Home Contact Us  

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
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

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

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
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

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February  March
 2017  2016  2015  2014  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
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.