have double-digit inflation. All economic indicators are declining.
  • The real shortfall in forex reserves is because of the decline in foreign remittances which suffered during the pandemic when the Nepalese workforce abroad suffered job losses.

Can the energy scene in Nepal escalate economic woes?

  • Nepal’s history shows that any uncertainty regarding fuel can trigger serious internal problems as was visible during the 2015-16 blockade when disruption of fuel supply from India.
  • Nepal’s primary supplier of energy is Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
  • Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) pays IOC in two installments every month, on the 8th and the 23rd.
  • The NOC has been in crisis for months as high global prices depleted the company’s savings, prompting it to approach the government for a lifeline.
  • The Government of Nepal has agreed to provide NOC the necessary amount to continue supplies from IOC.
  • NOC’s financial status makes it unattractive for banks and as a result the public sector company does not enjoy confidence in the market.

Paradoxical situation

  • The government is in a paradoxical situation: It has to control imports of products from which it earns the highest amount of tax revenue.
  • Luxury items are the country’s major source of revenue.
  • If revenue shrinks, an economic crisis could be imminent.

Impact on elections

  • Nepal will hold local level polls next month which will be followed by general elections towards the end of the year.
  • The election process requires considerable financial allocation and Nepal has received support in the past for elections from international donors like the USAID.
  • These donors help in carrying out pre-election staff training and logistics that are part of any democratic process.
  • But there are uncertainties considering the bleak financial situation.
  • It will require at least 10 billion Nepali rupees for the election process and that will mean diversion of a large amount of resources for the democratic process.

Quick recap: Sri Lankan Crisis

  • Like Nepal, Sri Lanka is a country with a small economy. The Sri Lankan economy is around 1.5 times bigger than Nepal’s.
  • Sri Lanka’s economic crisis was in the making since it suffered a terrorist attack in 2019 which hit its tourism industry, a major contributor to the GDP.
  • Then came the pandemic, which further wiped out tourism incomes. Then there were debt burdens in dollars.
  • The political leadership failed to act to address the looming crisis.
  • The Rajapaksha dynasty made some wrong moves—it cut taxes and started printing money, hugely devaluing the currency.
  • In what looked like a well-intentioned move towards organic farming, the county banned imports of chemical fertilisers. Paddy production failed. The country ran out of money to pay its bills.

Is Nepal really going the way of Sri Lanka?

  • In Nepal, the situation is not as bleak.
  • Nepal’s current forex reserves are enough to pay for imports of goods and services for about seven and a half months.
  • Tourism, one of the major foreign currency earners, was hit hard by the pandemic, but its gradual revival has given a glimmer of hope.
  • Since Nepal’s currency is pegged to the Indian rupee, a massive devaluation shock is unlikely. Tourism is also rebounding, giving a fillip to foreign currency reserves.

Back2Basics: Foreign Exchange Reserves

  • Foreign exchange reserves are important assets held by the central bank in foreign currencies as reserves.
  • They are commonly used to support the exchange rate and set monetary policy.
  • In India’s case, foreign reserves include Gold, Dollars, and the IMF’s quota for Special Drawing Rights.
  • Most of the reserves are usually held in US dollars, given the currency’s importance in the international financial and trading system.
  • Some central banks keep reserves in Euros, British pounds, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan, in addition to their US dollar reserves.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Centre extends relief to Tibetan Committee by 5 years

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE)

Mains level: India's asylum to Tibetans

The Union government has extended the scheme to provide ₹40 crore grants-in-aid to the Dalai Lama’s Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) for another five years, up to fiscal year 2025-26.

Do you think that India’s support for the Tibetan cause is the root cause of all irritants in India-China relations?

What is CTRC?

  • The Dalai Lama’s Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) was formed and registered as Charitable Society under Indian Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.
  • It effectively acts as the Relief and Development Wing of Home Department, Central Tibetan Administration.
  • All the CTRC activities are carried out with consent and support from Board of Directors and approval from TPiE (Tibetan Parliament in Exile).

Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE)

  • The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) has its headquarters in Dharamsala, in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • According to the Green Book of the Tibetan government-in-exile, over 1 lakh Tibetans are settled across India.
  • The remaining are settled in United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Mongolia, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland and various other countries.

Working of the TPiE

  • The Speaker and a Deputy Speaker head the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
  • It includes two members from each of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the pre-Buddhist Bon religion.
  • Other representatives are from the Tibetan Communities in North America and Europe; and from Australasia and Asia (excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan).
  • Till 2006, it used to be called as Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (ATPDs) with the chairman as its head and a vice-chairman.

Tibetan Constitution

  • The Central Tibetan Administration exists and functions on the basis of the Constitution of the Tibetan government called the ‘The Charter of the Tibetans in Exile’.
  • In 1991, The Constitution Redrafting Committee instituted by the Dalai Lama prepared the Charter for Tibetans in exile. The Dalai Lama approved it on June 28, 1991.
  • In 2001, fundamental changes happened with the amendment of the Charter that facilitated the direct election of the Kalon Tripa by the Tibetans in exile.
  • The Kalon Tripa is called Sikyong or president of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Kashag (Cabinet)

  • The Kashag (Cabinet) is the Central Tibetan Administration’s highest executive office and comprise seven members.
  • It is headed by the Sikyong (political leader) who is directly elected by the exiled Tibetan population.
  • Sikyong subsequently nominates his seven Kalons (ministers) and seeks the parliament’s approval. The Kashag’s term is for five years.

A backgrounder: Democracy for Tibet

  • The Dalai Lama began democratization soon after he came to India during the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising.
  • He reportedly asked Tibetans in exile to choose their representatives through universal adult suffrage, following which polls were held for electing Tibetan Parliamentarians in 1960.
  • Democracy for the Tibetans, thus, began in exile.
  • The Dalai Lama, however, continued to remain the supreme political leader. On March 14, 2011, he relinquished his political responsibilities, ending a 369-year-old practice.

Is TPiE officially recognized by any country?

  • Not exactly, it is not recognised officially by any country, including India.
  • But, a number of countries including the USA and European nations deal directly with the Sikyong and other Tibetan leaders through various forums.
  • The TPiE claims its democratically-elected character helps it manage Tibetan affairs and raise the Tibetan issue across the world.
  • The incumbent Sikyong, Lobsang Sangay, was among the guests who attended the oath-taking ceremony of our PM in 2014, probably a first.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Delinking Depsang from the ongoing Ladakh border crisis is worrying

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Aksai Chin

Mains level: Paper 2- Border conflict with China

Context

In a recent television interview, the Indian Army Chief, General M.M. Naravane, argued that “out of the five or six friction points (in Ladakh), five have been solved”.

Friction points in Ladakh

  • ‘Friction point’ are the points of Chinese ingress into hitherto India-controlled territory in Ladakh, where this control is exercised by the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) through regular patrols to the claimed areas.
  • These ‘friction points’ are Depsang, Galwan, Hot Springs, Gogra, North bank of Pangong Tso, Kailash Range and Demchok.
  • By asserting that only one of the friction points is remaining to be resolved —  Hot Springs or PP15, Army Chief implicitly ruled out Depsang as an area to be resolved.
  • This attempt to delink the strategically important area of Depsang from the ongoing Ladakh border crisis is worrying.

Significance of Depsang

  • Depsang is an enclave of flat terrain located in an area the Army classifies as Sub-Sector North (SSN), which provides land access to Central Asia through the Karakoram Pass.
  • The Army has always identified Depsang plains as where it finds itself most vulnerable in Ladakh, devising plans to tackle the major Chinese challenge.
  • SSN’s flat terrain of Depsang, Trig Heights and DBO — which provides direct access to Aksai Chin — is suited for mechanised warfare but is located at the end of only one very long and tenuous communication axis for India.
  • China, in turn, has multiple roads that provide easy access to the area.
  • This leaves SSN highly vulnerable to capture by the PLA, with a few thousands of square kilometres from the Karakoram Pass to Burtse, likely to be lost.
  • Nowhere else in Ladakh is the PLA likely to gain so much territory in a single swoop.
  • SSN lies to the east of Siachen, located between the Saltoro ridge on the Pakistani border and the Saser ridge close to the Chinese border.
  • On paper, it is the only place where a physical military collusion can take place between Pakistan and China — and the challenge of a two-front war can become real in the worst-case scenario.
  • If India loses this area, it will be nearly impossible to launch a military operation to wrest back Gilgit-Baltistan from Pakistan.

Dangers of delinking Depsang

  • Invalidation of Indian claims: The biggest danger of delinking Depsang from the current border crisis in Ladakh, however, is of corroborating the Chinese argument, which invalidates the rightful Indian claim over a large swathe of territory. 
  • In sparsely populated areas like Ladakh, with limited forward deployment of troops, the only assertion of territorial claims is by regular patrolling. 
  • By arguing that the blockade at Y-junction predates the current stand-off — a ‘legacy issue’ that goes back years — the Chinese side can affirm that Indian patrols never had access to this area and thus India has no valid claim on the territory.

Conclusion

As was demonstrated by China in the aftermath of the 1962 War, there should be no holding back in painstakingly asserting one’s claims when it comes to safeguarding the territory.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The Indo-Pacific opportunity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AUKUS

Mains level: Paper 2- Indo-Pacific challenge

Context

The geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific, which is changing fast. As it moves into 2022, the region will carry the imprint of the past five years, and will have to chart a course through inter-state tensions and crises, using both diplomacy and military preparedness.

What will shape the geopolitics and geoeconomics of the Indo-Pacific?

  • Key players in the region: The region is central to world economy and peace, and nine countries are key players: the US, China, Japan, India, Germany, the UK, Russia, Australia and France.
  • The geopolitics and geo-economics of the Indo-Pacific will be largely shaped by the interplay of relations among these nations.
  • US-China relations: Of paramount importance is the US-China equation.
  • Expect this relationship to be marked by continually adversarial, competitive and cooperative traits.
  • Beijing’s south/east China policy, aggressive postures towards Taiwan, human rights violations in Xinjiang, the subjugation of Hong Kong’s citizenry and assertive economic outreach in the Indo-Pacific — these will weigh heavily on US-China relations.

A significant role of groupings and individual nations

  • In this standoff, the role of new groupings and individual nations is significant.
  • Role of Quad: Foremost are the Quad, a strategic partnership between the US, India, Japan and Australia and the militaristic AUKUS (Australia, UK, US). 
  • India-Australia ties: Meanwhile, India and Australia are on track to deepen ties, not only bilaterally but also with the other two Quad powers.
  • The next Quad summit, probably hosted by Japan, will cement the grouping.
  • EU’s role: The EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy, announced last September, aims at increasing its economic and security profile in, and linkages with, the region.
  • UK’s role: Only by being more strategic and less mercantilist, more candid and assertive with China, and more cooperative with partners such as India, can the EU — and its former member the UK — hope to become vital players in the Indo-Pacific.
  • ASEAN, located in the middle of the Indo-Pacific waters, faces the heat of China’s aggression and the sharpening great power rivalry.
  •  It must enhance its realism and shed its tendency of wishing away problems.

Suggestions for India

  • 1]Strengthen the Quad – especially by ensuring that the grouping fulfils its commitment to deliver at least one billion vaccine doses to Indo-Pacific nations by December 2022.
  • India must protect its established relationship with Russia, and show some resilience in dialogue with Beijing.
  • 2] Enhance relations with ASEAN nations: It must enhance cooperation with key Southeast Asian partners —Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand — while humouring ASEAN as a grouping.
  • 3] Give attention to African and Indian Ocean island states: The eastern and southern planks of Africa and the Indian Ocean island states need continued high policy attention and financial resources.
  • A clear economic and trade agenda to follow the flag in this vital region, is certain to yield long-term dividends.

Consider the question “Indo-Pacific will present India strategic and economic opportunities that India must not miss. However, the region will have to chart a course through inter-state tensions and crises. Comment.”

Conclusion

India has done well by fulfilling its humanitarian duties during the pandemic. Learning how to convert them smartly into economic and strategic opportunities in its periphery is the focused task for the nation in 2022.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The Chinese challenge

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- China challenge

Context

Nearly 20 months after the border crisis began in Ladakh, China has pressed on with aggressive diplomatic and military gestures against India.

Recent anti- India moves by China

  • Beijing recently renamed 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh, following the six it had done in 2017.
  • China justifies the renaming as being done on the basis of its historical, cultural and administrative jurisdiction over the area — these old names existed since ancient times which had been changed by India with its “illegal occupation”.
  • On January 1, 2022, Beijing’s new land border law came into force, which provides the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with full responsibility to take steps against “invasion, encroachment, infiltration, provocation” and safeguard Chinese territory.

India’s response

  • Delhi has run out of proactive options against Beijing that will force the Chinese leadership to change course on its India policy.
  • The two countries have an increasingly lopsided trade relationship driven by Indian dependency on Chinese manufacturing, a situation further worsened by the Government’s mishandling of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • To restore the status quo ante on the LAC as of April 2020, India undertook internal balancing of its military from the Pakistan border to the China border and external rebalancing through a closer partnership with the United States in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Because of the China factor, the U.S. is currently looking away even as India mistreats its minorities and its democracy stands diminished.
  •  India’s difficult diplomatic and military engagement with China is going to leave it more dependent on U.S. support, rendering India more vulnerable to American pressure on ‘shared values’.
  • With a rising China as its neighbour and a more self-centred U.S. – which is uncomfortable with India’s reliable partner, Russia — as its friend, Delhi continues to face difficult choices.

Conclusion

Put under the harsh glare, India has been found wanting in its ability to deal with future challenges. The immediate challenge, however, remains China. It cannot be wished away and must be tackled.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s new land boundary law fits in with its expansionism

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Chumbi Valley

Mains level: Paper 2- What China's new boundary law mean for India?

Context

The latest in the series of aggressive Chinese actions is the use of lawfare through the passing of the “Land Boundary Law” on October 21 which became effective this week.

Background of the Chinese approach

  • The last residue of the Qing dynasty was wiped out in the 1911 revolution when China was established as a republic.
  • The republic was again overthrown in 1949 by the Chinese Communist Party.
  • Three successive Chinese governments in China refused to delineate or demarcate the boundary with either Tibet or India.
  • British archival records, many declassified points to attempts made by Imperial Britain to formally formulate a boundary with China.
  • Yet, all three regimes were united in their refusal to accept a formal limiting of China’s territorial expanse and kept their response ambiguous.
  • Even during the Simla Convention of 1913-14, when the Republic was ascendant in China, there was a vehement refusal to recognise any demarcation of boundaries between Tibet and China.

Strong-arm tactics against India

  • Having operated from a maximalist position to settle its borders with 12 of its 14 neighbours so far, China has attempted to use the same strong-arm tactics with both India and Bhutan.
  • It has offered to forgo its claims in the larger parts of North Bhutan in lieu of gaining a relatively smaller area in West Bhutan.
  • Threat to Siliguri corridor: This seeming magnanimity is calculated to expand into the Chumbi Valley in the South, threatening the narrow and strategic Siliguri corridor in India.
  • In its latest move, China has made a new claim on Sakteng sanctuary in Bhutan which may form a launchpad for future operations against Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • China has also strengthened its collusion with Pakistan.
  • There is a deliberate attempt by China to physically link with Pakistan in the Northern Areas by removing the Indian wedge of DBO, the doorway to the Karakoram Pass.
  • A Training Mobilisation Order (TMO) issued by Xi Jinping in January 2020 called for “confrontational training” for its troops and officers to assess their preparedness, especially in light of the new reforms undertaken by the PLA.
  • These factors seem to be the tactical beginnings of China’s grand strategy which also saw China flexing in the South China Sea and Taiwan, almost simultaneously.

China making use of lawfare and implications for India

  • The latest in the series of aggressive Chinese actions is the use of lawfare through the passing of the “Land Boundary Law”.
  • Formalises and legalises land Chinese grab: The law formalises and legalises China’s geographic creep towards Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh and parts of eastern Ladakh and creates conditions for using newly-constructed border villages close to the LAC for claiming sovereignty over disputed areas.
  • The import of the law is most critical for India but will affect China’s disputes with other countries too.
  • What China has done, therefore, is convert a territory dispute over borders into a sovereignty dispute which precludes any give or take of territory.
  • China will attempt to settle its Han population in the Tibetan regions, reversing established demographic patterns and at the same time.
  •  Future negotiations over territory, if they occur, will then refer to the Border Defence Cooperation Agreements of 2005 and 2012 which call for border settlements to be done keeping in mind the local population in the border regions.

Way forward

  • A deliberate thought process needs to be evolved to offset our disadvantages as purely military actions may not solve the situation in the long term.

Conclusion

What emerges clearly is that by adopting the Land Boundary Law, in conjunction with its physical actions on the LAC, China has consolidated its position in eastern Ladakh and kept possibilities open in Arunachal Pradesh.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s bridge over Pangong Tso

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pangong Tso

Mains level: LAC ambiguities

China is building a bridge across the Pangong Tso area connecting the North and South Banks which will significantly reduce the time for moving troops and equipment between the two sides.

About Pangong Tso

  • 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 sq.km.
  • During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water.
  • It is not a part of the Indus river basin area and is geographically a separate landlocked river basin.
  • Earlier, Pangong Tso had an outlet to Shyok River, a tributary of Indus River, but it was closed off due to natural damming.

Tactical significance of the lake

  • It lies in the path of the Chushul approach, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian Territory.
  • During the 1962 war, this was where China launched its main offensive — the Indian Army fought heroically at Rezang La under Maj. Shaitan Singh.
  • 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 the Sirijap-1 outpost which was essential for the defense of the Chushul airfield.

Connectivity in the region

  • Over the years, the Chinese have built motorable roads along their banks of the Pangong Tso. This 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 the 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.

What is the importance of the bridge over Pangong Tso?

  • The bridge over Pangong Tso is located around 25 kms ahead of the LAC in Chinese territory and will significantly reduce the time for movement of Chinese army.
  • The Indian Army gained tactical advantage over the PLA on the south bank in end August 2020 by occupying several peaks lying vacant since 1962 gaining a dominating view.
  • This has prompted China to build deep alternate roads behind the friction points away from the line of sight.

How is India responding to developments on the ground?

  • The bridge is well within Chinese territory.
  • The implications of this new bridge will have to be factored in the Indian Army’s operational planning for the future.
  • On its part, over the last few years India has been focusing on infrastructure development in forward areas and improving connectivity to the forward areas.
  • Large-scale construction of roads, bridges and tunnels is underway all along the LAC.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s new Border Law and India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: LAC disputes

China’s new law on land borders has come into effect on January 1.

Key takeaways of the Border Law

China passed the law for the “protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas”.

  • Sacrosanct nature of Borders: Under the law, “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China are sacred and inviolable”.
  • Border defense: It mandates the state to take measures “to strengthen border defense, support economic and social development as well as opening-up in border areas.
  • Habitation near borders: It seeks to improve public services and infrastructure in such areas, encourage and support people’s life and work there.
  • Consultations with neighbors: The law asks the state to follow the principles of equality, mutual trust, and friendly consultation, handle land border related-affairs with neighboring countries.

Why did China bring it?

Several factors may have led to China’s move.

  • Aggressive actions: The new law is a tool the Chinese government will use if it wants, as its actions have been aggressive even before this law.
  • Maritime assertion: This law reflects Beijing’s renewed concerns over the security of its land border while it confronts a slew of unsettled disputes on its maritime front (in the South China Sea).
  • Land boundary issues: The confrontations on the Sino-Indian borders in recent years may have reminded Beijing about this law.
  • Fear of radicalization: Afghanistan under the Taliban may become a hotbed for terrorism and extremism that could spread to Xinjiang amongst Uyghurs.
  • One-China Policy: China officially (constitutionally) claims mainland China and Taiwan as part of their respective territories. It has similar assertions for Hong Kong.

Does it concern India?

  • No specific mention: Although the law is not meant specifically for India, it is bound to have some impact.
  • May hamper disengagement:  The date for the round meeting is still awaited, amid concerns that the Chinese delegation can use the new law to try to bolster their existing positions.
  • Possible misadventures: The new law provides for the construction of permanent infrastructure close to the border. This has been observed in Arunachal Pradesh.

What impact can it have on India-China relations?

  • Onus on China: The view is still divided. Much depends on China’s actions, regardless of the new law.
  • Unilateral action: The new law might be the latest attempt by China to unilaterally delineate and demarcate territorial boundaries with India and Bhutan.
  • Maintain status-quo: The new law will make China dig its heels in, on the ongoing standoff as well as for the resolution of the larger boundary issue.
  • Permanent demarcation of borders: There is also a possibility that Beijing appears to be signaling a determination to resolve the border disputes on its preferred terms.

Recent mis-adventures

  • China has been building “well-off” border defense villages across the LAC in all sectors, which the new law encourages.
  • President Xi visited a village in Tibet near the border with Arunachal Pradesh followed by renamings.
  • China has constructed a bridge in Eastern Ladakh connecting the North and South Banks of Pangong Tso.

Conclusion

  • The law only “states the obvious” as “every country is in the business of protecting its territorial integrity.
  • The big question is what your territory is, and there we don’t agree with each other.

 

[RSTV Archive] India-China Ties Post-Galwan

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China issues ‘official’ names for 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: McMahol Line, Shimla Convention

Mains level: India-China Border Issue

China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs has issued standardized names for 15 places in the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh, to be used henceforth on official Chinese maps.

MEA clarification

  • The Ministry of External Affairs has dismissed the Chinese “invention”.
  • Arunachal Pradesh has always been, and will always be, an integral part of India, said MEA.

Why is China giving names to places that are in India?

  • China claims some 90,000 sq km of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory.
  • It calls the area “Zangnan” in the Chinese language and makes repeated references to “South Tibet”.
  • Chinese maps show Arunachal Pradesh as part of China, and sometimes parenthetically refer to it as “so-called Arunachal Pradesh”.
  • China makes periodic efforts to underline this unilateral claim to Indian territory.
  • Giving Chinese names to places in Arunachal Pradesh is part of that effort.

Earlier unilateral renamings

  • This is the second lot of “standardized” names of places in Arunachal Pradesh that China has announced.
  • Earlier in 2017, it had issued “official” Chinese names for six places spanning the breadth of Arunachal Pradesh

What is China’s argument for claiming these areas?

  • The PRC disputes the legal status of the McMahon Line, the official boundary under the ‘Convention Between Great Britain, China, and Tibet’ — of 1914 (Simla Convention).
  • China was represented at the Simla Convention by a plenipotentiary of the Republic of China, which had been declared in 1912 after the Qing dynasty was overthrown.
  • The present communist government came to power only in 1949, when the People’s Republic was proclaimed.
  • The Chinese representative did not consent to the Simla Convention, saying Tibet had no independent authority to enter into international agreements.

What is the McMohan Line?

  • The McMohan Line, named after Henry McMahon, the chief British negotiator at Shimla, was drawn from the eastern border of Bhutan to the Isu Razi pass on the China-Myanmar border.
  • China claims territory to the south of the McMahon Line, lying in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • China also bases its claims on the historical ties that have existed between the monasteries in Tawang and Lhasa.

Intention behind these renamings

  • This renaming is a part of the Chinese strategy to assert its territorial claims over Indian territory.
  • As part of this strategy, China routinely issues statements of outrage whenever an Indian dignitary visits Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Beijing keeps harping on its “consistent” and “clear” position that the Indian possession of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • These claims have been firmly established and recognized by the world, as “illegal”.

Arunachal not all-alone

  • Laying aggressive claims to territories on the basis of alleged historical injustices done to China is a part of Beijing’s foreign policy playbook.
  • The claim on Taiwan is one such example, as are the consistent efforts to change the “facts on the ground” in several disputed islands in the South China Sea.
  • The aggression is at all times backed in overt and covert ways by the use of China’s economic and military muscle.

Also read:

[RSTV Archive] India-China Ties Post-Galwan

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The ‘diplomatic’ Olympic boycott

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: US-China Rivalry

The US Government has decided not send any official representation to the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing announcing what is being called a “diplomatic boycott” of the games.

What is a ‘diplomatic boycott’?

  • A “diplomatic boycott” means no US official will be present at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
  • This stops short of a complete boycott, which would have meant the non-participation by US athletes.
  • As such, the absence of official representation will not impact the games as much as an athletic boycott would have.

What led to the US boycott?

Ans. Uyghurs Genocide

  • The decision was taken because of China’s gross human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang.
  • This is the latest clash adding to a long list of differences on trade, Taiwan, human rights and the South China Sea.
  • Xinjiang Uyghurs have been sent by Chinese authorities to “re-education” camps, a network of which were constructed beginning in 2016 to house thousands of detainees.
  • Beijing initially denied the existence of the camps, but subsequently claimed the centres were for “vocational training”.

Who else is ‘diplomatically boycotting’ the games?

  • So far, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have also announced that their officials will not be present at the games.
  • None, however, has said their athletes will not attend, which means the games themselves are unlikely to be impacted.
  • It remains to be seen if the boycott will gain traction beyond US allies and partners.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympics.
  • China has been garnering support from countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

How is China reacting to the boycott?

  • Beyond the statements decrying the “politicization” of sports, there is certainly a domestic political undercurrent to the games.
  • China’s media, meanwhile, has been largely playing down the reports of the boycotts, underlining how the authorities are going all-out to ensure the games are conducted without a hurdle.

What will be the impact on US-China relations?

  • Much recently, the US and Chinese Presidents committed to “responsibly” managing their growing competition amid increasing conflicts.
  • Both nations called common-sense guardrails to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict.
  • China emphasized the “need to treat each other as equals” and warned against “drawing ideological lines”, calling on the US “to meet its word of not seeking a ‘new Cold War’”.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Beijing’s aggressive regional policies and its implications

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AUKUS

Mains level: Paper 2- Implications of China's aggressive policies for geopolitics

Context

One of the many consequences of China’s assertive posture in Asia has been the emergence of geopolitical coalitions to limit the prospects for Beijing’s regional dominance.

Two new coalitions forcing China rethink

  • Quad and AUKUS: Two new coalitions that have got a lot of political attention are the Quadrilateral framework involving Australia, India, Japan and the US, and the AUKUS, which brings together Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Until recently, China was quite contemptuous of the new political formations.
  • It had compared the Quad to “seafoam” that is here now but gone in a second.
  • China’s dismissive attitude has now yielded place to denunciation.

US’s policy forcing China to rethink

  • Two big factors are behind China’s rethinking.
  • Consensus in the US on Challenging China: One was the surprising emergence of American domestic political consensus on challenging China.
  • Beijing believed that Donald Trump was an exception to the longstanding US policy of deeper economic integration with China and sustained political engagement. But Biden has simply reinforced Trump’s strategy.
  • US making alliances critical element of China policy: Trump thought that alliances are a burden on US taxpayers.
  •  Biden, in contrast, has made alliances a critical element of his China strategy.
  • The idea was to create “situations of strength” vis-a-vis China by rebuilding US alliances and developing new coalitions.
  • In Asia, the Biden administration moved quickly to strengthen the traditional security ties with its allies in northeast Asia — Japan and South Korea.
  • Elevating the Quad to leaders-level: It also elevated the Quad to the leaders-level within weeks after Biden took charge and had a physical summit in Washington six months later.
  • AUKUS: It also announced the AUKUS.
  • Biden travelled to Europe in June this year to revitalise the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
  • Summit with Russia: Biden also decided on an early summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin that took place in Geneva at the end of his European tour.
  • Rebalancing relations: Biden’s team believed that the greatest strength of the US was its wide network of allies and partners.
  • And that mobilising them was the key to rebalancing relations with China.

How China is making alliances and partnerships?

  • While China’s economic reach is now global and deep, political and military alliances have not been part of Beijing’s tradition.
  • Relations with Russia at peak: Beijing’s ties with Moscow have never been as close as they are.
  • Relations with N. Korea and Pakistan: China also has strong alliance-like relations with North Korea and Pakistan.
  • But there can be little comparison though between the kind of strengths that American allies bring to the table with those of China’s partners.

Is Asian geopolitical structure turning in China’s favour?

  • Beijing was betting on the proposition that the Asian geopolitical structure was turning, irretrievably, in China’s favour.
  • This is based on a number of propositions.
  • Location of the US: America, located far from Asia, will have trouble overcoming the tyranny of geography in a conflict with China.
  • The economic and military power of China: China’s hard power — both economic and military — relative to the US is growing rapidly and shifting the local balance of power in its favour.
  • Location of China: The proximity of China and Asian regional integration have made Beijing the most important economic partner for the whole region.
  • Beijing believed that few Asian nations would want to spoil their commercial relations with China and align with Washington.
  • Power imbalance: The vast imbalance in military power between Beijing and its neighbours it presumed would dissuade most Asian states from considering armed confrontations with China
  • Breaking up coalition: China counted on the fact that it is easier to break up coalitions than build them.

Implications of China’s aggressive policies

  • Making the US unfriendly prematurely: Chinese policies have driven the US towards an unanticipated internal consensus on containing Beijing.
  • Making a friendly America into an enemy prematurely could go down as one of Xi Jinping’s egregious strategic errors.
  • Driving regional countries towards the US: China’s aggressive regional policies are driving many countries like Australia, India, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, towards the US.
  • Neighbouring countries pursuing stronger national military capacities: While the military balance of power in Asia has certainly turned in China’s favour, it has not cowed down its neighbours.
  • Many are pursuing stronger national military capabilities to limit some of the threats from China.
  • Stoked nationalism: China, which never stops to emphasise its own nationalism, appears to have underestimated the depth of similar sentiment in other Asian states.
  • Today, it is driving many of China’s neighbours into the US camp.
  • It is America and not China that today talks about the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Asian nations.

Consider the question “One of the many consequences of China’s assertive posture in Asia has been the emergence of geopolitical coalitions to limit Beijing’s regional dominance. Critically analyse.”

Conclusion

It has been quite fashionable in the West as well as in the East, to proclaim that China’s hegemony is inevitable, American decline is terminal, and Asian coalitions are unsustainable. Those conclusions are premature at best. For Xi Jinping has squandered many of China’s natural geopolitical advantages.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s missile tests could have Sputnik-like effect

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: HGV missile

Mains level: Paper 2- HGV test by China and its implications

Context

On October 27 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US, reacted to China testing its nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons system by drawing an analogy with a Sputnik moment.

How US’s Ballistic Missile Defence led to the recent Sputnik moment

  •  Since the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in 2002, both Russia and China have been wary of Washington’s Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme.
  • It undermines strategic stability: Missile defence is inherently destabilising — it undermines “strategic stability”.
  • A robust BMD would compromise the second strike capability of the adversary by neutralising the surviving incoming missiles in case of a near-decapitating first strike
  • Both Russia and China thus view the US BMD as undermining their deterrence and have sought ways to restore their retaliatory strike capability by investing in new technologies such as Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGVs).
  • HGVs can escape the missile defence systems.
  • HGVs fly at lower altitudes than ballistic missiles, which means they could potentially escape early warning systems, aided by the earth’s curvature.

Implications of Chinese test

  • It can set off competition: The Chinese tests have the potential to set off an aggressive competition among the nuclear powers to modernise their nuclear arsenals and add new, potentially destabilising capabilities to their arsenal.
  • Global and regional arms race: In the present era of minimal arms control measures, the Chinese hypersonic missile system test will trigger an intense arms race both at the global and regional levels.
  • With the Chinese test, the US may be forced to expand its hypersonic programme and further modernise its missile defence systems.

What should be the course of action for India

  • China’s nuclear-tipped hypersonic weapon systems, though not particularly India-focused, could nudge New Delhi to adopt two courses of action.
  • Missile program: First, accelerate its hypersonic missiles programme.
  • Develop missile defence system: Second, consider erecting an equally robust missile defence.
  • Chinese advancement in stealth technologies will drive New Delhi to seek similar capabilities but also develop effective countermeasures.
  • This can then set off a regional arms race, a sign that is not particularly encouraging for regional peace.

Consider the question “Examine the implications of recent hypersonic missile test by China for the region and global arms race control efforts? What should be the course of action for India? “

Conclusion

China’s hypersonic missile test may not have come with a Sputnik-like surprise, but it has the potential to set off a post-Sputnik-like arms race that does not augur well for the strategic stability both at the global and regional level.

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Back2Basics: Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGVs)

  • A hypersonic missile is a vehicle that achieves a speed five times faster than the speed of sound, crossing Mach 5.
  • These missiles travel at a speed of around 6,115 km per hour, with a combination of technology and manoeuvrability of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS)

  • A Fractional Orbital Bombardment System is a warhead delivery system that uses a low earth orbit towards its target destination.
  • Just before reaching the target, it deorbits through a retrograde engine burn.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s new land border law and Indian concerns

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: China's territorial expansionism

China has recently passed a new land law for the “protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas”.

Land Border Law: Key Takeaways

  • The law states that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China are sacred and inviolable.
  • It asks the state to take measures to safeguard territorial integrity and land boundaries and guard against and combat any act that undermines these.
  • The state can take measures to strengthen border defence, support economic and social development as well as opening-up in border areas.
  • It seeks to improve public services and infrastructure in such areas, encourage and support people’s life and work there.

Other features

  • In effect, this suggests a push to settle civilians in the border areas.
  • The law also asks the state to follow the principles of equality, mutual trust, and friendly consultation, handle land border related-affairs with neighbouring countries.

China’s land borders

  • China shares its 22,457-km land boundary with 14 countries including India, the third-longest after the borders with Mongolia and Russia.
  • Unlike the Indian border, however, China’s borders with these two countries are not disputed.
  • The only other country with which China has disputed land borders is Bhutan (477 km).

Why is it significant for India?

  • China claims up to 90,000 square kilometres in Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern sector.
  • It has illegally occupied 38,000 square kilometres of Aksai Chin in the western sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • While recent tensions in the western sector have been centred on Ladakh, both sides have lately clashed in Uttarakhand as well.

A signal to India

  • The law is not meant specifically for the border with India.
  • However, this could create hurdles in the resolution of the 17-month-long military standoff at LAC.
  • There is also a clear distinction that PLA will do border management but it will make negotiations a little more difficult.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

A ‘bubbles of trust’ approach to globalisation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Emerging Technology Working Group

Mains level: Paper 2- Bubble of trust approach to globalisation

Context

An asymmetric globalisation favouring China allowed Beijing to attain power. It is now using that power to undermine liberal democratic values around the world.

What is Globalization?

Globalization is a process of increasing interdependence, interconnectedness and integration of economies and societies to such an extent that an event in one part of the globe affects people in other parts of the world.

OR

 Globalization is a process of interaction and integration among the people, organizations, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology.

Asymmetric globalisation

  • The Chinese market was never open to foreign companies in the way foreign markets are to Chinese firms.
  • This is particularly true in the information and communications technology sector: foreign media, technology and software companies have always been walled out of Chinese markets.
  • Meanwhile, Chinese firms rode on the globalisation bandwagon to secure significant market shares in open economies.

Global retreat from globalisation and role of Quad

  • We are currently witnessing a global retreat from the free movement of goods, services, capital, people and ideas.
  • But this should not be understood as a reaction to globalisation itself, but of its skewed pattern over the past four decades.
  • The Quad countries – Japan, India, Australia and the U.S. – have an opportunity to change tack and stop seeing engagement with China through the misleading prism of free trade and globalisation.
  • It will be to their advantage to create a new form of economic cooperation consistent with their geopolitical interests.
  • Indeed, without an economic programme, the Quad’s geopolitical and security agenda stand on tenuous foundations.

Economies inside bubbles of trust

  • Policies of self-reliance: The popular backlash against China – exacerbated by the economic disruption of the pandemic – is pushing Quad governments towards policies of self-reliance.
  • But while reorienting and de-risking global supply chains is one thing, pursuing technological sovereignty is inherently self-defeating.
  • Worse still, inward-looking policies often acquire a life of their own and contribute to geopolitical marginalisation.
  • There is a better way.
  • A convergence of values and geopolitical interests means Quad countries are uniquely placed to envelop their economies inside bubbles of trust, starting with the technology sector.
  • The idea of ‘bubbles of trust’ offers a cautious middle path between the extremes of technological sovereignty and laissez-faire globalisation.
  •  Unlike trading blocs, which tend to be insular and exclusive, bubbles tend to expand organically, attracting new partners that share values, interests and economic complementarities.
  • Such expansion will be necessary, as the Quad cannot fulfil its strategic ambitions merely by holding a defensive line against authoritarian power.

Way forward

  • The U.S. is a global leader in intellectual property, Japan in high-value manufacturing, Australia in advanced niches such as quantum computing and cyber security, and India in human capital.
  • This configuration of values, interests and complementary capabilities offers unrivalled opportunities.
  • The Quad’s Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group, announced in March 2021, is well placed to develop the necessary ‘bubbles of trust’ framework, which could be adopted at the next Quad summit.
  • To be successful the Working Group must seek to strengthen geopolitical convergences, increase faith in each member state’s judicial systems, deepen economic ties and boost trust in one another’s citizens.
  • There are fundamental differences between authoritarian and liberal-democratic approaches to the information age.
  • The Quad cannot allow differences of approach on privacy, data governance, platform competition and the digital economy to widen.

Conclusion

This agenda cannot be about substituting China. Rather, the approach would allow Quad countries to manage their dependencies on China while simultaneously developing a new vision for the global economy.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Bhutan-China Border Agreement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Bhutan-China Border Agreement

In a step towards resolving their boundary disputes, Bhutan and China signed an agreement on a three-Step roadmap to help speed up talks to “break the deadlock” in negotiations.

Bhutan-China Border Issues

Bhutan shares an over 400-km-long border with China.

  • Doklam: China wants to exchange the valleys to the north of Bhutan with the pasture land to the west (including Doklam), totalling 269 square kilometres.
  • Jakarlung and Pasamlung valleys: located near Tibet to Bhutan’s North, which measure 495 sq. kms.
  • Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary Project: China claims this area (near to Arunachal Pradesh) in eastern Bhutan as its own.

What is the recent agreement?

  • The roadmap “for Expediting the Bhutan-China Boundary Negotiations”, is expected to progress on the boundary talks process that has been delayed for five years.
  • It was stalled due to the Doklam standoff in 2017, and then by the Covid Pandemic.
  • Although China and Bhutan do not have official diplomatic relations they have engaged in 24 rounds of ministerial-level talks to resolve their border dispute.

Implications for India

The boundary issue between China and Bhutan is special because it not only relates to Bhutan but also has become a negative factor for China-India ties.

  • China control much of the Doklam: Since the 2017 stand-off with India, Beijing has already strengthened its de facto control over much of the Doklam plateau, located strategically along the India-China-Bhutan trijunction.
  • Bhutan supports it: This agreement has been equally endorsed and appreciated by Bhutan and China.
  • Deadlock at LAC talks: Its timing is particularly significant New, given India-China border talks on their 17-month-old standoff at the Line of Actual Control appear to have hit an deadlock.
  • India’s strategic risks: This has big implications for India, since the Doklam swap would have given China access to the strategically sensitive “chicken neck” of the Siliguri corridor.

India’s interest

(a) Doklam

  • The Doklam plateau remains hugely critical for India due to the Siliguri Corridor that lies to the south of Doklam.
  • The corridor, also known as the ‘Chicken’s Neck’, is a 22-km wide major arterial road connecting mainland India with its northeastern states and thus it is a highly sensitive area for China.

(b) Sakteng: the hotspot

  • The Sakteng sanctuary adjoins West Kameng district and Tawang disticts in India’s Arunachal Pradesh state.
  • Its strategic value lies in its proximity to Arunachal Pradesh, where China claims around 90,000 sq km of Indian territory.
  • Tawang, the major bone of contention between India and China in the eastern sector of their border dispute, lies to the northeast of the Sakteng.

Conclusion

  • Bhutan has to balance its ties with India as well as China.
  • We need to explore channels that India can activate with Bhutan when it comes to the highly sensitive matter of settling the boundary dispute between them and China.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Explained: Patrolling Points along LAC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Patrolling Points along LAC

Mains level: LAC issues

The standoffs between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where initial steps towards disengagement have taken place, are around a number of patrolling points or PPs in Galwan, Hot Springs and Gogra areas.

What exactly are Patrolling Points?

  • PPs are patrolling points identified and marked on the LAC, which are patrolled with a stipulated frequency by the security forces.
  • They serve as a guide to the location of the LAC for the soldiers, acting as indicators of the extent of ‘actual control’ exercised on the territory by India.
  • By regularly patrolling up to these PPs, the Indian side is able to establish and assert its physical claim about the LAC.

Are all the Patrolling Points numbered?

  • Some of the PPs are prominent and identifiable geographical features, such as a pass, or a nala junction where no numerals are given.
  • Only those PPs, where there are no prominent features, are numbered as in the case of PP14 in Galwan Valley.

Are all on the Patrolling Points bang on the LAC?

  • Mostly, yes. Except for the Depsang plains in northern Ladakh, where PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12 and PP13 – from Raki Nala to Jivan Nala – do not fall on the LAC.
  • These are short of the LAC, on the Indian side.

Are these Patrolling Points not manned?

  • The PPs are not posts and thus not manned.
  • Unlike on the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the border with China is not physically held by the Army all along.
  • They are just physical markers on the ground, chosen for their location and have no defensive potential or tactical importance for the Army.

If the Patrolling Points are not manned, how is the claim actually asserted?

  • The claim is asserted by the Army or joint Army-ITBP patrols as they show more visible presence in these areas.
  • This is done by physically visiting PPs with a higher frequency, as the deployment has moved closer to the LAC and due to improved infrastructure.
  • As the Chinese may not see when the Indian patrols visit these PPs, they will leave come cigarette packets or food tins with Indian markings behind.
  • That lets the Chinese know that Indian soldiers had visited the place, which indicates that India was in control of these areas.

Who has given these Patrolling Points?

  • These PPs have been identified by the high-powered China Study Group, starting from 1975 when patrolling limits for Indian forces were specified.
  • It is based on the LAC, after the government accepted the concept in 1993, which is also marked on the maps with the Army in the border areas.
  • But the frequency of patrolling to PPs is not specified by the CSG – it is finalised by the Army Headquarters in New Delhi, based on the recommendations made by the Army and ITBP.

What is this frequency?

  • The frequency of reaching various PPs are given in the annual patrolling programme.
  • Based on the terrain, the ground situation and the location of the LAC, the duration for visiting each PP is specified – it can vary from once a month to twice a year.

Major friction area: Hot Springs

  • Hot Springs lies in the Chang Chenmo River valley, close to Kongka La, a pass that marks the Line of Actual Control.
  • India’s Patrolling Point 15, it is not a launchpad for any offensive action though the area did see action before and during the 1962 war.
  • China’s unwillingness to pull back its platoon-sized unit from Hot Springs is a sign of the difficulties that lie in normalising the situation.
  • The PLA has traditionally had a major base east of Kongka La.
  • The pass also marks the border between two of China’s most sensitive provinces — Xinjiang to the north and Tibet to the south.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

A ‘Taiwan flashpoint’ in the Indo-Pacific

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Taiwan issue and implications for the Indo-Pacific region

Context

If the rising confrontation between the United States and China erupts into a clash of arms, the likely arena may well be the Taiwan Strait.

Historical background of the Taiwan issue

  • The Guomindang (KMT) forces under Chiang Kai-shek lost the 1945-49 civil war to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949. forces under Mao Zedong.
  • Chiang retreated to the island of Taiwan and set up a regime that claimed authority over the whole of China and pledged to recover the mainland eventually.
  • The CCP in turn pledged to reclaim what it regarded as a “renegade” province and achieve the final reunification of China.
  • Role of the U.S.: Taiwan could not be occupied militarily by the newly established People’s Republic of China (PRC) as it became a military ally of the United States during the Korean War of 1950-53.
  • This phase came to an end with the U.S. recognising the PRC as the legitimate government of China in 1979, ending its official relationship with Taiwan and abrogating its mutual defence treaty with the island.
  • Strategic ambiguity policy of the US: Nevertheless, the U.S. has declared that it will “maintain the ability to come to Taiwan’s defence” while not committing itself to do so.
  • This is the policy of “strategic ambiguity”.
  • The PRC has pursued a typical carrot and stick policy to achieve the reunification of Taiwan with the mainland.
  • It has held out the prospect, indeed preference for peaceful reunification, through promising a high degree of autonomy to the island under the “one country two systems”.
  • The “one country two systems” formula first applied to Hong Kong after its reversion to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

China-Taiwan economic links

  • Taiwan business entities have invested heavily in mainland China and the two economies have become increasingly integrated.
  • Between 1991 and 2020, the stock of Taiwanese capital invested in China reached U.S. $188.5 billion and bilateral trade in 2019 was U.S. $150 billion, about 15% of Taiwan’s GDP.
  • By the same token, China is capable of inflicting acute economic pain on Taiwan through coercive policies if the island is seen to drift towards an independent status.

Prospects for peaceful reunification

  • Taiwan has two major political parties.
  • The KMT, dominated by the descendants of the mainlanders remains committed to a one-China policy.
  • The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), on the other hand, is more representative of the indigenous population of the island, and favours independence.
  • Faced with aggressive threats from China and lack of international support, the demand for independence has been muted.
  • Ever since the DPP under Tsai Ing-wen won the presidential elections in 2016, China has resorted to a series of hostile actions against the island, which include economic pressures and military threats.
  • One important implication of this development is that prospects for peaceful unification have diminished.
  • Sentiment in Taiwan in favour of independent status has increased.

Role of the US

  • While the U.S. does not support a declaration of independence by Taiwan, it has gradually reversed the policy of avoiding official-level engagements with the Taiwan government
  • The first breach occurred during the Donald Trump presidency.
  • The Joe Biden officials have continued this policy.
  • The Taiwanese representative in Washington was invited to attend the presidential inauguration ceremony (Biden), again a first since 1979.
  • Reports have now emerged that U.S. defence personnel have been, unannounced, training with their Taiwanese counterparts for sometime.

Implications for Quad and India

  • The recent crystallisation of the Quad, of which India is a part, and the announcement of the AUKUS, with Australia being graduated to a power with nuclear-powered submarines, may act as a deterrent against Chinese moves on Taiwan.
  • But they may equally propel China to advance the unification agenda before the balance changes against it in the Indo-Pacific.
  • For these reasons, Taiwan is emerging as a potential trigger point for a clash of arms between the U.S. and China.

Consider the question “What are the implications of Taiwan issue and the US involvement in it for India?”

Conclusion

In pursuing its Indo-Pacific strategy, India would do well to keep these possible scenarios in mind.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

A strategy for India in a world that is adrift

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Distortions in the Global Order

This article discusses new situations prompted by the tectonic shifts in India’s internal and external environment to take another look at India’s path to power in a world between orders.

New global order: No Order

  • Multipolarity: The world is today adrift. We are neither in a bipolar Cold War nor in a multipolar world, though perhaps tending towards a world of several power centres.
  • Lack of cohesion: The lack of a coherent international response to the COVID-19 pandemic is proof of an absence of international order and of the ineffectiveness of multilateral institutions.
  • Climate ignorance: So is the ineffective international response to climate change and other transnational threats.

What are the major shifts in global order?

  • Secular stagnation
  • Retreat from globalisation
  • Regionalisation of trade
  • Shifting balance of power
  • Rise of China and others
  • Structural China-United States strategic rivalry

All above factors have shifted the geopolitical and economic centres of gravity from the Atlantic to Asia.

Major Concerns

  • Chauvinism: Inequality between and within states has bred a narrow nationalism and parochialism.
  • Existential threats: We are entering a new polarised information age, and face ecological crises of the Anthropocene, making climate change an existential threat.

Asia as the nucleus: With focus on China

  • Shift of focus by the US: Over the next decade we expect Asia to remain the cockpit of geopolitical rivalries, and that the US remains the most formidable power, though its relative power is declining.
  • China at the centre: China sees a window of opportunity but acts in a hurry, suggesting that she believes that window may close or is already closing due to push back from the West and others.

China’s expansionism

  • China’s crowded geography constrains her both on land and at sea.
  • Hence it expects her profile and power to continue expanding, particularly in our periphery.
  • The result is likely continued friction, some cooperation, and quasi-adversarial relations between India and China, which others will take advantage of.
  • Overall, we do not expect conventional conflict between the great powers in Asia, though other forms and levels of violence and contention in the international system will rise, with Taiwan a special case.

Opportunities in disguise for India

  • The uncertainty and changing geopolitical environment clearly pose considerable challenges to Indian policy.
  • However, it also throws up certain opportunities, enhancing our strategic options and diplomatic space, if we adjust policies internally and externally, particularly in the subcontinent.

How can India reap the benefits?

  • Enhancing ties with the US: Increasing security congruence with the US could enable growing cooperation in fields significant for India’s transformation: energy, trade, investment, education and health.
  • Climate cooperation: Other areas in which India and the U.S. could increase cooperation are: climate change and energy, tech solutions for renewable energy, and on digital cooperation.
  • Neighbourhood first: Several middle powers like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia in the neighbourhood are now India’s natural partners.
  • Digital space: This time of transition between orders is also when new standards and norms are being developed, particularly in the digital space. India can and must be present at the creation.
  • Maritime cooperation: At sea, the balance is today more favourable to us than before, possibly more so than on the continent. India must bat for the creation of a Maritime Commission in IOR.

Bottlenecks in India’s neighbourhood policy

  • Over securitisation of policy: towards our neighbours has driven trade underground, criminalised our borders.
  • Conducive environment for entry of China: This has enabled the large-scale entry of Chinese goods destroying local industry in the northeast.
  • Lack of self-strengthening: While lessening dependence on China, and seeking external balancing, our primary effort has to concentrate on self-strengthening.
  • Lack of socio-political enterprise: If there is one country which in terms of its size, population, economic potential, scientific and technological capabilities can match or even surpass China, it is India.

Way forward for India

(A) Bringing multipolarity in Asia.

  • The way forward should be based on the core strategic principles in Non-Alignment 2.0 which are still relevant: independent judgement, developing our capacities, and creating an equitable and enabling international order for India’s transformation.
  • Today’s situation makes India’s strategic autonomy all the more essential.

(B) Making an issue-based coalition

  • India must adjust to changing circumstances. We have no choice but to engage with this uncertain and more volatile world.
  • One productive way to do so would be through issue-based coalitions including different actors, depending on who has an interest and capability.

(C) Reviving SAARC

  • India must craft and reinvigorate regional institutions and processes in the neighbourhood, reviving the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for instance.
  • India could be the primary source of both prosperity and security in the neighbourhood — the subcontinent and the Indian Ocean Region.

Conclusion

  • Economic policy must match political and strategic engagement.
  • Globalisation has been central to India’s growth.
  • A more active regional and international role for India is incompatible with a position on the margins of the global economy.
  • Self-reliance in today’s world and technologies can only be realised as part of the global economy.
  • We should not imitate China’s claims to being a civilisational state and its adoption of victimhood.
  • Instead, we should affirm our own strength and historic national identity.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Hardly the India-China century

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: New Development Bank

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

Context

Deng Xiaoping had told then-Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 that the 21st century would be “India and China’s century”, the current Chinese leadership has no patience for such pablum. They believe — indeed believe they know — that it is destined to be China’s century alone.

The policy of side-stepping contentious issues and encouraging bilateral economic relations

  • There have always been political tensions, both over each country’s territorial claims over land controlled by the other, and China’s alliance with Pakistan, and India’s hospitality to the Dalai Lama.
  • But neither country had allowed these tensions to overwhelm them:
  • China had declared that the border dispute could be left to “future generations” to resolve.
  • India had endorsed the “One China” policy, refusing to support Tibetan secessionism while limiting official reverence for the Dalai Lama to his status as a spiritual leader.
  • India actions and statements have usually been designed not to provoke, but to relegate the border problem to the back burner while enabling trade relations with China (now worth close to $100 billion) to flourish.
  • India made it clear that it was unwilling to join in any United States-led “containment” of China.
  • From negligible levels till 1991, trade with China had grown to become one of India’s largest trading relationships. 
  • India engages with China diplomatically in the BRICS  as well as conducting annual summits of RIC (Russia-India-China).
  • India is an enthusiastic partner in the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank (NDB).
  • However, it has become increasingly apparent that the policy of side-stepping contentious issues and encouraging bilateral economic relations has played into Chinese hands.

Chinese strategy in Galwan

  • In the Galwan clash, the Chinese troops seem to have been engaged in a tactical move to advance their positions along areas of the LAC that it covets, in order to threaten Indian positions and interdict patrols.
  • They are threatening India’s construction of roads, bridges and similar infrastructure on undisputed Indian territory, a belated effort to mirror similar Chinese efforts near the LAC in Tibet.
  • They have established a fixed presence in these areas well beyond China’s own ‘Claim Line’.
  • The objective seems to be to extend Chinese troop presence to the intersection of the Galwan river and the Shyok river, which would make the Galwan Valley off bounds to India.
  • The Chinese have constructed permanent structures in the area of their intrusion and issued statements claiming that sovereignty over the Galwan valley has “always belonged” to China.
  • Consolidation of LOC: China’s strategy seems to be to consolidate the LAC where it wants it, so that an eventual border settlement — that takes these new realities into account — will be in its favour.
  • Implications for India:  In the meantime, border incidents keep the Indians off-balance and demonstrate to the world that India is not capable of challenging China, let alone offering security to other nations.

India’s options

  • India has reinforced its military assets on the LAC to prevent deeper incursions for now.
  • And hopes to press the Chinese to restore the status quo ante through either diplomatic or military means.
  • Chinese and Indian officials are currently engaged in diplomatic and military-to-military dialogue to ease tensions, but de-escalation has been stalled for months.
  • Economic options: India has responded with largely symbolic acts of economic retaliation.
  • India has also reimposed tighter limits on Chinese investment in projects such as railways, motorways, public-sector construction projects, and telecoms.

Limits to India’s economic retaliation

  • India is far too dependent on China for vital imports — such as pharmaceuticals, and even the active ingredients to make them, automotive parts and microchips that many fear it will harm India if it acted too strongly against China.
  • Imports from China have become indispensable for India’s exports to the rest of the world.
  • Various manufacturing inputs, industrial equipment and components, and even some technological know-how come from China; eliminating them could have a seriously negative effect on India’s economic growth.
  • And there are limits to the effectiveness of any Indian retaliation: trade with China may seem substantial from an Indian perspective, but it only represents 3% of China’s exports.
  • Drastically reducing it would not be enough to deter Beijing or cause it to change its behaviour.

Consider the question “State of India-China relationship hardly indicate the 21st Century being the “India and China’s century”. In light of this, examine the factors responsible for this and suggest the way forward for India.”

Conclusion

This range of considerations seems to leave only two strategic options. Playing second fiddle to an assertive China or aligning itself with a broader international coalition against Chinese ambitions. Since the first is indigestible for any democracy, is China de facto pushing India into doing something it has always resisted — allying with the West?

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Understanding the anxieties behind Chinese aggression towards India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quad

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

Context

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a surprise visit to Tibet on July 21, signalling the seriousness with which China continues to take its Himalayan border dispute with India.

Understanding China’s strategic challenges and intensions

  • Demonstration of political confidence through aggression: More than a year after the clash at Galwan Valley, efforts to resolve the border crisis continue to move slowly.
  • The Chinese side has previously failed to complete troop withdrawals and revert to the status quo that the Indian side believed China agreed to.
  • China’s behaviour has been calculated to demonstrate political confidence.
  • Worsening strategic environment for China: Seen from Beijing, the strategic environment for China is beginning to worsen in South and Central Asia.
  • As the US withdraws and the Taliban advances in Afghanistan, China fears the prospect of instability and an emerging haven for terrorism directed against its policies in Xinjiang.
  • Even as China seeks to scale back the debt-laden BRI, such instability may also result in Beijing increasing its already overstretched external commitments — particularly in the security domain.
  • Re-emergence of Quad: China is deeply worried by the re-emergence and strengthening of multilateral opposition to China, and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (or “Quad”) between the US, Japan, Australia and India.
  • For China, this represents a persistent threat not only economically and in foreign policy, but also militarily along its maritime periphery in the South and East China Seas, as well as the Taiwan Strait.
  • As US multilateral cooperation with its partners has increased, Beijing has come to increasingly see itself as beset by threats on all sides.

China’s 2 possible responses to strategic challenges and its implications for India

  • 1) Wolf warrier diplomacy: So far, the response from China’s new class of “wolf warrior” diplomats to this emerging strategic challenge has been to only grow more assertive in rhetoric and behaviour.
  • China’s domestic politics: Response of wolf warrior diplomats may seem perplexing, given that it has served only to alienate other countries and isolate China further.
  •  China’s domestic politics in the lead up to the 20th Congress will mean that its leaders, diplomats and generals will be displaying maximum nationalistic fervour.
  • Implications for India: This may well mean China taking political and policy decisions, which in a normal season they would not because doing so could compromise Beijing’s longstanding diplomatic and strategic goals, including in dealings with India.
  • 2) Moderate approach to improve strategic position: But if instead of aggressive posture, China decided that it was better domestic politics to improve China’s strategic position in Asia amid its competition with Washington, Beijing’s diplomats may yet adopt a more moderate approach, including with India.
  • Implications for India: If stability can be restored to the China-India strategic relationship, this could provide a window for Asia’s two mega-economies to reopen their markets to each other.

Conclusion

Indeed, the choice China makes between these two alternatives will have implications for India and the rest of the world in their dealing with China.


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Why does China consistently beat India on soft power?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Soft-power comparison with China

The article compares India with China in terms of soft-power both countries exert based on the measures produced by Lowy Institute in Australia.

What is soft power?

  • Joseph Nye, who gave us the notion of soft power, suggests that it consists of foreign policy, cultural and political influence.
  • Foreign policy influence comes from the legitimacy and morality of one’s dealings with other countries.
  • Cultural influence is based on others’ respect for one’s culture.
  • Political influence is how much others are inspired by one’s political values.
  • Soft power is difficult to measure.

The Lowy Institute in Australia has produced various measures which correspond roughly to foreign policy influence, cultural influence and political influence.

1) India’s foreign policy influence

  • In diplomatic influence, overall, India ranks sixth and China ranks first among 25 Asian powers.
  • On networks, India nearly matches China in the number of regional embassies it has but is considerably behind in the number of embassies worldwide (176 to 126).
  • Multilaterally, India matches China in terms of regional memberships, but, crucially, its contributions to the UN capital budget are completely dwarfed by Chinese contributions (11.7 per cent to 0.8 per cent of the total).
  • In surveys of foreign policy leadership, ambition, and effectiveness, China ranks first or fourth on four measures while India ranks between fourth and sixth in Asia.

2) Cultural influence

  • Lowy’s overall measure of cultural influence ranks India in fourth place and China in second place in Asia.
  •  Cultural influence is then divided into three elements, of which “cultural projection” and “information flows” are the most important.
  • In cultural projection, India scores better on Google searches abroad of its newspapers and its television/radio broadcasts.
  • India also exports more of its “cultural services” defined as “services aimed at satisfying cultural interests or needs”.
  • China does better on several other indicators.
  • For instance, India has only nine brands in the list of the top 500 global brands whereas China lists 73.
  • On the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, India has 37 while China has 53.
  • Respect for the Indian passport also lags.
  • Chinese citizens can travel visa-free to 74 countries while Indians can only do so to 60.
  • In terms of information flows, in 2016–17, India hosted a mere 24,000 Asian students in tertiary education institutions whereas China hosted 2,25,000.
  • On total tourist arrivals from all over the world, India received 17 million, while China received 63 million.

3) Political influence

  • In 2017 the two were not ranked that far apart in political influence.
  • The governance effectiveness index shows India scoring in the top 43 per cent countries worldwide and ranked 12th and China scoring in the top 32 per cent and ranked 10th.
  • On “political stability and absence of violence/terrorism”, India ranked 21st, and China ranked 15th.

Consider the question “What do you understand by the term soft-power? How would you assess India’s soft-power potential in terms of various parameters?”

Conclusion

Soft-power theorists suggest that the ability to persuade rests on the power of attraction. We in India may think we are more attractive than China. The numbers show otherwise.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

NATO and China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NATO

Mains level: Rise of China in the global agenda

In a communiqué issued following the June 14 summit of its member-states in Brussels, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), for the first time, explicitly described China as a security risk.

Try answering this question:

Q.NATO has been an ideal vehicle for power-projection around the world by the US. Critically comment.

China as a global threat

  • China has never figured in NATO summit declarations before, except for a minor reference in 2019 to the “opportunities and challenges” it presented.
  • But China’s stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to NATO security.
  • China has reacted sharply. It has urged NATO to view China’s development rationally, stop exaggerating various forms of China threat theory.
  • The other two threats identified by the NATO communiqué are on predictable lines: Russia and terrorism.

Focus over two nations

  • There is a significant difference, however, between a strategic focus on countering Russia and casting China as a “systemic challenge”.
  • This goes back to NATO’s founding mandate and subsequent history.

What is NATO, btw?

  • NATO, the planet’s largest — and largest-ever — military alliance, was formed in 1949 by 12 Allied powers to counter the massive Soviet armies stationed in Eastern and Central Europe after Second World War.
  • According to Paul-Henri Spaak, the second Secretary-General of NATO, it was, ironically enough, Joseph Stalin who is the true father of NATO.
  • It was Stalin’s overreach — especially with the Berlin blockade of 1948-49 and the orchestrated coup in Czechoslovakia in 1948 — that convinced a diverse set of war-ravaged European nations to come together under an American security blanket.
  • The collective defence principle enshrined in NATO’s Article V states that “an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies”.
  • The formation of NATO, and its Soviet counterpart, the Warsaw Pact, in 1955, inaugurated the Cold War era.

NATO and its relevance now

  • NATO was completely successful in its mission of protecting the “Euro-Atlantic area” from Soviet expansion and preventing war between the two superpowers.
  • When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, questions were raised about NATO’s relevance and future.
  • Since the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) became irrelevant when the Communist bloc disappeared, one cannot justify the continuation of a military alliance formed to protect Europe from Communist expansion.

Post-Cold War era mandate of NATO

  • Its bureaucracy succeeded in refashioning NATO for the post-Cold war era.
  • The refashioning rested on a paradigm shift — from collective defence, which implied a known adversary, to collective security, which is open-ended, and might require action against any number of threats.
  • The threat included unknown ones and non-state actors.
  • In other words, the elimination of one threat to Europe — communist Russia — did not necessarily mean that security risks to Europe have vanished.

Why dismantle a beneficial arrangement

  • Another factor in the persistence of NATO is that, like all successful alliances, it has been a mutually beneficial arrangement.
  • For Europe, it was an attractive bargain where, in exchange for a marginal loss in autonomy, it enjoyed absolute security at a cheap price.
  • Not having to spend massively on defence allowed Europe to focus on building powerful economies and invest its surplus in a strong welfare state.
  • NATO also offered the added bonus of keeping Germany down — historically a major factor for peace and stability in the region.

An effective American weapon

  • For the US, NATO has been an ideal vehicle for power projection around the world — in places beyond the Euro-Atlantic area, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
  • It views NATO as a tool to ensure the primacy of American interests across the globe.
  • Unsurprisingly, NATO’s post-Cold War role has evolved in tandem with U.S. foreign policy priorities.
  • The NATO doctrine of “enlargement”, which Russia calls “expansion”, is essentially about extending the American military footprint by bringing in new members.
  • That is how NATO’s membership today stands at 30, having added 14 members between 1999 and 2020.

The final truth

  • The Biden administration wants to mobilize NATO member-states behind its larger objective of containing China.
  • NATO’s European member states may view China as an economic rival and adversary, but they are unconvinced by the American line that it is an outright security threat.
  • This line also, in a way, points to the underlying logic behind NATO’s persistence in the post-Soviet world.
  • Unlike the Soviet Union, China offers no alternative vision of society that could make Western capitalism insecure.
  • In fact, its own economy is already deeply integrated into Western markets. China, nonetheless, is perceived as posing a ‘threat’.
  • It remains to be seen how far an ageing Europe would be willing to commit itself to a strategic path that prefers confrontation to collaboration like the US.

Also read:

India & NATO

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The road from Galwan, a year later

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations after Galwan valley clash

What happened in Galwan?

  • The Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in the standoff in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.
    • A sizable number of Chinese Army personnel even transgressed into the Indian side of the de-facto border in several areas including Pangong Tso.
    • The actions on the northern bank of Pangong Tso are not just for territorial gains on land, but enhanced domination of the resource-rich lake.
  • The stand-off at Ladakh’s Galwan Valley has escalated in June 2020 due to the infrastructure projects that India has undertaken in the recent years. India is building a strategic road through the Galwan Valley – close to China – connecting the region to an airstrip.
    • China is opposed to any Indian construction in the area. In 1962, a stand-off in the Galwan area was one of the biggest flashpoints of the 1962 war.
  • The border, or Line of Actual Control, is not demarcated, and China and India have differing ideas of where it should be located, leading to regular border “transgressions.” Often these don’t escalate tensions; a serious border standoff like the current one is less frequent, though this is the fourth since 2013.
    • Both countries’ troops have patrolled this region for decades, as the contested 2,200-mile border is a long-standing subject of competing claims and tensions, including a brief war in 1962.
  • Reasons: The violent clash happened when the Chinese side departed from the consensus to respect the LAC and attempted to unilaterally change the status quo.
    • It is part of China’s ‘nibble and negotiate policy’. Their aim is to ensure that India does not build infrastructure along the LAC. It is their way of attaining a political goal with military might, while gaining more territory in the process.

The current situation in Ladakh

  •  With a continued deployment of 50,000-60,000 soldiers, the Indian Army has been able to hold the line to prevent any further ingress by the PLA.
  • There has been no progress in talks after the disengagement at Pangong lake and Kailash range in February.
  • Outside of Ladakh, the Indian Army remains in an alert mode all along the LAC to prevent any Chinese misadventure but the bigger change has been its reorientation of certain forces from Pakistan border towards the China border.
  • The Ladakh crisis has also exposed India’s military weakness to tackle a collusive threat from China and Pakistan.

External balancing

  • To deal with the threat of combined China and Pakistan, the Government opened backchannel talks with Pakistan which led to the reiteration of the ceasefire on the Line of Control.
  • The Ladakh crisis has also led the Government to relook external partnerships, particularly with the United States.
  • The U.S. military officials have earlier spoken of the intelligence and logistics support provided to the Indian forces in Ladakh.
  • The military importance of the Quad remains moot, with India reportedly refusing to do joint naval patrolling with the U.S. in the South China Sea, the two treaty allies of the U.S., Japan and Australia, also refused.

Challenges for India

  • India attempts to counter the growing Chinese influence in the neighbourhood have faltered, exacerbated by the mishandling of the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • With the widening power gap between New Delhi and Beijing, the challenge is as much economic as it is geopolitical.
  • Despite the border crisis and the Indian restrictions on Chinese technology companies, China displaced the U.S. to be India’s biggest trade partner in 2020-21, up to nearly 13% of India’s total trade compared to 10.4% a year ago.
  • For the past few decades, Indian planners operated on the premise that their diplomats will be able to manage the Chinese problem without it developing into a full-blown military crisis.
  • Militarily, Chinese incursions in Ladakh have shown that the idea of deterrence has failed.
  • India has learnt that it can no longer have simultaneous competition and cooperation with China.
  • A new reset in bilateral ties, àla the early 1990s, is difficult because China is now in a different league, competing with the U.S.

Conclusion

The events of the past one year have significantly altered India’s thinking towards China. The relationship is at the crossroads now. The choices made will have a significant impact on the future of global geopolitics.

B2BASICS

Line of Actual Control

  • Demarcation Line: The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
  • LAC is different from the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan:
    • The LoC emerged from the 1948 ceasefire line negotiated by the United Nations (UN) after the Kashmir War.
    • It was designated as the LoC in 1972, following the Shimla Agreement between the two countries. It is delineated on a map signed by the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of both armies and has the international sanctity of a legal agreement.
    • The LAC, in contrast, is only a concept – it is not agreed upon by the two countries, neither delineated on a map or demarcated on the ground.
  • Length of the LAC: India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Rare Earth Metals at the heart of China-US rivalry

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rare earth elements

Mains level: US-China Rivalry

Beijing’s dominance in rare earth minerals, the key to the future of manufacturing, is a cause for concern for the West.

Answer this question from CSP 2011 in the comment box:

Q.What is the difference between a CFL and an LED lamp? 

  1. To produce light, a CFL uses mercury vapor and phosphor while an LED lamp uses semi-conductor material.
    2. The average life span of a CFL is much longer than that of an LED lamp
    3. A CFL is less energy-efficient as compared to an LED lamp.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) Only 1

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

What are Rare Earth Metals?

  • The rare earth elements (REE) are a set of seventeen metallic elements. These include the fifteen lanthanides on the periodic table plus scandium and yttrium.
  • Rare earth elements are an essential part of many high-tech devices.
  • They have a wide range of applications, especially high-tech consumer products, such as cellular telephones, computer hard drives, electric and hybrid vehicles, and flat-screen monitors and televisions.
  • Significant defense applications include electronic displays, guidance systems, lasers, and radar and sonar systems.
  • Rare earth minerals, with names like neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium, are crucial to the manufacture of magnets used in industries of the future, such as wind turbines and electric cars.

Curbing dependence on China

  • At a time of frequent geopolitical friction among those three powers, Washington and Brussels want to avoid this scenario.
  • They are investing in the market for 17 minerals with unique properties that today are largely extracted and refined in China.
  • The expected exponential growth in demand for minerals that are linked to clean energy is putting more pressure on US and Europe to take a closer look.
  • Amid the transition to green energy, in which rare earth minerals are sure to play a role, China’s market dominance is enough to sound an alarm in western capitals.

Why such a move?

  • In 2019, the U.S. imported 80% of its rare earth minerals from China.
  • The EU gets 98% of its supply from China.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Pushback against China more likely as Quad gains momentum

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quad

Mains level: Paper 2- Pushback against China

The article discusses the future pushback against China in South Asia and Indo-Pacific as Quad gains more momentum. 

Context

Recently, the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Li Jiming, warned Dhaka that there will be “substantial damage” in bilateral ties between China and Bangladesh if the latter joins the Quad.

Bangladesh’s reaction

  • Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen promptly and publicly challenged the Chinese envoy’s statement, underlining categorically that Dhaka pursues an independent foreign policy. 
  • That China’s remarks would reverberate far beyond South Asia was expected and perhaps intended.
  • The spokesperson of U.S. State Department remarked, “What we would say is that we respect Bangladesh’s sovereignty and we respect Bangladesh’s right to make foreign policy decisions for itself.”

Implications for South Asia and Info-Pacific

  • With its message to Bangladesh, Beijing was laying down a marker that nations should desist from engaging with the Quad.
  • This episode captures the emerging fault lines in South Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific.
  • For all its attempts to play down the relevance of the Quad, Beijing realises that the grouping, with all its weaknesses, is emerging as a reality and there is little it can do to prevent that.
  • And so, it is agitated about Quad’s future role and its potential success in offering the regional states an alternative to its own strong-arm tactics.

About Quad’s agenda

  • The Quad member states are figuring out a cohesive agenda amongst themselves and there are no plans for an expansion.
  • There is a desire to work with like-minded nations but that can only happen if the four members of the Quad can build a credible platform first.
  • Quad has not asked any country to join and no one has shown an interest.
  • But China wants to ensure that after failing in its initial attempt to prevent the Quad from gaining any traction.
  • Its message is well understood by other states who may harbour any desire of working closely with the Quad members.

Way forward

  • Beijing has failed to prevent nations from the West to the East from coming out with their Indo-Pacific strategies.
  • It has failed to prevent the operationalisation of the Quad, and now it might be worried about other nations in the region thinking of engaging with the Quad more proactively.
  • Even Bangladesh is planning to come out with its own Indo-Pacific strategy and Beijing has now warned Dhaka that a close cooperation with the Quad should not be part of the policy mix.
  •  As the Quad gains more momentum and the churn in the waters of the Indo-Pacific leads to new countervailing coalitions against China, Beijing’s belligerence can only be expected to grow.

Conclusion

Beijing is more likely to demand clear-cut foreign policy choices from its regional interlocutors, as its warning to Bangladesh underscores. But as Dhaka’s robust response makes it clear, states are more likely to push back than become subservient to Chinese largesse.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The costs of relying on China to become more apparent to India’s neighbours

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- China's wolf warrior foreign policy and its implications for India's neighbours

The article explains the implications of China’s assertive foreign policy for India’s neighbours.

Chinese warning to Bangladesh

  • The Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh warned Bangladesh against joining the Quad and added that it will risk “significant damage” to its relationship with Beijing if it warms up to the Quad.
  • This came as a surprise as China was warning Bangladesh against joining a club that has no plans to invite new members, let alone Bangladesh.
  • China always used tough language when it came to issues of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • The aggressive style now covers a much broader range of issues.
  • Beijing is conscious that Bangladesh’s impressive economic performance in recent years as well as its location at the top of the Bay of Bengal littoral lends a new strategic salience to Bangladesh.
  • China notes India’s growing diplomatic investment in developing a strategic partnership with Bangladesh.
  • China is also not blind to the emerging interest in US and Japan to expand cooperation with Dhaka.
  • Bangladesh, which supports China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is open to similar infrastructure cooperation with the US, Japan and India.

China’s wolf worrier diplomacy

  • The new wolf warrior diplomacy confronts head-on any criticism of China in the public sphere.
  • India has been at the receiving end of this policy for a while — especially during the recent crises of Doklam and Ladakh.
  • But India’s South Asian neighbours, all of whom enjoy good relations with China, are only now getting a taste of Beijing’s new diplomatic medicine.
  • Chinese Ambassador’s public remarks about the Quad were about telling Bangladesh to resist any Indo-Pacific temptation.
  • Pre-emption is very much part of Beijing’s strategic culture.

What such assertive diplomacy mean for South Asia

  • Delhi has learnt after long that too much diplomatic interference in the Subcontinent has tended to undermine the pursuit of India’s regional objectives.
  • China, as the world’s newest superpower, probably bets that its substantive leverages — including economic, diplomatic, and military — will limit the costs while deterring smaller nations from crossing the markers that it lays down.
  • South Asian elites have always seethed at India meddling in their internal affairs; they have held up China’s non-interventionist policy as a welcome alternative.
  • The controversy in Bangladesh over China’s remark on joining Quad should help update their past images of Beijing
  • India is now more circumspect than before about interventions in the region.
  • It recognises that avoiding knee-jerk interventions is a sensible policy.
  • Our neighbours have always complained about India’s inefficiency in implementing economic projects and contrasted this with China’s speed and purposefulness.
  • But they are also discovering the flip side of Chinese economic efficiency — the capacity to set and implement terms of cooperation that are not always in favour of the host nation.
  • All the regimes in the region have had access to different sections of the Indian elite and some capacity to shape the discourse on neighbourhood policies.
  • They have no political recourse at all in China’s closed political system.

Consider the question “As Beijing becomes ever more assertive in South Asia, the costs of relying on China are likely to become more apparent to South Asia’s smaller nations. Comment.”

Conclusion

Until now, Chinese support against India seemed free of cost. As Beijing becomes ever more assertive in South Asia, the costs of relying on China are likely to become more apparent.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Evaluate the Ladakh crisis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Managing the strategic competition with China

The article highlights the need for a critical assessment of the stand-off with China last year and offers key lessons in managing the strategic competition with China.

Year after stand-off

  • After over a year, the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh shows no signs of resolution.
  • More broadly, the India-China bilateral relationship has ruptured.
  • Reversing a long-held policy, India will no longer overlook the problematic border dispute for the sake of a potentially lucrative wider relationship.
  • Even if disengagement continues, the relationship will remain vulnerable to destabilising disruptions.
  • Therefore, the Ladakh crisis offers India three key lessons in managing the intensifying strategic competition with China.

Three key lessons

1) Military strategy based on denial are more useful

  •  Military strategies based on denial are more useful than strategies based on punishment.
  •  The Indian military’s standing doctrine calls for deterring adversaries with the threat of massive punitive retaliation for any aggression, capturing enemy territory as bargaining leverage in post-war talks.
  • But this did not deter China from launching unprecedented incursions in May 2020.
  • In contrast, the Indian military’s high-water mark in the crisis was an act of denial — its occupation of the heights on the Kailash Range on its side of the LAC in late August.
  • This action served to deny that key terrain to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and gave the Indian Army a stronger defensive position.
  • A doctrinal focus on denial will give the Indian military greater capacity to thwart future land grabs across the LAC.
  • Over time, improved denial capabilities may allow India to reduce the resource drain of the increased militarisation of the LAC.

2) Political cost matters more

  • China is more likely to be deterred or coerced with the threat of political costs, rather than material costs.
  • The material burden of the crisis would not disrupt its existing priorities.
  • In contrast, India successfully raised the risks of the crisis for China through its threat of a political rupture, not military punishment.
  • A permanently hostile India or an accidental escalation to conflict were risks that China, having achieved its tactical goals in the crisis, assessed were an unnecessary additional burden.
  • The corollary lesson is that individual powers, even large powers such as India, will probably struggle to shift Beijing’s calculus alone.
  • Against the rising behemoth, only coordinated or collective action is likely to be effective.

3) India should accept more risk on LAC

  • India should consider accepting more risk on the LAC in exchange for long-term leverage and influence in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • From the perspective of long-term strategic competition, the future of the Indian Ocean Region is more consequential and more uncertain than the Himalayan frontier.
  • At the land border, the difficult terrain and more even balance of military force means that each side could only eke out minor, strategically modest gains at best.
  • In contrast, India has traditionally been the dominant power in the Indian Ocean Region and stands to cede significant political influence and security if it fails to answer the rapid expansion of Chinese military power.

Conclusion

As these three lessons show, the future of the strategic competition is not yet written. If India’s leaders honestly and critically evaluate the crisis, it may yet help to actually brace India’s long-term position against China.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Sanctions on China over Uighurs: Cause & Effect

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Uighurs

Mains level: Uighur's genocide by PRC

In a coordinated move, many countries imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang province.

The Uighurs

  • Xinjiang has a large number of Uighurs, Muslims of Turkic descent.
  • Over the past few decades, more and more Han Chinese has settled in Xinjiang, which saw violent clashes between them and the Uighurs.

The sanctions have come after a meeting between the US and Chinese officials in Alaska last week, in what Washington described as “tough and direct talks”.

This was a “Tu-Tu, Mai-Mai” conservation if you had seen the news!

Sanctions on China

  • The European Union, the US, Britain, and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese Officials.
  • Australia and New Zealand issued a joint statement welcoming the Western action, adding they were concerned about reports of abuses from Xinjiang.
  • China on the other hand has consistently denied all reports of atrocities against Uighurs, maintaining it is only “deradicalising” elements of its population in the interests of security.

Retaliation by China

  • Those sanctioned by China include five Members of the European Parliament and the Political and Security Committee, the EU’s main foreign policy decision-making body, among others.
  • China also summoned the EU ambassador and the UK ambassador to lodge “solemn protests”.

Why these sanctions are crucial?

  • This is the first time the EU has imposed sanctions on China since an arms embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. That is still in place.
  • Although the EU sanctions are not very damaging, they show a hardening of stance against its largest trading partner.
  • Also significant is that the Western powers moved together, in what is being seen as a result of the US push to deal with China along with its allies.

Nations that claim to be defenders of the faith or self-proclaimed Caliphates are silent on the persecution of Uighurs! They perceived the abrogation of Art. 370 as a doomsday event! This is height of hypocrisy!

Reasons behind: Crackdown on Uighurs

  • China is accused of putting over a million people in internment camps to “de-Muslimise” them and make them integrate better in the Communist country.
  • Allegations are that these people have been forced to leave behind their occupations, properties and families, to stay at the camps.
  • Survivors, human rights organisations, and governments of other countries have alleged physical, psychological and sexual torture.
  • People can be sent to the camps for showing any signs of “extremism” — sporting beards, fasting during Ramzan, dressing differently from the majority, sending Eid greetings, praying “too often” etc.

The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture because it seeks to turn other ideas – uncertainty, progress, change – into crimes.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Mounting counter challenge to China through Quad

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India's nuanced approach to Quad

The article discusses the outcomes of the recently concluded first Quad Summit in the context of India.

Message to China after Quad summit

  • The first Learders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework was held on March 12.
  • This Summit conveyed a three-pronged message to China:
  • 1) Under the new U.S. President, “America is back” in terms of its desire to play a leading role in other regions.
  • 2) It views China as its primary challenger for that leadership.
  • 3) The Quad partnership is ready to mount a counter-challenge, albeit in “soft-power” terms at present, in order to do so.
  • For both Japan and Australia the outcomes of the summit, both in terms of the “3C’s”working groups established on COVID-19 vaccines, Climate Change and Critical Technology and in terms of this messaging to the “4th C” (China) are very welcome.

4 Outcomes of Quad Summit for India

  • For India the outcomes of the Quad Summit need more nuanced analysis.

1) COVID-19 Vaccine

  • India is not only the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines (by number of doses produced, it has already exported 58 million doses to nearly 71 countries.
  • It is also manufacturing a billion doses for South East Asia (under the Quad), over and above its current international commitments.
  • India has also planned to vaccinate 300 million people as originally planned by September.
  • All this comes down to total 1.8 billion doses which will require a major ramp up in capacity and funding, and will bear testimony to the power of Quad cooperation, if realised.
  • However, the effort could have been made much easier had India’s Quad partners also announced dropping their opposition to India’s plea at the World Trade Organization.
  • India had filed the plea along with South Africa in October 2020, seeking waiver from certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19.

2) Climate change

  • On climate change, India has welcomed the return of the U.S. to the Paris accord.
  • Mr. Biden has promised to restart the U.S.’s funding of the global Green Climate Fund, which Mr. Trump ended.
  • India still awaits a large part of the $1.4 billion commitment by the U.S. to finance solar technology in 2016.
  • Mr. Biden might also consider joining the International Solar Alliance, which the other Quad members are a part of, but the U.S.

3) Critical technology

  • India will welcome any assistance in reducing its dependence on Chinese telecommunication equipment and in finding new sources of rare-earth minerals.
  • India would oppose Quad partners weighing in on international rule-making on the digital economy, or data localisation.
  • Such a move had led New Delhi to walk out of the Japan-led “Osaka track declaration” at the G-20 in 2019.

4) Dealing with China

  • On this issue, it is still unclear how India can go on the Quad’s intended outcomes.
  • While India shares the deep concerns and the tough messaging set out by the Quad on China, especially after the year-long stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the killings at Galwan that India has faced, it has demurred from any non-bilateral statement on it.
  • India is the only Quad member not a part of the military alliance that binds the other members.
  • India is also the only Quad country with a land boundary with China.
  • And it is the only Quad country which lives in a neighbourhood where China has made deep inroads.
  • Indian officials are still engaged in LAC disengagement talks and have a long way to go to de-escalation or status quo ante.

3 long term impacts on strategic planning

  • The violence at the LAC has also left three long-term impacts on Indian strategic planning:
  • First, the government must now expend more resources, troops, infrastructure funds to the LAC and ensure no recurrence of the People’s Liberation Army April 2020 incursions.
  • Second, India’s most potent territorial threat will not be from either China or Pakistan, but from both i.e. “two-front situation”.
  • Third, that India’s continental threat perception will need to be prioritised against any maritime commitments the Quad may claim, especially further afield in the Pacific Ocean.

Consider the question “The Quad’s ideology of a “diamond of democracies” can only succeed if it does not insist on exclusivity in India’s strategic calculations given that India shares a special place among the Quad members when it comes to its relationship with China. Comment”

Conclusion

Despite last week’s Quad Summit, India’s choices for its Quad strategy will continue to be guided as much by its location on land as it is by its close friendships with fellow democracies.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

A giant leap forward for the Quad

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 3- First Quad summit and its significance

The first-ever Quad summit is an important milestone in the geopolitics of the region. The article highlights its significance.

Significance of the first Quad summit

  • The maiden Quadrilateral Security Dialogue summit of the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. on March 12 was a defining moment in Asian geopolitics.
  • That it was a meeting at the highest political level, occasioned a productive dialogue, and concluded with a substantive joint statement is indicative of its immediate significance.
  • If it leads to tangible action and visible cooperation, it will impact the whole region.

Brief background of the Quad

  • The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 triggered cooperation among the navies and governments of the Quad powers.
  • They sought to forge diplomatic cooperation on regional issues in 2006-08.
  • But gave up mainly because China objected to it and the hostility to China was not yet a potent enough glue.
  • This began to change in 2017 when Beijing’s behaviour turned hostile, climaxing in multiple challenges in 2020.
  • This time, U.S. President Joe Biden moved swiftly to host a virtual summit, drawing immediate response from the other three leaders.

5 highlights of the summit

  • A more sophisticated approach is being invented, with enhanced emphasis by the U.S. on carrying its allies and strategic partners together.
  •  The summit’s outcome, therefore, merits close attention for at least five reasons.

1) Compromise over vision of Indo-Pacific

  • Past debates over diverse, even differing, visions of the Indo-Pacific are over.
  • The joint statement struck a neat compromise:
  • To please the U.S. and Japan, it refers to a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, but in the very next sentence it offers an elaboration – “free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion” – that amply satisfy India and Australia.

2) Alignment of approach towards China

  • The summit leaders have secured an adequate alignment of their approaches towards China.
  • Senior officials gave sufficient hints on this score, reinforced by phrases such as “security challenges” and “the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas” in the joint statement.
  • Instead of unidimensional antagonism, the Quad members have preferred a smart blend of competition, cooperation and confrontation.

3) Quad’s commitment development and well being of the region

  • The Quad has placed a premium on winning the battle for the hearts and minds of people in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • This explains the special initiative to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every person in need in the region from the western Pacific to eastern Africa.

4) Working groups

  • The establishment of three working groups on vaccine partnership; climate change; and critical and emerging technologies and their new standards, innovation and supply chains is a welcome step.
  • All this should get the four national establishments into serious policy coordination and action mode, creating new capacities.
  • The careful choice of themes reflects a deep understanding of the long-term challenge posed by China and has global implications.

5) Quad working together in future

  • The March 12 summit will not be a one-off.
  • The leaders have agreed to meet in-person later this year, possibly at an international event within the region.
  • Foreign ministers will gather at least once a year; other relevant officials, more often.
  • Thus, will grow the habits of the Quad working together for a common vision and with agreed modalities for cooperation.

How ASEAN and China will react

  • The summit has been watched closely by the ASEAN capitals. A few of them may express cautious welcome.
  • Beijing seems rattled but resigned to the Quad’s new momentum.
  • The Chinese see it in negative terms, targeting New Delhi in particular.

Consider the question “With the first-ever summit, the Quad is moving towards a strong coalition. In light of this, examine the challenges India faces as it deepes its engagement in the grouping.” 

Conclusion

The summit and ‘The Spirit of the Quad’ – the inspired title of the joint statement – represented a giant leap forward. Now is the time to back political commitment with a strong mix of resolve, energy, stamina and the fresh ideas of stakeholders and experts outside of government to fulfil the promise of the Quad.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Quad Summit

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quad

Mains level: Paper 2- Relevance of the Quad

As India deepens its engagement with the Quad, it must consider several aspects related to such engagement. The article deals with this issue.

Background of India’s engagement with Quad

  • India’s engagement with the Quad goes back to China’s expanding footprint in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region over the last few years.
  • China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative rang alarm bells in India as the projects were viewed as encroachments into India’s strategic space.
  • The U.S.’s focus on the west Pacific due to aggressive Chinese maritime activity gradually pulled India into the ambit of the Indo-Pacific that views the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean as an integrated geopolitical space.
  • Besides the U.S. navy, India expanded its maritime ties with other regional states, the most high-profile of the interactions being the Quad.

Core structural problems with Quad

  • The Quad has a core structural problem as well in that it pivots around the U.S.
  • The Quad riles China as a hostile grouping, but hardly serves the security interests of its members.
  • The U.S. views China’s rise as a threat to the world order it has led since the Second World War.
  • Despite rhetoric relating to the promotion of a ‘rules-based’ world order, the Quad neither shares a strategic vision nor is it animated by a shared agenda.
  • This is obvious not only from its inability to deter China in the west Pacific, but also by its members’ anxiety to maintain close ties with China.

Implications for India

  • By affiliating with the U.S.-led maritime coalition, India ignored the principal areas of its security concerns which is an undemarcated 3,500-km land border with China.
  • From April 2020, Indian and Chinese forces had their latest border face-off in Ladakh, abruptly ending a long period of productive relations.
  • In retrospect, this confrontation appears to be China’s sharp response to the steady shift in India’s regional posture in favour of an alignment with the U.S. and its allies against China.
  • The stand-off at Ladakh has been a bitter experience for India: it has affirmed the limits of India-U.S. security ties, the folly of Indian involvement in the Quad.
  • The stand-off has also underscored need to focus national attention and resources in areas of abiding interest for India — the border, the neighbours and the Indian Ocean.

Lessons for India

  • Ladakh also offers some valuable lessons for India.
  • One, the rebuilding of ties with China will have to be a priority concern.
  • India need to dilute its focus on the Indo-Pacific and the Quad and accept that the borders and the Indian Ocean are where its crucial interests lie.
  • Two, the Ladakh experience has highlighted certain deficiencies at home:
  • It hardly needs reiteration that India’s capacities can only be built by a united people committed to the national cause.
  • Finally, foreign policy cannot be a part-time concern of the national leadership; in terms of priority and attention, it should be on a par with domestic affairs.

Consider the question “Examine the factors that India should consider as it seeks to deepen its engagement in the Quad.”

Conclusion

As the global scenario gets more complex and India’s ambitions increase, a cohesive strategic vision would give substance and drive to India’s pursuit of its interests over the long term.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China-Taiwan conflict

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India's relations with Taiwan

The article underscores the centrality of Taiwan in the realms of semiconductor production and how that dominant spills over in geopolitics.

Silicon shield of Taiwan

  • Taiwan’s security situation has been worsening amidst mounting economic, political and military pressure from China.
  • Any Chinese attack on Taiwan that disrupts the flow of semiconductors would produce significant challenges not only for the US but also China that relies on semiconductor supplies from Taiwan.
  • That factor appears to be preventing the crisis from boiling over into a full-scale war that could draw the US and Japan into it.
  •  It is Taiwan’s so-called “silicon shield”.

Taiwan’s dominance in semiconductor industry

  • Taiwan is the world’s leading producer of semiconductors and other electronic components.
  • The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has more than 55 per cent of the global market share in the production of high-end custom-made chips.
  • Of the two rival companies that have survived, US-based Intel is in trouble and Korea’s Samsung has challenges of its own.
  •  There will be no generation of data without the semiconductors.
  • It might be more accurate to say that “semiconductors are the new oil” and their production is increasingly dominated by Taiwan and the TMSC.

Geopolitics over Taiwan

  • As its economic heft and political salience rose in the 21st century, China has ratcheted up pressure on countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
  • China has also compelled international organisations to push Taiwan out of their activities, even when Taiwan had much to contribute.
  • Amidst the deterioration of US-China relations in recent years, President Donald Trump was far more supportive of Taiwan than his recent predecessors.
  • The Biden team has also signalled continuity with Trump’s Taiwan policies.
  • All indications are that Washington will continue to seek some technological decoupling and diversification of sensitive supplies away from China.
  • Taiwan will inevitably be the key element in the American quest for resilient supply chains in the digital domain.

Opportunity for India

  • Taiwan’s position as a semiconductor superpower opens the door for more intensive strategic-economic cooperation between Delhi and Taipei.
  • Part of the problem is that India’s strategic community continues to view Taiwan as an adjunct to India’s “One-China policy”.
  • India’s policy oscillates between keeping needless distance with Taipei when ties with Beijing are warm and remembering it when Sino-Indian ties enter a freeze.
  • This changed in the early 1990s, when it began to engage with Taiwan, but the policy remained a restricted one.
  • In the last few years, though, there has been a steady expansion of bilateral engagement.
  • Trade has increased from about $1 billion in 2001 to about $7 billion in 2018.
  • India has made a special effort to woo Taiwanese companies that are moving some of their production away from China.
  • India is yet to tap into the full range of commercial and technological opportunities possibilities with Taiwan.
  • This is particularly true of semiconductor production.

Way forward

  • Delhi must begin to deal with Taiwan as a weighty entity in its own right that offers so much to advance India’s prosperity.
  • Delhi does not have to discard its “One-China policy” to recognise that Taiwan is once again becoming the lightning rod in US-China tensions.

Consider the question “India needs to explore the opportunities in relationship with Taiwan even as it pursues and sticks to its One China policy. Comment.

Conclusion

As Taiwan becomes the world’s most dangerous flashpoint, the geopolitical consequences for Asia are real. Although Delhi has embraced the Indo-Pacific maritime construct, it is yet to come to terms with Taiwan’s critical role in shaping the strategic future of Asia’s waters.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

New disengagement agreement in eastern Ladakh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Critical passes and valleys along the international borders

Mains level: India-China border tensions

In the first major breakthrough in talks China’s Defence Ministry that PLA and Indian troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Tso began synchronized and organized disengagement.

This newscard presents a holistic report on the ground situation of Sino-India border disputes in Ladakh.

Also, try this PYQ from CSP 2020:

Q.Siachen Glacier is situated to the

(a) East of Aksai Chin

(b) East of Leh

(c)North of Gilgit

(d) North of Nubra Valley

New plan in eastern Ladakh

  • As of now, the disengagement process seems restricted to the north and south banks of Pangong Tso.
  • The process has started with the pulling back of certain columns of tanks from the south bank region by both sides.
  • At the moment, there is no pullback of troops from the friction points and the heights they are positioned on.
  • That will happen in a phased and verified manner.

Disengagement from Pangong Tso

  • China will pull its troops on the north bank towards the east of Finger 8.
  • Similarly, India will also position its forces at its permanent base near Finger 3.
  • Similar action will be taken by both the parties in the south bank area as well.
  • Both sides have also agreed that the area between Finger 3 and Finger 8 will become a no-patrolling zone temporarily, till both sides reach an agreement through military and diplomatic discussions to restore patrolling.
  • Further, all the construction done by both sides on the north and south banks of the lake since April 2020 will be removed.

Why is this area important?

  • The north and south banks of Pangong Tso are two of the most significant and sensitive regions when it comes to the current standoff that began in May 2020.
  • What makes the areas around the shores of the lake so sensitive and important is that clashes here marked the beginning of the standoff.
  • It is one of the areas where the Chinese troops had come around 8 km deep west of India’s perception of the Line of Actual Control.
  • China had positioned its troops on the ridgeline connecting Fingers 3 and 4, while according to India the LAC passes through Finger 8.

Take a glimpse of all friction points along Indian borders:

India is at an advantage

  • Further, it is in the south bank of the lake that Indian forces in an action in late August had gained a strategic advantage by occupying certain peaks, outwitting the Chinese.
  • Indian troops had positioned themselves on heights of Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Gurung Hill, Rezang La and Rechin La, which were unoccupied by either side earlier.
  • Since then, the Chinese side had been particularly sensitive as these positions allowed India to not only dominate Spanggur Gap.
  • It is a two-km wide valley that can be used to launch an offensive, as China had done in 1962, they also allow India a direct view of China’s Moldo Garrison.

Why has this taken so long?

  • Since September, China has insisted that India first pull its troops back from the south bank of Pangong Tso, and the Chushul sub-sector.
  • However, India has been demanding that any disengagement process should include the entire region, and troops should go back to their April 2020 positions.
  • However, it seems that for now, both sides have agreed to first disengage from the Pangong Tso area only.

Principles of disengagement

In military and diplomatic discussions with China India expects a solution to the issue on the basis of three principles:

  1. LAC should be accepted and respected by both parties.
  2. Neither party should attempt to change the status quo unilaterally.
  3. All agreements should be fully adhered to by both parties.

Does this mean that the standoff is resolved?

  • There are still some outstanding issues that remain regarding deployment and patrolling on LAC.
  • The Pangong Tso region is just one of the friction areas. There are other friction points, all north of the Pangong Tso, where the troops have been face-to-face since last year.
  • The situation in Depsang Plains continues to be a concern.
  • Both sides agree that complete disengagement under bilateral agreements and protocols should be done as soon as possible.
  • After the talks so far, China is also aware of our resolve to protect the sovereignty of the country.

Need for confidence building

  • Two of the main stumbling blocks in finding a permanent resolution are lack of trust and no clarity on intent.
  • Any permanent resolution will include first, disengagement of troops from the frontlines from all friction points.
  • Then de-escalation will entail sending the troops from the depth areas to their original bases.
  • Both sides have around 50,000 troops in the region, along with additional tanks, artillery and air defence assets.

Conclusion

  • A resolution has to include sending these troops and military equipment where they came from on both sides.
  • But neither side had been willing to take the first step to reduce their troop or military strength, as it does not trust the other side.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Taking the long view with China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Foreign policy challenges India faces

The article explains the various choices India faces in the geopolitical landscape shaped by emergence of two Asian giants.

New challenges and hard choices on geopolitical front

  • As it moves to becoming the third largest economy in the world, India needs to have a clear-eyed world view and strategy as it makes hard choices.
  • It needs to reject the developing country regional mindset that has shaped India’s  national aims and foreign policy.
  • We have a “special and privileged strategic partnership” with Russia which provides more than three-quarter of India’s military equipment and a “comprehensive global strategic partnership” with the U.S.
  • India’s relationship with the U.S.-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), where the others are military allies, has rightly been cautious, as U.S. President Joe Biden sees China as a ‘strategic competitor’ rather than a ‘strategic rival’.
  • Realism dictates that India does not need to compromise on its strategic autonomy.
  • India faces two sides of the China conundrum: Defining engagement with its neighbour which is consolidating an expanding BRI while remaining involved with the strategic, security and technological concerns of the U.S.

China’s dominance in financial sphere

  • In the financial sphere, there is the real possibility of the Chinese renminbi becoming a global reserve currency or e-yuan becoming the digital payments currency.
  • China is the world’s largest trading economy.
  • It could soon become the world’s largest economy.
  • China has stitched together an investment agreement with the EU and with most of Asia.
  • Relative attractiveness will determine when the dollar goes the way of the sterling and the guilder.
  • China, facing technological sanctions from the U.S., may well put in the hard work to make this happen soon.

China: Partner, competitor, and economic rival

  • Some form of the EU’s China policy of seeing the emerging superpower as a partner, competitor, and economic rival depending on the policy area in question is going to be the global norm. 
  • This broad perspective is also reflected in India’s participation in both the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, designed to resist the spread of Western interests, and in the U.S.-led Quad, with its anti-China stance.
  • Within the United Nations, India’s interests have greater congruence with China’s interests rather than the U.S.’s and the EU’s.
  • Sharing the COVID-19 vaccine with other countries distinguishes India, and China, from the rest.

India’s engagement with the U.S.

  • The congruence between India and the U.S. lies in the U.S.’s declared strategic objective of promoting an integrated economic development model in the Indo-Pacific as a credible alternative to the BRI, but with a caveat.
  • Instead of an alternate development model, India should move the Quad towards supplementing the infrastructure push of the BRI in line with other strategic concerns in the region.
  • For example, developing their scientific, technological capacity and digital economy, based on India’s digital stack and financial resources of other Quad members, will resonate with Asia and Africa.

India’s role in global governance

  • Another area where India can play a ‘bridging role’ is global governance.
  • President Xi Jinping’s “community with shared future for mankind”, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “climate justice” and asking how long India will be excluded from the UN Security Council, challenge the frame of the liberal order without providing specific alternatives.
  • With respect to digital data, India has recently expressed that there must be reciprocity in data sharing, and this is the kind of ‘big idea’ for sharing prosperity that will gain traction with other countries.

India’s growing influence

  • India’s recent policies are gaining influence at the expense of China and the West, and both know this trend will accelerate.
  • The steps to a $5 trillion economy, shift to indigenous capital military equipment, and a new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy underline impact, capacity and interests.
  • ASEAN remains keen India re-join its trade pact to balance China.
  • It is being recognised that India’s software development prowess could shape a sustainable post-industrial state different to the U.S. and China model.

Consider the question “Examine how India’s foreing policy priorities and its role in global governance is shaped by China’s rise.”

Conclusion

As in the historical past, Asia is big enough for both Asian giants to have complementary roles, share prosperity and be independent of each other and of the West.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

BNO Visas for Hong Kong residents

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BNO visa

Mains level: Hong-Kong/ Taiwan Issue

Hong Kong residents can apply for a new visa offering them an opportunity to become British citizens after Beijing’s imposition of a national security law last year.

What is the news?

  • The move comes as China and Hong Kong have said they will no longer recognise the British National Overseas (BNO) passport as a valid travel document from Sunday, January 31.
  • Britain and China have been arguing for months about what London and Washington say is an attempt to silence dissent in Hong Kong after pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020.

What is the British move for citizenship?

  • The scheme, which was first announced last year, allows those with BNO status to live, study and work in Britain for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
  • BNO is a special status created under British law in 1987that specifically relates to Hong Kong.
  • Britain says it is fulfilling a historic and moral commitment to Hong Kong people after Beijing imposed the security law on the semi-autonomous city.
  • Britain says breaches the terms of agreements under which the colony was handed back to China in 1997.
  • The U.K. government forecasts the new visa could attract more than 300,000 people and their dependants to Britain.

Chinese stance on the move

  • China says the West’s views on its actions over Hong Kong are clouded by misinformation and an imperial handover.
  • Beijing also said that it would no longer be recognising BN(O) passports, saying that the citizenship offer “seriously infringed” on China’s sovereignty.
  • It is unclear, however, how this could deter Hong Kongers from leaving since city residents are usually known to use Hong Kong passports while leaving for another country.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Foreign Minister suggests way forward for India-China ties

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Way ahead for India-China relations

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has given useful insight on the future of India-China ties amid heating border tensions and has suggested the best way forward.

Statements made by EAM are major breakthrough in itself. They are the most logical and amply reflect his perfect statesmanship.

We can imbibe such statements in our answers as they hold extraordinary significance like any gospel.

Key takeaways from EAM’s speech

  • 2020 was a year of exceptional stress in a relationship profoundly disturbed by the border crisis.
  • China’s actions last year had not only signaled a disregard of commitments to reduce troop levels” but also “a willingness” to breach the peace and tranquillity on the border.
  • For all the disagreements we had, the fact is the border areas still remained fundamentally peaceful with the last incident of a loss of life in 1975, prior to 2020.
  • Until now, India is yet to receive a credible explanation for the change in China’s stance or reasons for its amassing of troops.
  • Any expectation that can be brushed aside and life can carry on undisturbed despite the situation in the border is simply not realistic.

China’s contentious moves

  • China did a unilateral attempt to redraw the LAC in several areas in eastern Ladakh
  • China’s issuing of stapled visas to Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir in 2010
  • Reluctance from China to deal with some of India’s military commands, Beijing had that same year refused to host the Northern Army Commander
  • China’s opposition to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the U.N. Security Council as a permanent member
  • Blocking of U.N. listings of Pakistani terrorists, and
  • China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, violating India’s sovereignty

Gone is the past

  • Both sides had “painstakingly” worked to normalize relations after the post-1962 war freeze and the first prime ministerial visit in 1988.
  • For the border areas, he said, both had agreed a complete and practical set of understandings and agreements focused on border management, while negotiations were being conducted on the boundary dispute.
  • The advancement of ties, he said, was predicated on ensuring that peace and tranquillity were not disturbed, and the LAC was both observed and respected by both sides.
  • For this reason, it was explicitly agreed the two countries would refrain from massing troops on their common border, along with a detailed understanding of handling frictions that would arise.

No progress over the years

  • Over the years, he said, there was no sign of progress of arriving at a common understanding of the LAC, while there was increasing construction of border infrastructure, especially in the Chinese side.
  • India had made efforts to reduce the considerable infrastructure gap since 2014, including through greater budgetary commitments and border road building.

Way forward

The External Affairs Minister suggested “three mutuals” and “eight broad propositions” as a way forward for the relationship.

#Three mutuals

Mutual respect, mutual sensitivities and mutual interests are the “determining factors”.

#Major propositions

(1) Adhering to commitment

  • The first proposition was that agreements already reached must be adhered to in their entirety, both in letter and in spirit.

(2) Respect for LAC

  • Both sides also needed to strictly observe and respect the LAC, and any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo was completely unacceptable.

(3) Maintaining peace and tranquillity

  • Peace and tranquillity in border areas was the basis for the development of the relationship in other domains. If that was disturbed, he said, the rest of the relationship would be too.

(4) Broader partnership

  • The fourth proposition was that while both remain committed to a multipolar world, they should recognise that a multipolar Asia was one of its essential constituents.

(5) Reciprocity

  • While each state had its interests, concerns and priorities, sensitivities to them could not be one-sided and relations were reciprocal in nature. As rising powers, neither should ignore the other’s set of aspirations.

(6) Divergences management

  • While both sides had made a common cause on development and economic issues and common membership of plurilateral groups was a meeting point, there were divergences when it came to interests and aspirations.

(7) Civilizational ties

  • The last proposition was that as civilizational states, India and China must always take the long view.

(8) Cooperation and competition

  • Even before the events of 2020, the relationship had reflected a duality of cooperation and competition.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China builds a new village in Arunachal Pradesh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: McMahon Line

Mains level: India-China border tensions

Satellite images show that China has constructed a new village in Arunachal Pradesh, around 4.5 kilometres inside of the de facto border on the Indian side.

Indian and Chinese soldiers have confronted each other in their deadliest clash in decades in Ladakh last year and the earlier one in Doklam. Now another front has been opened up by China in Arunachal.

This year could face another ugliest standoffs and skirmishes.

Location of the village

  • The village, located on the banks of the River Tsari Chu, lies in the Upper Subansiri district.
  • It is an area that has been long disputed by India and China and has been marked by armed conflict.
  • Sources in the defense ministry have said that Beijing has, for years, maintained an army post on this territory, and the various constructions by the Chinese have not happened suddenly.

Background of the story

  • China’s June 1959 operation known as the Longju incident reportedly accused Indian troops of occupying some places in Tibet and colluding with Tibetan rebels.
  • In August same year, the PLA clashed with the Indian personnel of the 9 Assam Rifles.
  • Two Indian soldiers were killed in action and the issue was finally resolved through diplomatic channels. Both sides withdrew from the area on August 20, 1960.
  • And the Assam Rifles then did not re-occupy the post.
  • In the late 1990s however, China established a company level post 3 kilometers inside the Indian Territory. Since then, the area remains contested to this day.

India and Arunachal

  • Arunachal Pradesh (called South Tibet in China) is a full-fledged state of India.
  • India’s sovereignty over the area is internationally recognized and its residents have not shown any inclination to leave India.
  • The majority of the international maps acknowledge the area to be an Indian Territory.
  • China has some (pre-) historical claims through its ownership of Tibet, but the people and geography primarily favor India.

Back2Basics: Chinese claim over Arunachal Pradesh

  • When the new Peoples Republic of China was formed in February 1912 after the abdication of the Qing emperor, the Tibetans asserted their independence.
  • They forced the Chinese troops based in Lhasa to return to the mainland-via India. A year later, Tibet declared independence from China.
  • In order to ensure that the unrest did not spread to India and assert their boundaries, the ruling British convened a tripartite meeting at Shimla with Tibetan and Chinese delegates to define the border.
  • The meeting gave China suzerainty over most of Tibet, and the boundary defined in this treaty was later known as the McMohan line.

Chinese reluctance

  • The essential dispute is over China’s refusal to acknowledge the McMohan Line as the border between the two nations, and staking claim to large tracts of land as a contiguous part of Tibet.
  • However, it laid claim to the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • In the 16th century, the most important heritage of the state – Tawang Monastery was built. This is one of the most important sites for Tibetan Buddhists.
  • China never recognized Tibet’s independence nor the 1914 Simla convention.
  • In 1950 China completely took over Tibet. Thus, according to their version, the Tawang region belongs to them.
  • It especially wants to hold on to the monastery as that is a leading center of Tibetan Buddhism in India.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

CPEC- The corridor of uncertainty

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gilgit-Baltistan Region, CPEC

Mains level: CPEC and India's sovereignty concerns

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has turned five.

What is CPEC?

  • China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a collection of infrastructure projects that are under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013.
  • It is an extension of the Belt and Road Initiative of China.
  • It intended to upgrade Pakistan’s required infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones.
  • On 13 November 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.

Why in news?

  • The viability of some of the CPEC’s projects, and how they were going to be paid for in a pandemic-hit economy, had come under renewed attention in Pakistan.
  • China had sought additional guarantees before sanctioning a $6 billion loan for the Main Line-1 (ML-1) project, which includes upgrading a 1,872 km rail line from Peshawar to Karachi.
  • This is due to the “weakening financial position of Pakistan” and had “proposed a mix of commercial and concessional loans against Islamabad’s desire to secure the cheapest lending”.

An overrated project

  • The CPEC, to some degree, has been a victim of its own hype.
  • Its economic figure may never materialise as the plan has been “considerably slimmed-down” from the scope that was first imagined.
  • This largely due to the ever-deteriorating financial situation of Pakistan and a visible debt-trap.
  • Pakistan had established a CPEC authority to speed up the execution of several projects that were mired in delays (and to give the military a greater role in the project).

Threats of Baloch insurgency

  • Gwadar, the heartland of CPEC certainly faces serious threats.
  • The city is a prime target for Baloch nationalist insurgents. Hence Pakistan has decided to fence the area.
  • This has sparked a new furore among the local residents.

India’s concerns with CPEC

  • CPEC passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (Gilgit-Baltistan) which is an Indian territory illicitly occupied by Pakistan.
  • Thus CPEC undermines India’s strategic interests and territorial integrity.
  • More importantly, with CPEC, China will get access to the western Indian Ocean through Gwadar port.
  • This will help China in controlling maritime trade and would affect the freedom of navigation and trade-energy security of India.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Reading the new US policy on Tibet

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: TIbetan issue and its political recognition

The Tibet Policy and Support Act (TPSA) passed by the US Senate earlier this week, bookends a turbulent year in US-China relations.

Must read:

Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA)

Do you think that India’s support for the Tibetan cause is the root cause of all irritants in India-China relations?

TPSA: A backgrounder

  • The TPSA is an amended version of the Tibet Policy Act of 2002, which came into existence during the Bush Administration.
  • The act once signed into law would make it the official policy of the US Government to oppose any effort by the govt. of the People’s Republic of China to select, educate, and venerate Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders in a manner inconsistent with Tibetan Buddhism.
  • The proposed legislation will empower the US Government to impose sanctions on China who might try to interfere in the process of selecting the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama.

US and China, today

  • US-China relations have become much more difficult over the last two decades, particularly worsening in the Trump Administration.
  • The matters range from the pandemic to trade tariffs and its cross-world coalition-building against Chinese superpower ambitions.
  • Earlier in the year, President Donald Trump signed into law the Hong Kong Autonomy Act.

Fuelled by TPSA

  • Adding much fuel to the issue, the TPSA introduces stronger provisions on Tibet, plus teeth in the form of a threat of sanctions, including travel bans on Chinese officials.

The Dalai Lama

  • Among the most significant amendments is that the TSPA makes it US policy to oppose attempts by Beijing to install its own Dalai Lama in a manner inconsistent with Tibetan Buddhism.
  • The legislation makes reference to the Chinese government’s ‘Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas’ in 2007.
  • China had earlier insisted that the reincarnation of living Buddhas including the Dalai Lama must comply with Chinese laws and regulations.

Other provisions of TPSA

  • The TPSA has introduced provisions aimed at protecting the environment of the Tibetan plateau, calling for greater international cooperation and greater involvement by Tibetans.
  • Alleging that China is diverting water resources from Tibet, the TPSA also calls for a regional framework on water security, or use existing frameworks… to facilitate cooperative agreements among all riparian nations.
  • While the 2002 Act said the US should establish a “branch office” in Lhasa, the TSPA ups the ante by changing that to a “consulate”.
  • It recognizes the Central Tibetan Administration, whose Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay takes credit for ensuring that the Senate took up the legislation for a vote.

Chinese response to TPSA

  • China had earlier said the TPSA severely breached international law and basic norms governing international relations, interfered in China’s internal affairs, and sent a wrong message to ‘Tibet independence’ forces”.
  • After the passage of the Bill through the Senate, China said it “resolutely opposes” the “adoption of Bills containing such ill contents on China.

India’s present stance on Tibet

  • If India is pleased with this latest US barb to China, it has not said so openly.
  • India has mostly refrained from playing the Tibet card against China, and like the US, has a one-China policy.
  • It was only this year, in the ongoing Ladakh standoff, that it used Special Forces made up almost entirely of Tibetan exiles to occupy strategic heights in Pangong Tso’s south bank.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The new League of Nations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: League of Nations

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

Despite China’s rise, the world will remain committed to multi-polar order. The article highlights the emerging trends in the global order against the backdrop of a pandemic and explains how there could be an opportunity for India.

Changing geopolitical landscape and choices India face

  • As the world is slowly recovering from the disruption caused by the pandemic, there are worrying intimations of other crises looming round the corner.
  • Geopolitics has been transformed and power equations are being altered.
  • There are a new set of winners and losers in the economic changes.
  • Technological advancement will magnify these changes.
  • India will need to make difficult judgements about the world that is taking shape and find its place in a more complex and shifting geopolitical landscape.
  • As the pandemic recedes, the world could draw the right lessons and proceed on a more hopeful trajectory.

Unlearnt lessons: lack of international cooperation

  • Most challenges the world faces are global, like the pandemic.
  • However, international cooperation in either developing an effective vaccine or responding to its health impacts has been minimal.
  • The pre-existing trend towards nationalist urgings, the weakening of international institutions and multilateral processes continues.
  • Even in the distribution of vaccines, we are witnessing a cornering of supplies by a handful of rich nations.

Need for a collaborative solution

  • Global challenges such as climate change, cybersecurity, space security, terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and ocean and terrestrial pollution demand collaborative, not competitive solutions.
  • The challenges require some display of statesman-like leadership to mobilise action on a global scale.
  • The nation-state will endure but its conduct will need to be tempered by a spirit of internationalism and a sense of common humanity.

Role of China and Asia

  • The pre-pandemic shift in the centre of gravity of the global economy and political power and influence, from the trans-Atlantic to the trans-Pacific, has been reinforced under the impact of the crisis.
  • East Asian and South-East Asian countries are the first to register the green shoots of recovery.
  • China has been the first large economy to witness a significant rebound in its growth rate.
  • The regional supply chains centred on China have been reinforced rather than disrupted.
  • China will emerge in pole position in the geopolitical sweepstakes commencing in 2021.
  • The power gap with its main rival, the US, will shrink further.

Why should India prefer multi-polar world order

  • As the power gap between India and China is expanding, the threat from China will intensify and demand asymmetrical coping strategies.
  • Despite China emerging a relative gainer from the pandemic the trend towards multi-polarity is here to stay.
  • Neither the US nor China can singly or as a duopoly manage a much more diffused distribution of economic and military capabilities across the globe.
  • This is only possible through multilateral approaches and adherence to the principle of equitable burden-sharing.
  • But a multipolar order can only be stable and keep the peace with a consensus set of norms, managed through empowered institutions of international governance and multilateral processes.
  • India’s instinctive preference has been for a multipolar order as the best assurance of its security and as most conducive to its own social and economic development.
  • India now has the opportunity to make multipolar order as its foreign policy priority as this aligns with the interests of a large majority of middle and emerging powers.
  • This will be an important component of a strategy to meet the China challenge.

The favourable geopolitical moment for India

  • Due to China’s aggressive posture across the board and its unilateral assertions of power, there is a significant push-back even from smaller countries, for example, in South-East Asia and Africa.
  • China’s blatant “weaponisation of economic interdependence” such as action against Australia, has made its economic partners increasingly wary.
  • In this context, India is seen as a potential and credible countervailing power to resist Chinese ambitions.
  • The world wants India to succeed because it is regarded as a benign power wedded to a rule-based order.
  • India can leverage this propitious moment to encourage a significant flow of capital, technology and knowledge to accelerate its own modernisation.

Consider the question “Though it may sound counterintuitive, India which is dealing with pessimism about its economic prospect in the wake of the pandemic, may be located at favourable geopolitical moment” Comment.

Conclusion

India should seize the opportunity and make multi-polar world order a pillar of its foreign policy to counter China threat while trying to leverage the moment to attract the flow of capital, technology and knowledge to accelerate its own modernisation.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: TIbetan issue

The US and China sparred over Tibet and the South China Sea over the passing of the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA).

Do you think that India’s support for the Tibetan cause is the root cause of all irritants in India-China relations?

About TPSA

  • The TPSA once signed into law would make it the official policy of the US Government to oppose any effort by the govt. of the People’s Republic of China to select, educate, and venerate Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders in a manner inconsistent with Tibetan Buddhism.
  • The proposed legislation will empower the US Government to impose sanctions on China who might try to interfere in the process of selecting the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama.

Why such a law?

  • Tibetans were concerned over the possibility of the Chinese Government making an attempt to install someone loyal to it as the 15th Dalai Lama after the death of the incumbent.
  • The PRC could use him as a puppet to fizzle out the global campaign against its occupation of Tibet.
  • The incumbent and the 14th Dalai Lama have been living in exile in India ever since his 1959 escape from Tibet, which had been occupied by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 1950-51.
  • He has been leading the movement for “genuine autonomy” for Tibet and the Tibetans.

Significance of TPSA

  • The TPSA acknowledged the legitimacy of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile elected by the exiled community as well as the CTA.
  • It seeks to introduce key provisions aimed at protecting the environment and water resources on the Tibetan Plateau.
  • In an aggressive move, the PRC government has forced resettlement of the nomads from grasslands.
  • TPSA recognizes the importance of traditional Tibetan grassland stewardship in mitigating the negative effects of climate change in the region.
  • In addition, it calls for greater international cooperation to monitor the environment on the Tibetan plateau.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Hazardous ideas for the Himalayas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Anthropogenic threats to Himalayas

By planning hydropower projects, India and China are placing the region at great risk.

China’s new hydropower project

  • Recently China announced that it is planning to build a major hydropower project as a part of its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), on the YarlungZanbo River, in Mêdog County in Tibet.
  • The hydropower generation station is expected to provide 300 billion kWh of electricity annually.
  • The Chinese authorities say the project will help the country realize its goal of reaching a carbon emission peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.

Misadventures

  • Such ‘super’ dams projects are very unviable as they are being planned in an area that is geologically unstable.
  • There are two hydropower projects being built in Arunachal Pradesh on the tributaries of the Brahmaputra: the 600 MW Kameng project on the Bichom and Tenga Rivers and the 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectricity Project.
  • China has already completed 11 out of 55 projects that are planned for the Tibetan region. In this race, the two countries overestimate their economic potential and grossly underestimate the earthquake vulnerability of the region.
  • High seismic zones coincide with areas of high population concentration in the Himalayan region where landslides and glacial lake outburst floods are common.

Practice Question:‘’Carbon neutrality should not be at the expense of the environment.” Elaborate with proper examples.

Havocs created due to these earthquakes

  • About 15% of the great earthquakes of the 20th century (with a magnitude of more than 8) occurred in the Himalayan region.
  • The northeast Himalayan band has experienced several large earthquakes of magnitude 7 and above in the last 100 years, more than the share from other parts of the Himalayas.
  • The 1950 earthquake just south of the McMahon Line was of 6 magnitudes. It was the largest continental event ever recorded and devastated Tibet and Assam.
  • The earthquake killed thousands, and caused extensive landslides, widespread land level changes and gaping fissures. It resulted in water and mud oozing in the Himalayan ranges and the upper Assam valley.
  • The earthquake was felt over an extensive area comprising parts of India, Tibet, erstwhile East Pakistan and Myanmar.
  • The2015 Gorkha earthquake of magnitude 7.8 in central Nepal resulted in huge losses in the hydropower sector. Nepal lost about 20% of its hydropower capacity consequent to the earthquake.
  • About 30 projects with a capacity of 270 MW, mostly located along the steep river valleys, were damaged.

What are the issues of high concern?

  • The main mechanisms that contributed to the vulnerability of hydropower projects were found to be landslides, which depend on the intensity of seismic ground shaking and slope gradients.
  • Heavy siltation from giant landslides expected in the project sites and headwater region from future earthquakes will severely reduce the water-holding capacity and life expectancy of such dams.
  • Even without earthquakes, the steep slopes made of soft rocks are bound to slide due to deforestation and road-building. These activities will get intensified as part of the dam-building initiatives.
  • Desilting of dams is not an economically viable proposition and is technologically challenging.

A transnational asset under threat

  • The Himalayan range is a transnational mountain chain and is the chief driver of the Asian climate.
  • It is a source for numerous Asian river systems and glaciers which are now under the threat of degradation and retreat due to global warming; these river systems provide water for billions of people.
  • The ongoing low-level military confrontations between these two countries have led to demands for further infrastructural development on both sides, including all-weather roads, much to the peril of regional biodiversity and the livelihoods of the indigenous population.
  • The Himalayas have seen the highest rate of deforestation and land-use changes.

Way Forward

  • There is a need for India and China to sit together to deliberate on the consequences of such misadventures in an area where massive earthquakes are bound to take place.
  • The upper Himalayas should be converted into a nature reserve by an international agreement.
  • The possibility of a Himalayan River Commission involving all the headwater and downstream countries needs to be explored.
  • There is a need to understand that – ‘’Carbon neutrality should not be at the expense of the environment’’.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Private: China plans for first downstream dam on Brahmaputra

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Brahmaputra river system

Mains level: Chinese assertions in Arunachal region

Chinese hydropower company is set to construct the first downstream dam on the lower reaches of the Brahmaputra river, or Yarlung Zangbo as it is known in Tibet.

Yarlung Zangbo Hydropower Project

  • China will implement the hydropower exploitation in the downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo River” as part of the new Five-Year Plan (2021-2025).
  • China in 2015 operationalised its first hydropower project at Zangmu in Tibet, while three other dams at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha are being developed, all on the upper and middle reaches of the river.

Potential of the great bend

  • The “Great Bend” of the Brahmaputra and at the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in Medogcounty, where the river falls spectacularly over a 2,000 metre-drop and turns sharply to flow across the border into Arunachal Pradesh.
  • If built, it could provide 300 billion kWh of clean, renewable and zero-carbon electricity annually.
  • The project will play a significant role in realising China’s goal of reaching a carbon emissions peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060.

Concerns for India

  • Indian officials have said the dams are not likely to impact the quantity of the Brahmaputra’s flows in India greatly.
  • This is because they are only storing water for power generation and the Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on upstream flows with an estimated 35% of its basin is in India.
  • However, India has expressed concerns to China over the four dams on the upper and middle reaches.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Elections for the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Comparison of TIbetan constitutional scheme with India

Mains level: TIbetan refugees issue

Over 1.3 lakh Tibetans living in exile and settled across India and other parts of the globe shall be electing their next Parliament-in-Exile, called Central Tibetan Administration, and it’s head in May 2021.

Do you think that India’s support for the Tibetan cause is the root cause of all irritants in India-China relations?

Electing the exiled Government

  • The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) has its headquarters in Dharamsala, in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • According to the Green Book of the Tibetan government-in-exile, over 1 lakh Tibetans are settled across India.
  • The remaining are settled in United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Mongolia, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland and various other countries.

Here is how the Tibetan elections will be held:

Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE)

  • The Speaker and a Deputy Speaker head the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
  • The 16th TPiE had 45 members – 10 representatives from each of the traditional provinces of Tibetan – U-Tsang, Dhotoe and Dhomey.
  • It includes two members from each of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the pre-Buddhist Bon religion.
  • Other representatives are from the Tibetan Communities in North America and Europe; and from Australasia and Asia (excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan).
  • Till 2006, it used to be called as Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (ATPDs) with the chairman as its head and a vice-chairman.

Tibetan Constitution

  • The Central Tibetan Administration exists and functions on the basis of the Constitution of the Tibetan government called the ‘The Charter of the Tibetans in Exile’.
  • In 1991, The Constitution Redrafting Committee instituted by the Dalai Lama prepared the Charter for Tibetans in exile. The Dalai Lama approved it on June 28, 1991.
  • In 2001, fundamental changes happened with the amendment of the Charter that facilitated the direct election of the Kalon Tripa by the Tibetans in exile.
  • The Kalon Tripa is called Sikyong or president of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Kashag (Cabinet)

  • The Kashag (Cabinet) is the Central Tibetan Administration’s highest executive office and comprise seven members.
  • It is headed by the Sikyong (political leader) who is directly elected by the exiled Tibetan population.
  • Sikyong subsequently nominates his seven Kalons (ministers) and seeks the parliament’s approval. The Kashag’s term is for five years.

A backgrounder: Democracy for Tibet

  • The Dalai Lama began democratization soon after he came to India during the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising.
  • He reportedly asked Tibetans in exile to choose their representatives through universal adult suffrage, following which polls were held for electing Tibetan Parliamentarians in 1960.
  • Democracy for the Tibetans, thus, began in exile.
  • The Dalai Lama, however, continued to remain the supreme political leader. On March 14, 2011, he relinquished his political responsibilities, ending a 369-year-old practice.

Is TPiE officially recognised by any country?

  • Not exactly, it is not recognised officially by any country, including India.
  • But, a number of countries including the USA and European nations deal directly with the Sikyong and other Tibetan leaders through various forums.
  • The TPiE claims its democratically-elected character helps it manage Tibetan affairs and raise the Tibetan issue across the world.
  • The incumbent Sikyong, Lobsang Sangay, was among the guests who attended the oath-taking ceremony of our PM in 2014, probably a first.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s use of ‘Microwave Weapons’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Microwave weapons

Mains level: Not Much

The Indian Army has rejected a report in the British daily newspaper which claimed that the Chinese army had used “microwave weapons” to drive Indian soldiers away from their positions in eastern Ladakh.

The use of non-lethal weapons for violence and mob control is a contested issue. Can you suggest some alternatives to it apart from the use of water cannon and teargas?

What are “Microwave Weapons”?

  • Microwave weapons are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.
  • It uses a focussed beam of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation to heat the water in a human target’s skin, causing pain and discomfort.
  • In a microwave oven, an electron tube called a magnetron produces electromagnetic waves (microwaves) that bounce around the metal interior of the appliance, and are absorbed by the food.
  • The microwaves agitate the water molecules in the food, and their vibration produces heat that cooks the food.
  • Food with high water content cooks faster in a microwave often than drier foods.

Which countries have these “microwave weapons”?

  • A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems.
  • According to a report, China had first put on display its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014.
  • The United States has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the “Active Denial System”.

How dangerous are these weapons?

  • Concerns have been raised on whether they can damage the eyes, or have a carcinogenic impact in the long term.
  • It is not clear yet how China intends to use such a weapon, and whether it can kill or cause lasting damage to human targets.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Four lessons for the Quad from Asia’s history and geopolitics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: The Quad

Mains level: Paper 2- Fourth factors the Quad must consider about Asia

The article highlights the 4 issues related to the history and geopolitics of Asian that the Quad members should pay attention to while formulating the future course of action. 

The 4 factors

If the Quad is to prosper as a geopolitical construct, it would do well to heed four lessons drawn from the long arc of Asia’s history and geopolitics.

1) Lack of existence of Indo-Pacific system

  • There has never been Indo-Pacific system ever since the rise of the port-based kingdoms of Indochina in the first half of the second millennium.
  •  There were two Asian systems — an Indian Ocean system and an East Asian system — with intricate sub-regional balances.
  • The effort by a U.S. to artificially manufacture to combine the Indo and the Pacific into a unitary system is unlikely to succeed.

2) Lack of peaceful existence dominated by any power

  • The Indo-Pacific region possesses no prior experience of long period of peace, prosperity and stability engineered from its maritime fringes.
  • Rather, dynamic long cycles of Chinese influence radiating outwards have alternated with sharp periods of turmoil.
  • The of ASEAN-centred multilateralism is more in tune with regional tradition and historical circumstance.
  • For their part, the Indo-Pacific’s ‘flanking powers’, India and Japan, have never balanced Chinese power throughout their illustrious histories.

3) India must use its leverage judiciously

  •  The sea lines of communication constitute the important links connecting Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific.
  • It is also a valuable arena of leverage vis-à-vis Chinese shipping and resource flows.
  • This leverage must be wielded judiciously on India’s terms, not on the Quad’s terms.
  • The Quad, after all, has little to offer materially with regard to New Delhi’s continental two-front dilemma.
  • However, ceding this chokepoint leverage will invite overwhelming Chinese pressure against the full range of India’s South Asian interests — to which the other Quad members possess neither will nor desire to answer.

4) Check on China’s India Ocean Ambitions

  •  The Quad has a valuable role to play as a check on China’s Indian Ocean ambitions.
  • India must develop ingrained habits of interoperable cooperation with its Quad partners.
  • This interoperable cooperation could pre-emptively dissuade China from mounting a naval challenge in its backyard.

Conclusion

The Quad must consider these factors while formulating the future course of action.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Confusion on what the Quad is and its future

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quad countries

Mains level: Paper 2- Non-alignment and Quad

The article analyses the basics of India’s foreign policy and its implications for the Quad.

Context

  • There is confusion on what the Quad is and its future in India’s international relations.
  • Sustaining that confusion is the proposition that India is abandoning non-alignment in favour of a military alliance with the US in order to counter the China threat.

4 Question on Quad’s future and India’s role

1) What is the nature of alliance?

  • Alliances involve written commitments to come to the defence of the other against a third party.
  • Working of alliance varies according to the distribution of power within the members of an alliance and the changing nature of the external threat.
  • Alliances come in multiple shapes and forms — they could be bilateral or multilateral, formal or informal and for the long-term or near term.
  • Alliances feature in India’s ancient strategic wisdom and contemporary domestic politics in India.
  • Yet, when it comes to India’s foreign policy, alliances are seen as a taboo.
  • Part of the problem is that India’s image of alliances is frozen in the moment when India became independent.
  • After the Second World War, a newly independent India did not want to be tied down by alliances of the Cold War.
  • That notion is seen as central to Indian worldview.

2) Does India forge alliances?

  • Contrary to conventional wisdom, India has experimented with alliances of different kinds.
  • During the First World War, some nationalists aligned with Imperial Germany to set up the first Indian government-in-exile in Kabul.
  • In the Second World War, Subhas Chandra Bose joined forces with Imperial Japan to set up a provisional government.
  • Policy of non-alignment among the great powers also did not rule out alliances in a different context.
  • For example, when Bhutan, Nepal and Sikkim turned to Delhi for protection amidst Maoist China’s advance into Tibet during 1949-50, Nehru signed security treaties with them.
  • India turned to the US for military support to cope with the Chinese aggression in 1962.
  • Indira Gandhi signed a security cooperation agreement with the Soviet Union in 1971 to cope with the crisis in East Pakistan.
  • Then, as now, there was much anxiety in Delhi about India abandoning non-alignment.
  • India does do alliances but the question is when, under what conditions and on what terms.

3)  Is the US offering India an alliance against China?

  • The current political discourse in Washington is hostile to alliance-making.
  • President Donald Trump does not miss an opportunity to trash US alliances.
  • In any case, formal commitments do not always translate into reality during times of war.
  • Even within the long-standing US military alliances with Japan and the Philippines, there is much legal quibbling over what exactly is the US’s obligation against, say, Chinese aggression.
  • In case of the Quad, it is quite clear that Washington is not offering a military alliance, nor is Delhi asking for one.
  • Because it knows India has to fight its own wars.
  • Both countries, however, are interested in building issue-based coalitions in pursuit of shared interests.

4) Instrumental nature of alliance

  • Agreements for security cooperation are made in a specific context and against a particular threat.
  • When those circumstances change, security treaties are not worth the paper they are written.
  • Consider India’s security treaties with Nepal, Bangladesh and Russia.
  • The 1950 Treaty was designed to protect Nepal against the Chinese threat.
  • Now, Nepali communists have long argued that the Treaty is a symbol of Indian hegemony.
  • India’s 1972 security treaty with Bangladesh did not survive the 1975 assassination of the nation’s founder, Mujibur Rahman.
  • India’s own enthusiasm for the 1971 treaty with Moscow waned within a decade.
  • Today Beijing is Moscow’s strongest international partner, a reality that has a bearing on India’s strategic partnership with Russia.

What India can learn from China about alliances

  • Mao aligned with the Soviet Union after in 1949 and fought the Korean War against the US during 1950-53.
  • He broke from Russia in the early 1960s and moved closer to the US in the 1970s.
  • Mao, who denounced US alliances in Asia, was happy to justify them if they were directed at Russia.
  • He also welcomed Washington’s alliance with Tokyo as a useful means to prevent the return of Japanese nationalism and militarism.
  • Having benefited from the partnership with the US, China is trying to push America out of Asia and establish its own regional primacy.
  • Delhi could learn from Beijing in not letting the theological debates about alliances cloud its judgements about the extraordinary economic and security challenges India confronts today.

Conclusion

The infructuous obsession with non-alignment diverts Delhi’s policy attention away from the urgent task of rapidly expanding India’s national capabilities in partnership with like-minded partners.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India needs a China plan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

The article discusses the issue of dealing with China in the aftermath of clashes on the border.

Understanding the importance of Tibet

  • Tibet is the roof of the world, with vast mineral and natural resources.
  • The mighty rivers that emanate from its expansive glaciers — such as the Brahmaputra, the Yangtse, the Yellow river, the Mekong, the Salween and the Indus — together with thousands of their tributaries have nurtured civilisations in peripheral countries for centuries.
  • The Kailash Mansarovar is centered in this region.
  • In an act of naked aggression, China occupied Tibet in 1959.
  • A buffer was eliminated, and the de facto boundary of China became contiguous to that of India.
  • That boundary was deliberately left undemarcated to enable further expansion.

Understanding China’s stand

  • China has land borders with 14 neighbours covering an estimated 22,100 kilometres.
  • Post-independence, and as its economic status increased, so did its military muscle.
  • China embarked on claims based on perceived imbalances of treaties forced on countries when they were weak.
  • Some of these have since been resolved after bloody clashes such as with Russia and Vietnam, while others have been resolved using a combination of lucrative offers.
  • Russia accepted half of China’s claim, Kazakhstan was given lucrative economic deals, Kyrgyzstan retained 70% of the land, ceding just 30%, and so on.

Way forward

  • The road ahead will have to be evolved and based on a study of the manner in which China has negotiated its boundary disputes with 12 of its neighbours.
  • Under the prevailing circumstances, it has become imperative to form a group of experts.
  • This group will plan and prepare, short-, medium- and long-term goals to achieve them within a suggested time frame.

 Conclusion

Let us play down the rhetoric and adopt a pragmatic approach. It can no longer be a part-time issue to be addressed only when a crisis occurs. The crisis is upon us now.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Our larger China picture

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

Context

  • After the skirmish at the border, Beijing started to concentrate troops, armoured vehicles and munitions opposite our posts in Aksai China at Galwan.

2 interpretations of China’s move

  • First believes that the Chinese exercise was a territorial snatch in Aksai Chin, which they believe is entirely theirs.
  • The move was accompanied by a “lesson” to the Indians on aggressive Indian behaviour in not conceding Aksai Chin.
  • The second school of thought in India believes that territory has nothing to do with it.
  • They believe that, due to growing economic power, Beijing will lay down the rules of world governance.

How it matters for India

  • India contest China’s entire southern border, refuse to join the Belt and Road initiative, create an anti-China maritime coalition, compete with them for influence in South East Asia and Africa.
  • India is also unsupportive of their crackdown on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang and move ever closer to the United States.
  • When China assumes hegemonic power after 2030, India is going to get a nasty surprise.
  • Secularism, democracy and the rights of man will play no part in Chinese foreign policy.
  • China will overturn every international, financial, trade, diplomatic, arms control and nuclear agreement that the world has put together in seven decades.

Way forward

  • We in India need to conduct a large and vociferous debate on Chinese intentions.
  • If the Chinese intention is to “teach us a lesson” we need a new national strategy, combining diplomatic and military means.
  •  If our national goal is to concentrate on the creation of wealth and growing GDP, let us proclaim it, tighten our belt, look down and avoid conflict.

Conclusion

What China wants is Indian acceptance of Beijing’s benign superiority, and that is a purely Chinese trait, not to be confused with the known rules of international diplomacy. Talking from a position of inferiority will not lead to an equitable solution. But first, a national debate.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Neither war nor peace between India and China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

The article analyses the challenges in the India-China border dispute and the recent events of Chinese aggression.

Trust deficit

  • The recent Chinese actions have set back trust between the two countries by decades.
  • Trust made sense when both sides could assume that the other side either did not have the capacity or would not rapidly deploy troops in strategic positions at the border.
  • With the building of infrastructure on both sides, this trust was bound to break.
  • Even after temporary disengagement, both sides will now have distrust about the deployment of the other side.
  • An infrastructure-thick environment will require a permanent presence and closer deployments.

Challenges

  •  At the level of the army, India seems to have consistently misread the PLA’s intentions.
  •  The closer the armies get, the greater the risks.
  • There is a political logic that does not bode well. There is still speculation on why the Chinese are taking an aggressive posture.
  • The very fact that we are not sure of Chinese motives means it is hard to know their endgame.

Chinese fears

  • At a basic level, they will want to secure their interests in CPEC.
  • Tibet issue has also been a sensitive issue for China.
  •  Chinese interest in Nepal is less to encircle India. It is to ensure Nepal is not used as a staging ground of resistance in Tibet.

Tibet issues in India-China relations

  • On Tibet issue India is in an awkward situation.
  • Due to the presence of the Dalai Lama in India, China will see it as a potential threat to its cultural hegemony in Tibet.
  • Ladakh and Tawang are also important pieces in that cultural consolidation.
  • The Sino-India peaceful relations were premised on keeping the Tibet issue in check.
  • But just as we are not sure of Chinese motives, they may not be sure of our motives either.

New paradigm in India’s foreign policy

  • India growing power means it needs a new paradigm of foreign policy.
  • This policy will supposedly safeguard India’s interests more assertively.
  • If diplomatically not well managed, this change also causes great uncertainty in the international system.
  • India’s Pakistan policy is premised entirely on keeping them guessing on what we might do, including possible military options and altering the territorial status quo.
  • Our domestic ideological articulation of India’s position ranges from reclaiming PoK to Aksai Chin.
  • We cannot abandon Tibetans.
  • This underscores a narrative of uncertainty over our intentions.

Conclusion

Our own trumpeted departure from the past, without either the diplomatic preparation, domestic political discipline, and full anticipation of military eventualities, does not make it easy for others to understand our endgame.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Chushul Valley and its Significance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Chushul Valley

Mains level: India-China border skirmishes

The Chushul sub-sector has come into focus in the standoff between the Indian and PLA troops.

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What is the Chushul Valley?

  • The Chushul sub-sector lies south of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh.
  • It comprises high, broken mountains and heights of Thatung, Black Top, Helmet Top, Gurung Hill, and Magger Hill besides passes such as Rezang La and Reqin La, the Spanggur Gap, and the Chushul valley.
  • Situated at a height of over 13,000 feet close to the LAC, the Chushul Valley has a vital airstrip that played an important role even during the 1962 War with China.

What is its strategic importance to India?

  • Chushul is one among the five Border Personnel Meeting points between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China.
  • It enjoys tremendous strategic and tactical importance because of its location and terrain, which make it a centre for logistics deployment.
  • This sector has plains that are a couple of km wide, where mechanized forces, including tanks, can be deployed. Its airstrip and connectivity by road to Leh add to its operational advantages.
  • Indian troops have now secured the ridgeline in this sub-sector that allows them to dominate the Chushul bowl on the Indian side, and Moldo sector on the Chinese side.
  • They also have a clear sight of the almost 2-km-wide Spanggur gap, which the Chinese used in the past to launch attacks on this sector in the 1962 War.

How is Chushul important to China?

  • Simply put, Chushul is the gateway to Leh. If China enters the Chushul, it can launch its operations for Leh.
  • After the initial attacks, including on the Galwan valley by the Chinese in October 1962, the PLA troops prepared to attack Chushul airfield and the valley to get direct access to Leh.
  • However, just before the attacks were launched, the area was reinforced by the 114 Brigade in November 1962, which also had under its command two troops of armour and some artillery.

What are the challenges in this area?

  • An immediate challenge is of a flare-up as troops of the two countries are deployed within a distance of 800 to 1,000 metres of each other at Black Top and Reqin La.
  • Logistics also pose a major challenge. There is a need to carry water and food to the top which soldiers cannot do.
  • The harsh winter that lasts for eight months of the year poses a big challenge.
  • It is very difficult to dig in and make shelters on the ridgeline. The temperature falls to minus 30 degrees Celsius, and there are frequent snowstorms.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Non-War Military Tactics used by China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-China Relations

An annual report from the U.S. Department of Defense describes Chinese leaders’ use of tactics short of armed conflict to further the country’s objectives, citing border conflicts with India and Bhutan among the examples.

Try this question:

Q. What are Non-War Military Activities (NWMA)? Discuss how China is using NWMA as a tool for its overtly ambitious expansionist policy.

Various non-war military tactics

The report describes Non-War Military Activities (NWMA) as one of two kinds of military operations (the other is war) used by the PLA. NWMA can be conducted internationally or domestically and encompass activities in multiple domains.

(1) Provoking armed conflict

  • China calibrates its coercive activities to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict with the United States, its allies and partners, or others in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • It can notably include operations in which the PLA uses coercive threats and/or violence below the level of armed conflict against states and other actors to safeguard its expansionism.
  • These tactics are particularly evident in China’s pursuit of its territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas as well as along its border with India and Bhutan.

(2) Neo-imperialist tools

  • China also employs non-military tools coercively, including economic tools during periods of political tensions with countries that China accuses of harming its national interests.
  • The Belt and Road Initiative is leading to a greater overseas military presence for China in the guise to protect its economic interests.

(3) Multilateralism as a strategic messaging tool

  • The report says that China uses multilateral forums and international organisations to generate new opportunities to expand its influence, strengthen its political influence.
  • It promotes strategic messaging that portrays China as a responsible global actor, advances its development interests, and limit outside interference in and criticism of its initiatives.
  • The Brazil Russia India China South Africa (BRICS) grouping and Shanghai Cooperation Organization are among those cited as examples of this alleged phenomenon.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India needs an internationalism that is rooted in realism

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Evolution of India's approach to Asian regionalism and internationalism

The article analyses India’s approach towards regional integration in Asian unity and internationalism and its consequences.

Clash between internationalism and nationalism

  • Three current developments reveal the clash between grandiose internationalism and the intractable nationalism.
  • 1) India pulled out of the military exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which was to herald a new era of Eurasian unity.
  • Sharpening contradictions between India and China comes in the way of uniting such a large geopolitical space.
  • 2) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s claim to leadership of the Muslim world that has run into resistance from a large section of the Arab rulers.
  • 3) The tension between the globalism of the US foreign policy establishment and Donald Trump’s “America First” nationalism.

Internationalism and threats to it

  • Western liberalism has had more power than anyone else to promote internationalism.
  • But the liberal internationalist effort at constructing supra-national institutions now faces big setbacks.
  • The greatest resistance to the liberal internationalist vision has not come within the US.
  • Trump channelled the American resentments against the globalist excesses of the Wall Street, Washington and the Silicon Valley.

India’s nationalism

  • Indian nationalism was inevitably influenced by liberal internationalism, socialism, communism, pan-Islamism, pan-Asianism and Third-Worldism to name a few.
  • Both the Asian Relations Conference (Delhi 1947) and the Afro-Asian Conference (Bandung 1955) showed up the deep differences among the Asian elites.
  • India then turned its back on Asianism to claim the leadership of the broader Non-Aligned Movement.
  • After the Cold War, India re-embraced Asianism in the 1990s when it unveiled the Look East Policy.
  • India also joined the Asian regional institutions led by the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

RCEP joining issue

  • Few could have anticipated that Delhi would walk out of one of the most consequential agreements negotiated by the ASEAN — the RCEP — that sought Asia-wide economic integration.
  • Delhi believed that the contradiction between India’s domestic commercial interests and a China-led Asian economic regionalism was irreconcilable.

India’s approach toward Asian regionalism

  • Eurasian regionalism led by Moscow and Beijing is also facing tensions and there is deepening conflict between Indian and Chinese interests.
  • India’s diplomatic finesse on the SCO has become increasingly unsustainable after Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh.
  • India underestimated the economic and political consequences of China’s rapid rise while seeking economic regionalism in East Asia and the multi-polar world with Russia and China.
  • India took a benign view of Chinese power and has been shocked to discover otherwise in 1962 and in 2020.

Conclusion

India today needs more internationalism, than less, in dealing with the Chinese power. But it must be an internationalism that is rooted in realism and tethered to India’s economic and national security priorities.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Leveraging its market to force China to settle border issue

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

The article charts out the plan to leverage the potential and the present size of the India markets to settle the boundary dispute with China.

Boycott of Chinese goods: view and counterview

  • After Galwan incident, there have been calls for the boycott of Chinese goods.
  • Counter views have been expressed that the Indian economy is so dependent on China that the costs would be disproportionately higher for India.
  • Our dependence can be reduced substantially if there is a national will and resolve to do so.

Need for mutually acceptable boundary agreement

  • China may not be willing to go back substantially from the areas they have occupied.
  • Agreeing on maintaining peace and tranquillity or clarification of the LAC has left space for the Chinese to create border incidents which have now led to casualties.
  • So India needs to get China to seriously negotiate a mutually acceptable boundary agreement.

India could use its market as leverage

  • Size of Indian market: The size of the Indian market and its potential in the coming years provides India considerable leverage.
  • But to use this leverage, Indians, individual consumers as well as firms, have to accept that there would be a period of adjustment in which they would have to pay higher prices.
  • The Chinese have a competitive advantage and are integral to global supply chains.
  • But whatever they sell is, and can be, made elsewhere in the world.
  • Indian can produce everything imported by China: Most of what we import from China was, is and can be made in India itself.
  • With volumes and economies of scale, the cost of production in India would decline as it did in China.

Steps need to be taken to use market as leverage

  • Focus on those imports from China which have been increasing: The initial focus should be on items which are still being made in India and where imports from China have been increasing.
  • Depriciate Rupees: If the RBI let the currency depreciate in real terms it would be equivalent to an increase in import duties of about 10 per cent.
  • China-specific safeguard duties and use of non-tariff trade barriers should be used in segments like electrical appliances to let Indian producers expand production and increase market share.
  • Government Finances for expansion: The government should also facilitate the flow of finances for expansion and provide technical support for testing, improving quality and lowering costs of production.
  • Look for other players: In critical areas such as Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, we need a vigorous approach to procure from elsewhere and have early production in India.
  • The government could provide support for environmental compliance to bring down costs of production.This would create demand for domestic goods and services.
  • There are strategic sectors where we should reduce vulnerability: Like scrutiny of -Chinese FDI, Chinese 5G participation etc.
  • Assured government procurement: In critical areas like solar panel and grid storage batteries private investment for manufacturing in India would be triggered by assured government procurement.

Consider the question “Size and potential of India market could be leverage by India to settle the issues it has with its neighbour. What India needs to achieve this is a strategy and its implementation. Comment.”

Conclusion

A sustained and graded economic response to the recent Chinese conduct on the border is needed. We should signal India’s firm resolve and willingness to bear the cost. China could choose to settle the border amicably and have full access to our market. We could then work together to make this the Asian century.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Seeking equilibrium with China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

The article analyses the India’s efforts to establish strategic equilibrium with assertive China and how that idea clashes with China’s desire to form an Asian order with itself at the top.

Strategic equilibrium

  •  External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar articulated that India is seeking strategic equilibrium with an increasingly aggressive China.
  • It is hoped that with China’s growing differences with the U.S. China would pay attention to India’s sensitivities.
  • In achieving equilibrium with China, India has bravely been confronting a face-off in the Himalayas for the past several months.
  • India has been building issue-based alliances with the US and Asian majors like Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia, and Australia.
  • It has taken initiatives in the direction of economic de-coupling with China in the name of “atmanirbharata”.

Hierarchical Asian order with China at top

  • China is not interested in equilibrium with any of its Asian neighbours, least of all with India.
  • China’s efforts are clearly to build a hierarchical Asian order, with itself at the top.
  • It is acutely conscious of India’s economic strength, military modernisation and overall capabilities.
  • It knows that India is also far behind on these counts.
  • China is ruthlessly resisting India’s access to global governance bodies, such as the UNSC and NSG.
  • To keep India tied at that level, China is objecting to India’s growing strategic proximity to the US. I
  • It is encircling India strategically and economically through its strategic and economic corridors — BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar), CPEC and the Trans-Himalayan Connectivity Network.
  • It is raising issues like Kashmir at the UN and establishing footprints in the Indian Ocean.

What should India do

1. Adjust with China, at least tactically.

  • Such an adjustment could be based on mutual give and take.
  • For India, our first priority could be the resolution of the border dispute.
  • Secondly, since China has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, it should be asked to prevail over Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue.
  • In return for these “takes” India could offer access to Chinese commercial cargos to sea, through the Nathula pass.
  • India could also join China’s BRI on mutually acceptable terms.
  • India may also show its willingness, at least tactically, to join CPEC as both Pakistan and China have asked for, provided, India is allowed to undertake projects in PoK and Balochistan.

2.India should revisit its Tibet policy, which is a core irritant for China.

Consider the question “China seeking to establish an Asian order with itself at the top comes in the way of India establishing strategic equilibrium with China. Comment.”

Conclusion

It is possible that this “give” and “take” may not be acceptable to China. Even if it does not work out as planned, India would have made a bold diplomatic initiative and a huge tactical move towards thinking through out-of-the-box solutions and displaying that it can undertake risks to pursue its long-term national interests.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

What India should consider about the proposition to isolate China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

The economic grip China exerts on the world protects it from the threat of isolation. This article examines this issue and its implications for India.

Worsening U.S.-China ties and implications for other countries

  • After years of cooperating with one another, the U.S. and China are currently at the stage of confrontation.
  • Both are seeking allies to join their camps.
  • This places several countries in Asia, in a difficult position as most of them, loathe to take sides.
  • The U.S. may not necessarily be the first choice for many countries of Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.
  • In the case of China, it is clearly more feared than loved.

China’s aggression

  •  Beijing’s virtual takeover of Hong Kong has only confirmed what had long been known about China’s intentions.
  • In March-April this year, China further stepped up its aggressive actions, renaming almost 80 geographical features in the region as an index of Chinese sovereignty.
  •  Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and South Korea have all complained about China’s menacing postures in their vicinity.

How countries are resisting China

  • Hardly any country in Asia is willing to openly confront China, and side with the U.S.
  • East Asian countries explain that China was always known to be over-protective of the South China Sea.
  • And China consider South China Sea a natural shield against possible hostile intervention by outside forces inimical to it.
  • No U.S. assurance and Chinese aggression has been enough to make countries in the region openly side with the U.S. and against China.

China’s economic grip and lessons for India

  • Despite a series of diktats from Washington to restrict economic and other relations, China remains unfazed.
  • China seems confident that its stranglehold on the global economy ensures that it does not face any real challenge.
  • It would be wise for India to recognise this.
  • It is equally necessary to realise how fickle some of these countries can be when it comes to economic issues.
  •  At a recent meeting in Washington Australia (a member of the Quad) made it clear that China is important for Australia.
  • Likewise, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, recently stated in its Parliament, that the U.K. wants a positive relationship with China.
  • It is evident that few nations across the world are willing to risk China’s ire because of strong economic ties.

India’s relations with neighbouring countries: concerns

  • India’s relations with Nepal, meanwhile, have hit a roadblock over the Kalapani area.
  • In Sri Lanka, the return of the Rajapaksas to power after the recent elections does not augur too well for India-Sri Lanka relations.
  • The strain in India-Bangladesh relations is a real cause for concern since it can provide a beachhead against Chinese activities in the region.

Growing Chinese presence in India’s sphere of influence

  •  In July, the Chinese Foreign Minister organised a virtual meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • In this meeting, China proposed economic corridor plan with Nepal, styled as the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network.
  • China has also made headway in Iran to an extent, again at India’s expense.

Conclusion

Geo-balancing is not happening to China’s disadvantage. This lesson must be well understood when India plan its future strategy.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

What are Confucius Institutes, and why are they under the scanner in India?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Confucius Institutes

Mains level: India-China diplomatic spat since border skirmishes

  • The Ministry of Education (previously HRD) had sent a letter to several institutions seeking information about the activities of their Confucius Institutes (CIs) and Chinese language training centres.
  • This has brought the spotlight to China’s CI programme, a key pillar of Beijing’s global soft power effort, and raised questions about the future of India-China cooperation in the education space.

Try this question for mains:

Q.“It cannot be business as usual with China after the border clash.” Critically comment.

What are the Confucius Institutes (CI)?

  • Starting with a CI in Seoul in 2004, China’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOCFL) known as Hanban establishes CI.
  • China has established 550 CIs and 1,172 Confucius Classrooms (CCs) housed in foreign institutions, in 162 countries.
  • As the Hanban explains on its website, following the experience of the British Council, Alliance Française and Germany’s Goethe-Institut, China began “establishing non-profit public institutions which aim to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries”.

What is the presence of CIs in India?

  • India is reviewing the presence of CIs in seven universities, in addition to 54 MoUs on inter-school cooperation involving China, which is not connected to the CI programme.

How have CIs been viewed around the world?

  • The CI arrangement has generated debate in the West, where some universities have closed the institutes amid concern over the influence of the Chinese government and it’s funding on host institutions.
  • Closures of some CIs have been reported in the United States, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Sweden.
  • While the closures in the West have made news, these cases still represent a minority. Faced with this backlash, China is now rebranding the programme.
  • Most of the 550 CIs and more than 1,000 CCs around the world are still active, with a presence spanning Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, and across Asia.

What does it mean for India-China relations?

  • CIs and CCs had already been in India for more than 10 years.
  • Even prior to the border skirmishes, Indian authorities had viewed the CI arrangement somewhat warily.
  • Along with the new move to review CIs, Mandarin has been dropped from the list of foreign languages that can be taught in schools in the new National Education Policy.

Not a perfect move

  • Recent moves by India shows that it cannot be business as usual with China after the border clash.
  • However, India’s long-term objectives are not clear.
  • De-emphasizing learning Mandarin is neither likely to impact China’s stance on the border nor help India in developing the expertise and resources it needs in dealing with China.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Russia-India-China: A triangle that is still relevant

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SCO

Mains level: Paper 2-India's relations with Russia and China

RIC engagement started on the promising note but the geopolitical changes over the last two decades have set the three countries on diverging paths. It is against this backdrop, the article articulates why RIC is still relevant.

Background of RIC

  • The RIC dialogue commenced in the early 2000s.
  • At that time the three countries were positioning themselves for a transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order.
  •  It was not an anti-U.S. construct though.
  • The initial years of the RIC dialogue coincided with an upswing in India’s relations with Russia and China.
  • The 2003 decision to bring a political approach to India-China boundary dispute and to develop other cooperation, encouraged a multi-sectoral surge in relations.
  • An agreement in 2005, identifying political parameters applicable in an eventual border settlement, implicitly recognised India’s interests in Arunachal Pradesh.

Growing India-U.S. relations

  • During the same period in which RIC dialogues took place, India’s relations with the U.S. surged.
  • This involved trade and investment, a landmark civil nuclear deal and a burgeoning defence relationship.
  • This rising relations with the U.S. met India’s objective of diversifying military acquisitions away from a near-total dependence on Russia.
  • The U.S. saw value in partnering with a democratic India in Asia as China was rapidly emerging as a challenger.

How India-U.S. relations affected RIC

  • China went back on the 2005 agreement.
  • It launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and worked to undermine India’s influence in its neighbourhood.
  • And expanded its military and economic presence in the Indian Ocean.
  • As U.S.-Russia relations imploded in 2014 after the annexation/accession of Crimea.
  • Russia’s pushback against the U.S. included cultivating the Taliban in Afghanistan and enlisting Pakistan’s support for it.
  • The western campaign to isolate Russia drove it into a much closer embrace of China.

Thus, the RIC claim of overlapping or similar approaches to key international issues, sounds hollow today. But it is still holds significance.

Why RIC is still significant for India

1) SCO

  • Central Asia is strategically located, bordering our turbulent neighbourhood.
  •  Pakistan’s membership of SCO and the potential admission of Iran and Afghanistan heighten the significance of the SCO for India.
  • It is important for India to shape the Russia-China dynamics in this region, to the extent possible.
  • The Central Asian countries have signalled they would welcome such a dilution of the Russia-China duopoly.
  • The ongoing India-Iran-Russia is an important initiative for achieving an effective Indian presence in Central Asia, alongside Russia and China.

2) Significant bilateral relations

  • India’s defence and energy pillars of partnership with Russia remain strong.
  • Access to Russia’s abundant natural resources can enhance our materials security.
  • With China too, while the recent developments should accelerate our efforts to bridge the bilateral asymmetries, disengagement is not an option.

3) The Indo-Pacific issue

  • For India, it is a geographic space of economic and security importance, in which a cooperative order should prevent the dominance of any external power.
  • China sees our Indo-Pacific initiatives as part of a U.S.-led policy of containing China.
  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry sees the Indo-Pacific as an American ploy to draw India and Japan into a military alliance against China and Russia.
  • India should focus on economic links with the Russian Far East and the activation of a Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor.
  • This may help persuade Russia that its interests in the Pacific are compatible with our interest in diluting Chinese dominance in the Indo-Pacific.

4) Strategic autonomy of India

  • The current India-China stand-off has intensified calls for India to fast-track partnership with the U.S.
  • National security cannot be fully outsourced.
  • India’s quest for autonomy of action is based on its geographical realities, historical legacies and global ambitions.

Consider the question “The changing geopolitical landscape should not dampen the importance of India’s engagement in the RIC (Russia-India-China) triangle. Comment.” 

Conclusion

India should continue its engagement in the RIC while keeping and protecting its interests.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Exploring options to tackle China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 2- Options in dealing with China

There are several options which India could explore in dealing with China with less cost but significant effectiveness. Diplomacy is one of them. What are the other options? Read the article to know…

Context

  • China’s aggression and Galwan valley incident dismantles the Border Agreements of 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2013.
  • Understanding China’s objectives become critical in this situation.

Analysing China’s objectives

  • Humbling India in the eyes of Asia and the world was all important for China.
  • Despite China’s territorial aggression, it would be a mistake to think that China is preparing for a conflict over territory.
  • China is well aware that it cannot be certain whether it will emerge a victor from an all-out conflict with India.
  •  China cannot afford to jeopardise its future for the present.
  • China has been intent on transforming the Asian region in its own image, and, simultaneously, seeking to become a continental and a maritime power.

What are the options to deal with China

  • India may well find non-military tools not only more cost-effective but also less risky.
  • 1)  Exploiting the current widespread opposition to China, India must try to create international opinion in its support regarding border violations.
  • 2) Cultivation of foreign leaders with a view to draw their specific attention to China’s aggressive policies and designs is the second option.
  • India’s involvement with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) should prove invaluable in this respect.
  • 3) India must also overhaul its ‘messaging’ capacity.
  • It should make greater use of technology to send across its message and ideas in its vicinity and across the globe, highlighting its peaceful intentions in stark contrast to China’s aggressive policies and tactics.
  • 4)  India must pay particular attention to relations with countries in its neighbourhood, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, and allies such as Iran and Vietnam.
  • Relationship with these countries seems to have frayed at the edges, with India being more intent on strengthening relations with the West.
  • Smaller countries of Asia, which constantly face China’s aggressive interference in their internal affairs, have not received much support from India, and this needs India’s attention.
  • 5) India’s true strength is its unity in diversity. A truly united and resilient India is the best antidote to China’s attempts to humble India.
  • China has never been able to properly understand, the strength India seems to derive from its spiritual, religious and cultural attributes, which are a part of its civilisational heritage.
  • 6) India would do well to take pole position in propagating ‘Himalayan Buddhism’ which China has been seeking to subvert to achieve its ends.

Consider the question “To counter the challenges manifested by China through recent events India needs to explore along with other options the subtler tools of power available to it. Examine the other tools available with India.”

Conclusion

Military no doubt project the country’s power but there are other options with less cost and significant benefits. India should focus on these options as well while dealing with China.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Changing dynamics in China-Pakistan collusion against India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- China-Pakistan collusion in Jammu and Kashmir

India has always been aware of the China-Pak collusion and their mutual support to each others’ actions. But the underlying basis has been changing now. It is no longer Pakistan seeking Chinese support in J&K as much as it is the other way around.

Preparedness for a two-front war

  • The debate regarding India’s capability to fight a war in which there is full collusion between China and Pakistan has generally remained inconclusive.
  • Most detractors of the belief regarding China’s military-operational support to Pakistan, have leaned on the argument that China will adopt a policy to suit its interests.
  • Both in 1965 and 1971, China made some promises to Pakistan but chose to stay away.
  • Of course, that was during the Cold War — a completely different international strategic environment.

China-Pakistan collection action in Kashmir

  • Pakistan increased its proxy campaign in J&K almost in sync with two China-related trends.
  • First, enhanced PLA assertiveness in Eastern Ladakh.
  • Second, the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • A progressively altering Chinese attitude towards the Kashmir issue started to take shape as early as 2008-09, with issuing stapled visas to Indians residing in J&K and denial of a visa to the Northern Army Commander were signs of it.
  • This support was also witnessed on issues like the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Pakistan’s involvement in global terrorism and the abrogation of Article 370.

Pincer approach in Ladakh

  • It is no longer Pakistan seeking Chinese support for its adventurism as much as it is the other way around.
  • The mutuality of interests has increased and military coordination has become a larger part of the overall strategy.
  • China may force further escalation this season depending upon how the world responds to its expansionism.
  • China could also adopt a posture which prepares it, along with Pakistan, towards a future “pincer approach” in Ladakh.
  • Along with Ladakh — Arunachal, Sikkim and the Central Sector are very part of the expanded collusive strategy.
  • But it is Ladakh where the effect is intended most and it is there that the pincer approach may prove more challenging for India.

Suggestions for India

  • Assuming that confrontation with the Sino-Pak combine is inevitable now or later, one of the ways for India to offset this is to project sufficient capability.
  • The diplomatic and military domains have to play this out effectively.
  • India cannot be seen to be alone or militarily weak.
  • It has tremendous support internationally which must translate into a higher level of strategic support.
  • Militarily, Pakistan should never be able to perceive that it will be allowed to fight as per choice and conceived strategy.
  • China’s success or failure in such adventurism will set the course of its future strategy against its multiple adversaries.
  • That is the psyche which India must exploit to prevent escalation and win this and impending standoffs without fighting.
  • This needs a rapid and all-out national effort with the highest priority accorded to it, including budgeting.

Conclusion

India cannot afford to focus only on the northern borders. A firm and full strategy to deal with Pakistan in all contingencies has now become imperative.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Concerns over Australia in the Malabar Exercise

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quad

Mains level: Paper 2- Australia's joining in Malabar naval exercise and issues with it

While the idea of inviting Australia to join Malabar is being explored, we must not forget the concerns with it. This article examines such concerns.

Context

  • India’s Ministry of Defence discussed the issue of adding Australia to the trilateral Malabar naval exercise.
  • If materialised, it will be the first time since 2007 that all members of Quad-India, U.S., Japan and Australia will participate in a joint military drill.

Possible consequences of the move

  • The Chinese leadership sees the maritime Quadrilateral as an Asian-NATO that seeks only to contain China’s rise.
  •  India’s intention to involve Australia in the Malabar drill could only be construed as a move directed against Beijing.

India’s perspective

  • Following the stand-off in Ladakh, many Indian analysts believe the time is right for India to shed its traditional defensiveness in the maritime domain.
  • The realists advocate an alliance with the U.S., Japan and Australia to counter Chinese moves in the Indian Ocean.

Concerns

1) Contrary message to China

  • While India and China are negotiating a truce, Australia’s participation in the Malabar exercise sends contrary signals to Beijing.
  • If China responded aggressively in the Eastern Indian Ocean, it could needlessly open up a new front in the India-China conflict.

2) Only modest gains for India

  • U.S. and its Pacific partners want to form a maritime coalition to implement a ‘rules-based order’ in the Indo-Pacific littorals.
  • India’s priority is to acquire strategic capabilities to counter a Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean.
  •  Indian Navy is yet to develop the undersea capability to deter Chinese submarines in the eastern Indian Ocean.
  • With U.S. defence companies hesitant to share proprietary technology the gains for India, in exchange for signing up the ‘military-quad’, are modest.
  • Without strategic technology transfers, Indian Navy’s deterrence potential in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) will not improve much.

3) Operational issue: India will be drawn into power dynamics of the Asia-Pacific

  • With the strategic contest between the U.S. and China, there is every possibility that the military-Quad will be used to draw India into the security dynamics of the Asia-Pacific.
  • The U.S. would expect its Indo-Pacific partners, including India, to assist the U.S. Navy in its South China Sea endeavour.
  •  The U.S. and Japanese navies have little spare capacity for sustained surveillance and deterrence operations in the IOR.
  • Australia is an exception and is ready and able to partner India in securing the Eastern Indian Ocean.

4) Timing

  • A balancing coalition must come together at a time when the nature and magnitude of the threat are wholly manifest.
  • But, despite a growing presence in the Indian Ocean, the Chines Navy is yet to physically threaten Indian interests at sea.
  • So, the onus of the first move to precipitate a crisis in the Eastern Indian Ocean lies with the Indian Navy.

Conclusion

Upgrading the trilateral Malabar to a quadrilateral, without acquiring the requisite combat and deterrence capability, could yield gains for India in the short term, but would prove ineffective in the long run.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Broader strategic challenge of dealing with China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China tension and India's response

  • Identifying the nature of the threat posed by China is important to formulate a response. This article discusses the plan of action on the diplomatic, strategic and economic front to deal with Chinese aggression.

Economic angle of China’s expansionism

  • The Chinese growth model needed to find subservient emerging markets.
  • In these markets, China can park huge debts and make investments to keep feeding China’s high growth rates.
  • Friendly foreign debt-investment markets were needed to compensate for over-investment at home.
  • The Belt and Road Initiative was rolled out as a meeting point for China’s geo-strategic and geo-economic interests.
  • China has expanded its global footprint by signing on about 100 countries to the BRI.
  • China has made aggressive moves on most of its non-submissive neighbours in the South China Sea.
  • China has also made moves against its traditional rivals like Japan and Taiwan to independent-minded nations like South Korea and Australia.
  • China sees itself as a global power whose time has come.

India needs to play clearer role

  • Rise of China is shaking up global alignments and shaping new world order.
  • The Trump administration is increasingly being criticised for not providing global leadership.
  • India could afford to be largely non-aligned during the 20th century Cold War.
  • Our size and economic momentum necessitate that we play a clearer role in the Cold War’s 21st-century sequel.
  • India’s foreign policy has lacked a clear vision about China.
  • India has been deepening our strategic relationship with the US but without wanting to alarm China.

India’s relation with neighbours

  • India’s relations with other neighbouring nations have also become a cause of concern.
  • Pakistan has practically become a minion state for the Chinese – the $62-billion CPEC is a case in the point.
  • Nepal is no longer on our list of all-weather friends.
  • Chinese influence is growing in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — both signatories to the BRI.
  • And just last week, Beijing, sent another appallingly stern message to our loyal friend, Bhutan, by making ridiculous territorial claims.

What should be India’s plan of action

  • Dealing with China will require conviction and exercising a range of military, diplomatic and economic options.
  • One forum we need to build on and provide leadership to is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
  •  India should now propose the expansion of the Quad’s scope with a possible exploration of a collective defence architecture like NATO.
  • The membership of the Quad should be expanded to include Vietnam, South Korea, New Zealand, and Malaysia.
  • On the economic front, India must welcome the US proposal to expand G7 to include India, Russia, Australia and South Korea without China as a member.
  • Next area of focus should be strengthening ties with our neighbourhood.
  • Effort must be made to regain the relationship with Russia.

Conclusion

China must be made to choose: Is it willing to push the equally proud, equally numerous, equally historical and glorious civilisation to the south in this long-term direction for a few square kilometres of territory and a round of chest-thumping?

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Patrolling Points along LAC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Patrolling points, Galwan River

Mains level: India-China border skirmishes and its de-escalation

The standoffs between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where initial steps towards disengagement have taken place, are around a number of patrolling points or PPs in Galwan, Hot Springs and Gogra areas.

Do you know?

The Galwan River flows from the Aksai Chin region occupied by China in the UT of Ladakh.  It originates in the area of Samzungling on the eastern side of the Karakoram Range and flows west to join the Shyok River.  It is one of the upstream tributaries of the Indus River.

What exactly are Patrolling Points?

  • PPs are patrolling points identified and marked on the LAC, which are patrolled with a stipulated frequency by the security forces.
  • They serve as a guide to the location of the LAC for the soldiers, acting as indicators of the extent of ‘actual control’ exercised on the territory by India.
  • By regularly patrolling up to these PPs, the Indian side is able to establish and assert its physical claim about the LAC.

Are all the Patrolling Points numbered?

  • Some of the PPs are prominent and identifiable geographical features, such as a pass, or a nala junction where no numerals are given.
  • Only those PPs, where there are no prominent features, are numbered as in the case of PP14 in Galwan Valley.

Do all Patrolling Points fall on the LAC?

  • Mostly, yes. Except for the Depsang plains in northern Ladakh, where PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12 and PP13 – from Raki Nala to Jivan Nala – do not fall on the LAC.
  • These are short of the LAC, on the Indian side.

Are these Patrolling Points not manned?

  • The PPs are not posts and thus not manned. Unlike on the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the border with China is not physically held by the Army all along.
  • They are just physical markers on the ground, chosen for their location and have no defensive potential or tactical importance for the Army.

How is the claim asserted on LAC?

  • The claim is asserted by the Army or joint Army-ITBP patrols as they show more visible presence in these areas.
  • This is done by physically visiting PPs with a higher frequency, as the deployment has moved closer to the LAC and due to improved infrastructure.
  • As the Chinese may not see when the Indian patrols visit these PPs, they will leave come cigarette packets or food tins with Indian markings behind.
  • That lets the Chinese know that Indian soldiers had visited the place, which indicates that India was in control of these areas.

Who has given these Patrolling Points?

  • These PPs have been identified by the high-powered China Study Group, starting from 1975 when patrolling limits for Indian forces were specified.
  • It is based on the LAC after the government accepted the concept in 1993, which is also marked on the maps with the Army in the border areas.
  • But the frequency of patrolling to PPs is not specified by the CSG – it is finalised by the Army Headquarters in New Delhi, based on the recommendations made by the Army and ITBP.

PP under dispute

  • PPs 10 to 13 in Depsang sector, PP14 in Galwan, PP15 in Hot Spring, and PP17 and PP17A in Gogra are currently being disputed by both sides, where the standoffs have taken place in the past nine weeks.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

De-escalation begins on LAC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Galwan valley, Shyok River

Mains level: India-China border skirmishes and its de-escalation

Three weeks after the worst military clashes in decades, India and China have begun the process of disengagement at contentious locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Must read:

[Burning Issue] India-China Skirmish in Ladakh

China is moving back

  • In the Galwan Valley, Chinese troops have shifted 2 kilometres from the site violent clashes while some tents had been removed by the PLA in the Finger 4 area of Pangong Tso.
  • India’s claim is till Finger 8 as per the alignment of the LAC.
  • Some rearward movement of vehicles was seen at the general area of Galwan, Hotsprings and Gogra.
  • Without giving the specific distances moved, the source said the pullback at each location would be confirmed after verification.

Lessons learnt

  • The lesson for us in Doklam is that disengagement is not enough in order to declare an end to tensions at the LAC.
  • It is necessary that we define endpoints up to where the troops must withdraw to and no understanding should be reached without the restoration of status quo ante.
  • Endpoint variances reflect the potential for future troubles along the LAC.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary

Mains level: China's territorial expansion plans

In a bid to further its territorial ambitions, China has recently claimed the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary in Eastern Bhutan as its own territory.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What are the various fronts of Chinese imperial expansionism across the South Asian Region?

About the Sakteng WLS

  • Sakteng is a wildlife sanctuary located mostly in Trashigang District and just crossing the border into Samdrup Jongkhar District, Bhutan.
  • It is one of the country’s protected areas.
  • It is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion.

Certain unresolved issues

  • The boundary between China and Bhutan has never been delimited.
  • There have been disputes over the eastern, central and western sectors for a long time.
  • China last month attempted to stop funding for the Sakteng sanctuary from the U.N. Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) on the grounds that it was “disputed” territory.

Reasons for the dispute

  • According to written records, there has been no mention of Eastern Bhutan, or Trashigang Dzongkhag (district), where Sakteng is based as per boundary negotiations held between the two countries between 1984 and 2016.
  • The negotiations have not been held since the Doklam standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in 2017.
  • Bhutan has always maintained a discreet silence on its boundary negotiations with China, and it does not have any formal diplomatic relations with Beijing.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Indo-Pacific region

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: The East China Sea, the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the South China Sea

Mains level: Paper 2-India's Indo-Pacific vision and China's BRI

As India tries to diffuse the tension along the disputed northern border with China, it must focus on the other potential fronts that China could open. India Ocean could be the next one. This article examines the centrality of the Indian Ocean for China and their approach to the region.

India’s Indo-Pacific vision

  • This vision is based on our historical associations with this region.
  • This vision also acknowledges the importance of the Indian Ocean in building prosperity in this century.
  • So, the key points of this vision are thus-
  • 1) Inclusiveness, openness and ASEAN centrality and unity.
  • 2) India does not see the Indo-Pacific Region as a strategy or as a club of limited members.
  • 3) It is not directed against any country.

China should have equal access

  • China is not a littoral state in the Indian Ocean.
  • Historically, Chinese naval activity was limited to the East China Sea, the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, and the South China Sea.
  •  In today’s context, China is the second-largest economy and the world’s largest trading nation.
  • The sea-lanes of communication in the Indian Ocean are vital to her economy and security.
  • Under international law, China should have equal access to the Indian ocean.

China’s “Malacca Dilemma”

  • China thinks that others would block the Malacca Straits to “contain” the Chinese.
  • So, China has strategized to dominate not just the Malacca Straits, but the ocean beyond it.
  • The PLA Navy (PLAN) made its first operational deployment in the Gulf of Aden in 2008.
  • In 2009 China planned for overseas base or facility.
  • In 2010 a China State Oceanic Administration report alluded to plans to build aircraft carriers.

BRI: Overcoming the deficiencies China face in India Ocean

  • The US hegemony and India’s regional influence in the Indian Ocean are thought of as a challenge to China.
  • So, China focused on 3 inherent deficiencies that they wanted to overcome.
  • (a) China is not a littoral state.
  • (b) Its passage through key maritime straits could be easily blocked.
  • (c) The possibility of US-India cooperation against China.
  • How to overcome these deficiencies?
  • (1) carefully selecting sites to build ports — Djibouti, Gwadar, Hambantota, Sittwe and Seychelles.
  • (2) By conducting activities in a low-key manner to “reduce the military colour as much as possible”.
  • (3) By not unnerving India and America by cooperating at first, then slowly penetrating into the Indian Ocean, beginning with detailed maritime surveys, ocean mapping, HADR, port construction and so on.

 China acting on the plans

  • The PLA’s new base in Djibouti is the prototype for more “logistics” facilities to come.
  • More port construction projects like Gwadar and Hambantota, are being offered to vulnerable countries.
  • These projects are commercially unviable but have military possibilities,
  • Chinese “civilian” vessels routinely conduct surveys in the EEZ of littoral states.
  • In January 2020 the PLA Navy conducted tripartite naval exercises with Russia and Iran in the Arabian Sea.
  • They have the largest warship building programme in the world.

Consider the question “What constitutes India’s Indo-Pacific vision? Elaborate on the factors that explain China’s reluctance to subscribe to this vision.”

Conclusion

The idea of Indo-Pacific might potentially derail the carefully crafted Chinese plan. So, they now wish to cause alarm by raising fears about Great Power “strategic collision” caused by the so-called American-led “containment” strategy. It is important to look past their propaganda.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Ladakh and its Geo-strategic Importance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ladakh and its topography

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

With the long-standing border standoff with China, Ladakh, a rugged, high-altitude region that is generally far removed from the lives and imagination of most Indians, has become part of our daily conversations and worries.

Let’s have a look at a short primer on the region, its history, and some of the places where Indian soldiers are locked in conflict with the Chinese army. Try remembering its geographical features.

Ladakh through the History

  • Lying between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and Himalayas to the south, Ladakh was originally inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent.
  • Historically the region included the valleys of Baltistan, Indus, and Nubra, besides Zanskar, Lahaul and Spiti, Aksai Chin, Ngari and Rudok.
  • Located at the crossroads of important trade routes since ancient times, Ladakh has always enjoyed great geostrategic importance.
  • At the beginning of the first century AD, Ladakh was part of the Kushan Empire. Till the 15th century, it was part of Tibet and was ruled by dynasties of local Lamas.
  • Later it changed hands multiple times, alternating between the kingdoms of Kashmir and Zhangzhung.
  • In 1834, Gen Zorawar Singh, a general of Raja Gulab Singh who ruled Jammu as part of the Sikh empire, extended the boundaries of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s kingdom to Ladakh.

Partition, Pakistan and Chinese occupations

Immediately after India’s Partition, tribal raiders (the disguised Pakistani Army) attacked Ladakh. They captured Kargil and were heading for Leh when they were confronted by the Indian Army, who got back Kargil.

  • Although India has always considered Aksai Chin to be part of Jammu and Kashmir, in the 1950s the Chinese built a highway, called western highway or NH219, connecting Tibet with Xinjiang through this region.
  • It was always more easily accessible to the Chinese than to the Indians, who were across the Karakoram.
  • India learnt of this road in 1957, and it was one of the causes of the 1962 India-China war, after which China strengthened its control over this region.
  • China today claims Aksai Chin to be part of Hotan County of its Xinjiang province.
  • Pakistan ceded the Shaksgam Valley, which was part of the Baltistan region north of the Karakoram, to China following a Sino-Pakistani agreement signed on March 2, 1963.

Ladakh through the Chinese eyes

  • China’s forays into the region began after the 1949 Communist Revolution, when Chairman Mao Zedong, a veteran of guerrilla warfare, began consolidating China’s periphery as part of his expansionist designs.
  • The PLA occupied Tibet in 1951 and then began to eye Ladakh.
  • The reason was that the road connecting Kashgar in Xinjiang to Lhasa in Tibet had to pass through Aksai Chin, which was held by Indians but was seldom patrolled by them.

Galwan Valley in the limelight

  • The Tibetan revolt of 1959 and the Dalai Lama’s flight to India saw China further strengthening its military presence in Ladakh to ensure the security of NH 219.
  • India reacted with its ‘forward policy’ as part of which it began setting up Army posts in the region to prevent Chinese expansion.
  • This resulted in the initial clash between the Indian and Chinese forces in the Kongka Pass area in 1959.
  • Later, Galwan Valley became the scene of action when the Indian Army established a post to cut off the Chinese post in the Samjunjling area, marking the beginning of the 1962 war.

Pangong Tso: The contested lake

  • In the latest face-off, Indian troops first spied the Chinese on the banks of Pangong Tso.
  • This lake, which is one-third in India and two-thirds in China, is of great tactical significance to the Chinese who have built infrastructure along both its sides to ensure the speedy build-up of troops.
  • Chinese incursions in this region aim at shifting the LAC westward so that they are able to occupy important heights both on the north and the south of the lake, which will enable them to dominate the Chushul Bowl.
  • The narrow Chushul valley, which lies on the road to Leh with Pangong Tso to its north, was an important target for the Chinese even during the 1962 war. It was here that the Battle of Chushul was fought.

Strategic SSN: To the far north

  • The area spanning Galwan, Depsang plateau, and Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), is called Sub-Sector North (SSN).
  • This enclave that lies to the east of the Siachen glacier is of immense significance given its proximity to the Karakoram Pass, close to China’s western highway or NH 219 going to Aksai Chin.
  • It’s the SSN that provides land access to Central Asia through the Karakoram Pass.
  • Domination of this area is also crucial for the protection of the Siachen glacier, lying between the Saltoro ridge on the Pakistani side and the Saser ridge close to the Chinese claim line.
  • The Galwan heights overlook the all-weather Durbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) Road, which connects Leh to DBO at the base of the Karakoram Pass that separates China’s Xinjiang Region from Ladakh.
  • Domination over these heights allows China to easily interdict this road.

Why is China stubborn on Galwan?

  • Occupation of Galwan will neutralize the tactical advantage India gained by building the all-weather Durbuk-DBO road over the last two decades.
  • Last year, the Border Road Organisation (BRO) made this rugged terrain even more accessible by completing the 430-metre-long bridge across the Shyok River.
  • With this, the Darbuk route to DBO became available round the year, and the travel time of troops to the SSN was halved.
  • It was this bridge, coupled with the ongoing work on a link road to LAC in this area, prompted the PLA to enter Galwan.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Resistance to China is going to be definitive moment for India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China standoff

How India overcomes the challenge posed by China would have far-reaching effects. Role of Russia and the U.S. is important for India. This article discusses these factors and the significance of the outcome of the conflict started at Galwan. 

Two takes on India’s China policy

  • Following Galwan encounter, there are two views about the future of India’s China policy.
  • Some say that structural constraints would limit dramatic changes in policy once the heat of the moment dissipates.
  • While others say that the Galwan clash comes amidst the deepening crisis in bilateral relations over the last decade.
  • Stalled boundary talks, a widening trade deficit, the clash of national interests in the region, and Chinese opposition to India’s global aspirations have together strained Sino-Indian relations.
  • Galwan is the last straw, the argument goes, that broke the camel’s back.

So, what will be the outcome

  •  The relationship is likely to depend on how the current military confrontation in Ladakh is resolved.
  • If it ends with a quick return to the status quo that prevailed in April, inertia is likely to limit radical policy departures.
  • If the Ladakh crisis ends in a setback for India, the pressure on Delhi to radically reorient its China policy will mount.

What if the standoff continues?

  • In that case strengthening India’s military and political hand against China is the immediate objective of Delhi’s post-Galwan diplomacy.
  • The long term steps suggested include the construction of a military alliance with the US and other Western partner.
  • As as well as economic decoupling and diversification.
  • Short term steps are about being able to stare down the Chinese in the current military confrontation and hold its ground.

Role of Russia

  • Three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, India’s dependence on Russian arms remains substantive.
  • Rajnath Singh’s visit to Moscow amidst the crisis with China underlines the weight of the past in India’s security policy.
  • India is also pressing other major defence suppliers, including France and Israel, to accelerate deliveries on contracted defence equipment.
  • There have been reports from Russia, that China is pressing Moscow not to sell the new fighter aircraft to India.
  • Russia and China are strong strategic partners today.
  • While the past suggests India has a special claim to Russian affections, there is a Sino-Russian strategic cohabitation today in opposition to America
  • How Russia responds to India’s request will have a major bearing on the future evolution of Delhi’s ties with Moscow.

Role of the U.S.

  • Unlike Russia’s public stance of neutrality between India and China, Washington has come out in favour of Delhi.
  • There was vocal public support of the US defence and foreign policy establishment against Chinese aggression at Galwan.
  •  Media reports from Delhi say the US is already supplying valuable real-time military intelligence of value to the Indian armed forces.
  • Washington is apparently willing to do more but is letting Delhi decide the pace and intensity of that cooperation.

Challenges in the U.S. cooperation

  • The uncertain political moment in the US amidst the general election scheduled for early November can’t be underestimated.
  • A change of guard in Washington will certainly slow things down as the new administration settles down and reviews its priorities.
  • America’s stakes in China are far higher than Russia’s.
  • Profound economic interdependence of the U.S. and China is a significant political constraint on the US’s options.
  • On deeper military cooperation with Washington, Delhi would want to move with care rather than rush into it as it did in 1962.

How will outcomes of the crisis matter for India

  • If Delhi comes out of this crisis wounded, its troubles at home and the world will mount significantly.
  • A weakened India will find recasting its China policy even harder.
  • But victorious India will find its international political stock rising and its options on China expanding.
  •  Successful Indian resistance to China’s expansionism would be a definitive moment in the geopolitical evolution of Asia.
  • The stakes for India and the world, then, are far higher today than in 1962.

Consider the question “Examine the issues that introduce friction in India-China relations. Also, elaborate on the scope of India’s alliance with the U.S to counter the challenges posed by China.”

Conclusion

Outcomes of the resistance will have a profound impact on India’s standing and India’s destiny.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Making sense of moves of China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Galwan valley

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations, role of intelligence, limits of summit diplomacy

The role played by intelligence and emphasis on Summit diplomacy in relation with China are the two issues discussed in this article. So, what went wrong in Galwan incident from the intelligence point of view? And what are the perils of Summit diplomacy? Read to know...

Galwan-New and fractious phase

  • What occurred in the Galwan heights on June 15, must not be viewed as an aberration.
  • It would be more judicious to view it as signifying a new and fractious phase in China-India relations.
  • Even if the situation reverts to what existed in mid-April India-China relations appear set to witness a “new and different normal”.
  • China’s reaction has been consistent — India must move out of Galwan.
  • This is something that India cannot ignore any longer.
  • Galwan incident cannot be viewed as a mere replay of what took place in Depsang (2013), Chumar (2014) and Doklam (2017).
  • This is a new and different situation and India must not shrink from addressing the core issue that relations between India and China are in a perilous state.

Close and careful analysis of China’s claim is necessary

  • China’s assertion of its claim to the whole of the Galwan Valley needs close and careful analysis for following reasons-
  • 1) Point 14 gives China a virtual stranglehold over the newly completed, and strategically significant, Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie Road, which leads on to the Karakoram Pass.
  • 2) The strategic implications for India of China’s insistence on keeping the whole of the Galwan Valley are serious as it fundamentally changes the status quo.
  • 3) By laying claim to the Galwan Valley, China has reopened some of the issues left over from the 1962 conflict.
  • And this demonstrates that it is willing to embark on a new confrontation.

LAC and claim line of China

  • Ambiguity has existed regarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in this sector.
  • The Chinese “claim line” is that of November 1959.
  • For India the LAC is that of September 1962.
  • In recent years, both sides had refrained from reopening the issue, but China has never given up its claims.
  • By its unilateral declaration now, China is seeking to settle the matter in its favour. India needs to measure up to this challenge.

Importance of Aksai Chin

  • The importance of Aksai Chin for China has greatly increased of late, as it provides direct connectivity between two of the most troubled regions of China, viz., Xinjiang and Tibet.
  • This does not seem to have been adequately factored in our calculations.
  • While Indian policymakers saw the reclassification of Ladakh as purely an internal matter.
  • They overlooked the fact that for China’s military planners it posited a threat to China’s peace and tranquillity.

Intelligence capabilities

  • Admittedly, the timing and nature of China’s actions should have aroused keen interest in intelligence circles about China’s strategic calculations.
  • The Chinese build-up in the Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and Hotsprings-Gogra did not require any great intelligence effort, since there was little attempt at concealment by the Chinese.
  • India also possesses high-quality imagery intelligence (IMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) capabilities.
  • These capabilities are distributed between the National Technical Research Organisation, the Directorate of Signals Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence and other agencies.
  • Which made it possible to track Chinese movement.
  • Where intelligence can be faulted is with regard to inadequate appreciation of what the build-up meant, and what it portended for India.
  • This is indicative of a weakness in interpretation and analysis of the intelligence available.
  • And also of inability to provide a coherent assessment of China’s real intentions.
  • Intelligence assessment of China’s intentions, clearly fell short of what was required.
  • While India’s technological capabilities for intelligence collection have vastly increased in recent years, the capacity for interpretation and analysis has not kept pace with this.
  • Advances in technology, specially Artificial Intelligence have, across the world, greatly augmented efforts at intelligence analysis.

Who has the responsibility of intelligence assessment and analysis

  • The principal responsibility for intelligence assessment and analysis concerning China, rests with the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
  • To a lesser extent, it remains with the Defence Intelligence Agency.
  • The decision of the NSCS to dismantle the Joint Intelligence Committee has contributed to a weakening of the intelligence assessment system.
  • In the case of the R&AW, lack of domain expertise, and an inadequacy of China specialists might also have been a contributory factor.

Adverse impact of certain policy measures

  •  The preference given recently to Summit diplomacy over traditional foreign policy making structures proved to be a severe handicap.
  • Summit diplomacy cannot be a substitute for carefully structured foreign office policy making.
  • Currently, India’s Summit diplomacy has tended to marginalise the External Affairs Ministry with regard to policy making, and we are probably paying a price for it.
  • As it is, the Ministry of External Affairs’s (MEA) stock of China experts seems to be dwindling.
  • And MEA’s general tilt towards the U.S. in most matters, has resulted in an imbalance in the way the MEA perceives problems and situations.

Conclusion

Along with the other factors, India should also focus on intelligence analysis and interpretation and make sure there are enough China experts in the MEA.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Will banning Chinese imports hurt India’s exports?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: India-China trade relations

  • Following the recent clashes with Chinese troops in Ladakh, there has been a growing clamour in the country to boycott goods from the neighbouring country.
  • However, the development has caused an alarm among various industry bodies that are concerned about the adverse impact in the event of a blanket ban on exports in several sectors.

Practice question for mains:

Q.“Curbing Chinese imports to India will do more harm than any good”. Analyse.

How dependent is India on Chinese imports?

China accounts for a sizable portion of India’s top imports, especially where intermediate products or components and raw materials are concerned.  Electronics: The neighbouring country also accounts for 45 per cent of India’s total electronics imports.

  • A third of machinery and almost two-fifths of organic chemicals that India purchases from the world come from China.
  • Automotive parts and fertilizers are other items where China’s share in India’s import is more than 25 per cent.
  • Several of these products are used by Indian manufacturers in the production of finished goods, thus thoroughly integrating China in India’s manufacturing supply chain.
  • For instance India sources close to 90 per cent of certain mobile phone parts from China.

India’s export to China

  • Even as an export market, China is a major partner for India. At $15.5 billion, it is the third-largest destination for Indian shipments.
  • At the same time, India only accounts for a little over two per cent of China’s total exports, according to the Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO).

How could a blanket ban on Chinese imports hit India’s exports?

  • Across sectors from pharmaceuticals to telecommunications and automobiles, industry associations have been speaking up against a complete boycott of Chinese imports.
  • A “blanket ban” may not be feasible because of India’s dependence on the country for crucial raw materials.
  • Banning the imports of raw materials from China without which products over here cannot be manufactured will make things difficult.
  • If China takes any retaliatory measures, it would impact India more negatively.

Most crucial: The Pharma sector could be worst hit

  • For instance, of the nearly $3.6 billion worth of ingredients that Indian drug-makers import to manufacture several essential medicines, China catered to around 68 per cent.
  • India is considered one of the largest pharma industries in the world and accounts for a considerable portion of imports of finished formulations by other large economies like the US.
  • While pharma consignments from China have unofficially been stopped at ports in India, and are expected to be cleared after thorough checks,
  • A ban could create shortages of medicines both for India’s domestic and export markets.

Are there any alternatives in this situation?

  • The decision to boycott non-essential products made in China can be left to the individuals.
  • However, trade-related measures like raising duties on cheaper raw materials imported from China would be better than an outright embargo.
  • This would still allow access to crucial ingredients in the short-term while India looks to build self-reliance or maybe switch to alternate trade partners.
  • It would be better to maybe raise duties on cheaper raw materials instead of going in for a blanket ban.

Alternatives to Chinese imports

  • Countries like the US, Vietnam, Japan, Mexico and certain European countries could be tapped as alternate import sources for some critical electronic, vehicular and pharmaceutical components as well.
  • It is likely that the costs of the raw materials from these alternate sources will be higher and may get passed on to consumers if the manufacturers cannot absorb them.
  • India will need to look into the totality of its trade with China and Hong Kong and implement certain short- to long-term plans to reduce its dependence on them, according to FIEO.

Way forward

  • The government’s “Atmanirbhar” focus is expected to help ministries handhold industries where self-reliance needs to be built.
  • Some measures, like the decision to push bulk drug parks in India, have to be executed.
  • While an increase in tariff can be one way to achieve import substitution, the more effective strategy would be to provide an ecosystem that addresses the cost disability of Indian manufacturing leading to such imports.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Why China is being aggressive along the LAC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

Despite India’s careful approach which involved not upsetting China’s domestic and geopolitical sensitivities, Galwan happened. What explains the Chinese aggression? There could be many factors. This article delves into these factors. 

Not upsetting China

  • The India government has been very careful not to upset China’s domestic and geopolitical sensitivities.
  • Barring occasional joint statements issued with leaders from the U.S. and Asia-Pacific countries, reasserting India’s commitment to “freedom of navigation”  India has stayed away from criticising China on controversial topics,
  • On issues such as “de-radicalisation” camps in Xinjiang, crackdown on protests in Hong Kong, or disputes with Taiwan India India didn’t criticise China.

Yet China chose to increase tensions along the LAC. Why?

1. China wants to reorient global order

  • Unlike the Soviet Union of the 1940s China is not an ideological state that intends to export communism to other countries.
  • When it was rising, China had adopted different tactical positions — “hide your capacity and bide your time”, “peaceful rise” or “peaceful development”.
  • That era is over.
  • Under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese think they have arrived.
  • With the global economy in the doldrums, globalisation in a crisis and the U.S. under an isolationist President hostile towards China Beijing believes the global order is at a breaking point.
  • It is fighting back through what game theorists call “salami tactics” — where a dominant power attempts to establish its hegemony piece by piece.
  • India is one slice in this salami slice strategy.

2. India: An ally-in-progress of the US

  • It sees India as an ally-in-progress of the U.S.
  •  So, China actions are a result of the strategic loss [India] that has already happened.
  • If India is what many in the West call the “counterweight” to China’s rise, Beijing’s definite message is that it is not deterred by the counterweight.
  • This is a message not just to India, but to a host of China’s rivals that are teaming up and eager to recruit India to the club.

Factors that could explain China’s move

Global factors

  • Europe has been devastated by the virus.
  • The U.S. is battling in an election year the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • It is also battling the deepest economic meltdown since the Great Depression.
  • Its global leadership is unravelling fast.

Regional and local factors

  • The Indian economy was in trouble even before COVID-19 struck the country, slowing down its rise.
  • Social upheaval over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, and the National Register of Citizens had weakened the Indian polity.
  • India’s traditional clout in its neighbourhood was slipping.
  • Tensions with Pakistan have been high keeping the troops occupied in the border areas.
  • Nepal raised boundary issues with India.
  • Sri Lanka is diversifying its foreign policy.and China is making deep inroads into that region.
  • Bangladesh was deeply miffed with the CAA.
  • Even in Afghanistan, where Pakistan, China, Russia and the U.S. are involved in the transition process, India is out.
  •  A confluence of all these factors, which point to a decline in the country’s smart power, allowed China to make aggressive moves on the LAC.

Consider the question “At the time when relations reached a nadir with China, India needs to focus on its neighbourhood and mend win back the friendly neighbours. Comment”

Conclusion

What India needs is a national security strategy that’s decoupled from the compulsions of domestic politics and anchored in neighbourhood realism. It should stand up to China’s bullying on the border now, with a long-term focus on enhancing capacities and winning back its friendly neighbours. There are no quick fixes this time.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India will have to manage its conflict on its own

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

The Galwan incident marked the new low in the India-China relations. Following it, there have been talks of a closer alliance with the U.S. This article analyses the utility, potential and the limitations of this approach.

Exploring the strategic options

  • As the border stand-off with China deepens, India will have to think of all possible strategic options that gives it leverage.
  • One of the options is new arrangements with other powers.
  • This is the right moment to mobilise international opinion on China.
  • But can this be translated into concerted global action to exert real pressure on China?

Things India should consider while forming alliance with the US

  • International relations are formed in the context of a country’s development paradigm.
  • India’s primary aim should be to preserve the maximum space for its development model, if it can actually formulate one.
  • India is not unique in this respect.
  •  The question for India is not just whether the US has a stake in India’s development, which it might.
  • But it is, rather, to ask whether India’s development needs will fit into the emerging US development paradigm.
  • Will the very same political economy forces that create a disengagement with China also come in the way of a closer relationship with India?
  • Some sections of American big business might favour India.
  • But the underlying political economy dynamics in the US are less favourable.
  • Will the US give India the room it needs on trade, intellectual property, regulation, agriculture, labour mobility, the very areas where freedom is vital for India’s economy?
  • Will a US hell-bent on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US, easily gel with an “atma nirbhar” Bharat?
  • To see what is at stake, we just need to look how the development paradigm is driving tensions on trade, taxation and regulatory issues between the US and EU.

Why India avoided alignment with the US in the past

  •  But the drivers of this have often been legitimate differences over development, including climate change.
  • It has also been that, at various points, that alignment was against India’s other strategic commitments.
  • India was wise to stay out of the war in Iraq, it was wise not to upset Russia.
  • It is wise not to throw its weight behind the US’s Iran policy.
  • There is more maturity in the US to understand India’s position.

Global reluctance in collective action against China

  • It is an odd moment in global affairs, where there is recognition of a common challenge emanating from China.
  • But there is no global appetite to take concerted action.
  • An interesting example might be the global response to the BRI.
  • Many countries are struggling to meet their BRI debt obligations.
  • But it is difficult to see the rest of the international community helping all these countries to wean their regimes away from dependence on Chinese finance.
  • Similarly, there are now great concerns over frontier areas of conflict like cyber security and space.
  • It is difficult to imagine concerted global action to create rules in these area, partly because Great Powers like the US and Russia will always want to maintain their exceptionalism.

Limitations of global alliance and public opinion in solving local conflicts

  • 1) The international community has not been very effective in neutralising
  •  exercised by some powers.
  • This is the tactic Pakistan has used.
  • 2) Don’t count on the fact that the world will support an Indian escalation beyond a point.
  • The efforts of the international community, in the final analysis, will be to try and throw cold water on the conflict.
  • No one has a serious stake in the fate of the terrain India and China are disputing.
  • At the end of the day, India has to manage China and Pakistan largely on its own.

Conclusion

Even as we deal with the military situation on the border, the test of India’s resolve will be its ability to return to some first principle thinking about its own power.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Three pronged strategy to deal with China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China border dispute

The LAC has been exploited by China as leverage against India. And failure on our part to understand long-term strategic aims and objective of China makes the problem hard to solve. This article suggests a three-pronged approach to deal with China.

Incomprehension of aims and objectives

  •  There is incomprehension among our decision-makers of the long-term strategic aims and objectives that underpin China’s belligerent conduct.
  • We have not devoted adequate intellectual capital, intelligence resources and political attention to acquisition of a clear insight into China and its motivations.
  • Even when intelligence is available, analysis and dissemination have fallen short.

What China’s Defence White Papers suggest

  • These thematic public documents articulate China’s national security aims, objectives and vital interests and also address the “ends-ways-means” issues related to its armed forces.
  • The 11 DWPs issued so far are a model of clarity and vision, and provide many clues to current developments.
  • No Indian government since Independence has deemed it necessary to issue a defence white paper, order a defence review or publish a national security strategy.
  • Had we done so, it may have prepared us for the unexpected and brought order and alacrity to our crisis-response.

China uses LAC as strategic leverage

  • In order to show India its place, China had administered it a “lesson” in 1962.
  • And it may, perhaps, be contemplating another one in 2020, with the objective of preventing the rise of a peer competitor.
  • For China, the line of actual control or LAC, representing an unsettled border, provides strategic leverage.
  • Leverage it can use to keep India on tenterhooks about its next move while repeatedly exposing the latter’s vulnerabilities.

1993 Agreement didn’t benefit India

  • Our diplomats derive considerable satisfaction from the 1993 Border Peace & Tranquility Agreement.
  • This agreement, according to former foreign secretary, Shivshankar Menon, “…effectively delinked settlement of the boundary from the rest of the relationship”.
  • But by failing to use available leverage for 27 years, and not insisting on bilateral exchange of LAC maps, we have created a ticking time-bomb, with the trigger in China’s hands.
  • While “disengagement” may soon take place between troops in contact, it is most unlikely that the PLA will pull back or vacate any occupied position in Ladakh or elsewhere.
  • In which case, India needs to consider a three-pronged strategy.

What should be India’s three-pronged strategy?

1. Reinforce at ground level

  • At the ground-level, we need to visibly reinforce our positions, and move forward to the LAC all along.
  • We should enhance the operational-tempo of the three services as a measure of deterrence.
  • Indian warships should show heightened presence at the Indian Ocean choke-points.
  • Cyber emergency response teams country-wide should remain on high alert.
  • We should build-up stocks of weapons, ammunition and spares.
  • The Ministry of Defence should seize this opportunity to urgently launch some long-term “atma-nirbharta” schemes in defence-production.

2. At strategic level: Modus vivendi

  • At the strategic level, the government should consider sustained process of engagement with China at the highest politico-diplomatic echelons.
  • The negotiations should seek multi-dimensional Sino-Indian modus-vivendi; encompassing the full gamut of bilateral issues like trade, territorial disputes, border-management and security.
  • Simultaneously, at the grand-strategic level, India should initiate a dialogue for the formation of an “Indo-Pacific Concord for Peace and Tranquility”.
  • This Concord should involve inviting four members of the Quad as well as Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia.

3. Political pragmatism

  • As a nation, we need to be pragmatic enough to realise that neither conquest nor re-conquest of territory is possible in the 21st century.
  • Parliament should, now, resolve to ask the government, “to establish stable, viable and peaceful national boundaries”.

Consider the question “With changing relations with China, India needs to overhaul its strategy on the ground, strategic and political levels in dealing with China”

Conclusion

This three-pronged approach while comprehending the Chines objectives and goals can help India in dealing successfully with the challenge posed by China.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Future of relations with China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Galwan river, Shyok River

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

This article calibrates the changes our future engagement with China will experience following the Galwan incident. The first casualty has been the trust between the two countries. And next could be strategic communications between the two countries. So, India’s response to the incident should be based on these changes.

What explains China’s aggression

  • Hubris, internal insecurities in China, the COVID-19 pandemic and the complex and confused external environment explains it.
  • Challenge posed by India from the ideological, strategic and economic points of view can be the other factor.

Violation of many agreements

  • China’s recent military actions in Ladakh clearly violate the signed agreements of 1993, 1996, 2005, etc on maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC.
  • These actions are in violation also of other signed agreements, including at the highest level.
  • It also contradict positions taken by Xi himself at the informal Wuhan and Chennai summits in 2018 and 2019.
  • In 2003, two countries signed a Declaration on Principles for Relations and Constructive Cooperation between our two countries.
  • The third principle states: “The two countries are not a threat to each other. Neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other.”
  •  This was more than reiterated in the agreement signed in April 2005 on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for settlement of the India China boundary question.
  • . Article 1 states, inter alia: “Neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means.”

Doklam and informal summits

  • .A qualitative change though occurred in Chinese perceptions after the Doklam face-off.
  • That necessitated the first informal summit at Wuhan in April 2018.
  • One important outcome of that summit was the agreement to continue to meet at the highest level and to enhance trust and strengthen strategic communication.
  • The second informal summit took place between Xi and Narendra Modi in Chennai in October 2019.
  • It was in the aftermath of the revocation of Article 370 by India and China’s unnecessary and unsuccessful attempt to raise the issue in the UN Security Council.
  • By then, many other developments — both internal and external — had added pressure on China.
  • At Chennai, the Chinese undoubtedly drew some red lines.

Which red lines does China feel India has crossed

  • One fundamental red line is China’s long-held and strategic interest in parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Jammu and Kashmir border Xinjiang and Tibet and allow connectivity between the two.
  • It is wrongly argued that it is Pakistan that is the issue in J&K.
  • China is as big an issue but has quietly hidden behind Pakistan’s cover.
  • That is no longer feasible as democratic India becomes economically and otherwise stronger.

Future of Special Representative process

  • The Special Representatives process to address the boundary question seems stalemated and its usefulness needs review.
  • The 2005 agreement contains the necessary parameters for a boundary settlement but there is obviously not adequate common ground.
  • Some positivity can, however, be brought in if the LAC clarification process is revived and completed in a time-bound manner.
  • But this is easier said than done in the prevailing circumstances.
  • Patrolling procedures will need to be revised, preferably by mutual agreement.

Unsustainable economic partnership

  • The current nature of the economic partnership between India and China is not sustainable.
  • India’s annual trade deficit with China in recent years virtually finances a CPEC a year!
  • China has still not fulfilled all its commitments to India on joining the WTO in 2001.

What should be our trade policy

  • Indian business and industry must stop taking the easy option.
  • Some costs will no doubt go up but there can be environmental advantages of switching to other sources of technology and equipment.
  • There is more than one available source of financial investments in Indian ventures.

What will be the nature of bilateral dialogue

  • Bilateral dialogue mechanisms will continue their desultory course.
  • On issues of interest to India such as terrorism, we get no support from China.
  • Cooperation on river waters has not evolved.
  • On the global agenda, on issues such as climate change, dialogue and cooperation will continue in multilateral fora depending on mutual interest.

What should be the nature of governments response

  • The response to China’s recent actions in Ladakh must be an all-of-government one, indeed an all-India one.
  • It should be covering all sectors including heightened security and be coordinated, consistent.
  • This is not a question of nationalism or patriotism but of self-esteem and self-respect.

Consider the question “What should be the basis of India’s evolving policy response to China’s new approach to the border dispute?”

Conclusion

Bilateral relations between India and China cannot progress unless there is peace on the borders and China recognises that India too has non-negotiable core concerns, aspirations and interests.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Faults in our China policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China realtions

This article tracks the faultline in India’s China policy that makes it an enduring tragedy. China never bought into India’s narratives of Asian unity and untied Asian front against the West. Instead, China cultivated its relations with the West and leveraged that for furthering its interests.

Enduring tragedy: India’s China policy

  • That tragedy is rooted in persistent political fantasies.
  • Refusal to learn from past mistakes.
  • And the belief that the US and the West are at the source of India’s problems with China.
  • The problem predates independence.
  • Each generation has been reluctant to discard the illusions that India’s China policy has nurtured over the last century.

Historical background

  •  Tagore went to China in 1924 with the ambition of developing a shared Asian spiritual civilisation.
  • He was accused by Chines of diverting Chins’s attention away from the imperatives of modernisation and, yes, westernisation.
  •  Jawaharlal Nehru approached China as a modernist and nationalist.
  • He met a delegation of Chinese nationalists at Brussels in 1927.
  • There he issued a ringing statement on defeating western imperialism and shaping a new Asian and global order.
  •  But in Second World War, Congress was unwilling to join hands with China in defeating Japanese imperialism.
  • Indian and Chinese nationalists could not come together for they were fighting different imperial powers.

Relations after independence

  • As India’s first PM, Nehru campaigned against the western attempt to isolate China.
  • Afro-Asian conference in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955 was attended by both.
  • Within five years war broke out in 1962.
  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee travelled to China in February 1979 to re-engage Beijing.
  • Before he could head home, Beijing had launched a war against a fellow communist regime in Vietnam.
  • That was an end of hope for Asian solidarity.
  • Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 sought to normalise relations with China while continuing to negotiate on the boundary dispute.

Other issues: Trade entanglement

  • Amid border dispute, other issues have taken a life of their own.
  • For example, the massive annual trade deficits.
  • India’s hope that economic cooperation will improve mutual trust will help resolve other issues was also dashed.
  • India’s massive trade deficit with China is now a little over half of its total trade deficit.
  • India is finding it hard to disentangle the deep economic dependence on imports from China.

Story of political cooperation: From unipolar to bipolar world

  • As the Cold War ended, India began political cooperation with China on global issues.
  • It was hoped that such cooperation will provide the basis for better bilateral relations.
  • It could not have been more wrong.
  • P V Narasimha Rao and his successors joined China and Russia in promoting a “multipolar world” [remember the US dominance].
  • Delhi is now struggling to cope with the emergence of a “unipolar Asia” — with Beijing as its dominant centre.
  • China’s rapid rise has also paved the way for the potential emergence of a “bipolar world” dominated by Washington and Beijing.

Engagement with West

  • China never worked with Indian on the ideas of building coalitions against the West.
  • While India never stopped arguing with the West, China developed a sustained engagement with the US, Europe and Japan.
  • Mao broke with Communist Russia to join forces with the US in the early 1970s.
  • Deng Xiaoping promoted massive economic cooperation with the US to transform China and lay the foundations for its rise.

Will staying away from West lead to good relations with China

  • China has leveraged the deep relationship with the West to elevate itself in the international system.
  • Delhi continues to think that staying away from America is the answer for good relations with Beijing.
  • Beijing sees the world through the lens of power.
  • Delhi tends to resist that realist prism.
  • India has consistently misread China’s interests and ambitions.
  • The longer India takes to shed that strategic lassitude, the greater will be its China trouble.

Facts that India needs to come to terms with

  • India must also recognise that China, like the great powers before it, wants to redeem its territorial claims.
  • China also has the ambition to bend the neighbourhood to its will, reshape the global order to suit its interests.
  • China has not hidden these goals and interests, but India has refused to see what is in plain sight.

Consider the question “Acknowledging Beijing’s rise, scale of challenge it presents, are first steps in crafting a new China policy” Comment.

Conclusion

Acknowledging China’s dramatic rise and recognising the scale of the challenge it presents is essential for Delhi in crafting a new China policy.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

What is lacking in our China policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations and border dispute

While formulating our response to China’s aggressive policies in Ladakh, we should first understand their objectives. This article explains these objective and suggests the steps to deal with China’s policies.

Statements on Aksai Chin and Pakistan

  • Statements over Aksai Chin and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) by India have painted the image of India as a revanchist power in utter disregard of the country’s capabilities.
  • These statements also gave the impression that India precludes any attempt at changing the status quo on either front.
  • Though these statements were justifiable in terms of India’s legal rights to these territories, were ill-timed.

How these statements were perceived by China

  • They were made when Beijing was feeling alarmed at the Indian government’s decision to separate Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The move augmented its perception that it was a prelude to India’s attempt to change the status quo in Aksai Chin.
  • India’s assertion of its claims on PoK that in China’s perception threatened the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

China’s 4 strategic objectives

1. India and China are not equals

  • China wants India to understand that it is not in the same league as China.
  • China resorts to periodic assaults across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) if India tries to assume a position of equality.

2. Keep India away from interfering in Indo-Pacific

  • China wants India not to actively oppose Chinese designs to dominate the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Also, China wants Indias to refrain from aligning with the U.S. and its allies — Japan and Australia, in particular — in an attempt to contain China.

3. Keeping India preoccupied with problems

  • China’s strategy also includes keeping India preoccupied with problems in its immediate neighbourhood.
  • So with these problems, India cannot act as an alternative pole of power to China in the broader Asian region.

4. Supporting Pakistan to neutralise India

  • As part of the last objective, China supports  Pakistan economically and militarily, including the sharing of nuclear weapons designs.
  • China uses Pakistan to neutralise India’s conventional power superiority vis-à-vis that country.

An understanding of these objectives is essential to fashioning a realistic Indian response to China’s aggressive policies in Ladakh and elsewhere along the LAC.

But, what about Pakistan?

  • Pakistan is at best an irritant for India. (so, focus on China)
  • Pakistan can be managed with the use of diplomatic tools, international opprobrium, and superior military force.
  • In fact, the Pakistani challenge to India has become magnified because of its nexus with China.

What India should do?

  • India’s main strategic goal should be the adoption of carefully calculated policies that neutralise China’s diplomatic and military clout in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • While doing so, India should not appear as a surrogate for other powers.
  • And India should also ensure that in making alliances it in not sacrificing the autonomy of decision-making in foreign policy. 

Consider the question “Understanding of China’s objective is essential to formulate a realistic response to its aggressive policies in Ladakh.” Comment.

Conclusion

Understanding the greater threat posed by China vis-a-vis Pakistan should be the basis of India’s policy towards China.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Why China trade ban is bad idea

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: India-China trade relations

After the Galwan Valley skirmish, the popular idea resonating in Indian streets is that Indians should boycott Chinese goods and thus “teach China a lesson”.

Practice question for mains:

Q. India’s quest for self-reliance is still a distant dream. Critically comment in light of the popular sentiment against the Chinese imports in India.

There are several reasons why the #Boycott_China is an ill-advised move:

A. Trade deficits are not necessarily bad

  • Trade deficits/surpluses are just accounting exercises and having a trade deficit against a country doesn’t make the domestic economy weaker or worse off.
  • Example: If one looks at the top 25 countries with whom India trades, it has a trade surplus with the US, the UK and the Netherlands. But this does not make Indian economy better than them.

What does this deficit indicate?

  • Both Indian consumers and Chinese producers are gainer through trading.
  • One gets the market other cheap price. Thus, both are better off than what they would have been without trade.

So, having a trade deficit is good?

  • Of course, running persistent trade deficits across all countries raises two main issues.
  • One, availability of foreign exchange reserves to “buy” the imports.
  • Today, India has more than $500 billion of forex — good enough to cover imports for 12 months.
  • Two, lack of domestic capacity to produce in the most efficient manner.

B. Will hurt the Indian poor the most

  • This is because poor are more price-sensitive.
  • For instance, if Chinese TVs were replaced by either costlier Indian TVs or less efficient ones, unlike poor, richer Indians may buy the costlier option.
  • Similarly, the Chinese products that are in India are already paid for. By banning their sale or avoiding them, Indians will be hurting fellow Indian retailers.
  • Again, this would hit poorest retailers more due to inability to cope with the unexpected losses.

C. Will punish Indian producers and exporters

  • Several businesses in India import intermediate goods and raw materials, which, in turn, are used to create final goods — both for the domestic Indian market as well as the global market (as Indian exports).
  • An overwhelming proportion of Chinese imports are in the form of intermediate goods such as electrical machinery, nuclear reactors, fertilizers, optical and photographic measuring equipment organic chemicals etc.
  • Such imports are used to produce final goods which are then either sold in India or exported.
  • A blanket ban on Chinese imports will hurt all these businesses at a time when they are already struggling to survive, apart from hitting India’s ability to produce finished goods.

D. Will barely hurt China

  • While China accounts for 5% of India’s exports and 14% of India’s imports — in US$ value terms — India’s imports from China are just 3% of China’s total exports.
  • More importantly, China’s imports from India are less than 1% of its total imports.
  • The point is that if India and China stop trading then — on the face of it — China would lose only 3% of its exports and less than 1% of its imports.
  • However, India will lose 5% of its exports and 14% of its imports.

Issues

  • On the whole, it is much easier for China to replace India than for India to replace China.
  • Ban can also seize Chinese funding to many Indian businesses (the start-ups with billion-dollar valuations).
  • In short term, replacing Chinese products with Japan or Germany, will only increase our total trade deficit.
  • If on the other hand, we decide to use Indian products, that too would cost us more — albeit just internally.

E. India will lose policy credibility

  • It has also been suggested that India should renege on existing contracts with China.
  • This can be detrimental for India’s effort to attract foreign investment.
  • As one of the first things an investor — especially foreign — tracks is the policy credibility and certainty.
  • If policies can be changed overnight or if the government itself reneges on contracts, investor will either not invest or demand higher returns for the increased risk.

F. Raising tariffs is mutually assured destruction

  • Many argue that India should just slap higher import duties on Chinese goods or apply prohibitive tariffs on final goods.
  • By doing this, firstly India would be violating rules of the World Trade Organization.
  • Secondly, it would make China and many others to reciprocate in the same way.

Equating border dispute with trade is no panacea

  • The first thing to understand is that turning a border dispute into a trade war is unlikely to solve the border dispute.
  • Worse, given India and China’s position in both global trade as well as relative to each other, this trade war will hurt India far more than China.
  • Thirdly, these measures will be most poorly timed since the Indian economy is already at its weakest point ever — facing a sharp GDP contraction.

Way forward

  • In long term, under the banner of self reliance, India must develop its domestic capabilities and acquire a higher share of global trade by raising its competitiveness.
  • But no country is completely self-sufficient and that is why trade is such a fantastic idea.
  • It allows countries to specialize in what they can do most efficiently and export that good while importing whatever some other country does more efficiently.
  • Need of hour is well thought and balanced approach.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Postscript to a tragedy at Galwan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Galwan valley.

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

The article suggests the approach that India should adopt in its policy toward China. Long term view of the situation is crucial. But some short term steps is also necessary.

Prelude to 1962 War

  • Revolt in Tibet and granting asylum to the Dalai Lama in March 1959 can be seen as start of tensions in relations.
  •  In October 1959, there was a face-off between Indian and Chinese troops at Kongka La.
  • With the conflict in 1962,  there was very little room for a reasoned, negotiated settlement on the boundary question between the two countries.

2020 is not same as 1959 for both India and China

  • Both nations have grown immensely in strength and stature on the world stage – even military wise.
  • Their relations have substance and a diversity of content in a manner absent in the 1950s – like the economic relations.
  • Hence, there is a need to not blame each other and find solutions instead of descent towards a full-blown conflict with China.

Weighing the options carefully

  • India at present is struggling at multiple fronts:
  • 1) COVID-19 crisis demands the full attention of the government.
  • 2) Economy is stagnant and needs recovery.
  • 3) Tensions on other fronts – Pakistan persist and Nepal dispute in the Lipulekh/Kalapani area.
  • Thus, the call by warmongers should be evaluated, that too critically.

Evolving comprehensive China policy

  • Strong political direction, mature deliberation and coherence are keys to handling the situation.
  • Army’s role can involve tactical adjustments and manoeuvres to deter the Chinese.
  • But comprehensive China strategy should be left to those tasked with national security policy.
  • Chinese transgressions in Sikkim and Ladakh can provide learning lessons for our future strategy.
  • A complete strategy would involve military, diplomatic and political levels.

Future plan of action – Defence

  • India should take the initiative on a timely and early clarification of the LAC.
  • Identify areas of conflict and mark such areas as demilitarized by both sides through joint agreement.
  • At the same time, India must stand resolute and firm in the defence of territory in all four sectors of the border.
  • Contacts between the two militaries — joint exercises and exchanges of visits of senior Commanders — should be scaled down for short term future.
  • Diplomatic channels must continue to be open and should not be restricted in any way as they are essential in the current situation.
  • A border settlement is part of long term strategy.

Future of business, trade and investment between two countries

  • Indian businesses in China and Chinese business operations in India can expect tougher future.
  • The scenario on trade and investments could encounter similar obstacles.
  • Areas of on national security, as in the cyber field and in telecommunications (5G) should take necessary reduction in import of Chinese items.

 India should strengthen alliances

  • The events in Galwan Valley should be a wake-up call to re invent it’s South and easAsia policy.
  • This is an opportunity for India to align its interests much more strongly with the U.S. as a principal strategic partner.
  • India should also infuse more energy into its relations with Japan, Australia, and the ASEAN.
  • The time has also come for India to reconsider its stand on joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
  • To disengage from economic involvement with China, and build the capacities and capabilities it needs in manufacturing, and in supply chains networks closer home, India has to think in the long terms.

Consider the question “The context of changing relations with China has forced India to reconsider the depth of its engagement with other countries. In light of this examine the changes India’s foreign policy adopt in dealing with other countries.”

Conclusion

Galwan incident is a wake up call for us. In every aspect, engagement with China needs a re look. And that also includes an increased level of engagement in South Asian neighborhood.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Why Ladakh matters to India and China?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ladakh and its topography

Mains level: India-China border disputes

This article from IE discusses this cold, dry, high altitude territory with its extremely scarce vegetation that makes it a point of disagreement between India and China.

Practice question for mains:

Q. India’s boundary disputes with its neighbourhood are the legacy of its colonial past. Analyse.

Ladakh: The Cold Desert of India

  • Ladakh is the highest plateau in India with much of it being over 3,000 m.
  • It extends from the Himalayan to the Kunlun Ranges and includes the upper Indus River valley.
  • The importance of Ladakh is rooted in complicated historical processes that led to the territory becoming part of the state of J&K, and China’s interest in it post the occupation of Tibet in 1950.

Beginning of the Chinese claim

  • In July 1958, an official monthly magazine in China published a map of the country that would in the next few months become a bone of contention between India and its East Asian neighbour.
  • The map in question showed large parts of the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) and the Himalayan territory of Ladakh as part of China.
  • Soon after ‘China pictorial’ came out with the new Chinese map, the leaders of both countries began writing to each other frequently regarding Ladakh.
  • The exchange of letters between Jawaharlal Nehru and his Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was followed by the Sino-Indian war of 1962.
  • The war also led to the formation of the loosely demarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC) running through Ladakh.

The Integration of Ladakh into India

  • Historically and culturally the state was intrinsically linked to neighbouring Tibet.
  • Language and religion linked Ladakh and Tibet; politically too, they shared a common history.
  • Ladakh was part of the Tibetan empire which broke up after the assassination of King Langdarma in 742 CE.
  • Up until the Dogra invasion of 1834, Ladakh was an independent Himalayan state, much the same way as Bhutan and Sikkim.
  • As the Sikhs acquired Kashmir in 1819, Emperor Ranjit Singh turned his ambition towards Ladakh.
  • But it was Gulab Singh, the Dogra feudatory of the Sikhs in Jammu, who went ahead with the task of integrating Ladakh into Jammu and Kashmir.

British interests in Ladakh

  • The British East India Company, which was by now steadily establishing itself in India, had lacked interest in Ladakh initially.
  • However, it did show enthusiasm for the Dogra invasion of the area, with the hope that as a consequence, a large portion of Tibetan trade would be diverted to its holdings.
  • The state of J&K was essentially a British creation, formed as a buffer zone where they could meet the Russians.

The Sino-Sikh War

  • In May 1841, Tibet under the Qing dynasty of China invaded Ladakh with the hope of adding it to the imperial Chinese dominions, leading to the Sino-Sikh war.
  • However, the Sino-Tibetan army was defeated, and the Treaty of Chushul was signed that agreed on no further transgressions or interference in the other country’s frontiers.
  • After the first Anglo-Sikh war of 1845-46, the state of J&K, including Ladakh, was taken out of the Sikh empire and brought under British suzerainty.

Chinese interest in Ladakh after the occupation of Tibet in 1950

  • The annexation of Tibet by China in 1950 sparked a newfound interest in Ladakh, and particularly so after the 1959 Tibetan uprising that erupted in Lhasa with Dalai Lama’s political asylum in India.
  • In attempting to crush the Tibetan revolt while at the same time denying its existence, the Chinese have used methods which have brought China and India into sharp conflict.
  • To begin with, the road that the Chinese built across Ladakh in 1956-57 was important for the maintenance of their control over Tibet.
  • The building of the road through Ladakh upset Nehru’s government. The diplomatic negotiations failed, and the war of 1962 followed.

Why conflict has flared up again?

  • There are two layers to this. First, up to 2013, India’s infrastructural development in that area was minimal.
  • From 2013, India started pushing for infrastructure projects there and by 2015; it became a major defence priority.
  • The second layer is the August 5, 2019 decision (to remove the special status of J&K and downgrade the state into two Union Territories).
  • From the Chinese point of view, they would have assumed that if India makes Ladakh a Union Territory, they would be reasserting its control over the entire state.
  • Moreover, it is also important to note that over time, Xinjiang which is part of Aksai Chin, has become very important to China for their internal reasons.

The dispute

  • The British legacy of the map of the territory continued to remain the ground upon which India laid its claim on the area.
  • India insisted that the border was, for the most part, recognised and assured by treaty and tradition; the Chinese argued it had never really been delimited.
  • The claims of both governments rested in part on the legacy of imperialism; British imperialism (for India), and Chinese imperialism (over Tibet) for China.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

History, the standoff, and policy worth rereading

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Treaties with Nepal and Bhutan.

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

In the changing circumstances, there is a need for recalibration of foreign policy when dealing with China. This article draws on a policy approach adopted by Nehru and suggests 4 areas to focus on while devising the foreign policy.

India must pay attention to “five fingers”

  • The deadly clashes at Galwan and the ongoing standoff between India and China on the ridges or “fingers” around the Pangong Tso are a metaphor for the wider conflict between the two countries.
  • The metaphor refers to all the areas that Chinese strategy refers to as the “five fingers of the Tibetan palm”.
  • According to the construct, attributed to Mao and cited in the 1950s by Chinese officials, Xizang (Tibet) was China’s right palm, and it was its responsibility to “liberate” the fingers.
  • Fiver fingers are defined as Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, or Arunachal Pradesh).
  • Sixty years ago, India began to set about ensuring that quite the reverse ensued, and all five fingers were more closely attached to India, not China.
  • As the government of India grapples with its next steps at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), it must cast a similarly grand strategy, to renew its compact with each of those areas today.

Chines propaganda before 1962 War

  • In the 1950s, even after India and China signed the Panchsheel agreement in 1954.
  • And before the 1962 China-India war, the Nehru government had begun to worry about some of China’s proclamations.
  • Especially after the flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959, China began to demand “self-determination in Kashmir”, wrote former Foreign Secretary T.N. Kaul in his memoirs.
  •  More importantly, school textbooks there began to depict the “five fingers” as a part of China.

India’s three-pronged foreign policy form past

  •  India’s defeat in the 1962 war has been studied in great detail, what is perhaps not so well understood is the three-pronged foreign policy New Delhi set into motion at the time, that provided an effective counter to Mao’s five finger policy over the course of the century.

Following are the 3 elements that also formed the part of past policy, with the addition of Jammu and Kashmir status change.

1. Focus on border infrastructure and governance

  • The first was a push for building border infrastructure and governance.
  • In the mid-1950s the government piloted a project to build the Indian Frontier Administrative Services (IFAS) for overseeing NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh) and other areas along the India-China frontier.
  • The Foreign secretary was the Chair of the IFAS selection board.
  • And many who enlisted in the cadre overlapped between the Indian Foreign Service, the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, and rotated between postings in the most remote tribal areas and embassies in the region.
  • A special desk was created in the Ministry of External Affairs for officers who would tour all the regions from NEFA to Ladakh in order to make suggestions for the rapid development of these areas.
  • While India’s border infrastructure is only now catching up with the infrastructure China built in the course of the next few decades, its base was made during the brief period the IFAS existed, before it was wound up in 1968.
  • An idea before its time, the IFAS’s role has since been transferred to the Indian Army and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

Idea worth revisiting: IFAS

  • IFAS is an idea worth revisiting, especially as areas along the frontier continue to complain of neglect and a lack of focus from the Centre.
  • In 2019, the Chief Ministers of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram called for the resurrection of the IFAS.

2. Outreach and treaties

  • The second prong were a series of treaties that were signed around that time with neighbours such as Nepal and Bhutan.
  •  And the consolidation of control, militarily and administratively, of other territories that acceded to India, including Ladakh as a part of Jammu and Kashmir (1947), and NEFA (1951).
  • In 1950, India signed a treaty with Sikkim that made it a “protectorate”.
  • By 1975 the Indira Gandhi Government had annexed Sikkim and made it the 22nd State of India.
  • Each of these treaties built unique relationships with New Delhi, tying countries such as Nepal and Bhutan in ways that were seen as a “win-win” for both sides at the time.

Treaties outliving their utility

  • Over time, the treaties have outlived their utility.
  • And the benefits of unique ties with Nepal and Bhutan, including open borders and ease of movement, jobs and education for their youth as well as India’s influential support on the world stage, have waned in public memory.

What explains difference in Nepal and Bhutan for India

  • One of the reasons that China has been able to make inroads into Nepal and not with Bhutan, is that the government renegotiated its 1949 Treaty of Perpetual Peace and Friendship with Bhutan.
  • The India-Bhutan 1949 Treaty was replaced with the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty in 2007.
  • 2007 treaty dropped an article that had committed Bhutan “to beguided” by India on its external affairs policy.
  • This has held India and Bhutan ties in good stead thus far, even during the Doklam stand-off between India and China in 2017 in the face of severe pressure from China.
  • However, despite years of requests from Kathmandu, New Delhi has dragged its feet on reviewing its 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the Government of India and the Government of Nepal.
  • and on accepting a report the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) on Nepal-India relations has produced that recommends a new treaty.
  • New treaties may not, in themselves reduce India’s security threat from China in its neighbourhood.
  • But they create space for a more mutually responsive diplomacy that is necessary to nurture special relationships.

3. Tibet strategy: India must chart a more prominent role

  • For the third prong, India’s policy towards the “palm” or Tibet, itself should be looked at more closely as well.
  • While New Delhi’s decision to shelter the Dalai Lama and lakhs of his followers since 1959 is a policy that is lauded.
  • But it does not change the need for New Delhi to look into the future of its relationship, both with the Tibetan refugee community in India, which has lived here in limbo for decades, as well as with its future leadership.
  • At present, the Dalai Lama has the loyalty of Tibetans worldwide, but in the future, the question over who will take up the political leadership of the community looms large.
  • The Karmapa Lama, who lived in India after his flight from China in 2000, and was groomed as a possible political successor, has now taken the citizenship of another country and lives mostly in the United States.
  • Meanwhile, China will, without doubt, try to force its own choice on the community as well.
  • Given that it is home to so many Tibetans, India must chart a more prominent role in this discourse.

4. Introspection of reorganisation in Jammu and Kashmir

  • Finally, it is necessary to introspect on how India’s own reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019 has changed the security matrix and threat parameters for India, and its neighbours.
  • While Pakistan’s extreme reaction to the move was expected, China’s reaction was perhaps not studied enough.
  • Beijing issued a statement decrying the impact on Jammu and Kashmir, and another one specifically on Ladakh.
  • In the statement, China called it an attempt to “undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law”.
  • And warned that the move was “unacceptable and will not come into force”.

Consider the question “India’s relations with China has always had to factor in the border dispute. But the incidents in recent necessitated a relook at the foreign policy towards China.” In light of this, examine the factors that must form the basis of foreign policy.

Conclusion

The impact of the new map of Jammu and Kashmir on ties with Nepal as well, is no coincidence. There is proof enough that now more than ever, as the government readies its hand on dealing with China, it must not lose sight of every finger in play.

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