The report is a summary of the Sino-Indian and Sino-South Korean Relations: Compulsions, Comparisons and Contrasts event held at the IPCS on 22 November 2012
Amb. Sudhir Devare
It is a comprehensive manuscript including several perspectives on the subject. It is an analysis of two strategic powers in Asia in the context of their reaction to China’s Rise. With China in the middle, India and South Korea are like the two bookends; both are vibrant countries with emerging economy and are trying to function as poles in Asia. Centre of gravity of economic and political happenings are rapidly shifting to Asia, therefore, a study like this indeed is of great significance.
Both India and South Korea have perceptions about China which loom large in their policy making. There is a common factor that affects both India and South Korea, that is, China intrudes between South Korea and North Korea and also between India and Pakistan and given the fact these relationships between South Korea and North Korea and India-Pakistan remain adversarial. The China factor will continue to loom larger and larger in the coming decades.
In analysing the Sino-Indian and Sino-South-Korean reaction to China their different historical backgrounds deserve mention. Korea was a tributary state of China, on the other hand, India remained outside the influence of the middle kingdom, and was looked at with respect and curiosity. Notable differences between the two are; China shares a long border with India and there is a boundary problem with India. On the other hand, there is no such complicated problem with South Korea.
The issue of reunification between both the countries of peninsula has not been addressed. The Nuclear programme issue needs special mention in the book, because a nuclearised North Korea would alter equations in the Asia-Pacific.
With regards to India and South Korea relations; both can cooperate in science and technology, investment on sides, tourism and knowledge economy. There are a few political road blocks between India and South Korea; take for example on issue of Pakistan and Kashmir, South Korea has taken neutral positions. On the Indian aspiration of UNSC, Korea belongs to the consensus group/coffee club. Therefore, it will be a test for India and South Korea to navigate their relationship despite problems and working on the complementaries against the back drop of the ‘China Rise’.
Dr. Rajaram Panda
India, Japan and the US held their third round of trilateral dialogue on 28 October against the background of increasing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. Among other things, securing the SLOC, expanding cooperation in maritime security and shaping the Asia-Pacific architecture were major focus issues. In a similar development the three leading democracies South Korea, Japan and India held their first trilateral dialogue at Track-II level on 29 June 2012 to discuss issues such as maritime cooperation, security, terrorism, and trade and Investment. Beijing sees both these initiatives as "anti-China" and reacted sharply.
It is difficult to gauge China’s long term intentions in the Korean peninsula. If China is sincere, it can work to get Pyongyang back to the Six-Party Talks. Like other members of the SPT, China too does not want instability in North Korea. Obama is back in the US and there is impending leadership change in Japan as well as in South Korea. This changing leadership may have some impact on issues in the Asia Pacific region.
The manuscript is an excellent endeavour on the subject, with much stress on historical facts. Refugee issue in the region is also an important aspect to be looked at. However substantiating argument with ample economic data would add to the robustness of the argument. Remittance flows into North Korea by defectors and the process of transaction bearing on the North Korean economy may also be worth-examining.
Dr. Sandip Mishra
The focus of the book is two bilateral relations-China and India as well as China and South Korea and it means that work rightly puts China and its ‘rise’ in the centre to understand emerging inter-state relations in Asia. The assertion of the book that China’s rise is not assured and it would not be peaceful warrants some more pondering. The first part of it is indisputable however; international theory informs that the second part could be better probed further. It is very much possible to create incentives and disincentives along with cooperative norms and identity by other regional players such as India, South Korea, Japan, Australia and ASEAN to make China’s rise peaceful.
Since 2007, there is clear evidence that Chinese growing assertiveness has made these countries more concerned and observant. They have been working to engage China, if not counter-balance, in a more overt manner. The ‘re-entry’ of US in the region would further make it more difficult for China to carry forward its policy of ‘hegemonization’. In the changed international relations in which old balance of power has given way to a more complex and overlapping grouping of states based on issue areas makes it possible to cooperate and compete at the same time without resorting to any military confrontation.
Finally, the work of Prof. Chari and Dr. Raghavan is very timely as it connects China’s relations with two regions - South Asia and East Asia and it would contribute immensely in understanding emerging Asian regional dynamics.