South Asian Perceptions of Rising China’s Role

The following paper originally published by the South Asia Policy and Research Institute [SAPRI], a project of the Foundation for Democracy and Justice – FDJ which is a UK, registered charity.

by S.D. Muni

The Legacy:

( February 15, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) China is South Asian sub-continent’s new neighbor. Until the military annexation of Tibet in 1951, the countries of the sub-continent i.e. India, Pakistan, Nepal Bhutan and Afghanistan, did not share direct land borders with China. Tibet kept them apart. The other South Asian countries like Sri Lanka or Maldives did not have any land border with China. Most of the sub-continent’s engagement was with Tibet. China was distant and alien in many respects. The South Asian countries, India, Nepal and  Bhutan  in particular, as Pakistan and Bangladesh came into existence later, had cultural and economic interaction with China in a sporadic and casual manner. Politically however, they occasionally brought in China to balance Tibet’s expanding and assertive tendencies, and dealt with China directly whenever China dominated Tibet. This was evident during the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, when these countries were driven by the imperatives of geostrategic games played by the British Indian Empire in the Himalayas. Before the British Empire, the South Asian countries’ contacts with China were mainly far and few in-between, and mostly cultural.

Historically, China was also casual and incidental in its approach to South Asia, periodic religious, cultural and commercial contacts notwithstanding. China’s interest in South Asia after the victory of the communist revolution in 1949 and the military incorporation of Tibet as an ‘autonomous region’ in 1951was driven by two factors, namely; (a) stability and security of its far flung and restive western periphery comprising Tibet and Xinxiang and; (b) search for regional (in Asia) and global accommodation and acceptance in the face of containment (of Communism) imposed by the US and its Western allies in pursuance of the Cold War. China’s ‘peaceful co-existence’ and Bhai-Bhai  (India and China are brothers) euphoria with India under the Panchsheel Agreement of 1954 and Rice-Rubber deal with Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1952 clearly epitomised China’s strategic and economic priorities in South Asia. The Panchsheel agreement ensured for China that India accepted Chinese control of Tibet as the “Autonomous Region of China” wherein India gave up all its privileges and position in Tibet inherited from British colonial rule and the rice-rubber deal with Sri Lanka breached the economic barriers imposed by the Cold War. Sri Lanka had to pay a price for this in the form of US diplomatic reprimand and aid cut.[1] It may be of interest to note here that China did not mind delaying its diplomatic presence in the strategically placed Himalayan country like Nepal during the early 1950s. This was in deference to Indian apprehensions that China’s engagement with South Asian countries will enhance US and Western reactive presence there. Limiting Western presence in South Asia suited Chinese objectives as well.[2] China does not have formal diplomatic relations with Bhutan to date, partly to avoid any misunderstanding with India.

This pattern of Sino-Indian interaction started getting eroded with the increasing trouble for the Chinese in Tibet during the latter half of the 1950s which saw the flight of the Tibetan religious leader Dali Lama and the establishment of a “Tibetan government in exile” in India. The US started training and funding Tibetan resistance against China covertly, in the territories of Nepal and India. These developments also coincided with the rift between China and the then Soviet Union on the one hand and the coming closer of India and the Soviet Union on the other. The regional and international factors along with India’s refusal to accept the Chinese proposal of swapping territories to resolve the border dispute eventually led to the Sino-Indian war of October 1962. Thus from an ally, India turned into a Chinese adversary making China bold and aggressive in cultivating India’s immediate South Asian neighbours by playing upon their complaints and grievances towards India. In cultivating India’s immediate neighbours, China employed all available means; political, diplomatic, economic and even military.

China was now willing to offer both security and economic support to South Asian countries to balance the pressures they felt from India. The best advantage of this was taken by Pakistan, an otherwise Cold War military ally of the US. Pakistan not only sought and secured China’s economic support but also banked upon its security assurances during its wars with India in 1965 and 1971.[3] Pakistan started cultivating China against India. It ceded more than 5000 square kilometers of territory in the ‘ Occupied Kashmir’ while concluding its border agreement with China in 1963. Firm foundations of military assistance and defence cooperation, including in the nuclear field, between Pakistan and China were laid during this period. While establishing a military supply relationship and assuring support for Pakistan’s ‘sovereignty’ and also its claims on Kashmir in the dispute with India, China was however, careful in avoiding any direct military intervention in Indo-Pak conflicts. For the sake of Pakistan, China resisted the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 but eventually in 1974, recognized the new nation and soon moved to establish close economic and defence cooperation with it. Similarly Nepal also sought and secured China’s help when its Monarchy came under pressure from India in the early sixties, following King Mahendra’s dismissal of a popularly elected democratic government in December 1960. China, during the early sixties, resolved the border dispute with Nepal to the latter’s satisfaction (1960), built a road connection (Kathmandu-Kodari Highway) to breach India’s security perimeter in the Himalayas, and signed a Peace and Friendship Treaty(in 1960) and assured Nepal of all support and help if its sovereignty and territorial integrity were to be threatened, presumably by India. Nepal itself had a strategically critical position for China as many of the Tibetans escaped to join the Dalai Lama in India through Nepal. Moreover, the US trained Tibetan Khampa rebels against China in northern Nepal (Mustang region) until 1974. [4]

The developments in China’s relations with the South Asian countries briefly outlined above clearly underlined the fact  that Communist China was always keen to cultivate South Asian countries in pursuance of critical interests of protecting its turbulent western periphery of Tibet and Xinjiang, and, countermanding any external adversarial influence in this region. The South Asian countries have historically looked at China as a distant and friendly country which became more supportive of their regional concerns and became a source of dependable economic, diplomatic and security assistance after its reassertion in Tibet and its border conflict with India.

Rising China:

Maoist China’s radical transformation was initiated and carried out by Deng Xiaoping between 1979 and 1997.[5] On his first visit to the SE Asian countries, he was advised by their  leaders ,especially Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, that China should open up its economy and stop supporting communist insurgencies in the region.[6] Following on this advice, Deng altered the course of China’s economy and foreign policy in relation to its immediate neighbours. China’s phenomenal rise as the second largest economy of the world and a formidable military power in Asia are the result of Deng’s policy reforms, the thrust of which has been broadly maintained and even reinforced by his successors. There are three aspects of China’s rise that distinguish it from a poor, developing and isolated China of the 1950s and 1960s and are relevant to its engagement with South Asian countries. A detailed discussion on them is beyond the scope of this paper, but these aspects need to be identified.

As an imperative of growth, China has been propelled to forge mutually beneficial ties of interdependence with various countries of the world, including its immediate neighbours. Such ties have been established in search of opportunities for trade and investments through which China has procured essential raw materials and energy for its manufacturing sector and expanded the markets for its products. For a balanced and cohesive national development, China has also extended the dynamics of growth to its peripheral areas and sought to connect them with the neighbouring countries. For instance, opening up of the Yunnan region during the 1990s, led to the development of cooperative relations between China and countries like Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.[7] Similarly, the drive for growth and development of farther regions like Tibet and Xinjiang has provided an added impetus for improving relations with South and Central Asian countries. This has been done under the revival and reinforcement of China’s ‘good neighbourly policy’ and a more friendly approach towards Third World countries which got a boost as a consequence of internal political developments like the democracy revolt in Tiananmen square in June 1989. Most of the neighbouring and developing countries  including those in South Asia, had refrained from criticizing China for its strong repression of this revolt. Taking note of this, the Politbureau of the Communist Party of China stated in mid-1989, “from now on, China will put more effort into resuming and developing relations with old friends (in Africa) and Third World countries”.[8] Commenting on this aspect, Deng himself said:

In the past several years we have concentrated too much on one part of the world and neglected the other…. The U.S.A. and other Western nations invoked sanctions against us but those who are truly sympathetic and support us are old friends in the developing countries.[9]

The growth imperative has also made China comparatively more conscious of ’returns’ on its investments and assistance abroad. While a Maoist China primarily looked for strategic and political gains from such investments and assistance, an economic component has been added to this under the rising China. Accordingly, grants have been gradually making room for loans and the budgetary supports are being converted into meaningful economic/strategic transactions. Most of the Chinese investments are now aimed at securing ‘access to raw materials and energy’, ‘acquisition of technology, brands and know-how’, and bypassing ‘international barriers to trade’.[10] There are some political costs inherent in expanding economic engagements with the neighbours. The growing trade deficit with China and the dependency content of growing trade, where primary products are imported by China and manufactured goods and services exported, is building resentment in the adversely affected countries. Chinese aid, trade and investments are also causing environmental degradation, violation of human rights and ignoring of ‘good-governance’. Due to the lack of adequate experience and exposure, many of the Chinese companies working in neighbouring and developing countries under investment projects end up offending local cultural sensitivities.[11]

As compared to ‘developing China’, ‘rising China’ is also more capable and confident in dealing with its neighbours. China’s capabilities are obvious in terms of its economic surplus and military modernization. Economically, China has emerged as the fifth largest ODI (official direct investments) provider with its presence in some 177 countries. Its ODI has grown from a mere $100mn in 1980s to $56.53bn in 2009.[12] By 2011, Chinese lending even left behind those by the World Bank.[13] China naturally invokes greater expectations from the aid receiving countries as the flow of aid has been declining from the traditional sources viz.,the developed world. China is also in a position to respond to these expectations more willingly and generously. The faster pace of military modernization also gives China the capacity to become a significant security provider, through supply of arms and training.[14] It now has the confidence in defending its ‘core’ national interests in the neighbourhood even militarily, if need be, as its infra-structure and mobility on its Asian borders has significantly enhanced. It has accordingly become more assertive in pursuing these interests. This was boldly witnessed in 2012 in the South China Sea disputes with Philippines and Vietnam.  In South AsiaChina’s pressures on Pakistan in the face of Islamic extremists attack on and kidnappings of the Chinese nationals in the ‘Red Mosque’, Swat and other areas may be recalled here.[15]  Nepal has been asked several times to deal with the Tibetan refugees and protesters strictly. Nepal’s Home Ministry has been offered financial support to strengthen its anti-Tibetan operations.[16] . Bhutan also had Chinese eye brows raised on its border dispute on many occasions. It is believed that Bhutan and China have sorted out many of their border dispute related issues but China is insisting that it would sign the border agreement only when Bhutan establishes formal diplomatic relations and allows the opening of a Chinese embassy in Thimphu. India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh publicly complained against China’s ‘assertiveness’. In a question answer session at the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington DC on November 23, 2009, he said:

We want the world to prepare for the peaceful rise of China as a major power… . We ourselves have tried very hard to engage China in the last five years. Today China is one of our major trading partners. We have also to recognize that we have a longstanding border problem with China In the meanwhile both our countries have agreed that pending the resolution of the border problem, peace and tranquility should be maintained on the borderline. Having said that, I would like to say that I have received these assurances from the Chinese leadership at the highest level. But there is a certain amount of assertiveness on the part of the Chinese, I do not fully understand the reason for it, that has to be taken note of.[17]

Despite China’s enhanced capabilities and confidence, however, its sense of vulnerability in relation to the turbulent Western periphery of Tibet and Xinjiang that border the South Asian subcontinent has not been reduced owing to persisting turbulence in these areas.

Rising China’s expanding engagement with the world, in some ways, has reduced South Asia’s significance in its policy in comparative terms. As compared to the Maoist China, the Rising China is much too deeply and broadly involved with Africa, SE Asia, Central Asia, the Arab World and the Persian Gulf. This expanding relationship is based on China’s substantial interests in raw materials and energy. As a result, these regions have acquired a significant place as compared to South Asia in China’s trade relations as well as aid and investment disbursement.[18] In a list of top twenty destinations of China’s ODI in 2009, only one South Asian country, Pakistan figured at 13th place.[19] This is because South Asia does not have much of the raw materials or energy to offer to China. China has taken infrastructure projects in these countries to connect them with its periphery as also to link them up with its own transit and trade requirements. South Asia of course promises to be an attractive market for Chinese goods and services, but that still remains poorly harnessed in view of most of the countries’ poor purchasing power. The way India’s trade with China has grown underlines the potential of the region as and when the South Asian countries take on to the path of faster economic growth. For China, South Asia retains its strategic and political significance not only because of its turbulent western periphery, but also because of China’s interest in protecting its sea lanes of communication and expanding engagement with the rest of the world.

South Asian Perceptions:[20]

The perceptions of the countries vis-a-vis each other are not entirely rationally defined. These are essentially shaped by the interests as perceived and experiences as imbibed. In this process, many aspects of objective reality are shed off, marginalized or treated with a spin, if seen as undesirable and many others are inflated and exaggerated if seen as helpful.  Ideology also plays a role in it but this role is not often decisive. Of course there are Communist parties in South Asia and elsewhere that take a benign view of whatever China does or does not. But then, Communist parties of South Asia also got divided between admiration and endorsement of China and the then Soviet Union during the years and decades of Sino-Soviet split. The dominance of interests over ideology in shaping national perceptions is underlined by the fact that the military regimes, monarchies  and  also democratic governments and leaders in South Asia have not hesitated in perceiving a communist, even a radically turbulent (during the Cultural Revolution) China in a positive light.

Changing interests and experiences also change perceptions, from positive to negative or negative to positive. Recall Nehru’s India which within the period of a decade swung in relation to  China from the rhetoric’s of Bhai-Bhai and ‘Peaceful Co-existence’ to hostile and adversarial mutual images. Maoist Chinese leaders also, who were willing supporters of India’s efforts to contain the US influence in South Asia and help Communist China rehabilitate itself in world affairs during the early Fifties, did not hesitate to ridicule India as a “bottomless hole” in the company of US leaders during the seventies.[21] The change in perception of China is also a fact in thecase of other South Asian countries. The constituencies and stakeholders like business entrepreneurs, political parties and interest groups, armies that cluster around interests define, nurse, reinforce and even change perceptions. The leadership and government/regime changes also bring about change in perceptions. For instance, in Sri Lanka, President J.R Jayewardene in 1977 changed the hitherto prevailing pattern of his party, the United National Party’s (UNP) of cold relations with China. In post-2006 Nepal the Maoists have often been alleged to be closer to the Chinese than other regimes. The way to the understanding of perceptions therefore is a cautious and careful attempt at understanding the dynamics of these constituencies and stakeholders built around the interests of a given country in relation to the other. For, all the constituencies and stakeholders do not have identical or consistent interests, nor is there a harmony in the perceptions they have of a given country. We are dealing here primarily with state-centric perceptions which are a sum-total of all the negative and positive perceptions of the critical constituencies and stakeholders put together.

In trying to understand South Asian perceptions of a rising China and its role in the region, one must also keep in mind that while China has been rising, South Asia has also been undergoing significant changes. There have been changes in the structure of states in the region. The partition of the subcontinent created the new State of Pakistan just on the eve of Communist victory in China and then after less than three decades, yet another State, independent Bangladesh, was born in 1971, much against the opposition and resistance of the US, China and almost the entire international community. Sri Lanka and Myanmar changed their post-colonial names and Sri Lanka has also successfully defeated in 2009, both terrorism and the potential for separation led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This in no way has eliminated the prospects of ethnic conflicts or the possibilities of separation in the region as persisting conflict in Pakistan’s Baluchistan rudely reminds us. South Asia’s strategic space has been expanding too. Afghanistan became a part of the community by joining SAARC as a full member in 2007 and Myanmar became an observer of the regional Association in 2010. There are other observers as well, but Myanmar is a potential member. So is Iran. However, there are no prospects of either Iran or Myanmar becoming members of theSouth Asian regional grouping in the foreseeable future.

South Asian polities have also undergone radical transformations, with the fresh wave of democratization in the first decade of the twenty first century. Notable developments in this respect have taken place in Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives and also Pakistan. However, the process of democratic transformation is still far off from getting stabilized and consolidated as the forces of status quo and authoritarianism have not given up their efforts to strike back.[22] Yet another significant change in South Asia has been the rise of India as well. India has displayed sustained economic growth of 6-8 percent on average over the past nearly two decades. Its economy has become far more open and outward looking from its earlier character of beingintroverted..[23] Its defence capabilities are getting augmented gradually and it has acquired the status of a nuclear power with at least indirect recognition and acceptance as such by the international community. India’s growth is not comparable to that of China’s in quantum and outreach but it has been taken note of by the world and India is now considered as one of the major players in Asian and world affairs. Economically, Bangladesh has displayed impressive dynamism and it may be hoped that Sri Lanka, after the end of terrorism and ethnic conflict, may take on to a viable growth trajectory. Nepal and Pakistan may also do so as soon as they can sort out problems of internal political order and stability. Bhutan and Maldives are South Asia’s richest countries thanks to the harnessing of their hydro-power and tourism potential respectively.

South Asian perceptions of rising China are generally positive, though not without the areas of anxiety and uneasiness. For the sake of greater clarity and better understanding, South Asian countries may be divided into two categories in terms of how they look towards China. India stands as a category by itself for having sharply defined positive as well as negative perceptions of China’s rise, as compared to its other South Asian neighbours who are generally comfortable with the rising China.  But there are nuanced differences between the perceptions of one country and the other in this respect depending upon the nature and intensity of their engagements respectively with India and China. India is surely an important factor in shaping and defining the perceptions of its immediate South Asian neighbours towards China. A case can be made of taking Pakistan out of the group of ‘other South Asian neighbours’ of India in this respect, as the Sino-Pakistan relationship has been the closest, being described as an ‘all weather friendship’. In some ways, Bangladesh’s relationship with China has also been described as that of ‘all weather friendship’. But the quality and substance of Bangladesh’s relationship with China does not match with that of the Sino-Pak relationship. Bangladesh has no direct border with China, nor does it have the nuclear weapons’ technology component in its cooperative relations with China like that of Pakistan. It may be recalled that China took almost four years to accord recognition to Bangladesh, the new independent South Asian country.  Even before the breakaway of Bangladesh, China’s engagement with the western wing of Pakistan in economic, political and security sectors had a far greater scope and depth than with the eastern wing which subsequently emerged as Bangladesh.

There are two mutually related aspects that differentiate India from the rest of its South Asian neighbours in their respective perceptions of China. One is that China’s faster pace of military modernization impinges on the Indian strategic community as a major security concern. This is because of India’s humiliating military debacle in 1962 in the face of China’s unexpected aggression. The border between the two countries that was seen as being behind this aggression still remains unresolved. Militarily, India is no longer as vulnerable in relation to China on the unresolved Himalayan border as it was in 1962 and there have also been a number of confidence building measures taken by the two countries to keep peace and tranquility on this border since 1993.[24] However, after the 2005 understanding on the guidelines to resolve the boundary dispute, India feels that China has been dilly-dallying on the border issue and has massively fortified military infrastructure there. Some of the Indian defence analysts have even predicted that China could inflict another aggressive war on India by 2012.[25] It may also be recalled that India justified its decision to go public on its nuclear weapon power status in May 1998 by referring to China as a threat to its national security. Days before  India’s nuclear blast, in a public lecture, the then Defence Minister of India George Fernandes described China as the main threat to India.[26] India is acutely aware of the growing differential between its military capabilities and that of China.[27] The former Chief of Naval Staff and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Sureesh Mehta described the pace and extent of China’s military modernization as too fast and accepted that the gap between the two countries would widen. He added that India had no capacity or even intentions to match China ‘force for force’.[28] India’s worries about China also emanate from China’s strategic support to Pakistan, particularly in the fields of conventional arms supplies, missiles and nuclear weapons development. Indian security establishments have, in the recent years been preparing for a defence against a two front war from China and Pakistan together.[29]

The theme of threat from China regularly appears in strategic debate in India.  This is not so in the perceptions of the other South Asian countries.[30] South Asian countries other than India, and to some extent Myanmar, do not feel that they are living in China’s shadow as China’s East and Southeast Asian neighbours do. The boundaries between China and the other South Asian countries have been settled (except Bhutan which is pending the resolution of the border issue with India, on the trijunctions of the three countries) and there are no large settlements of Chinese communities in South Asia. Some of the countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives (until 2009) have had defence cooperation agreements with China. Nepal has had a treaty of ‘Peace and Friendship’ with China since the early sixties. There have also been no Chinese attempts to support left insurgencies in South Asia as it did in SE Asia. China actively supported the Nepalese Monarchy in its fight against the Maoist insurgency, despite ideological identity of the insurgents with China’s great communist leader. In the case of India however, the Naxalite movement of the seventies received inspiration and support from China. Even the current phase of the left extremist insurgency, which has been described by the Indian Prime Minister as the greatest security challenge, and the Northeast insurgent groups are suspected to be getting arms from China though any direct involvement of the Chinese state agencies in such supplies may be debatable.[31]

The second difference between India and the other South Asian countries is in relation to the role of India in South Asia.  For India’s smaller neighbours, India is the source of diverse pressures, in the areas ranging from regime survival to economic dependence, due to their close proximity and huge differences in economic and military capabilities. They look towards China as a counter-balance to these pressures. Pakistan has been rather explicit in this respect. Tarique Niazi, a Pakistani strategic commentator wrote:

China is the only country when it comes to the national security of Pakistan, which Islamabad trusts. No one else. Pakistan does not trust the United States as much as China, and the reason for that is India. Pakistan’s defence policy is Indo-centric. Who is going to support Pakistan when it goes up against India? Of course it is going to be China.[32]

Afghanistan is an exception in this respect. For Afghanistan, India is more of an asset and a counter balance against Pakistan and it has a cooperative relationship with China which does not have any direct bearing on the constructive and helpful role that India is playing in Afghanistan. Myanmar may be looking at India as a counterweight against China, in contrast to what the other South Asian countries do. Myanmar, as also Bangladesh and Nepal, at times perceive themselves to be a bridge between India and China.[33] Therefore, while they may be playing one against the other for reaping advantages from both the giant neighbours, any direct conflict may not be to their liking.

Perceptions of China among India’s South Asian neighbours are generally homogenous; being state centric and resulting from the cumulative perceptions of the various stake holders that have been positively affected by engagements with China. Public opinion surveys in these countries have almost consistently voted for China as a dependable and desirable partner. [34] This is however, not so in India’s case. India’s relations with China have been passing through mutually conflicting experiences; from the Bhai-Bhai phase of the mid-fifties to the 1962 war. And now during the contemporary period  India has areas of cooperation as well as conflict and competition with China. India’s diversity and democracy also account for differing perceptions being articulated simultaneously. It may be interesting to note that even different organs of the State may articulate divergent perceptions towards China as evident in the various statements of the ministries of External Affairs and Defence. [35] The divergence is also evident between the business community’s increasingly positive perception of China and the cautious approach of India’s strategic community and a section of media.[36] So aAlso, there are differences among the mainstream Indian political parties on how they look at China and what do they expect from it. The Communist parties, specially the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPM) stands for much greater multi-dimensional engagement with China and does not share any of the caution or hesitation in this respect voiced by either the Indian National Congress or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).  There are differing schools of thought in India when it comes to foreign policy issues. On China, analysts identify three principal schools, namely; of ‘pragmatists’ who want to engage India and balance it at the same time, of ‘hyperrealists’ who want to ‘contain and encircle China’ and of ‘appeasers’ who do not see any threat from China.[37]

Keeping these differences in mind, let us look at the positive and negative South Asian perceptions of China.

An Economic Opportunity”:

The most dominating and almost undisputed positive perception of the rising China among the South Asian countries is that it is an economic opportunity of huge dimensions. This perception is rooted into the reality of burgeoning trade and investment relations between China and South Asia.  China has emerged as the largest trading partner of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. India’s trade with China has reached the US$74bn mark by the end of 2011 and is targeted to cross US$100bn by 2015.

Bangladesh’s trade with China has reached US$7bn by 2011 and for Sri Lanka, trade within the first six months of 2011 was US$1.2bn, a rise of 39.55% from the same period the previous year. There has equally been a spurt in Chinese investments in South Asia which have gone mostly to energy and infra-structure areas.  Pakistan has attracted substantial Chinese investments in Asia, reaching a level of US$25bn by 2011.[38]The development of ports in Pakistan (Gwadar), Sri Lanka (Hambantota) and Bangladesh (Chittagong) have been much commented upon and discussed in international media and among the strategic community for their potential strategic significance.[39] China plans to link its Tibetan rail network with Nepal and it has also joined the international project for the development of Lumbini (birthplace of Buddha) as a major centre of Buddhist pilgrimage with an estimated investment of up to US$3bn.[40] Business communities of South Asian countries have reinforced the perception of China as a great economic opportunity.

The South Asian countries have tried to learn from China about its economic dynamism and success stories in various areas of economic activity, be it railways, agro-industries, special economic zones, mobilization of foreign direct investments and the manufacturing sector.[41]  There was considerable admiration in South Asia as elsewhere for the manner in which China dealt with the global liquidity crisis in 2008. But there is no enthusiasm in South Asia to take the Chinese system as a developmental role model. In view of the scales of economy and the nature of polity in China, this kind of wholesale emulation is neither possible nor desirable. Indian PM Dr. Singh, when asked to compare the Indian and Chinese approaches to development said:

There is no doubt that the Chinese growth performance is superior to Indian performance. But I have always believed that there are other values which are important than the growth of the Gross Domestic Product…Also there are several dimensions of human freedom which are not always caught by…the Gross Domestic Product. So I do believe that even though the Indian performance with regard to the GDP might not be as good as the Chinese, certainly I would not like to choose the Chinese path. I would prefer to stick to the Indian path. Also I believe India may appear as indecisive democracy at times and it does because many democracies are short-term maximisers, they are not able to take a long-term view.[42]

Also a Bangladeshi commentator observed about learning from China:

The most important thing that Bangladesh should learn from China are discipline, unity and willingness of development. With different political models and education system, Bangladesh should not attempt to enact similar policies of development, but should proceed step by step according to what works best for its economy and society.[43]

The positive perceptions of rising China in the smaller South Asian countries have not been completely free from concerns and anxieties. While trade and investment prospects have been promisingly enhanced, the thrust and direction of trade and investments have largely been one sided. In trade, China exports more to these countries than it imports from them leaving a yawning trade deficit. There has been unease among the commercial sectors in South Asia about this negative trade. This issue has been raised at the official levels by these countries with China asking the latter to address it. The character of trade where the South Asian countries export primary products to China and in return import value added manufactures is not very reassuring in the long run. Addressing the Fifth China-South Asia Business Council in Karachi in 2010, Tariq Sayeed, former president of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry and also of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry said:

South Asian nations are facing huge trade deficits with China, which can be bridged by inflow of Chinese investment in South Asian countries, particularly in Pakistan and India, which share borders and have great complementarities in trade and services.[44]

Even India is not free from this kind of imbalance in its trade with China. India’s trade deficit is expected to reach US$60bn by 2014-15.This led the National Security Council to host inter-ministerial consultation last year and issue a warning to various departments to do something in this respect so that the possibility of India’s strategic dependence on China in future could be avoided.[45]  The newly conceived India-China CEO forum in September 2011, decided to address the question of reducing the trade deficit as its very first task.[46] The Indian trading community has also resented many an unfair trading practices of China, like ‘dumping’ in particular, and lodged complaints about such practices both bilaterally as also in the World Trade Organization (WTO).[47]

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have also been worried about the adverse effect of aggressive Chinese manufacturing and trade on their respective textile sectors. In response to the concerns raised by Bangladesh, China has assured that it will come up with projects to out-source textile manufacturing to Bangladesh. China has also granted specific tariff concessions to Bangladesh.[48]  Such possibilities exist in relation to other South Asian trading partners of China. However, as these concerns have been outweighed by overall economic benefits and political support, they have not become major issues in bilateral relations. Bangladesh has made a huge political issue out of its trade deficit with India, but with China, the same question has been handled through normal diplomatic channels. Responding to the concerns raised by the Pakistani business community about China’s large imports affecting Pakistani industry, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz assured that the Chinese imports mostly being high-value end products, did not pose any threat to Pakistani industry.[49]

Besides trade, Chinese investments in South Asia are also not completely without difficulties. Some of the investment proposals of the Chinese companies, particularly Huawei, have been facing difficulties in clearance by Indian authorities on account of their security implications.[50] While this issue was initially raised at the political level by the communist parties of India, but subsequently it created controversy within the Congress Party and also in the cabinet of Dr. Manmohan Singh. The Minister of State in charge of Environment, Jairam Ramesh, while on an official visit to China in May 2010, asked his own country India to be more relaxed in its approach to the Chinese investments. He criticized “overly alarmist and defensive approach” in some of the Indian establishments and said: “India should get rid of the needless restriction on Chinese investments. We are imagining demons where there are none…”. The Prime Minister had to caution him ”to exercise maximum restraint while commenting on the functioning of other ministries”. The Congress Party also expressed strong resentment of Ramesh’s criticism of Indian decisions without knowing all the details of the departments concerned.  There was however no effort to explain why the investments had been held up. This incident exposed the lack of consensus even at the highest political level in India on how to deal with China.

We are dealing with a new China, a China that has grown by over 10% for over thirty years. The result is a young, assertive and confident China, which is looking to consolidate her position in the international hierarchy. We see this on issues like Tibet, the boundary and Tawang. Dealing with this complex of issues and our relationship with China will be the greatest test of our diplomatic and strategic skill in the immediate future

India’s other South Asian neighbours sought investments from China. They did not find security difficulties in the operation of Chinese projects in their respective countries as the “threat theory” did not operate in their relations with China. There were however, occasional difficulties in the Chinese investments in their countries. The Three Gorges Corp. of China decided to abandon the US$1.6bn West Seti hydro-power project in Nepal as questions were raised regarding the manner in which the project was awarded and a parliamentary committee was asked to probe into the matter. The Nepalese energy ministry tried to assuage the Chinese concerns by saying that the “discussions at the parliamentary committee were but a regular phenomenon and there was no need to worry.”[51] There are reports that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is withdrawing from the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project under the threat of US sanctions. Allaying fears about the project, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said that “There are always a multiplicity of funding sources which are available for any projects…. This is a fairly viable project and we hope we will not have any problem in trying to find ways and means of ensuring its funding”.[52] It may be recalled that on earlier occasions, due to Islamic extremist pressures in Pakistan, China had threatened to withdraw its workers and projects.

A Security Provider:

In addition to being an economic opportunity, China is also perceived by the South Asian countries, with the notable exception of India, as a major security provider to them. Pakistan and Bangladesh have traditionally depended upon China for the import of arms. Myanmar is also heavily depending upon China for the supply of arms, particularly since 1990. Pakistan as noted earlier looked at China as its most dependable security partner.[53] It has received technology transfer and license to produce specific weapon systems.  Such weapons that include tanks, aircrafts, missiles, armoured carriers etc. are for its own use as also for transfer to some of the other developing countries’ destinations including those in South Asia. For Pakistan, China has replaced US as the principal arms supplier.[54]  China has also been a major source of support for Pakistan’s nuclear programme. [55] Its latest example is the Chinese proposal in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) submitted in June 2010 for the transfer of nuclear technology and material to strengthen Pakistan’s civil nuclear programme, on the line of Indo-US civil-nuclear deal of 2009, ignoring Pakistan’s military-nuclear programme and its pathetic record of proliferation.[56]

Bangladesh also depends heavily on China for its arms imports and military training. China is Bangladesh’s largest military hardware supplier, according to its Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and bilateral defence cooperation was on the genda to be enhanced when the Chinese Vice-president Xi Jinping visited Bangladesh in June 2010.[57]  Sri Lanka has also joined the list of Chinese arms importers in South Asia. Sri Lanka proudly boasts that its anti-LTTE war during 2008 and 2009 was won largely with the help of the Chinese supplies. Sri Lanka had to resort to arms imports from China, Pakistan and other countries in the face of India’s refusal to meet its growing requirements. This gave Sri Lanka freedom from political conditions that were being imposed by India, US and other members of the international community. Even much before Sri Lanka’s decisive war on the LTTE in 2009, appreciating China’s security support , the late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar once said:

China has never sought to influence the domestic politics of Sri Lanka. Over the years China has proved to be benign and sincere with no ulterior motives for befriending Sri Lanka. She has never tried to dominate, undermine or destabilize Sri Lanka. She has come to our rescue with timely assistance on several occasions when there were threats to Sri Lanka’s national security and territorial integrity.

It is in the light of these considerations that Sri Lanka observes with admiration China’s steady, peaceful ascent to the summit of economic power.[58]

Nepal has also periodically approached China for the supply of arms in the face of India’s refusal to do so.[59] It happened during the sixties, in 1988 and in 2005. China did not hesitate in strengthening King Gyanendra of Nepal in his fight against the ‘Maoist’ insurgency. China has therefore been able to emerge as the ‘friend in need’ and a ‘reliable partner’ in the defence field, in the perceptions of the democratic, military and monarchical regimes of South Asia.

While being a reliable provider of defence needs, and promising to be a protector of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the smaller South Asian countries, China has not been able to ensure such protection at the times of real need. It has not intervened militarily on the side of the South Asian countries. Obviously China as most of the other major powers, go to war only in pursuance of its own security interests and not for the sake of others; not even proclaimed close friends.  Pakistan learnt this bitter lesson in 1965 and again in 1971. Belying the expectations, China did not intervene in Pakistan’s bilateral conflict with India. All it did was to make token gestures to show its solidarity to the ‘all weather friend’ was to move troops on the borders with India in 1971 and the diplomatic protest for the ‘stealing of sheep and goats’ across the un-demarcated Sino-India border in 1965. Pakistan has expressed public resentment on the US Enterprise Naval Task Force’s inability to save its breakup in 1971, though the US flotilla sailed from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean to intervene, forcing India to hasten the conclusion of the Bangladesh operation. However, Pakistan did not express disappointment on China’s failure to stop the emergence of Bangladesh.

China has come forward to politically assure the South Asian countries that it stands by their sovereignty and independence. This has been done through the use of both multilateral institutions as well as bilateral engagement. Multilaterally, China has made strategically advantageous use of its veto power and political clout in the UN Security Council. China used its first veto in the UN Security Council on September 4, 1972, against the admission of Bangladesh as a new UN member, to show solidarity with Pakistan and demonstrate that it did not recognize the breakup of Pakistan’s territorial integrity. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, veto was used in support of Myanmar. When the West was agitating on Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s sentence by the Myanmar court, on the adventure of an American citizen to breach her security and meet her, China in the UN Security Council urged that the ”world should respect Myanmar’s judicial sovereignty”.[60] Similarly when the US moved against Sri Lanka on the question of humanitarian crisis during the last phase of the war against the LTTE, China, along with India and other countries, mobilized support against the move and helped the Sri Lankan government.[61] Acknowledging China’s continued support to Sri Lanka facing Western pressures on the humanitarian issues related to the anti-LTTE war, President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the eve of his visit to China in August 2011 said: “We also appreciate very much the understanding shown by China on the pressures of the post-conflict period, and the support extended to heal the wounds of war”. [62] China again voted against the US sponsored resolution seeking to impose on Sri Lanka international accountability for humanitarian violations and justice to the Tamils in March 2012.

Bilaterally, China has come out with statements to show solidarity with the South Asian countries whenever they felt pressure from outside, particularly India or the West. Recall the then Chinese Defence Minister Chen Yi’s Statement on October 6, 1962 to assure Nepal that any attack on Nepal will be treated as an attack on China and would be defended accordingly. Nepal was facing difficulties with India on account of King Mahendra’s dismissal of the democratic system on December 15, 1960. The Nepali Congress was fighting against the King’s action using Indian support and territory.[63]  Such statements pledging support for the sovereignty and independence of the South Asian countries have been issued by China time and again particularly on the occasions of difficulty in their respective relations with India.[64]  On many of such occasions, the South Asian countries have approached China for these assurances to cushion the political pressure felt on them from India. China on its part has always kept the issues like Tibet and Xinjiang in mind to ensure that external interference in its internal affairs does not take place. From the South Asian countries, as also from all others, China has sought repeatedly the reiteration of their ‘One China’ policy and the principle of non-interference. This was evident during the Tiananmen Square incidents in 1989 and also during the trouble in Tibet on the eve of the Olympics in 2007, again in 2008 and subsequently. China is also happy that through cooperation on infrastructure projects like the development of ports in the Indian Ocean, the South Asian countries are enabling it to create potential strategic facilities where it can get access in the long run.

China’s role as a security provider does not apply to India. The two are competitors for strategic space and influence in Asia, including within South Asia. However, to mitigate the “threat perception” as also in the interest of their mutual peace and tranquility as well as regional peace and stability, the two countries have forged a strategic partnership for the past some years. The “Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity” between India and China was first formally forged in April 2005, during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India. In 2008, during Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to China, the two countries signed a joint Declaration on “Shared Vision for the 21st Century” between the two countries. This has opened up the prospects of the two countries exploring areas of mutual cooperation and understanding on global strategic issues. An annual defence dialogue between the two countries has been established since 2007 and the defence personnel of the two countries, at various levels, including the chiefs of army, air force and navy exchange visits on a periodic basis. India also conducts various training and exercise programmes with China on reciprocal basis.[65] Commenting on the shift in the totality of India’s interaction with China, the National Security Adviser of India recently observed:

…we have come a long way from the days in the sixties and early seventies when it was an adversarial relationship, dominated by a single issue, and when communication between the two states and societies was minimal. Today, India and China have a full spectrum relationship which includes elements of cooperation and competition, and which is significant not only for our two countries but for the region and the world. It also holds promise of an even better future.[66]


As long as China’s economic rise continues to be peaceful, the South Asian positive perceptions of China being a source of economic opportunities and a security provider and strategic partner will also continue. But if there are deviations or disruptions in the path of peaceful rise, South Asian perceptions of China’s rise and its role in regional affairs will naturally undergo changes. One possible change could be within China when either its growth dynamism declines or its political order comes under internal pressures for liberalization and opening up.[67] There have been media reports on possible coup attempts following the removal of an important party functionary Bo Xilai.[68] Earlier China passed through the threats of democratic revolution in 1989 (Tiananmen Square) and the Jasmine Revolution during 2010-11.

China’s deviation from the path of peaceful rise to a more assertive China would also create problems for the South Asian countries. India, as noted earlier, has already started feeling the pressures of an increasingly assertive China. Even Defence Minister A.K.Antony said” in fact there has been an increasing assertiveness on the part of China. We are taking all necessary steps to upgrade our capabilities”.[69] The National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon found an assertive China a diplomatic and strategic challenge for India to deal with:

We are dealing with a new China, a China that has grown by over 10% for over thirty years. The result is a young, assertive and confident China, which is looking to consolidate her position in the international hierarchy. We see this on issues like Tibet, the boundary and Tawang. Dealing with this complex of issues and our relationship with China will be the greatest test of our diplomatic and strategic skill in the immediate future.[70]

China is still in the process of modernizing and growing, and in this process, it may continue to be softer in dealing with smaller South Asian countries as compared to India. But if after attaining its desired power structure, China becomes more demanding and domineering, the smaller South Asian countries may seek comfort in distancing from China and seeking greater cooperation and strategic proximity with other major powers at the global and regional levels including India.

South Asia is generally comfortable with the evolving multi-power global order and a moderate level of competition between the regional players, particularly India and China. They find the precipitation of any outright conflict between India and China or a larger conflict in Asia resulting from the intensification of rivalry between the US and China contrary to their own development and stability. The countries of the region would therefore, carefully monitor the nature of strategic equations in Asia. Any radical shifts in the strategic alliances and equations between the major powers in Asia involving China will portend anxiety and concern for them as well as change in the approach of China towards the sub-continent.


[1] Elliot L Watson, “America in Asia: Vice-president Nixon’s Forgotten trip to Ceylon”, Foreign Policy Journal, May 01, 2009.… Accessed on march 01, 2012.

[2] In his letter to Chief Ministers written on November 14, 1954, Nehru disclosed that China did not post an Ambassador in Nepal on his suggestion as that would prompt the US and other Western powers also to do the same. Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Second Series, Volume 27, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, Oxford University press, New Delhi, 2000, as quoted in the review of this Volume by A.G. Noorani in Frontline, Vol. 17. Issue 26December 23, 2000-January 05, 2001.

[3] Sino-Pak relations in the context of Indo-Pakistan conflicts have been discussed widely. See for instance, S.M. Burke, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: An Historical Analysis, Oxford University Press, 1973. Ghulam Ali, “Sino-Pak Relations: The Indian Factor”, Islamabad Policy Research Institute, Islamabad, 2003. I have discussed this aspect in my chapter on ‘South Asia’ in Mohd. Ayoob (Ed), Conflict and Intervention in the Third World, Routledge, London 1980.

[4] For details see, Hemen Ray, China’s Strategy In Nepal, Calcutta 1983; Ramakant, Nepal, India, China Relations, Abhinav Publications, Jaipur (India) 1976; Leo e Rose, Nepal: The Strategy of Survival, University of Berkeley, California, 1972; S.D. Muni, Foreign Policy of Nepal, National Publishing House, New Delhi 1973.

[5] Michael Ying-Mao Kau and Susan H. Marsh (Edited), China in the Era of Deng Xiaoping, ME Sharp Inc, London 1997. Ezra F. Vogel, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, London, etc. 2011.

[6] Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965-2000, Harper Collins Publisher, New York, 2000.

[7] For  a detailed discussion of this aspect see, S.D. Muni, China’s strategic Engagement with the New ASEAN, IDSS Monograph No. 2, Institute Of Defence and Strategic Studies, Singapore, 2002.

[8] Ibid, p. 12.

[9] Ibid, p. 12.

[10] Nargiza Salidjanova, “ Going Out: An Overview of China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment”, USCC Staff Research Report, March 30, 2011, U.S.-China Economic & security review Commission. Also, Bijun Wang and Yiping Huang, “Is there a China model of overseas direct investment?” East Asia Forum, April 12, 2011.… Accessed on February 07, 2012.

[11] Ngaire Woods, “Whose aid? Whose influence?: China, emerging donors and the silent revolution in development assistance”, International Affairs, Vol. 84, No.6, 2008. Pp. 1-17. Dr. Uche Ofodile, “Trade, Aid and Human Rights: China’s Africa policy in Perspective”, Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology, vol. 4, Issue 2, 2009, pp. 86-99. Teresita Cruz-del Rosario, “Enter The Dragon, Softly: Chinese Aid In South, Southeast and Central Asia”, Working paper no: LKYSPP 11-04, Working Paper Series, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, June 2011. Also, Simon Marks, “China Dam Projects in Cambodia Raises Environmental Concerns”, New York Times, January 16, 2012.>  Accessed on January 07, 2012. Prak Chan Thul, “China pumps up Cambodian economy but at what cost?” Taipei Times, April 07, 2011.

[12] Nargiza Salidjanova, op.cit

[13] Teresita, op.cit

[14] Gerald Segal & Anne Gikes, “China and the Arms Trade”, Arms Control, volume 6, Issue 3, 1985. According to one estimate, China accounted for 3% of the world’s arms sales during 2003-2010 period. Richard F. Grimmett, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations 2003-2010”, Congressional Research Service Report for the Congress. September 22, 2011.

[15] “Intensifying China-Pakistan Ties” (Interview of Andrew Small by Jayshree Bajoria) Council On Foreign Relations, Washington DC, January 07, 2010,  Accessed on March 19, 2012. Lisa Curtis, “The Limits of Pakistan-China Alliance”, Reuters Blog, January 20, 2012.….  Accessed on March 19, 2012.

[16] Frankie Taggat, “Nepal Tibetans ‘suffocated’ by Chinese influence”, AFP News Agency, news/afp/article/ALeq5iGJkaHfbyq7sB-QGphsf…  Accessed on March 19, 2012. “Nepal may deport arrested Tibetans” Daily Times (Pakistan), January 18, 2010.…  Accessed on March 20, 2012.

[17] Text of Prime Minister’s question answer session as put out by Indian Embassy in Washington DC.…  Accessed on March 20, 2012.

[18] Teresita, op.cit

[19] Based on Chinese Ministry of Commerce data, Table 1, in Nargiza Salidjanova, op.cit, p.15

[20] This section draws from  S.D. Muni & Tan Tai Yong (Edited) A Resurgent China: South Asian Perspectives, Routledge, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 268-286.

[21] See the account of discussions between Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai in July 1971. As cited in Mohan Malik, China and India: Great Power Rivals, FirstForumPress, A division of Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc, Boulder and London, 2011, Chapter 4, p. 71-74.

[22] S.D. Muni, “Democratic Resurgence in South Asia: How Sustainable”, Unpublished paper written for SAPNA project, Pakistan, 2009.

[23] There is considerable literature on India’s Rise. See for example Gurcharan das, India Unbound, New York, Knopf 2001. Of late many Chinese scholars have also started taking note of India’s rise. See, a book written by Chinese scholars Prof. Ma Jiali, Rising India: A Collection of Essays (Published in Chinese by Shandong University Press, Beijing) in 2011. See Sanjeev Sanyal, The Indian Renaissance: India Rise After a Thousand Years of Decline, World Scientific Publications, 2008, Singapore.

[24] The Sino-Indian Agreements of 1993, 1996 and 2005 may be mentioned in this respect. The latest in this regard has been the setting up of a new mechanism to deal with the issues of border encroachments and misunderstandings signed in New Delhi in February 2012.

[25] Bharat Verma, “Unmasking China”, Indian Defence Review, Vol. 24, No.4, October-December 2009.p.1. This was continuation of his argument made in the earlier issue of the Journal,”Nervous china may Attack India”, Indian Defence Review,Vol. 24, No. 3, July-September 2009, pp.1-2.

[26] China was mentioned as a threat to India’s national security in the letter addressed by the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to the US President in May 1998 for justifying India’s nuclear explosion. Alka Charya, “Sino-Indian Relations Since Pokharan II”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 34, No.23, June 5-11, 1999, pp. 1397-1400.

[27] Prime Minister Singh conceded this. “Militarily China far ahead than India- PM”, NDTV June 30, 2011,…1158297   Accessed on February 18, 2012. Also see, Trefer Moss, “India’s Military Inferiority Complex”, the-Diplomat, March 25, 2012.  Accessed on March 27, 2012.

[28] The Indian Express (New Delhi), August 10, 2008.

[29] Rajat Pandit, “Army reworks war doctrine for Pakistan, China”, The Times of India, (New Delhi), December 31, 2009. Ali Ahmed, “Nuclear implications of the ‘two-front’ formulation”, IDSA Comments, January 29, 2010, http://www,…  Accessed on March 20, 2012. “Army to be lethal, agile force with two-front war capability”, Sify News, January 14, 2011,  http://www,…   Accessed on March 26, 2012.

[30] Sujit Dutta, “China’s Emerging Power and Military Role: Implications For South Asia”, in Jonathan D. Pollak, Richard H. Yang (Edited), In China’s Shadow, Rand Corporation, 1998, Chapter 5.

[31] India’s Home Secretary G.K.Pillai said in a press statement “Chinese are big smugglers…suppliers of arms. I am sure that the Maoists also get them”. The Times of India November 09, 2009. Also see Lyle Morris, “Is China Backing Indian Insurgents?”, The Diplomat, March 22, 2011. .

[32]  The News (Pakistan), November 23, 2006. As cited in Mohan Malik, op.cit, p.169.

[33]  Nepal’s Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai discounted the traditional perception that Nepal was a “yam” between Asia’s two large “boulders”, i.e. India and China, said that Nepal should become a bridge between the two neighbours., January 15, 2012.…   Accessed on March 26, 2012. Bangladesh thinks itself as a bridge between India and China in a real sense when its proposed road connectivity with China is established.

[34] See for instance the annual surveys conducted by Pew Global Attitudes Projects in Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh have rated China over the US as a dependable partner. See Chapters by Lodi, Simkhada, Dhanapala & Gooneratne and Shafisami in Muni & Tan (Ed.) A Resurgent China…, op.cit. In Sri Lanka also,  public opinion survey conducted by “Gallup Poll’ showed China as the most popular country. Dayan Jayatilleke, “Sri Lanka observes with admiration China’s steady, peaceful ascent to the summit of economic power”, TransCurrents, September 07, 2011.  Accessed on March 26, 2012.

[35] Some of these statements have been tabulated by Kondapalli, in Muni & Tan (Ed.), A Resurgent China… op.cit. pp. 114-117.

[36] Personal interviews with senior officials of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

[37] For a discussion of these schools, See Mohan Malik, op.cit Chapter 3, “India’s China Debate: Eyeing the Dragon”, pp. 51-64.

[38] The Dawn (Karachi), August 06, 2011.

[39] Vivian Yang, “Is China’s String of Pearls Real?” Foreign Policy In Focus (A project of the Institute of Policy Studies, Washington DC) July 18, 2011.  <…&gt;. Accessed on March 08, 2012.

[40] Shirish B. Pradhan “China positive on linking Tibet with Lumbini” Outlook January 15, 2012.

[41] M.D. Nalapat, “India-Pak, Learn from China’s Economy”, Pakistan Observer (Islamabad), October 01, 2010.   Accessed on March 25, 2012.

[42]  Dr. Singh’s Q & A Session at the Council on Foreign relations, Washington DC, November 23, 2009, op.cit. Also see, Gautam Adhikari, “China or India: Contest of Political Models,” The Economic Times (New Delhi), March 24, 2012.

[43] K.M. Rehan Salahuddin, “China Bangladesh Relations: Friendship with Mutual co-operation”, October 08, 2010.   Accessed on March 25, 2012.

[44] The Daily Times (Islamabad), June 08, 2010.  Accessed on February 28, 2012.

[45] The Economic Times (New Delhi), December 09, 2011.

[46] The Indian Express, September 18, 2011.

[47] There are some 149 ‘dumping’ complaints lodged by India against China in WTO. The Economic Times (New Delhi), December 21, 2011.

[48]  Shafisami’s Chapter in Muni & Tan (Ed.) A Resurgent China… , op.cit

[49] Ibid, see Chapter of Burki and Lodi in this Volume.

[50] “India’s great wall stumps China”, Tehlka (New Delhi), June 17, 2006; M.K.Venu, Column: “Are we really paranoid about China?”,  The Indian Express, (New Delhi), may 14, 2010. See the contributions of the communist leaders A.B. Bardhan, and Nilotpal Basu in S.D. Muni & Suranjan Das (Edited), India and China: the Next Decade, Rupa & Co. New Delhi 2009. In the same Volume, the contribution of Brijesh Mishra, former National Security Adviser & Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister stressed the need for security check on the Chinese companies.

[51] “Govt assuages Three Gorges’ concerns”, The Himalayan Times Online, March 22, 2012. “China hydro Plan faces Nepal Probe”, The Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2012.…

[52] Paul richter and Alex rodriguez, “Chinese bank pulls out of Pakistan-Iran pipeline project”, Los Angeles Time, March 14, 2012.…   A Reuters report, “ICBC appears to back away from Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline” March 14, 2012.

[53] For a discussion of mutual security perceptions of China and Pakistan towards each other see the Chapters of Srikanth Kondapalli and Satyabrat Sinha, in Swaran Singh (Ed.) China-Pakistan Strategic Cooperation, Manohar, New Delhi, 2007. Also see Lisa Curtis, “China’s military and security Relationship with Pakistan”, Testimony before the US –China Economic and Security review Commission, Washington DC, May 20, 2009.

[54] The Nation (Islamabad), March 28, 2011.

[55] William Burr (Ed.) China-Pakistan and the Bomb, (Declassified File on US Policy, 1977-1997), National Security Archives Electronic Briefing Book No: 114, March 05, 2004.

[56] China signed a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan to match it with the Indo-US Civil Nulclear deal. BBC News, June 127, 2010.  Accessed on February 15, 2012.

[57]  Reuters report.   Accessed on March 29, 2012. Also see a paper by Lt. Gen. M. Mahbubur Rahman, (Former Chief of Army Staff, Bangladesh) entitled “Bangladesh-China Defence Cooperation in the Twenty First century”, The paper was presented at BIISS, Dhaka, seminar on Bangladesh-China Dialogue, March 14, 2010.

[58] Text of the speech at BMICH Colombo, in the presence of visiting Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jia bao. April 09, 2005.

[59] In November 2005, Nepal received from China 4.2 million rounds of ammunition for 7.62mm rifles and 80,000 high explosive grenades. It also received 12,000 AK series rifles. There were also two MA-60 military aircrafts on the inventory which are still to be received. The Nepalese side is asking for a different military aircraft, perhaps Y-12. The total amount of the deal has been estimated to be of more than one million US dollars. Indian Express, New Delhi, November 30, 2005; The Telegraph Nepal, Kathmandu, December 4, 2009.

[60] Danial Soloman, “In Myanmar, UN Irrelevant Without China”;  Accessed on December 5, 2009. Also “China failing on Myanmar: US,” Strait Times, August 19, 2009;

[61] “A Disgraceful Vote which Discredits the UN Human Rights Council”, Times Online; May 28, 2008. Accessed on December 5, Accessed on December 5, 2009.

[62] Xinhua Report on President Rajapaksa’s interview. August 09, 2011  Accessed on March 23, 2012.

[63] For details see S.D. Muni, India and Nepal: A Changing Relationship, Konark Publishers, New Delhi, 1992.

[64] On the China’s attempts to cultivate South Asian countries against India see; See Bhaskar Roy, “China: Back to Containing India”, South Asia Analysis Group, Paper No. 3296, July 07, 2009. Also, Tarique Niazi, “China’s Foot in India’s Door”, Asia Times, August 24, 2005. Accessed on December 5, 2009

[65] Some of the details have been available in a note on “India-China Bilateral Relations” prepared by the India’s Ministry of External Affairs, January 2012. relations/china/pdf .

[66] See National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon’s key note address on “India and China: The way Forward”, at a seminar in Chennai, March 22, 2012.

[67] See for instance the contributions of Lodi, Simkhada and Dhanapala & Gooneratne in Muni & Tan (Ed.) A Resurgent China…  Op.ct

[68] The Strait Times( Singapore) March 23, 2012.

[69] The Times of India, (New Delhi) September 14, 2010.

[70] As quoted in Muni & Tan (Ed.) A Resurgent China… , op.cit  p.278.


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