Archive for ‘Politics’

20/09/2014

The rise and rise of Xi Jinping: Xi who must be obeyed | The Economist

THE madness unleashed by the rule of a charismatic despot, Mao Zedong, left China so traumatised that the late chairman’s successors vowed never to let a single person hold such sway again. Deng Xiaoping, who rose to power in the late 1970s, extolled the notion of “collective leadership”. Responsibilities would be shared out among leaders by the Communist Party’s general secretary; big decisions would be made by consensus. This has sometimes been ignored: Deng himself acted the despot in times of crisis. But the collective approach helped restore stability to China after Mao’s turbulent dictatorship.

Xi Jinping, China’s current leader, is now dismantling it. He has become the most powerful Chinese ruler certainly since Deng, and possibly since Mao. Whether this is good or bad for China depends on how Mr Xi uses his power. Mao pushed China to the brink of social and economic collapse, and Deng steered it on the right economic path but squandered a chance to reform it politically. If Mr Xi used his power to reform the way power works in China, he could do his country great good. So far, the signs are mixed.

It may well be that the decision to promote Mr Xi as a single personality at the expense of the group was itself a collective one. Some in China have been hankering for a strongman; a politician who would stamp out corruption, reverse growing inequalities and make the country stand tall abroad (a task Mr Xi has been taking up with relish—see article). So have many foreign businessfolk, who want a leader who would smash the monopolies of a bloated state sector and end years of dithering over economic reforms.

However the decision came about, Mr Xi has grabbed it and run with it. He has taken charge of secretive committees responsible for reforming government, overhauling the armed forces, finance and cyber-security. His campaign against corruption is the most sweeping in decades. It has snared the former second-in-command of the People’s Liberation Army and targeted the retired chief of China’s massive security apparatus—the highest-ranking official to be investigated for corruption since Mao came to power. The generals, wisely, bow to him: earlier this year state newspapers published pages of expressions of loyalty to him by military commanders.

He is the first leader to employ a big team to build his public profile. But he also has a flair for it—thanks to his stature (in a height-obsessed country he would tower over all his predecessors except Mao), his toughness and his common touch. One moment he is dumpling-eating with the masses, the next riding in a minibus instead of the presidential limousine. He is now more popular than any leader since Mao (see article).

All of this helps Mr Xi in his twofold mission. His first aim is to keep the economy growing fast enough to stave off unrest, while weaning it off an over-dependence on investment in property and infrastructure that threatens to mire it in debt. Mr Xi made a promising start last November, when he declared that market forces would play a decisive role (not even Deng had the courage to say that). There have since been encouraging moves, such as giving private companies bigger stakes in sectors that were once the exclusive preserve of state-owned enterprises, and selling shares in firms owned by local governments to private investors. Mr Xi has also started to overhaul the household-registration system, a legacy of the Mao era that makes it difficult for migrants from the countryside to settle permanently in cities. He has relaxed the one-child-per-couple policy, a Deng-era legacy that has led to widespread abuses.

via The rise and rise of Xi Jinping: Xi who must be obeyed | The Economist.

20/09/2014

Modi Uses Another International Visit to Raise His Local Profile – India Real Time – WSJ

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week once again showed that Mr. Modi is a master of media management.

The summit of the heads of the world’s two most-populous countries produced mixed results. A lot of agreements were signed, but the $100 billion in Chinese investment pledges that some local media had predicted did not materialize. And just as the leaders were shaking hands, there was an embarrassing faceoff between Chinese and Indian troops along the countries’ disputed boundary.

That didn’t stop India’s prime minister from again using photo opportunities and body language to broadcast his confidence, an impression that is likely to remain long after local media stop discussing the border tension and whether China had promised enough money.

Indians watching the visit wouldn’t have missed some of the symbolism. Mr. Xi flew into Mr. Modi’s home state, on the Indian prime minister’s birthday. Mr. Xi wore an  Indian vest that Mr. Modi gave him. Video of the two showed Mr. Modi walking in front of Mr. Xi at one event and swinging on a swing with him. At one point it even looked like Mr. Xi was carrying an umbrella for Mr. Modi.

Reuters Xi Jinping looked like he was carrying an umbrella for Narendra Modi during a recent visit to Gujarat.

The Indian prime minister has used the same charisma in photo ops during other international summits, most recently in Japan where he gave Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a big bear hug and later performed a solo on traditional Japanese drums.

All of this has been beamed into Indian homes and marks a major change from the demeanor of the country’s previous prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who was soft- spoken and slow-moving.

Mr. Modi’s multimedia skills are one of the things that made him prime minister.  Whether it is his controversial selfies, the sight of hundreds of supporters wearing Modi masks, campaign speeches delivered through hologram, his stylish outfits or his willingness to put on almost any kind of regional headwear, Mr. Modi knows how to make an impression.

via Modi Uses Another International Visit to Raise His Local Profile – India Real Time – WSJ.

20/09/2014

To engage with China, India must stop peddling myths about the Line of Actual Control

Nehru’s hubris about his own statesmanship, coupled with a refusal to discuss the matter reasonably since 1962, has led us to the present tangle.

Political commentators have been gushing over the possibilities of strengthened economic and strategic relations between China and India, but the unresolved border dispute remains alive and can always play spoiler in the future. A border is, after all, more than a line on the map or a series of military posts on the ground; it is a reflection of how the political elite of a nation-state thinks about its security.

Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin is claimed by India as part of Jammu and Kashmir, and Indian-controlled Arunachal Pradesh is claimed by China. The only feasible solution is to accept the status quo and transform the Line of Actual Control into an international boundary. There have been several rounds of talks since the 1990s, but a resolution remains distant. Despite its parliamentary majority, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will be unable to sell a permanent boundary settlement without being accused of ceding territory in Aksai Chin, though in reality it will only be giving up its claim over a territory India never controlled.

This raises a pertinent question: what precisely is the border upon which India and China cannot agree?

New neighbours

Through history, China and India have not been neighbours. The current de facto border has its genesis in a line drawn on a map by Henry McMahon during a secret treaty between Britain and Tibet in March 1914. Both entities, British India and Tibet, are no more: one has been transformed into postcolonial India and the other was occupied and colonised by communist China. Yet India and China, both of whom have overthrown the mantle of Western imperialism, are jostling over the same imperialists’ line – and have completely militarised and destroyed the traditional zone of contact that the border regions were.

The border is a legacy of a few dynamics, including the expansionist policies of the British in the Himalayan regions of India, the disappearance of the traditional Tibetan state, which had political and sacral hegemony over much of the region, and the modern nationalisms in postcolonial India and revolutionary China, which are keen on implementing a rigid notion of sovereignty in the border regions and legitimising the primacy of militarised security over the religious, cultural and human rights of the people inhabiting the region.

Stuck in the middle

The primary loser in the dispute is neither India nor China but Tibet. China has occupied most of Tibetan territory, while India has occupied the Tawang tract, which was historically part of Tibet. The Tibetan state had given up the Tawang region to British India in 1914 on the understanding that they would get friendship and assistance to protect their independence from China. When China went on to occupy Tibet in 1949-’50, India reneged on that understanding, preferring the diplomatically attractive Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai rhetoric over a strategically sound and morally defensible Indo-Tibetan friendship.

Despite reluctantly hosting the Tibetan exile community today, India did not offer any tangible help to the Tibetans in their struggle for independence. Today, as Modi and Xi plan collaborations on various fronts, Tibetans are reminded that in this world of realpolitik, morality and human rights are subservient. Tibetans are perceived as strategic assets or liabilities in bargaining with China, not people of an occupied land for whom India should raise its voice. For India, it is the border matters, not the border inhabitants.

Myths peddled by India

The popular as well as strategic approach of many in India towards the border dispute is jaundiced by the myths the Indian state peddled about the humiliating war of 1962. After the 1962 defeat, there was no credible reflection at the policy level in India. Indians accepted as real the myths that Indian territorial claims were legitimate and sacrosanct, and that the Chinese were duplicitous and stabbed gullible India in the back. The reality could not be further from this. The first Survey of India Map in 1950 showed the boundary as undefined in Aksai Chin and as undemarcated in the north east. It was only in the summer of 1954 that Jawaharlal Nehru gave personal orders for all old maps to be withdrawn and destroyed and to remove qualifiers and show the McMahon Line in bold, as if that was the de jure boundary.

Nehru later claimed innocence, insisting that there was no boundary disagreement and that Chinese claims were surprising. Since 1959, India rejected all the diplomatic overtures of Zhou Enlai and said negotiations could only take place if China withdrew from Aksai Chin, though India would not offer anything in return. Since 1961, the Indian military followed a “forward policy” in the border regions that was not only provocative but based on the assumption that China would not retaliate.

A great unresolved mystery from the time is why the best Indian minds working in intelligence, military and diplomacy accepted this assumption without a murmur of protest. It can be explained by Nehru’s hubris in his own capacity as a statesperson, bureaucracies subservient to him, and the inability of the civilian and military elite to be independent-minded. Macho posturing was the order of the day. The Indianisation of the top brass in the military occurred only after independence in 1947, so they were inexperienced as leaders. Faced with an army that had its genesis in revolutionary wars, the Indian army, which had been servant to an imperial power, failed to perform its basic duty of protecting the country.

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

18/09/2014

Trade, investment hopes as China’s Xi visits India – Businessweek

Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in the Indian prime minister‘s home state of Gujarat on Wednesday for a three-day visit expected to focus on India’s need to improve worn out infrastructure and reduce its trade deficit.

Xi was greeted on the tarmac by state officials carrying fringed umbrellas to guard him from the sun in Gujarat’s main financial city of Ahmedabad.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to court Chinese business and seek investment to upgrade creaky infrastructure, banking on China’s track record at building highways, railways, and industrial zones. India is also eager to address the imbalance in their annual trade, which now totals around $65 billion but is skewed toward imports of Chinese electrical equipment and parts.

Modi and the Gujarat government are staging a lavish welcome for Xi, with billboards across Ahmedabad showing a smiling Modi and Xi. A banquet dinner was being held Wednesday night on the banks of the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad. Modi was also celebrating his 64th birthday.

Xi has been equally effusive in expressing excitement for the visit.

China-India relations have become one of the most dynamic and promising bilateral relations in the 21st century,” Xi wrote in an article published Wednesday in The Hindu newspaper.

via Trade, investment hopes as China’s Xi visits India – Businessweek.

18/09/2014

After Modi-Xi meeting, China agrees to quickly settle border dispute, demarcate LAC – Hindustan Times

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday agreed to quickly resolve the border dispute and demarcate the Line of Actual Control to improve peace and cooperation between both countries.

Addressing the media after the conclusion of one-on-one meeting with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping, Modi said India is concerned about the frequent incursions along the border. The Line of Actual Control should be demarcated soon to ensure peace and tranquility in the area, he said.

President Xi, in response, said that China will work to settle the border issue at the earliest date. Since the border is not demarcated there will be some incidents, but both countries are capable of settling it at various levels without causing a bigger impact, he said.

President Xi said both countries would be respectful and sensitive to each others concerns. “We also have the sincerity to work with India to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas before we are finally able to settle the border question,”he said.

The latest incident India was referring to was the  fresh incursion by the Chinese army in Chumar area, even as talks were on between both the leaders.

via After Modi-Xi meeting, China agrees to quickly settle border dispute, demarcate LAC – Hindustan Times.

18/09/2014

Despite the Xi-Modi bromance, Indians and Chinese don’t actually like each other

One in two Indians thinks China is a major threat.

In the last two days alone, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called India an ancient, magic, enchanting, and beautiful land. And Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reciprocated with syrupy adjectives, reminding visiting journalists how ancient Chinese technology was responsible for sugar being called cheeni in India.

The pictures of the two leaders’ bonhomie on Wednesday went even further. By the time you get to the sight of Modi and Xi sitting on a swing by the Sabarmati, most would imagine that India and China are steadfast allies who support each other through thick and thin.

Which is why it might be worth pointing out that we don’t actually like each other very much, and that Indians and Chinese people have very different intentions for the bilateral relationship. And it’s not just about the trade deficit and the border disputes. Ordinary Indians and Chinese people simply aren’t sure whether they like each other.

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

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

Africa’s Ebola Should Be China’s Problem – Bloomberg View

China may be Africa‘s biggest trading partner and one of its biggest investors, but you wouldn’t know that from the size of its contribution toward fighting West Africa’s Ebola outbreak.

China: big on investing, not so much on humanitarianism. Photographer: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty ImagesIn fact, the contrast between its assistance and that of the U.S. is instructive: Today, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would raise the total of U.S. personnel now in Africa dealing with Ebola to 3,000; the U.S. has committed more than $175 million in aid. With much fanfare, China has said it will increase the number of its medical personnel in Sierra Leone to 174 and raise its total amount of assistance to roughly $37 million.

I know, I know: Relative to the U.S., China remains a poor country, and its growing willingness to extend humanitarian assistance outside its borders is a good thing. But consider this: China has close to 20,000 citizens working and living in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Setting aside U.S. money flowing into Liberia’s lucrative shipping registry, China’s investment in those three countries dwarfs that of the U.S. (In fact, China’s trading relationship with Africa overall is twice that of the U.S.) It recently signed deals for iron ore mining in the region that collectively run into the billions of dollars.

via Africa’s Ebola Should Be China’s Problem – Bloomberg View.

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