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Brain Storming Session at C3S on "Takeaways from the visit of Xi Jinping to India"

Brain Storming Session at C3S on 20th September 2014.

Consequent to the visit of Xi Jinping, the President of PRC to India , there was a ‘Brain Storming session’ on 20th September 2014 at the C3S premises to discuss  the “Takeaways from the Visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping”. The two reports released by the MEA  soon after the visit are also available for reference. The links for the same are given below:-

The list of agreements signed during the visit is available at

Summary of views of members of C3S. The key observations of individual members of C3S are highlighted in the succeeding paragraphs with the caveat that the views expressed are of the members and does not necessarily represent the views of the think tank .

Mr. B.S. Raghavan IAS (Retd),Patron C3S, Former Policy Advisor to UN (FAO), Chief Secretary, State Governments of West Bengal and Tripura, Secretary to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Government of India.

  1. Countries are, will be, and should be, hard as nails when it comes to protecting what they regard as their own national interests. This maxim most of all applies to China which is self-willed and whose successes in political consolidation, social engineering and economic regeneration have coloured its policies and stances with self-importance and self-righteousness. China, or any country for that matter, cannot be won over by effusive or exuberant overtures or by the grandeur of the reception during State/official visits of heads of states/governments.

  2. The best approach to China is not to waste time, effort and money on public relations extravaganzas, but to deal with it on a strictly professional and dignified plane, maintaining a degree of reserve and gravitas, and putting in public domain what India regards as the minimum essential guarantee for harmonious relations based on mutual respect it expects from China. In doing so, India should not worry about any impact on investment from China. The kind of money pledged isn’t enough for India’s requirements.

  3. Foreign direct investment constitutes a minuscule part of India’s economy. If only India capitalises on the huge advantages it has in terms of domestic market, unorganised sector and the rural potential (to cite just a few examples), ensures proper maintenance of its existing infrastructural assets and works them to optimal capacity, raises its project management capabilities and improves its work culture, it can add three to four percentage points to its GDP without expending a single rupee.

  4. India cannot win against world players on their terms and in battlefields of their choosing, and, therefore, should do what Japan in the years after the World War II did quietly and without fuss: Develop its inherent potential to the full by tapping the enormous treasure-house of talents and skills it has (e.g., Enriched Thorium Fast Breeder Reactor technology development as we have the raw material in plenty, develop a mind-set that encourages creativity, zeal, innovation, prioritising renewable and non-conventional energy sources; out-of-the-box thinking)

  5. For China, what it has repeatedly declared to be its “core interests” are immutable, inviolate and inviolable, and the first among the core interests to which it attaches paramount importance is preserving national sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and unification (the reference, presumably, is to Taiwan) and no amount of sops from any of the countries affected by its unilateral prescriptions will mollify it or make it soften its stand. India should understand this and be equally forthright and uncompromising about her own core interest; insist on first getting the border dispute resolved by a no-nonsense enunciation of what it considers its core propositions:

  6. (a) Until the dispute is resolved, China must stop this cartographic aggression( printing and publication of maps depicting its version of the disputed areas);

  7. (b) there should be no official pronouncements questioning the status of areas which are integral part of India, such as Arunachal Pradesh;

  8. (c) denial of visas or discriminatory practices, such as issue stapled visas, must cease;

  9. (d) the process of demarcating the border must be given a start within a stipulated time frame.

Prof. V. Suryanarayan, C3S President,Former Director, Centre for South and South East Asian Studies, University of Madras, Chennai, India.

  1. On Chinese foreign policy goals, there are three schools of thought in India: optimistic view of the Manmohan Singh Government – Chindia (China and India); At the other extreme are those who portray China as a country besieged by traditional “Middle Kingdom mentality” waiting for an opportunity to impose its hegemony on the rest of the world. Prof. Suryanarayan subscribes to the third viewpoint – relations between the two countries will be simultaneously characterized by co-operation, competition and conflict. It must be pointed out that the success of Indian diplomacy vis-a-vis China would depend upon how we maximize the areas of co-operation and minimize the areas of conflict.

  2. If one analyses the joint statements issued at the end of visits by Chinese leaders to India and Indian leaders to China, while New Delhi reiterates that Tibet is an integral part of China, but equally important component of our China policy namely autonomy of Tibet is getting diluted. New Delhi, I submit, should revert back to its original position of 1954; it should also try to mobilize international opinion on the question of Tibetan autonomy.

  3. South China Sea and East China Sea are becoming turbulent regions of territorial disputes. Relations of Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines with China can be characterized as “prickly”. ASEAN is a divided house on China’s territorial claims.

  4. In this context it will be a good idea if the Chennai Centre for China Studies takes the initiative to organize an international conference for exchanging ideas with important policy makers in Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. The seminar will enable us to understand the hopes, fears and sensitivities of these countries. Needless to say, such an endeavour will bring India closer together with these countries; what is more, it can result in joint course of action; and, needless to say, it would provide a fresh impetus to India’s Look East Policy.

Mr. M.R. Sivaraman IAS (retd), C3S Vice-President,Former Revenue Secretary, Ministry of Finance Govt. of India [Via mail 19/09/2014]

  1. The fact that the PLA timed an incursion on the day of the visit of its President who is also the Supreme Commander indicates either a divisive thinking in China itself on the border dispute or it was a signal to Xi that do not ignore the  PLA in any negotiation on the borders with India.

  2. Development of infrastructure in the areas of incursion in J&K with a border area development authority headquartered in Arunachal not in distant Delhi.

  3. If China does not open up to balanced trade then restrictions should be made to the informal/black-market trade through executive orders from the Revenue Department.

Mr. D.S. Rajan, C3S Former Director,Former Director, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India [Via mail 20-09-2014]

  1. During his talks with Xi Jinping, Modi, ‘suggested’ Chinese clarification of Line of Actual Control (LAC), expressed ‘serious concern’ over border incidents (reference to Ladakh transgressions) and conveyed ‘concerns’ over China’s visa policy and its position with regard to trans-border rivers. Besides, Modi wanted an early settlement of the boundary issue.

  2. It is clear that the approaches of Modi and Xi on the border issue significantly vary. Xi has jumped directly to the boundary issue without paying attention to Modi’s call for LAC clarification. An explanation could be that China has always been uncomfortable with the use of the term ‘Line of Actual Control’, despite its endorsement of it in its earlier agreements with India

  3. There is a perception that the Chinese MSR initiative is in response to American-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) regional initiative and is intended to spread Chinese soft power in Asia, including South Asia. In counter, India has an alternate proposal called ‘Mausam’ with the same purpose. Very interestingly, Xi has suggested in the ICWA gathering that China’s engagement with counties in its Western neighbourhood can be dovetailed into India’s ‘Look East’ policy.

  4. What China means by its term ‘bigger role’ for India in the UNSC, is not clear. China has always been wary of India’s entry into UNSC as a permanent member on fears the same would justify Japan’s permanent membership there which it opposes.

  5. The proposed Chinese investment into India is to the tune of US$ 20 billion in 5 years needs to be viewed as against the promised Japanese investment of US$ 35 billion.

  6. China has been very critical of India’s nuclear policy in the past. This development needs further examination so as to find whether China’s thinking on that policy has now changed in India’s favour.

 Col. R.Hariharan, C3S Treasurer,VSM, Retired Officer of Intelligence Corps, India.

  1. Both Chinese and Indian media gave a lot of hype to President Xi Jinping’s visit to India from September 12 to 17, 2019. The interest was expected as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new economic agenda offers a lot of opportunities for China to consolidate its economic presence in South Asia by building vibrant trading relations with India.

  2. So much was expected from the visit, particularly after Modi’s fairly successful visit to Japan two weeks earlier and Japan’s offer to invest $ 34 billion in India during the next five years.

  3. However, after all the warmth and bonhomie exhibited by the two leaders on the first day of the visitor’s arrival in Ahmedabad, President Xi- Prime Minister Modi formal talks appear to have made only limited progress if we go by the yardstick of Xi’s promise to invest $20 billion over 5 years in India to bolster Chinese involvement in India’s trade and industry. But $20 billion is no small amount and India’s investment hungry power and infrastructure sectors would welcome it.

  4. There were key takeaways on Xi’s promise to ease restrictions on Indian investment and trade in China and progress other avenues like assisting development of railways and technology parks should not be missed out.

  5. Most of the 12 agreements and memorandums signed on the occasion  progress existing areas of cooperation and understanding. However, some of them like the one on nuclear energy  raise important  security issues as China is a long time strategic partner of Pakistan and had helped our neighbour in weapon development and delivery systems.

  6. The Chinese troop intrusion in Demchok and Chumar in Ladakh region even as the Xi visit was on, exposed the seamier side of India-China relations that had made Chinese intentions suspect all along. It was commendable that Modi publicly cautioned the Chinese President of the damage caused by such transgressions to efforts to  the efforts of the two nations to improve their relations. He also pointed out other continued pinpricks like the stapled visa that need to be resolved.

  7. On his part, President Xi tried to sell his agenda of involving India in the Maritime Silk Route (MSR) through Indian Ocean and the Southern Silk Road (SSR). However, he appears to have made little headway in India.

  8. While these offer opportunities for Indian development, trade and commerce, their strategic implications are serious. Both MSR and SSR will legitimize Chinese presence in India’s areas of strategic influence. The Indian part of SSR will run through the troubled Northeastern region close to Chinese claims in Arunachal Pradesh and the sensitive eastern corridor. The MSR will  open up the Indian Ocean Region where Indian navy is a dominant power to the competing presence of PLA navy with full access to not only to our immediate neighbouring seas but also to our EEZ and offshore facilities.

  9. On the other hand, President Xi has already sold the MSR to Maldives and Sri Lanka and we can expect the Chinese to enter the Indian Ocean region in a big way in the coming months. In view of this we will have to come to terms with this and take advantage of it without losing sight of India’s national interest. Modi’s guarded reply on this issue in the press statement is indicative of this.

Commodore RS Vasan IN (Retd), C3S Director,Head, Strategy and Security Studies, Center for Asia Studies, Chennai

  1. Strategy of bi lateral trade at all cost including status quo on the border is not a good idea. The recent intrusions are clear indications that China does not believe in niceties when it comes to its perception of core interests. The fact that China does not believe in even sharing its perceptions in certain strategic areas is serious enough to rethink our strategies.

  2. Move for investments from Japan, S Korea, EU, USA, UK and even Middle East. While it may appear that there is no choice but to do business with China, let us start examining all options by diversifying.The atmosphere is conducive for inviting investments from countries other than China. Also, while there were high expectations about nearly 100 bn dollars being invested in India, it turned out to be just one fifth of that expected sum.

  3. If China did respect the LAC for so many years, why violate this now (334 violations this year) when Xi is on Indian soil. If you know that the demarcation is at the root why are we not attending to that first. This should have been on the top of the agenda: On the border issue we are facing the same situation as the maritime neighbours in SCS and ECS. The testing of Indian responses during Xi’s visit could be well a planned one to see how far China can go without being aggressively challenged on the borders.

  4. On the point of the Maritime Silk Routes, it is clear that China wants to revisit its past glory of connectivity and trade that was the hall mark of the earlier kingdoms. Though, the issue has been raised during the visit of India’s Vice President and other official channels, India have not decided to get on board. On the contrary, India had launched Mausam a similar connectivity to the east by revisiting the trade and spice routes of yester years when India and China thrived with the maritime routes nurturing the economy.

  5. The promise of lobbying for an increased role for India in the United Nations Security Council does not mean much when there would be no veto power that goes with it.

Mr. K. Subramanian, C3S Member, Former Joint Secretary (retd), Ministry of Finance, Government of India

  1. Signs of disharmony appeared in President Xi’s opinion piece in the Hindu: Referring to China as the world’s manufacturing hub and India as the world’s back office was not a vision of equal partners.

  2. Before Chinese investment and best-practices are applied to the Indian Railways ground realities of the latter must be studied and understood.

  3. Promises of Chinese investment in India are facilitators of RMB trade (like the Chinese currency loans to industrial titans such as Reliance) and also have conditions that facilitate import of Chinese goods. Careful cost-benefit analysis is required before welcoming Chinese investments and the promise of $100b!

Mr. L.V. Krishnan, C3S Member, Former Director – Safety Research Group, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam.

  1. $35b promised to Pakistan so $20b announced in India to keep Pakistan in good humour; meant to be less than the investment promised to us by Japan.

  2.  Chinese offer is for high speed trains not bullet trains, whose technology anyway was imported by China from the French and the Germans and adapted, it would be better for us to negotiate with these European suppliers despite the Euro premium because there have been cases of accidents in China; there are general reports of unreliable performance guarantee with Chinese made products. We are not familiar with their materials of constructions and with their quality control procedures. This same reasoning must be kept in mind while negotiating for their nuclear reactors despite their many installations across China. There is no need to go overboard on the offer of Civil Nuclear Energy when there are other options.

  3. It is not clear if Chinese suppliers will accept the Indian supplier liability clause which cannot be changed; in point of fact, suppliers need really not worry because accidents are more due to operator failures not equipment failures; many safeguards and redundancies are built into reactor designs like redundant equipment operating on diverse principles for protection; any equipment failures that may occur are likely to be limited to plant shutdown and attendant economic loss that does not reach astronomic proportions like serious environmental damage and permanent shutdown.

Mr. T.V. Krishnamurthy, C3S Member, Director – Victoire Consultants (Pvt.) Ltd

Deal with the outcome in two components: Economic and Geo political and their implications thereof.

  1. $20b instead of $100b: The quantum of this co operation in my opinion is not as important as the significance of the first ever agreement from China to invest in India. This is path breaking.

  2. The Chinese will roll out the agreed projects cautiously. Once they get the desired out come as per their projected objectives they will certainly look at enlarging their investments in India.

  3. China has serious disputes with Japan in South China Sea despite the fact that almost all Japanese Engineering and Entertainment majors have huge in manufacturing in China.

  4. Similarly China sells billions of US $ worth goods to Thailand and Philippines. But they have serious territorial disputes with them.

  5. China’s biggest trading partner is the US. China’s wealth (Almost 3 trillion US$) is invested in the US. Still China is actively pursuing a robust offensive military technology against the US based on long range missile capabilities within easy reach to San Francisco and mainland US. Similarly the US and China continue to trade robustly despite the fact that US is openly hostile to China. So let us think strategically and assess our relations with China without being trapped in History. Let us strengthen our military capabilities vis-à-vis China.

  6. Simultaneously let us have self confidence in our governance capabilities and create a conducive environment for foreign Investments from China. But, for security reasons we must punish corruption and get it out of our way.

  7. Real interests – short, medium, and long term need to be pursued with great self confidence and competence, Governments should not be trapped by bogeys and manufactured threat OTHER PARTICIPANTS

N. Joe D’Cruz, Invitee Sahitya Akademi award 2013 winner, Tamil language category (Korkai)

  1. Chinese pose threat and unfair competition to the Logistics and Shipping industries.

  2. Draining of Indian raw materials minerals and ores for value added exports in China. Reasoning of what is in Indian interest and the business owners’ interest and government policies that synchronise need to be worked out.

  3. Loss of profits and development of indigenous industries when whole-sale trade continues with pro-China conditions.

  4. Corrupt practices and unfair competition from Chinese products and services have laid waste many Indian industries (e.g., mining, logistics, ocean shipping, mines & minerals, granite [rocks]). The recent case of import of steel bars for construction to evade 13% duty is a case in example. This gives unfair advantage to the Chinese firms who are exploiting the local laws in collusion with unscrupulous importers.

Raakhee Suryaprakash, Sunshine Millennium

  1. A dangerous trend is the fact that in the midst of one of the state’s worst natural and humanitarian disaster in J&K, Chinese civilians and army faced off their Indian counterparts. These squatters have not just diverted much needed army manpower that could have helped with the flood rescues in the Kashmir Valley but also blocked the progress of Indian irrigation and infrastructure projects on the plateau.

  2. Improved ties with Asian and Oceania powers (including Russia, Japan, South-East Asia, and Australia) may be viewed as leverages to bolster the power base and influence of India and P.M. Modi while trying to consolidate ties with the United States at a time when relations are not on a very even keel (especially when India needs U.S. consent to secure better concessions from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group), even the appearance of bettering ties with challenger China will help India’s positioning/balancing/leverage in comparison.

  3. Just as the Chinese reef island did not appear overnight in the disputed region, and has since led to near fatal clashes between China and Japanese and South East Asian mariners (navy, fishermen, merchant vessels) the settlements and incursions in India’s northern and north-eastern extremities must be dealt with firmly in order to counter the possibility of a permanent Chinese settlement.

Mr. T. Ananthachari IPS (Retd) C3S Member, [Via mail September 22, 2014 from USA], Former Director-General, Border Security Force, Government of India.

  1. One cannot get away from the feeling that a lot of thinking and planning seems to have gone behind the manner in which the entire visit to Maldives, Sri Lanka and India has been gone through. It seems India has been left with very little option to respond to the Chinese plans for the Maritime Silk Route.

  2. There seems a strategy behind the place/location of the intrusions. It seems most of the PLA are men of 20-22 years of age. If any of them break loose and resort to physical action, it can lead to very serious consequences. Escalation cannot be ruled out. Are we ready for this?

  3. ‘Cyber warfare’ preparedness needed.

(Compiled by Raakhee Suryaprakash, Member of C3S)

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