Home Contact Us
Search :
   

India & the World - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#34, 2 December 1997
 
Jiang's US Visit: The Strategic Perspective
Maj. Gen. Dipankar Banerjee
Co-Director, IPCS
 

What does one make of Jiang Zemin's visit to the USA? After the media hype it is time for a little sober reflection. The Indian media has indeed been rather "prickly" as Giri Deshingkar so correctly assesses in the previous article. It looked at the visit purely as an immediate concern and focused mainly on its impact on Indo-Pak relations. As a result it missed out the larger strategic picture. What does the visit imply in terms of Washington-Beijing relations in the 21st century? How will this affect the global balance, if at all? Finally, how does it affect Indian interests in the near and long terms? A brief backgrounder is first necessary.

The billion dollar incentive

Beijing clearly understands that relations between nations are now shaped largely by economic factors. The booming Chinese economy allowed Jiang to come to the USA with a fat chequebook ready to be filled in with as many zeros as necessary. This led to the Boeing deal. This US $ 3 billion arrangement is but a tip of the iceberg. In the next 20 years Beijing may need to buy aircraft worth a mind boggling US $ 124 billion. Another US $ 1.26 billion worth deal was signed during the visit. China continues to be the biggest buyer of US wheat. Its plans to upgrade infrastructure in power, railways or road construction are so enormous that it has all the major industrial nations begging for a share, creating in the process an enormous lobby in support of its policies around the globe, including the USA.

The nuclear energy accord needs to be seen in this backdrop. President Clinton said that he would certify that China was not exporting nuclear technology to Iran. All that was required of China was for its Foreign Minister to sign a letter agreeing to this. This will facilitate the implementation of the 1985 US-China Nuclear Co-operation Agreement that will open up the sale of nuclear reactors and technology that may be worth about US $ 60 billion over the years. Two points need to be noted in this regard. First, that it makes no mention of China's relations with Pakistan on nuclear co-operation. Second, the deal still needs to be passed by the Senate, where it will not sail so easily.

US-China relations in the 21st century

How does the visit measure up from the point of view of US-China relations in the 21st century? An attempt is being made to base it within an overall framework of a Constructive Strategic Partnership. What this means is far from clear. It has become the new buzzword of international diplomacy and is open to many interpretations. Currently, it seems to suggest an institutionalisation of dialogue on many fronts. Principal among them is the agreement to hold an annual meeting between the heads of state, beginning with President Clinton's visit to China, probably in 1998 autumn. The Chinese Vice Premier and Foreign Minster clarified that this is not "an alliance", but a new way of "handling relations between major countries…[that will be] conducive to regional and global peace and stability". All this falls far short of an accepted definition of a strategic partnership.

Seen from the perspective of the USA the visit was less than glorious. Wherever Jiang went he was dogged by pro-Tibet and Human Rights demonstrators. The Press briefing on the lawns of the White House witnessed an unseemly debate between the two leaders on the issue of human rights, demonstrating the wide differences that still divide their views. Finally, on many of the fundamental questions an understanding eluded both sides. No progress was made on WTO membership. More generally, the views of the American people and the Congress haven't changed in the least bit. This is where policies will be shaped in the future.

The global strategic environment of the 21st century is in a state of considerable flux. All countries are attempting to find a niche for themselves, a position of advantage. China's diplomatic offensive in the current era is a reflection of this desire. Major relations will change in this period. Japan, Russia and the European Union will be important players. Within the context of these relations Jiang's visit has made no major impact. A degree of tension will continue between the USA and China till the outlines of these relations become clearer. The tensions inherent in this relationship will make China look elsewhere for a balance to counter what it perceives as US hegemony.

Lessons for India

There are some major lessons in this for India.

  • Only a strong and growing economy integrating with the world will allow New Delhi a role in global affairs. Till then we will always be at the periphery. But, we can still position ourselves to take advantage of the current developments.

  • This can have a positive impact on India's own interaction with the USA. Already there is a shift in the US's approach towards India. While we cannot attain the high profile Washington will always enjoy in its relations with Beijing, there is a willingness, even an eagerness to do business with New Delhi.

  • Even though co-operative relations with China are necessary for Indian interests, India has to keep its antenna tuned to current global changes.

  • China-Pakistan relations are independent and will develop in accordance with their respective interests. The same is also true of US-Pak relations. India will have to approach both these countries independently and without any misgivings or baggage of the past. Only a confident India, more sure of itself and cohesive within, can approach both China and the USA without fear or favour.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary

D Suba Chandran
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use
 

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
China at 60 - The Military Dimension

China's Defence White Paper- Part 2

China's New Defence White Paper- Part 1

Towards a More Secure World (Part 2) - The UN High Level Panel's Report

Engaging Pakistan - The Composite Dialogue Process

India-China Border Talks

Policy to Counter Hostage-taking

Kashmir: A Trip Report

Future Threats: Challenges and Collective Actions

Nepal: Current Situation and Future Challenges

The Crisis in Nepal and Indias Response II

The Crisis in Nepal and Indias Response I

The SAARC Summit and After

The War in Sri Lanka

India-Pakistan Imbroglio over CBMs

International Security Environment – III: Challenges to India

International Security Environment – II: A Brief Overview of the International Environment

International Security Environment – I: Recent Developments and Characteristics of the Era

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998
 1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
Email:
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com