Friday, December 21, 2012

Interaction with CIISS on Political Change Over in China


A five-member delegation from the CIISS (China Institute for International Strategic Studies), a think tank with strong military background, visited the Foundation on December 19, 2012 for an exchange of views with a select panel of VIF scholars and experts focusing specifically on the political change over in China, but also going over the entire gamut of bilateral issues. The visiting delegation was led by Maj Gen Huang Baifu (Retd), Vice Chairman CIISS and comprised four other scholars - Mr Zhu Guorong, Senior Research Fellow, Maj Gen Miao Pengsheng (Retd), Senior Advisor, Mr Yu Hanmin, Senior Research Fellow, and Mr Zhu Jie. The delegation was also accompanied by the Deputy Defence Attaché of China in India.

The interaction encapsulated the broad strategic environment surrounding the bilateral ties, articulated briefly in the opening remarks by Mr. Ajit Doval, KC Director VIF. He opined that improved economic engagement between China and India, expectedly touching USD 100 billion mark by 2015, would be a major catalyst in improving the overall relationship – people to people contacts and creation of more employment opportunities, but more significantly, it would lead to a marked improvement in political and security relationship. China and India have evolved a greater understanding in recent years on a number of international issues – the latest example being Syria where both countries have, by and large, a similar approach favouring non-intervention. He also expressed his views that together China and India can contribute significantly to global peace and security, a view shared by Maj Gen Huang Baifu who also said that China and India, two emerging economies in Asia, can help each other in meeting common challenges for peace and prosperity of both the countries.
With the once-a-decade leadership change in China now generating lots of curiosity in India as elsewhere, the audiences were treated to a lively Chinese perspective on the future trajectory of China through 2020. China has a vision to double its GDP and the people’s income by 2020 while continuing with its policy of ‘peaceful development’. The challenge however lies in striking the right balance between the socialist and the scientific development. It also envisions more democratic rights for the people, allowing them a greater say in decision making. The new leader knows what the people think and what their aspirations are: better living conditions for the average Chinese, better health, education and housing facilities etc. The leader is pragmatic and people have faith in him. Corruption is a major issue in China and the leaders need to lead by example. The visiting scholars through their presentations and subsequent interactions with VIF scholars also underscored China’s core national interests underlying its foreign policies in the region and beyond.

The interaction also witnessed several contentious issues between the two countries being thrown up for discussion. The vexed border issue between China and India, South China disputes, the US’ re-balancing strategy in Asia, Af-Pak situation etc. were among the several issues which figured prominently during the discussion. While speakers on the VIF panel underscored the need for early delineation of the land boundary, the CIISS delegation held that frequent border stand-offs between the two countries were more of media creations in India. The Chinese urged the Indians to have patience in resolving the border dispute. Allaying Chinese concerns vis-√†-vis the US’ re-balancing strategy in Asia, Mr. Doval stressed that India’s thrust on ‘Look East Policy’ predates the re-balancing strategy and is driven more by economic imperatives than strategic imperatives.

The Indian contingent of scholars and speakers comprised a much broader spectrum and included, among others, Mr. VK Kapoor, former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi, Ambassador P P Shukla Joint Director VIF, Ambassador T. C. A. Rangachari, General (retd) VN Sharma and General (retd) NC Vij, both former Chiefs of the Indian Army, Lieutenant General (retd) Ravi Sawhney, former DGMI, and Major General (retd) Dhruv C Katoch, Director Centre for Land and Warfare Studies, a Delhi-based think tank.   

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