Eye on China is a weekly bulletin offering news and analysis related to the Middle Kingdom from an Indian interests perspective. This week we cover the fallout of Sri Lanka’s presidential election; Rajnath Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh; the protests in Hong Kong; China’s revision of its GDP and much more.
I. India-China Relations
There’s a bunch of interesting things that have happened this week. I’ve clubbed them here, but into different sub-sections.
Rajnath’s Visits: Let’s begin this week with India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s travels. Singh was in Arunachal Pradesh recently. He visited the forward post of Bum La on the India-China border, meeting with troops. He tweeted: “During my Bumla visit I have come to know that despite perceptional differences on the boundary issue both the Indian Army and the PLA have been sensible enough to reduce tensions on LAC.” The visit, of course, was opposed by Beijing. BJP MP from Arunachal Tapir Gao warned Parliament this week that “if a repeat of Doklam takes place, it will happen in Arunachal Pradesh because China has encroached 50-60 km area of the state.” This information comes as India and China are preparing for the 7th Hand-in-Hand bilateral drill, which will be held in Chengdu on December 10.
After Arunachal, Singh traveled to Bangkok for the 6th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus dialogue. There he spoke for global action against terrorist safe havens and terrorism financing. During his visit, he also remarked on the South China Sea issue. As per the Hindu, Singh said that India “emphasises the need to protect the rights of States that are not party to these negotiations…It is natural for the international community to have an interest in open sea lanes of communication. We hope that the situation remains stable, without the use, or threat of use of force, or militarisation of the region.”
Tibet & Naga Rebels: Meanwhile, Anirban Bhaumik reports in Deccan Herald that the Indian government appears to be signalling a shift in its approach towards the Dalai Lama, given the invitation to the Tibetan spiritual leader to speak at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies housed at Rashtrapati Nivas in Shimla. This comes as the Times of India reports that Beijing apparently raised the issue of Indian leaders and officials engaging with the Dalai Lama in public before the November 8-9 Rising Himachal global investors summit in Dharamshala. Another source of friction between the two countries are insurgent movements in India’s northeast, many of which have had historical connections with China. Biju Kumar Deka reports for News18 that Phungting Shimrang, former leader of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), and two others have reportedly traveled to Yunnan province to convince the Chinese leadership to help them fight the Indian government.
Border Roads: Amid all this, Ananya Bhardwaj reports in ThePrint that 20 years after being envisaged set to complete the first phase of the project to build a network of roads along the China border. The report says: “According to a source in the ministry, the government had in the first phase planned to construct 61 roads along the India-China border totalling 3,346 km. Of these, 36 roads (1,260 km) have been constructed, while links have been established in 20 others (2,035 km) which are being tested. Work on the remaining five roads has begun and will be completed soon.”
5G Spectrum Debate: India, China, Russia and Japan reportedly have some common ground when it comes to the spectrum band for 5G operations. The World Radiocommunication Conference is currently underway at Sharm El Sheikh, which is where this is being discussed. Here’s the discussion in a nutshell. Japan, China, and Russia oppose use of 26 Ghz spectrum, primarily to defend military operations. India finds common ground with them because that’s ISRO’s band too. But India is yet to decide on alternative bands having large chunk of airwaves to support the next generation telecom services.
Trade & Investments: Some good news. Starting Thursday, anti-dumping duties on pyridine exports from India to China will be ended, said the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. China imposed five-year anti-dumping tariffs on Indian and Japanese imports on November 21, 2013. Also, apparently the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai saw buyers express interest in Indian henna powder, chillies, value-added tea and moringa (drumstick) powder. Some other Indian products in focus during the expo were pharmaceuticals, medical equipment & healthcare products, automobile and food and agriculture products. Finally, Bloomberg reports that India is planning to offer 324 companies incentives to set up factories in a bid to capitalize from the Sino-US trade war.
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