Archive for ‘GeoPolitics’

17/09/2014

Is China Ready to Step Up and Invest in India? – India Real Time – WSJ

While Chinese companies have been great at peddling their products in India, they have been surprisingly reluctant to invest here. China has invested less in India than even Poland, Malaysia or Canada have.

President Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to India starting Wednesday is likely to include some massive pledges to try to remedy this imbalance.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan recently, Japan pledged to invest $35 billion in India. President Xi is expected to try to eclipse Japan’s promises, possibly pledging $100 billion in investment according to some local reports. His meetings with Mr. Modi are predicted to lay the groundwork for a wave of Chinese money to build industrial parks and bullet trains.

Annual trade between India and China has galloped to $66 billion from $3 billion 14 years ago, something that underscores the rise of Beijing as the global manufacturing hub and India’s growing appetite for everything from phones to machinery from China.

While the trade relationship between the two countries has bloomed, foreign direct investment from China has not. According to Indian government statistics, the country has received a total of around $400 million from China in investment in the last 14 years. Even if you add the $1.2 billion of direct investment India received from Hong Kong, China is still well behind the $22 billion in foreign direct investment from the United Kingdom, $17 billion from Japan, $13 billion from the Netherlands and $1.9 billion from Spain.

It’s not that China doesn’t invest abroad. According to data from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, China was the third biggest source of foreign direct investment last year, having invested more than $100 billion in other countries. In the seven years to 2012, it invested more than $25 billion in the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations alone.

Chinese investment has tended to focus on the resources sector to power its economy. Much of it has gone into getting control of oil, natural gas and coal in Africa, Australia, Indonesia and elsewhere. India has not attracted much of this investment as it is a net importer of resources and has a heavily regulated energy sector, said Rajiv Biswas, economist for IHS.

“China wants to increase investment in India and wants Chinese companies on the ground there,” Mr. Biswas said. “Most of it will be in manufacturing and infrastructure space.”

Chinese companies may also be looking to move some of their manufacturing to India as they struggle with rising wages at home, said Ajay Sahai, director general and chief executive at Federation of India Export Organization.

If India can’t find better ways to fix its trade imbalance with China, New Delhi may want to increase taxes on some imports such as auto-components and pharmaceuticals to encourage Chinese companies to set up factories in India, he said.

“This will not only raise Chinese investment in India but also help in fixing the trade imbalance,” said Mr. Sahai.

via Is China Ready to Step Up and Invest in India? – India Real Time – WSJ.

17/09/2014

5 Things to Look Out for During Xi Jinping’s Visit to India – WSJ

Manan Vatsyayana/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

1 INFRASTRUCTURE

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking for foreign capital and expertise to build “smart cities”, high-speed trains and modern airports of the kind that China has built for itself in the past decade. The two leaders are expected to sign a deal to bring bullet trains to India and may also reach an agreement for the building of world-class railway stations and airports.

2 INDUSTRIAL PARKS

The two countries laid the groundwork for Chinese investment in industrial parks in India when Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari visited Beijing in June. Indian officials say they expect to ink deals worth $5 billion for two parks – one in the western state of Gujarat, Mr. Modi’s home state, and the other in Maharashtra. The idea is to make it easier for Chinese companies to set up shop in India.

3 BORDER TROUBLES

Territorial disputes that have long dogged Sino-Indian ties aren’t the focus of this visit, but are sure to come up. Two reports this week – one about an alleged incursion by Chinese troops in Ladakh and another about protests by Chinese civilians and troops against the construction of an Indian canal along the disputed border – have highlighted the unresolved issues. Even after 17 rounds of talks, no solution has emerged – don’t expect one during this visit either.

4 COMPETITION WITH JAPAN

Indian newspapers have been filled with anticipation about whether China will outdo its Asian rival, Japan, in promising investments for India. Earlier this month, Japan pledged to pour $35 billion into India over five years; China is expected to go further. Expect reams of analysis of Mr. Xi’s rapport with Mr. Modi. When Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe met Mr. Modi, they bear hugged.

5 BREAKING OUT OF THE MOLD

Officials have raised hopes of a “directional change” and an “orbital jump” in Sino-Indian ties, which have long been bogged down by bureaucratic mistrust. Trade relations have flourished in the past decade, but are skewed in China’s favor– and investments have remained very low. Experts are hoping Mr. Modi – who worked with Chinese as chief minister of Gujarat – will adopt a pragmatic approach to push for Chinese money. If he succeeds, the visit may set the stage for an era of economic collaboration between the two Asian giants.

via 5 Things to Look Out for During Xi Jinping’s Visit to India – WSJ.

17/09/2014

Indian President flies out of Vietnam

President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday wrapped up his four-day state visit to Vietnam and flew back to India.

During the President’s visit, India and Vietnam called for a peaceful, unfettered South China Sea, inked seven agreements including for direct Delhi-Hanoi flights and an extended line of credit for purchase of military equipment. Both countries also set a target of $15 billion bilateral trade by 2020

via President flies out of Vietnam.

17/09/2014

Project Mausam, India’s answer to China’s maritime might: Explained – News Oneindia

In a significant move, the Narendra Modi Government will soon launch ‘Project Mausam’ for countering Beijing’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. This transnational program is aimed at restoring India’s ancient maritime routes and cultural links with republics in the region.

'Mausam' to check China’s maritime might

Project Mausam: India’s answer to China’s ‘Maritime Silk Road

It is Narendra Modi Government’s most significant foreign policy initiative to counter-balance the maritime silk route of China.

The project emphasises on the natural wind phenomenon, mainly the monsoon winds used by Indian sailors in ancient times for maritime trade.

This initiative will enable India re-connect and re-establish communications with its ancient friends in the Indian Ocean region.

It would lead to an enhanced understanding of cultural values and concerns.

The project purposes to determine the Indian Ocean “world” – expanding from East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka to the Southeast Asian archipelago.

What is China’s maritime silk route?

It an initiative to develop regions along an ancient route connecting Western China with South and Central Asia.

The aim of this initiative is to strengthen China’s economic ties with various nations, including those within Asia and Europe.

It proposes China to work with partners to develop maritime infrastructure, especially ports.

Originally, the “maritime silk road” was proposed to foster cooperation and goodwill between China and the ASEAN countries.

The “maritime silk road” is parallel to the land-based “new silk road,” which runs westward from China through the Central Asian states.

The route is likely to see China further intensify its naval activities in the region.

It extends from its naval base in Hainan Island (South China Sea) to Bagamayo in Tanzania, Africa, with several of the ports encircling mainland India.

Hambantota (Sri Lanka), Gwadar (Pakistan), Chittagong (Bangladesh) and Marao Atoll (Maldives) are the ports being built by China as per the initiative.

What is Silk Route?

It is a series of trade and cultural transmission routes.

It connected the West and East by linking traders, merchants and other persons from China to the Mediterranean Sea.

It derives its name from lucrative Chinese silk trade, a major reason for the connection of trade routes into an extensive transcontinental network.

via Project Mausam, India’s answer to China’s maritime might: Explained – News Oneindia.

17/09/2014

Will Chinese President Xi be able to compete with Japan’s Abe for India’s affections?

Any adjustments in the India-China-Japan triangle will have an impact all across Asia.

East Asia has eagerly set out to court New Delhi’s new government. That’s obvious from the spate of state visits that have taken place of late between India, China and Japan. Earlier this fortnight, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan. Today, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s begins his first official state visit to India. Trade, investment and infrastructure are the buzzwords on the road towards deepening ties.

The complexities of the India-China-Japan triangle are far too intricate to be spelt out in a simplistic fashion. Will trade and investment become the motive force that will fashion ties, more so at the cost of pressing strategic realities that appear conflicting at times? Going by the school of interdependent liberalism, states will be propelled to adopt a cooperative framework by economic symbiosis and the web of multilateral international institutions and frameworks.

In the case of China, India and Japan, while investments  have taken precedence, the competitive race is far too obvious. Last fortnight, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that this country’s private and public investment in India will double to $34 billion over the next five years. Within a fortnight comes Xi Jinping with his administration’s plans to invest around $500 billion overseas in the next five years, with big-ticket investments coming India’s way likely to exceed $200 billion. It is being suggested that China could spend $35 billion merely on power and highway projects ‒ almost the same amount as Japan’s total investment in India.

Growing trade deficit

It is apparent that cooperation through economic considerations has its share of hidden problems. India continues to be hurt by  the growing trade deficit with China, which stood at a record $ 36 billion in 2013-’14. In fact, China accounted for more than 50% of India’s current account deficit in 2012-’13. Indian exports to its neighbour fell nearly 10% during that period.

By seeking economic and military clout, could China reject the liberal regional order and seek to replace it with its own Sino-centric Asian order? China’s much-debated rise is always under scrutiny, given its role as Asia’s largest economy and the fact that it is the No. 1 trading partner for almost 120 economies around the world.

More so, in the strategic sphere, are Asian nations, including India and Japan, prepared to recognise such an order? So profound is the presence, rise and status of the People’s Republic of China that one is often confronted with a debate whether a potential Asian century could actually become a Chinese century.

The Chinese government chose to downplay Modi’s earlier indirect reference to China during his visit to Japan, where he took a swipe at the “18th century expansionist mindset of some countries”. But the reaction of state-controlled Chinese media over Modi’s remark was noticeably irate. Chinese media fervently cautioned against any attempt by Tokyo to structure a united front against Beijing with New Delhi as its pivot. All this very palpably falls into the realist paradigm of international relations, which posits that states often find themselves in a zero-sum contest for power and influence, where the prevailing international power balance remains a key determinant of the region’s future stability and strategic order.

Geo-strategic realities

Realignments in any part of the India-China-Japan security triangle will have far-reaching impact all across Asia. It should be remembered that Xi Jinping’s address at the 18th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012 contained a reference to “rejuvenating China”, which has been interpreted as an oblique reference to “reclaiming lost historical territories”. This approach could well have a direct bearing on Japan and India, with whom China contests territories and borders.

On another level, the camaraderie between Modi and Shinzo Abe speaks volumes. Systemic conditions present a favourable platform for the duo to guide their countries to “… the dawn of a new era in India-Japan relations”, as they agreed to in the Tokyo Declaration last fortnight. Moreover, providing cement for this approach, Modi underlined the significance of India and Japan being democracies, which affords them a solid basis to converge at various levels on the Asian stage. As for the ties between China and Japan, there could not have been a worse time for relations between them, with the bitter contest over the East China Sea amidst a rising tide of nationalist sentiment against one another in both countries.

Whether Xi Jinping will manage to find success in making inroads into Delhi and buying a sizeable share of Indian attention is too early to say. However, one thing is for sure ‒ it will not happen at the cost of Japan.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

17/09/2014

Is China’s promised $100 billion India investment more dangerous than its border policy?

Experts believe that China deliberately uses trade as part of its geo-strategic arsenal.

The script is almost predictable. Right before meetings of Indian and Chinese heads of state, something happens on the border to remind everyone that sentiment between the two countries is not exactly neighbourly. Last year it was a standoff in Daulat Beg Oldi about infiltration by the Chinese army. This year, with everyone excited at China’s promise to pump $100 billion into India, there’s another incursion by the Chinese into Demchok in Ladhak.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in India today and will visit Ahmedabad on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday. But Chinese troops have also been reported to have moved 500 meters into Indian territory.

Beijing’s approach seems to be sweet-talking – this time taking the form of foreign direct investment – coupled with regular pinpricks that remind India that they have the stronger position on the border.

But could the proposed investment be as much of a threat to India as the border dispute?

Trading places

India’s total trade with China was around $65 billion in 2013-’14. Of that, only $14 billion were Indian exports heading into China, leaving India with a trade deficit of $36 billion. If oil imports are included, Chinese imports are responsible for nearly half of India’s overall trade deficit. This is a great many Indian eggs in one Chinese basket.

For many economists, this isn’t a problem. It’s simply the way efficient markets ought to function, with India buying the goods it needs from the most competitive seller. “The more competitive the trading partner, the more India should buy from it, and the bigger should be the bilateral trade deficit,” wrote commentator Swaminathan Aiyar last year. “China is the most competitive exporter of all, so India should run its biggest trade deficit with this country.”

Yet India does feel the need to reduce the trade deficit with China. Answering a question in the Lok Sabha earlier this year, minister of state for commerce Nirmala Sitharaman admitted that the balance of trade was heavily in China’s favour and that India was taking steps to address this.

“With a view to reducing the trade deficit with China, efforts are being made to diversify the export basket,” Sitharaman said.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

16/09/2014

Xi’s India visit highlights changing power dynamic – Businessweek

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to India this week highlights subtle shifts in the regional power dynamic that are bringing warmer ties between the two Asian giants, challenging China’s traditional relationship with Pakistan, and opening a new chapter in Beijing’s ongoing competition for influence with arch-rival Japan.

Xi is due in New Delhi on Wednesday for a three-day visit focused on trade, investment and the resolution of decades-old border disputes. With the world’s second-largest economy and a proven track record at building highways, railways, and industrial zones, China has much to offer India as it seeks to upgrade its creaky infrastructure.

The visit is the latest sign of easing suspicions between the two huge countries — which between them have 2.6 billion people — dating from a month-long border war in 1962 that left around 2,000 soldiers dead. That conflict ended in a standoff with both sides accusing the other of occupying its territory.

Xi’s visit “will definitely enhance the bilateral political mutual trust,” Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing last week.

While ties have been steadily growing for years, they’ve been given a major boost under new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’s signaled he wishes to pursue a more vigorous foreign policy. Xi is the first Chinese head of state to visit in eight years, while the country’s prime minister, Li Keqiang, made India his first overseas visit shortly after taking office last year.

“Good relations with India are a key part of China’s regional strategy and Xi’s visit creates the opportunity for direct face-to-face communication on the problems that still exist, such as the border issue,” said Zhao Gancheng, Director of the Asia-Pacific Center of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

via Xi’s India visit highlights changing power dynamic – Businessweek.

16/09/2014

India says to defend China border after standoff ahead of Xi visit | Reuters

More than 200 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army crossed into what India considers its territory in Ladakh in the western Himalayas last week, and used cranes, bulldozers and a Hummer vehicle to build a 2-km (1.2-mile) road within it, the Hindustan Times said.

A dog rests on the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Indian soldiers challenged the Chinese troops and asked them to withdraw, the newspaper said. Then, on the night of September 10, soldiers demolished a temporary track built by Chinese forces.

There was no immediate comment by India’s defense ministry.

Both China and India are trying to put a positive spin on Xi’s first summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the Indian leader took office in May. He arrives on Wednesday after touring the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

The two countries are expected to ramp up commercial ties and open the way for Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure, including railways, but the contested border remains a stumbling block to better political ties.

via India says to defend China border after standoff ahead of Xi visit | Reuters.

15/09/2014

China on track to develop Indian railways as Xi heads to South Asia | Reuters

China will pledge to invest billions of dollars in India’s rail network during a visit by President Xi Jinping this week, bringing more than diplomatic nicety to the neighbors’ first summit since Narendra Modi became prime minister in May.

China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at Miraflores Palace in Caracas in this July 20, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/Files

The leaders of Asia’s three biggest economies – China, India and Japan – have crisscrossed the region this month, lobbying for strategic influence, building defense ties, and seeking new business opportunities.

Beijing’s bid to ramp up commercial ties in India comes despite a territorial dispute that has flared anew in recent years, raising concerns in New Delhi, where memories of a humiliating border war defeat in 1962 run deep.

It follows a pledge by Japan to invest $35 billion in India over the next five years – including the introduction of bullet trains – and a drive to deepen security ties during talks earlier this month between Modi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

India and China are expected to sign a pact that will open the way for Chinese participation in new rail tracks, automated signaling for faster trains and modern stations that India’s British-built rail system desperately needs, having barely added 11,000 km of track in the 67 years since independence.

China, which added 14,000 km of track in the five years to 2011, is also pushing for a share of the lucrative high-speed train market in India, which it says would be cheaper than Japanese proposals.

“India has a strong, real desire to increase its cooperation with China and other countries to perfect and develop its rail system, and has concrete cooperation ideas,” Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao told reporters ahead of Xi’s trip.

“India is considering building high-speed railways, and China has a positive attitude towards this.”

China’s consul general in Mumbai, Liu Youfa, told the Times of India last week that Chinese investment in the modernization of India’s railways could eventually touch $50 billion.

Beijing is looking to invest another $50 billion in building India’s ports, roads and a project to link rivers, part of an infrastructure push that Modi has said is his top priority to crank up economic growth.

Chinese investment will also help narrow a trade deficit with India that hit $31 billion in 2013.

via China on track to develop Indian railways as Xi heads to South Asia | Reuters.

12/09/2014

Soft power: Confucius says | The Economist

“HARMONY is the most valuable of all things,” said the Chinese philosopher Confucius two and a half millennia ago. There is little of it in evidence in the frosty relationship between the woman who was the founding director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Oregon, Bryna Goodman, and her fellow historian, Glenn May. Their offices are separated by a ten-second walk, but the scholars do not exchange visits. Their palpable ill feeling reflects growing discord among Western scholars about a decade-old push by China to open government-funded cultural centres in schools and universities abroad. Intended to boost China’s “soft power”, the centres take the name of the peace-espousing sage. They tap into growing global demand for Chinese-language teaching. But they are also fuelling anxiety about academic freedom.

In America the Confucius programme has been widely welcomed by universities and school districts, which often do not have enough money to provide Chinese-language teachers for all who need them. But critics like Mr May believe China’s funding comes at a price: that Confucius Institutes (as those established on university campuses are known) and school-based Confucius Classrooms restrain freedom of speech by steering discussion of China away from sensitive subjects.

In June the American Association of University Professors called for universities to end or revise their contracts with Confucius Institutes (America has 100 of them) because they “function as an arm of the Chinese state and are allowed to ignore academic freedom”. Mr May has been asking the University of Oregon to close its institute, to no avail. Ms Goodman (who is no longer the institute’s director) says that in funding its interests China is like any other donor to American universities. She says that the institutes have become lodestones of what she calls a “China fear”.

When China opened its first Confucius Institute in 2004 in Seoul, it hoped the new effort would prove as uncontroversial as cultural-outreach programmes sponsored by Western governments, such as the British Council, the Alliance Française and Germany’s Goethe-Institut. The idea was to counter fears of China’s rise by raising awareness of a culture that is often described by Chinese as steeped in traditions of peace.

Through the Hanban, a government entity, China provides the centres with paid-for instructors and sponsors cultural events at them. Its spending is considerable, and growing rapidly. In 2013 it was $278m, more than six times as much as in 2006. China’s funding for Confucius Institutes amounts to about $100,000-200,000 a year on many campuses, and sometimes more (Oregon received nearly $188,000 in the last academic year). By the end of 2013 China had established 440 institutes and 646 classrooms serving 850,000 registered students. They are scattered across more than 100 countries, with America hosting more than 40% of the combined total. There are plans for another 60 institutes and 350 classrooms to be opened worldwide by the end of 2015.

Chinese officials express satisfaction. In June Liu Yunshan, who is in charge of the Communist Party’s vast propaganda apparatus, said Confucius Institutes had “emerged at the right moment”. He described them as a “spiritual high-speed rail”, promoting friendship by connecting Chinese dreams with those of the rest of the world.

Others are less sanguine, however. In America criticism has recently grown stronger. Earlier this year more than 100 members of the faculty at the University of Chicago complained that Confucius Institutes were compromising academic integrity. In an article published in 2013 by Nation magazine, one of the university’s academics, Marshall Sahlins, listed cases in several countries involving what appeared to be deference to the political sensitivities of Confucius Institutes. These included a couple of occasions when universities had invited the Dalai Lama to speak and then either cancelled the invitation or received him off-campus.

In one case, at North Carolina State University in 2009, the provost said after the cancellation of a Dalai Lama visit that the Confucius Institute had indicated the exiled Tibetan’s presence could cause problems with China. This year Steven Levine, an honorary professor at the University of Montana, wrote to hundreds of Confucius Institutes around the world asking them to mark the 25th anniversary in June of the violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests. None of them agreed. Global Times, a Beijing newspaper, recently called the protests of foreign academics “a continuation of McCarthyism”.

Ms Goodman argues that the study of China needs all the funding it can get, even if that means taking money from countries with vital interests at stake—whether China, Taiwan, or the United States. She says that if China were ever to meddle politically in Oregon’s institute, the Confucius programme would be quickly shut down.

Such assurances do not address a big concern of critics—that the political influence of Confucius programmes is often subtle and slow-acting. If the critics are right, it is very subtle indeed. Surveys suggest that in many countries China’s image has not markedly improved over the past decade. The Pew Research Centre, an American polling organisation, says 42% of Americans viewed China favourably in 2007. Last year only 37% did. The political dividends of China’s soft-power spending are far from obvious.

via Soft power: Confucius says | The Economist.

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