Energy Diplomacy China India Relations | RSTV

In this post we shall see all the possible factors as to why energy diplomacy is important to India (with a special focus on Energy Diplomacy China India Relations ).

Away from the accolades that accompanied the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative of China, India has been quietly working on creating connectivity grids in its neighbourhood and moving beyond physical connectivity to energy as a tool for connectivity. From Indonesia to Mauritius, India is working on a web of relationships that seek to leverage India’s position as a big source of petroleum products, sharing of technology and building interdependencies. Mauritius, one of India’s closest partners in the Indian Ocean region could become a hub for petroleum storage and bunkering for which India has started building infrastructure. India already supplies petroleum products to Mauritius from its Mangalore Refineriesas well as a retail player in that country. As a petroleum hub, Mauritius can secure its own energy supplies while India can use it to market in other parts of Africa. On the other side of the Indian Ocean, India and Indonesia are beginning an energy relationship. Indonesia is one of the biggest sources of hydrocarbon and has been in and out of OPEC. We shall see all the possible factors as to why energy diplomacy is important to India (with a special focus on Energy Diplomacy China).

Energy security v/s national security

India is growing at a rate of 7-8 per cent per annum and sustaining this momentum of growth requires a continuous pace of energy consumption. This fact is in line with the argument that energy security of India is an integral part of India’s developmental as well as national security positioning. Due to the rapid expansion of their economies, both India and China present the world’s biggest appetite for energy. Energy Diplomacy China India relations take high importance as both these countries have high import dependence to secure their energy demands, this race between the two largest developing countries for energy security will determine the shape of the twenty-first-century world. It is somewhat similar to what happened in the last century between the Allied forces and Germany, during the peak of industrialization, of course with different contours.In the last few years, India and China’s face off has been concentrated around the sources of energy supplies (particularly oil and gas resources). As both these countries are highly dependent on coal for meeting their energy demands, the big question at this moment should be concentrated on the type of fuel that both these countries would adopt next in their economic growth trajectory.

Convergence of interests | Energy Diplomacy China

Both India and China are trying to shift to the renewable sources of energy, hence, they should rather cooperate at the optimum level to ensure a situation of win-win for both sides. Instead of this desirable cooperation, an unhealthy friction has been developed over the years due to the expansionist and neo-colonialist policies of China in India’s neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean. We have failed to effectively utilise the forum of ‘India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue’ since its inception in 2010. This forum can be a bulwark in securing effective cooperation to minimise friction over energy security of both our nations. For instance, formalising the trade in solar photovoltaic equipment which is importedby India from China can reap maximum benefits for both the nations.

Expanding horizons | Energy Diplomacy China Relations

Energy investments have a long gestation period, so what we are planning today will start producing the intended results in 2030. Therefore, India needs to prioritise what sources of energy it wishes to utilise in the next decade and the decisions for the same should be taken right now. According to this argument, investing in renewable sources of energy makes more sense, which is in fact what we are doing today. The concerns have been raised about the national security paradigm in terms of abrogating the safer channels of fossil fuels in return for sourcing energy demands through the unchartered territory of renewables for a comparatively long and crucial period of India’s growth. The issues of political and national sovereignty complement these concerns which have been outlined at the appropriate forums.

Renewable era

India is a responsible signatory to the Paris Climate Accord and a proud supporter of the UN-2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, we are poised to shift our focus to the renewable as evident from recent developments in India. The public support and understanding for this gigantic shift are positive which would go a long way in securing our intended contributions towards renewable sources of energy.

India and China are the stories of the future; hence they cannot afford to be non-accommodative towards each other in terms of securing energy supplies. The current cooperation at the small sub-group level between India’s NITI Aayog and National Development and Reform Commission of China should be replaced by the highest political and strategic cooperation.

Energy Diplomacy China | Securing energy channels

Unlike China, where the energy sector corporations do not need to seek approval of the Government to bid for energy sources abroad, Indian corporations need to seek Cabinet’s approval before venturing out for large investments abroad in the energy sector. This creates a safety cushion for Indian corporations but at the same time, it hinders the possibility to explore lucrative sources of energy at a quick pace in this competitive world. It must be remembered that many major investments by the Chinese private energy corporations have been disastrous for them in commercial terms, whereas Indian investments abroad have been more cautious, prudent and commercially viable.

In domestic terms, India has done reasonably well in the energy sector, both in terms of technical and the fuel aspects. It may be lagging behind China in securing sources of fuel from global channels due to non-adherence of colonial ambitions, but in terms of technological traits, we might have even outperformed China in establishing state of the art technology for transmission and distribution equipment and maintenance, boiler turbine generation manufacturing facility for thermal generation and we are gradually picking up in the spheres of renewable energy equipment sectors like solar photovoltaic cells.

Way forward | Energy Diplomacy China

Most of the capacity additions in electricity generation around the world are going to happen in India in the next ten years. India will move from its current capacity of 300,000 MW to 1,500,000 MW in the next decade. Therefore, India will be at the centre stage in terms of development in the energy sector, so we cannot afford inimical relationships with our resource line countries.


It is true that one cannot have energy security by being absolutely autarkic. India slipped into this mess in 1947 by clarifying that it will not look for energy supplies anywhere in the world and we will secure our energy sources to build-up. Until the frontiers of energy security are shifted out of the off-the-shelf sources to building up of own capacities in terms of technology, the ambition of sustainable economic growth would keep on dangling through the walls of uncertainty. A strong political commitment to secure theinvolvement of all the concerned stakeholders including the general public for swallowing the implications of this long-term investment would be required to ensure safe passage to the renewable mode of energy.

To See the Full Debate : Click Below

Dalai Lama and China

Tibetan spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Arunachal Pradesh (India), including Tawang. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as southern Tibet and has objected to the visit. It has claimed that his visit would inflict severe damage on the Sino-Indian relationship and on peace and stability on the border. However, India has rejected the claim of China saying that the visit of Dalai Lama was purely a religious one. Many observers believe that the increased intensity of the Chinese reaction to the activities of the Dalai Lama also stems from the attempts to exert control over the process of reincarnation of the Tibetan Buddhist leader. He is 81 years old and has confirmed that he will not be reincarnated in territory controlled by China. But the Communist Government of China which is an atheist has proclaimed that the Dalai Lama will be reincarnated on its territory.

Why does China get upset with the visit of Dalai Lama in Arunachal Pradesh?

China does not view the Dalai Lama as merely a religious leader but categorises him as a separatist political activist too. This is the reason why China objects to the presence of Dalai Lama anywhere in the world.

His Holiness Dalai Lama has visited Arunachal Pradesh in 1983, 1993, 2003 and 2009 and China has shown the similar opposition to India each time during his visit. The use of aggressive language by the Chinese Foreign Ministry is a typical Chinese style of diplomacy. It is very assertive but India does not take it too seriously.

Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh) is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama and the current Dalai Lama might possibly reincarnate at Tawang itself. If this were to happen, it would accentuate the difficulties of Beijing because then, there would be two Dalai Lamas (one being the reincarnation of the current Dalai Lama and the second would be the Beijing-appointed Dalai Lama, as per the last year declaration of China).

Moreover, China has staked claim over Arunachal Pradesh and by masquerading the issue of Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, it is reigniting the issue again.

International Buddhist Conference, Rajgir (Bihar, India)

Apart from the him, the conference was attended by multiple spiritual leaders like the Sangha heads of Cambodia and Bangladesh, the Mahanayakas and the Anunayakas of Sri Lanka, the Khambo Lama (the supreme Lama) of Mongolia and the Buddhist representatives from Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, few republics of Russia, all the three Buddhist sects from Tibet and the Karmapa.

China got worried that the Dalai Lama, being one of the principle figures in the conference was getting spiritual exposure with political implications for China. China was worried that the Dalai Lama was getting the wide international backing of the Buddhist world to embolden its leadership role in the spiritual field.

Why is the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama a serious issue for China?

It is absurd that China has been pushing its decision to impose the next Dalai Lama on the Buddhist world through their own mode of appointment, whereas the sole right of reincarnation in Buddhism is allotted to the Dalai Lama itself. How can the atheist Communists decide the appointment of a religious head?

China is still suffering from the consequences of having selected their own Panchen Lama. The selected Panchen Lama gave a speech at the Chinese People’s Political Conference this month but he is not yet recognised as the Panchen Lama by the six million people of Tibet in China. China is worried that the people of Tibet, upon the issue of reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, should not get disgruntled by the Chinese authorities, otherwise there would be serious chaos in the region on the lines of Xinjiang province in China.

He is strategizing on how the issue of reincarnation should be handled and they are moving to bring all the Tibetan Buddhism sects together to decide on the issue. In other words, the Dalai Lama is strategizing to prevent division of Tibetans on the issue of reincarnation and if such a procedure would be agreed upon by all the sects of Tibetan Buddhists, then China would find it near to impossible to appoints its own Dalai Lama in place of the current Dalai Lama’s choice.

What would happen if the 15th Dalai Lama happens to be a child?

In this hypothetical situation, there could be a Regency Council to aid and advise the child Dalai Lama, in the case of the reincarnation of him as a child. But the issue at hand here is that the child would be vulnerable to manipulation as the Regency Council would exercise a lot of power over the child. China would be particularly worried that the authority of the new Dalai Lama would not grow even marginally because that it could have serious political implications for China in the Tibet region. Seeing the trend of growing prominence of the current Dalai Lama, China is trying its level best to undermine his stature as an authority over Tibetan religious sphere.


The Tibetans have never agreed on the formulation that Tibet was always a part of China. China has shifted their date of control over Tibet several times since 1949. So, in essence, if the Chinese are not sure of the history, they cannot force the Tibetans to agree on their argument to stake control over Tibet. The Shimla Accord of 1914 between the British India, Tibet and China recognises the territory of Tawang and Arunachal Pradesh as the legitimate part of India. China claims that it demands Arunachal Pradesh from India to respect the Tibetan sentiments as it was a part of Tibet historically. But the Tibetans have recognised the validity of the Shimla Accord of 1914 each time, thereby annihilating the claims of China over the region.

The times are surely tough for China in the matters of exercising its control over Tibet. The future depends on the reincarnation or emanation of the next HH Dalai Lama, the 15th.

Indian Foreign Policy – Mid Term Review (Part 4)

To read the Part 1 in the series of Indian Foreign Policy | Mid-Term Review : Click Here
To read the Part 2 in the series of Indian Foreign Policy | Mid-Term Review : Click Here
To read the Part 3 in the series of Indian Foreign Policy | Mid-Term Review : Click Here

Indian Foreign Policy | India – China

Indian Foreign Policy 2

Prime Minister Modi has confidently dealt with China. He spoke eloquently about the Chinese expansionist policies in Japan and reminded them that there is no room for expansionism in today’s world but there is ample room for development in this era as it is in the interests of everyone. India understands that China is the second most powerful in the world so we cannot seek confrontation with it but we have to deal with it pragmatically. PM Modi has maintained a strategic balance with China which would be significant for India in the long run.

China is not a littoral state; it is our biggest neighbour. Therefore, we have to count this factor while deciding our strategies even for the Western Pacific region and the South China Sea.

Indian Foreign Policy | India-Russia 

Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi

There are allegations of potential economic and geopolitical costs of alienating Russia in our quest of rebuilding our relationship with the United States. Contrary to this popular belief, PM Modi has rather made extra efforts to reinforce this partnership. But the fact is that whenever our strategic thinkers argue about the deterioration of India-Russia relations, they think of it in terms of Soviet Union, which does not exist today. Russia is a weaker link to our global aspirations and it is incapable of giving the kind of services that we were used to in the past during Soviet Union times. At the same time, Russia remains a very important partner because the military cooperation would continue for a very long time to come as much of our military equipment is procured from Russian manufacturers. We are also dealing with Russia in the production of 5th Generation Fighter Aircraft.

India is going to be dependent on Russia on the Energy sector too. Russia has civil nuclear plans for India, while India is procuring oil and gas fields in Russia (Sakhalin Oil field) and expanding its investments in the energy sector in Russia.

The problem with Russian relationship lies in the fact that while India’s relationship with the United States has improved, the Russian relationship with the United States has deteriorated very sharply. Although these were two independent processes, Russia has been forced into Chinese arms very sharply to explore how to counter American influence globally. Hence, wherever there is any development of faction between the relationship of United States and any other country, the Russians are coming to fill the void. This adequately explains the developing Russia-Pakistan relationship. In this part of the world, Russia is making a very big mistake where his negatives outweigh the positives. India certainly hopes that the Russian leadership would realise it very soon.

(Note – Russia has formally made it clear that it is not in favour of China Pakistan Economic Corridor)

 Indian Foreign Policy | India-Pakistan

Gen Bajwa

Flip-flops are very much the parts of our strategy towards Pakistan. The most important policy of PM Modi towards Pakistan is that he has changed the structure of this relationship. By crossing the LoC for surgical strikes against the terrorists, he has raised the quality of deterrence that India has ever showcased against Pakistan. PM Modi has also brought horizontal escalation in terms of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and even talking about internal security situation of Pakistan (Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). Hence, the use of coercion to change the rules of engagement has been quite successful in terms of India’s Pakistan policy.

Indian Foreign Policy | India-Japan


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came up with the concept of Indo-Pacific cooperation i.e. the confluence of the seas. Our partnership with Japan is covering the entire Pacific and Indian Ocean region. PM Modi must be credited for realising the truth that even though the United States may provide a security umbrella to the countries of this region, it is actually the countries themselves who should be cooperating bilaterally and even multilaterally to ensure a secured and sustainable future for all. Japan is not just the source of economic prosperity for India but it is gradually becoming a source of security for India in this region through all the efforts that PM Modi and PM Shinzo Abe’s personal relationship has brought for India. Hence, India must cultivate its relationship with Japan and keep it close to us in the future.

About the question of Chinese concerns, we should remember that it does not cater to the fact that what India might think when it engages with our neighbours and Pakistan in particular. Therefore, we must not limit our engagement with Japan merely on the fact that what China might think. It should be a beneficial partnership for both India and Japan. Even if there are consequences from Chinese side, India might not be too worried about it because given the fact that our engagements in this game are multi-oriented, our relationship with Japan and other powers are stronger than ever and it will continue to grow further. There is no reason to paralyse such initiatives just because of Chinese concerns. India under PM Modi has realised this, even if it is late in time.

To read the Part 5 in the series of Indian Foreign Policy | Mid-Term Review : Click Here


Chinese Debt Trap

Chinese Debt Trap over Sri Lankan economy is growing with Chinese stranglehold over Sri Lankan strategic assets.

Chinese Debt Trap | How serious is the issue?


  • The total debt of Sri Lanka is about $70 billion and over $8 billion is owned by China,
  • Sri Lanka’s debt to GDP ratio stands currently at around 75%.
  • Over 95% of all government revenue is going for debt repayment and more than 1/3rd of it is used to serve Chinese debts.
  • Much of the debt came up during last President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure during which he initiated several large scale and extremely expensive infrastructure projects with Chinese loans. This has led Sri Lanka being pushed to the brink of bankruptcy, prompting an IMF bailout.
  • Current Government under President Sirisena has made a U-turn by swapping the debt of China with equity, lending a permanence to Chinese presence in Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka has reversed the suspension of Chinese controlled ‘Colombo Port City’ project. The area given to China on a 99-year lease has also been increased and the Chinese companies involved have been offered lucrative tax breaks.
  • China has also been given 80% ownership of the Hambantota port in the south. The ‘Mattala Airport’ ($300-400 million Chinese loan and $100-120 million operational charges per annum being spent by Sri Lanka itself) at the Hambantota has also been given to a Chinese firm to manage and operate. A 15,000 acre Chinese led industrial zone nearby has been revived.
  • Economists say that if the Government debt is around 100% of GDP, then an economy is in trouble. Sri Lankan debt is close to 89% of GDP. Moreover, it cannot print its own currency too for clearing the debt.
  • Around $35 billion of the debt is serviceable because it carries low interest rates, most probably being forwarded by multilateral institutions like the World Bank.
  • The $8 billion Chinese debt is a high cost debt. It carries an interest rate of about 8-9%. Therefore, China is arm twisting Sri Lanka to either clear the debt or ‘defer’ (not cancel) the debt through strategic favours.
  • It might be unsustainable for Sri Lanka because the contracts signed with China are heavily one-sided in favour of China, so Sri Lanka should push for renegotiation of the contracts.
  • Under the new Government, despite having no big projects initiated, the domestic debt grew by 12% and foreign debt grew by 25%.
  • The only Chinese project which is doing well in Sri Lanka is the ‘Colombo Container Terminal’

Chinese Debt Trap | Relationship between the two countries

Immediately after the BIMSTEC meeting in India, Sri Lanka handed over the equity control of the Hambantota Port to China whereby the Sri Lankan Port Authority would develop the port with Chinese credit. The relationship between Sri Lanka and China has been upgraded to what is being called “all weather partnership”. More than a relationship of trust, it is seen as a relationship out of compulsion.

Chinese Debt Trap | Hambantota Project

  • It is worrisome for India if Sri Lanka fails to service its debt on Hambantota, considering its strategic location and a supporting air field, which is being handed over to China. China is ready to take 80% of its equity.
  • It is located within 1300 kilometres from India’s two strategic naval bases (Vishakhapatnam and Andaman and Nicobar) in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Sukhoi base in Thanjavur is also located nearby from the Hambantota project.
  • Sri Harikota is also located in the region which is our military and space vehicles launching port.
  • Therefore, India should draw a red-line for China in case it starts using the same as a dockyard for submarines or other military assets.

Chinese Debt Trap | Why China is investing so heavily in Sri Lanka?


  • China is deliberately parking its investment abroad to avoid service costs and no-interest regimes of the developed world (western world). It cannot park the funds in China because it may lead to hyperinflation.
  • In Hambantota project, China extracted 90% of its returns from Sri Lanka in the form of raw materials.
  • This parking of funds earns Sri Lanka strategic leverage, higher return on investment and reciprocity and permanence in foreign policy objectives from the targeted countries.
  • Chinese labour, Chinese machinery and thereby Chinese manufacturing sector gets a boost from such investments.
  • Most importantly, China has global ambitions in the form of controlling the communication routes to Eurasia.
  • And of course, the strategic aim to contain India has always been there.

Chinese Debt Trap | Indian Approach


  • We don’t have resources to match with China. Hence, we shall join hands with our friendly countries such as Japan and OECD to work in tandem with them to ensure that none of our neighbouring countries become exclusively or overly dependent on China.
  • We shall engage the donor and the recipient bilaterally to work out a viable alternate combination and help the recipient secure a soft way out of this debt trap.
  • India should not be alarmed by such situations because anyhow the projects China has managed to secure in Sri Lanka are unviable in both economic and up to some extent in strategic terms too.
  • Chinese policy is clear – overall dominance of Asia, and both India and Japan share this view. India should deal this with the least confrontational but the most effective manner.
  • India should also improve its track record in project implementation in case of ‘some’ projects such as Kaladan Multimodal Project, Chabahar Project etc. to earn a respectable share of strategic assets in our regions of interest.
  • India is having a very high level of economic and diplomatic expertise by which it has managed to avoid non-viable projects since independence. It should also communicate its neighbours regarding the ways to secure a viable deal with China and other powers which milk them in the long run but look lucrative in the short run.

Indo China – The Trump Factor

Indo China relations are already in a considerable flux and the election of Donald Trump as US president has unleashed further uncertainty on the world. Rhetorical Trump has promised economic protectionism, rethink on immigration and militarism against terrorists, but has outlined few concrete policies. Much will depend on his cabinet appointments and his ability to work with US Congress and bureaucracy. Whatever path the US takes going forward, the actions and orientations of Indo China – and the relationship between the two – will have even greater implications for the international system.

Indo China | Similarities

  • China and India have two of the world’s four largest militaries, both of which are modernising. They also remain among the fastest growing major economies: China’s is second behind the United States and India could well be the third largest by 2030.
  • All countries have a grand strategy, whether or not they know it. But the Chinese government under Xi Jinping and the Indian government under Narendra Modi have been clearer and bolder than many of their predecessors in articulating what they would like to achieve nationally, regionally and globally.

Indo China Relationship | Chinese Ambitions 

China’s current leadership has adopted three big ambitions.

  1. The first is the Chinese Dream (or China Dream), which aims to make China a “fully developed nation” by 2049 as part of the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.
  2. The second is the Belt and Road Initiative (also known as One Belt, One Road), an ambitious effort to export excess industrial capacity and thereby extend Chinese strategic influence to Central and Southeast Asia, Pakistan and West Asia, and on to Africa and Europe.
  3. The third is a ‘New Type of Great Power Relationship’, the idea that China and the United States can recognise one another as peers and respect each other’s spheres of influence.

Indo China | Indian Ambitions

India has its own ambitions for a prosperous future.

  1. Make in India is a campaign to accelerate India’s economic development through increases in manufacturing, large-scale employment and boosts in exports.
  2. ‘Neighbourhood First’ attempts to preserve India’s regional primacy through diplomatic attention, connectivity and assistance, while Act East is meant to improve India’s connectivity eastwards while deepening security and institutional partnerships.
  3. Finally, the notion of ‘India as a Leading Power’ outlines India’s ambition to become a great power in a multipolar world.

Indo China | Convergence and Conflict

  • Make in India finds some natural complementarities with the economic dimensions of the Chinese Dream. Should China evolve into an advanced consumer- and services-driven economy, an India that boosts manufacturing and exports is necessary and should (from Beijing’s point of view) be desirable. But for now, both China and India appear to be struggling with their internal economic transformations.
  • There is less overlap between China’s One Belt, One Road and India’s Neighbourhood First and Act East policies. Security competition between China and India in South Asia is intensifying, although Southeast Asia offers some avenues for mutually beneficial economic cooperation.
  • Finally, a ‘New Type of Great Power Relationship’ is at complete odds with India as a Leading Power: a world run by two countries leaves little space for others.

Indo China Relations | Lessons for India

  • In the absence of positive signs, India must be prepared for a more competitive approach to China. It must double down on its efforts at improving connectivity with South and Southeast Asia, including infrastructure projects, facilitation agreements and institutional cooperation.
  • India must also clearly delineate behaviour that fundamentally threatens its interests in its immediate vicinity and act decisively to advance those regional interests.
  • It will have to deepen its security and commercial partnerships with like-minded countries in the region, including the United States, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea.
  • India may even have to start thinking asymmetrically about China. This might involve engaging more with Chinese civil society, being more mindful of overseas Chinese facilities, reviewing aspects of market access, developing offensive capabilities with respect to new technologies, and contrasting itself with China at global governance forums.
  • New Delhi must constantly remind Beijing that the successful rebalancing of the Chinese economy can be win-win for both countries.

Indo China | The Way Forward

Given China’s overall trajectory and the concerns shared by many of its neighbours, the onus today is on Beijing to ensure a more cooperative international environment.

Should China make efforts to move from a territorially revisionist to a status quo power, from a mercantilist to a market economy, from an opaque to a more transparent political system, and from a violator to an abider of norms on non-proliferation and freedom of navigation, India (and indeed most others) should have every reason to celebrate and facilitate its rise and deepen cooperation.

But there are few indications to date that China is moving in these directions. For now, an opaque, mercantilist, revisionist, and offensive China is here with us to stay and, more importantly, is primed for hegemony.


The United States will not disappear as a global power overnight. But it would be a mistake to respond to Trump’s election with business as usual. Few priorities will be as important as rethinking Sino-Indian relations in a transformed international environment.

China Pak Friendship – The whole story

China Pak relations began in 1950 when Pakistan was among the first countries to end official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan and recognize the PRC.

China Pak | History

China Pak relations

  • Given its geo-strategic location, China has been keenly interested in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) for long.
  • After the Sino-India war in 1962, according to the border settlement agreement of March 1963, Pakistan conceded 5,180 km of Indian Territory to the Chinese.
  • In the late 1960’s, China began constructing the Karakoram Highway (KKH) to link Kasghar in Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China with Abbottabad in Pakistan, through the Khunjerab Pass.
  • China has always treated Kashmir as a disputed territory between India and Pakistan and doesn’t consider Kashmir as an integral part of India.

China Pak | Joint Patrol

China Pak Joint Patrol

  • The first China-Pakistan joint patrolling in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) took place in the border region on 21 July 2016. Nevertheless, Chinese troops had been patrolling this region since 2014
  • The region is included in the sphere of the PLA’s new Western Theatre Command that also includes Afghanistan, POK, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, the Central Asian Republics and part of Mongolia.
  • The immediate reason cited for the patrolling was fleeing of Uyghur’s from the Xinjiang province to join the ISIS.

China Pak | Karakorum Highway

Karakorum Highway

  • Officially it is known as N-35 in Pakistan and China National Highway 314 (G314) in China. Built in 1978 with Chinese assistance, it is the only overland route connecting China to Pakistan. Much of it runs through Gilgit-Baltistan region.
  • It also cuts through the sector between Asia and the Indian subcontinent bringing China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan within 250 km of each other. The KKH is emerging as a relatively viable transit route.
  • The restoration of KKH is directly linked with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • However, given its terrain and high cost of transit, the KKH is unlikely to become a major trade and energy corridor as billed; its value will be more strategic and military, than commercial.
  • Interestingly, if Gwadar has to become a reality the only land connection it has with China is the KKH.
  • It provides China with a window to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Taking into consideration, the difficult terrain of the highway, the expansion of the KKH remains a challenge for China.
  • Against the backdrop of One Belt One Road (OBOR) the region has become very important for China as the ‘China Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC), flagship project of OBOR passes through this region.

China Pak | Companies in PoK

China Pak Economic Corridor

  • Apart from the strategic importance, POK is rich in resources. It has vast deposits of precious stones, abundant water resources, Indus and its tributaries flow through POK.
  • In 2009, Pakistan Railways and China’s Dong Fang Electric Supply finalised an agreement to build a rail link between Havelian in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Khunjerab Pass over Manshera district and the KKH.
  • The China Road and Bridge Corporation (CBRC) and Pakistan National Highway Authority are jointly working on the KKH project.
  • The Gilgit-Baltistan region is rich in both metallic and non-metallic minerals, energy minerals precious stones.
  • Shahzad International is coordinating with Chinese investors for digging uranium and gold in Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • Chinese miners have also obtained lease in Astore district for the extraction of high quality of copper.
  • Reports state that a $6 million investment proposal was submitted by Pakistan Surpass Mining Company, a subsidiary of China’s Xinjiang Surpass Mining Company Ltd, for mining in POK. It is also working towards setting up a hydropower station and Molybdenum processing plant in Chupurshan Valley.

China Pak | The Uyghur Issue


  • The POK region is connected through the XUAR in China, which is infested with the problem of Uyghur separatist movement.
  • China is also concerned about the possibility of networks in the POK serving as conduit for the movement of Islamist terrorist elements that could establish links with separatist movement in XUAR.
  • In order to tackle the problem, on 15 June 2015, Zarb-e-Azb military operation was launched by Pakistan in NWA of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) targeting in particular foreign soldiers who were assembled over the years by the Pakistan Taliban. However, it is still continuing and there are linkages with the ISIS.
  • The National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) in its policy document has identified Xinjiang as ‘geographic advantage and its role as a window of westward opening-up’ as paramount for the success of OBOR. Hence, a lot is at stake for China in the region and any anomaly in the region might prove detrimental for the CPEC success.


China has often stated that it is neutral towards toward the issue of Kashmir but the tilt is very obvious. The joint exercise has also given China an excuse to familiarise itself with the disputed terrain. The increasing activities of China in the POK, establishes the fact that it is bound to affect larger Indian interest.

Russia, Geopolitics and India

Russia, China and Pakistan team-up seems to slowly shape up the potential power realignment of the world. The team-up is seeking to challenge the great power status quo, or pushing for greater bipolarity in global affairs.

Russian Geopolitics | Apprehensions


The recent overtures by Russia to India’s arch rivals are not being appreciated by the power circles in New Delhi. What are such moves that infuriate India?

  • First is the Russian support to the Chinese claim over the South China Sea (SCS) and its rejection of the international tribunal’s verdict, as also the decision to initiate joint naval exercises in the disputed sea.
  • Second is Moscow’s decision to undertake its first-ever military exercises with Pakistan, at a time when the latter is being internationally censured for promoting cross-border terrorism.

Russian ambitions

  • While the Russia-China channel of strategic cooperation has long existed, Moscow has for many years been largely been fiddling with this association intended to resist American hegemony. The entry of Pakistan in this matrix could imply the unravelling of a Cold War-era permutation.
  • Moscow not just intends to create a rebalancing in the region, but also wants to create space for its own neo-USSR ambitions of taking the centre-stage.
  • Going by the current trends, the Russian grand strategy seems not just to continue countering the US primacy but also displacing China as the primary countervailing force in this region, even while ensuring China incurs the costs of resisting the American influx.
  • Moscow on the other hand wants to play realpolitik of displacing China as the countervailing force in this region, even while taking China into confidence. It can be deciphered by its overtures to rivals of China such as Vietnam, with whom it is negotiating a BrahMos missile delivery with India as a partner country.
  • Russian pivot includes – direct intervention (Ukraine and Syria), passive engagement and crisis management (South China Sea, Turkey and ISIS) for the expansion of its influence across Eurasia.

Conditions fostering the Russian motives

  • Emergence of neo-right governments both in Europe and USA and the possible extension of the phenomenon elsewhere. This is seen as a protectionist trajectory where Russia gets the opportunity to take the lead of the divided house.
  • China’s hawkish approach to the South China Sea and the subsequent economic downfall of China is forcing it to withdraw its diplomatic claws from the world stage, leaving Russia enough legroom to manoeuvre at the world stage.

Opportunity for Pakistan


With few backers in the Western and Islamic worlds, and China remaining the only all-weather friend to carry some of its weight, the Russian entry into its calculus is an indisputable strategic gain for Pakistan.

Unlike the Americans who sermonize to oriental allies on everything from democracy to religious freedom, the Russians ignore international opinion and pursue their strategic objectives without pushing for the norms perpetuated by Western liberal democracies. For a state which is increasingly attaining pariah status, Pakistan could easily sync with these non-liberal attributes and conspire against the “enemy” West.

Breakup with India

Since the 1971 Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty, Moscow has been India’s largest and most reliable defence partner for over four decades. Though the fall of the Soviet Union had troubled the Indian armed forces with a scarcity of spares and an antiquated arsenal, Russia continued to remain India’s trustworthy source of military equipment, despite new entrants such as Israel taking a chunk. Things seem to have dramatically changed in the last few years as American defence companies have begun to make a huge windfall through direct purchases under Foreign Military Sales (FMS)—they are destined to overtake Russian companies. While a few remnants of the legacy – BrahMos, INS Vikramaditya and Fifth Generation Fighter (FGF) – remain as symbols of this relationship, Russia is aware of how the Indian defence market is soon to be ruled by Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Even in the nuclear zone, Moscow could have been taken aback by the benevolence shown to Westinghouse on the Kovvada nuclear site which the Russians had eyed as an alternative to Haripur.

The increasing dependence on the US on a range of strategic domains—from nuclear, defence, space and high-end technology—India has now crossed a critical frontier by signing strategic agreements like the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). To Moscow, this might be signal that the time-tested friendship is ripe for review. While Russia heeded India’s opposition when it opened initial channels with Islamabad in the last decade, its decision to go ahead with the exercises, in spite of Uri, indicates the diminishing leverage Delhi has with Moscow.

Alarm for India


The military exercises with Russia and the purported Chinese declaration of support in the event of hostilities with India are shots in the arm for Pakistan at a time when it faces international isolation.

It might not be surprising if Russia is soon invited to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a means for Pakistan to countenance India’s economic might.

China will prove to be the lynchpin in building this perceived matrix into a formidable platform challenging American writ in the region. Needless to say, these developments are a wake-up call to India on the need to reorient its great power relationships. India’s effused confidence in striking an effective balance between Moscow and Washington seems to have seriously eroded. New Delhi needs to reorient its strategic rebalancing of its relationship between the two great powers. Be cautious, the world is humming to the tunes of Russian opera, let’s not write off the theatrics and actions in this game of realpolitik.

Debate: 'No-first use' nuclear doctrine

India’s ‘No first use’ nuclear doctrine was recently questioned by the Defence Minister when he said that India should state that “it is a responsible nuclear power and would not use it irresponsibly, instead of declaring an NFU doctrine”. Such statement from the Defence Minister on the eve of India-Japan Civil Nuclear Deal drew sharp criticisms from all political parties.
What is ‘no first use’ nuclear doctrine?
No first use (NFU) policy is more of a pledge by a nuclear power that it would not use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare until or unless attacked by the enemy power through nuclear weapons. Earlier, the concept had also been applied to chemical and biological warfare.
When did India adopt the ‘No First Use’ policy?
In August 1999 (post- Pokhran II tests), India released a draft of the NFU doctrine which proclaims that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of “retaliation only”. The document also assures that India “will not be the first to initiate a nuclear first strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail” and that decisions to authorise the use of nuclear weapons would be made by the Prime Minister or his ‘designated successor(s)’.
Arguments in favour of retaining the NFU doctrine-
• India has always promoted herself as a responsible nuclear weapon state. Hence, a first strike policy would severely damage India’s reputation as a responsible nuclear weapon state.
• It enables India to keep the nuclear threshold high with the antagonistic neighbours adopting an irresponsible nuclear stand.
• A withdrawal of NFU doctrine might also push Pakistan’s nuclear warheads into irresponsible hands which may turn the ‘rogue’ state into a nuclear terrorism exporter.
• China, the anticipated rival in the region also adopts a ‘no-first use’ policy. Hence, withdrawing NFU in India might give it a chance to revisit its stance too.
• If China aborts its NFU stance, then it would become a threat for the global powers such as the United States and the Russian Federation. Thus, a global nuclear arms race would restart again.
• A strategic rethink towards the NFU doctrine might jeopardise India’s ballistic missile defence programmes due to the global limelight India might attract because of an offensive stance.
• Nuclear weapons are merely deterrent in nature. The impact of a nuclear strike is unimaginable. Therefore, even a slight push towards hostility could push us to the brink of another nuclear war.
Alternatives available-
• Doctrine of ‘Cold Start’ is one such solution. It is a military doctrine developed by the Indian Armed Forces for use in a possible war with Pakistan. It involves the various branches of India’s military conducting offensive operations as part of unified battle groups. The Cold Start doctrine is intended to allow India’s conventional forces to perform holding attacks in order to prevent a nuclear retaliation from Pakistan in case of a conflict.
• Instead of focusing on adopting a first strike policy, India must work towards strengthening its counter strike and second strike capability.
India has always projected herself as the firm supporter of nuclear disarmament. It has been the only state to call for a Nuclear Weapons Convention that would ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. However, it is India’s no-first use stance that enables New Delhi to vouch for a nuclear weapons free world.
Mature nations always pursue a NFU policy. In the present strategic context, there is no necessity for India to change its existing nuclear doctrine. Therefore, instead of making offensive overtures towards the neighbours, India should pursue more confidence building measures through diplomatic channels to minimise the threats emanating from our immediate neighbourhood.

The Core Leader | Xi Jinping

Deng XiaopingCore Leader was the term coined by Deng Xiaoping when he elevated Jiang Zemin as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) after the Tiananmen Square incident. Deng Xiaoping designated Mao Zedong as the ‘core leader’ of the first generation, himself as the ‘core leader’ of the second generation and Jiang Zemin as the ‘core leader’ of the third generation. Hu Jintao failed to get himself designated as the core of the fourth generation because of Jiang Zemin’s antipathy towards him.

President Xi Jinping when came to power debunked this whole notion of core leadership and said that he would not go for such a leadership phase until his credentials are established. But recently he got himself deputed as the ‘Core Leader’ in the 6th Plenum of the CPC. He has received the approval of 348 Central Committee members at the 6th Plenum. This Plenum is significant in the sense that it also decides the leadership appointments of the CPC. This elevation puts him in the same revered ranks as that of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. President Xi may also have diminished the authority of Jiang Zemin, in the sense that his accolades under his right hand man and the current Director of the General Office of the CPC – Li Zhanshu, are pushing for the 30-year term under Xi Jinping. For the same reason, President Xi is aggressively eyeing the 19th National Congress of CPC to be held in 2017 for the selection of seven ‘Politburo’ members.

Core Leader | Meaning

Core Leader and CPCThe term ‘Core Leader’ may simply be a power consolidation exercise launched to remind the party members of reinforcing the centralisation of political power at the hands of central leadership during the hour of crisis. 18th Party Congress in 2012, which installed Xi Jinping as the General Secretary of the CPC had also advocated a ‘strong leadership and solid party apparatus’, necessitated by the 2010-2011 crisis of legitimacy and Bo Xilai’s bid to leadership and his subsequent expulsion from the Politburo membership. Since then, over a million party members have been disciplined under President Xi’s leadership. For more discipline drives, he is sending them a signal by being a core leader. He has become successful in getting control over the PLA and denigrating the Western Liberal thought which says that the army should be an instrument of the State and not of the political party in power.

But the picture is not as rosy as it seems, the CPC is going through a tough phase even after the promises of unfolding democratic drives from the last ten years.

China’s tryst with democracy

Democracy, of course with Chinese characteristics is what was aimed for the emasculation of the dictatorial characteristics of the Chinese state. Decentralisation drive of the last thirty years has resulted in over 71% of the total expenditure of China being made by the provincial governments, which is actually much ahead in numbers as compared to that of by democratic and federal states like India, Australia and even the United States. Such decentralisation has led to amassing of huge wealth by the provincial party leadership and high levels of provincial debt. This shoddy experiment of permeating democracy in local government with financial autonomy has earned China a debt of almost 40% of its GDP which even the proposed 3 trillion Yuan bond swap agreement cannot digest.

Political crisis in China

The developmental and anti-corruption initiatives undertaken under the leadership of President Xi Jinping has received opposition from many quarters, especially from the Prime Minister Le Keqiang himself. This is the reason why Premier Keqiang may be on his way out of the government (if the reports are to be believed). China under President Xi Jinping is facing many internal problems because he is a nationalist who is deriving ambitions from the Chinese glorious history and he is using cultural references to ride the boat of prosperity for China with future uncertainty at its helm. If we look at the 6th Plenum document of 6000 words, it certainly talks about the core leadership but also emphasizes ‘collective leadership’ of the party and the ‘intra-party democracy’. It shows that all is not perfectly well for President Xi Jinping in the Central Committee. As there are 90 vacancies in the Central Committee, so it would be interesting to see if Xi Jinping is able to pull in his people for more support in the Central Committee.

Hardening of the Chinese State

Instead of acclimatizing and accommodating the growing social, political and economic changes in China, the Chinese state has come up with new repressive laws and policy decisions.

  • Social Credit Law’ which is coming up in 2018, seeks to tag the individuals and give certain number of points to regulate even his/her class and mode travel for adequate surveillance of the people.
  • High level weeding out of Western literature from the syllabi of schools and colleges has been augmented.
  • China has expanded party surveillance with a provision to install a party (CPC) representative in primary and middle schools. Some of the schools would run by the party people too.
  • In the middle of 2016, China hosted a ‘National Security Education Campaign’ which basically warned people against foreigners befriending them, particularly to the Chinese girls suggesting that the foreigners are interested in political secrets alone.

The notion of elevating President Xi Jinping as the ‘core leader’ seems like a mask donned by the Communist Party of China to stay united during this phase of transition. This transition from the political and economic distress to the unpopular decisions that the leadership wants to sign in future would require an ‘iron fist with a velvet glove’. The world is monitoring this transition closely, and so are the people of China.