Will the Scars of Partition Ever Heal?

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in on May 26th 2014, people expected an uptick in relations. Something was expected from the charismatic leader to break the logjam and breathe fresh air into the relations between the frosty neighbours. However, four years after the massive bear hug at the ceremony, how much has really changed?

The warmth visible on that Monday afternoon did not translate into real improvements on the ground. Three months into power, the Government called off the dialogue process with Pakistan. The match that lit the fuse? The Pakistani delegations meeting with Kashmiri Separatists, a long practiced tradition in Indo-Pak dialogue. A few border skirmishes and some border dialogue later we were back at square one.

2015 brought along with it a number of ceasefire violations. Pakistan’s attempt to to hold elections in the contested Giligit-Baltistan region drew strong reactions from the Ministry of External Affairs. It was in 2015 that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) came into the picture. It is a $46 billion dollar highway that travels through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. This, coupled with Pakistan’s predatory lending practices, to which other third world countries have succumbed, alarmed the Indian Government. To counter this, the Modi Government was quick to quick to negotiate the Chabahar port agreement with Iran.

In mid-2015, the warm meeting between the two Prime Ministers at the Ufa summit in Shanghai brought hope again. 15 days later, the gruesome terrorist attack in Gurdaspur derailed any hopes of dialogue. As 2015 was coming to an end, a surprise was in store for observers. On December 25th, when Prime Minister Modi was in Kabul to inaugurate the newly built Afghan Parliament, he surprised everyone by announcing a surprise stopover at Lahore to meet his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, on his birthday. It was the first time in 11 years that an Indian Prime Minister was visiting Pakistan. This meeting was the fruit of the meetings between the two national Security Advisors in Bangkok.

Things seemed better, as it looked like Mr. Modi had done his magic and ‘achche din’ had finally come, for Indo-Pak ties at least. This illusion was shattered with the Pathankot terror attack. It recalled the memories of 1999 when the then PM Vajpayee visited Lahore to reinvigorate ties but his return to India was greeted by the Indo-Pak war, followed by an army coup in Pakistan which overthrew the then PM Nawaz Sharif.

This derailed the peace process, with talks being postponed. Talks were resumed again on April 26th and the point of contention was the investigation in attacks. India’s attempts to declare Masood Azhar a terrorist were met with repeated roadblocks in the form Chinese opposition.

On September 18th, the deadliest attack on Security forces in Kashmir in two decades took place in Uri. India and the rest of the world, who were used to the diplomatic maneuvers of the Modi Government, were in for a surprise, as on 29 September, eleven days after the Uri attack, the Indian army conducted ‘surgical strikes’ against suspected militants in Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Indian media reported that 35 to 70 terrorists had been killed.  People expected a tougher stance and a more timid Pakistan after this, however border skirmishes continued for the rest of 2016.

Border skirmishes kept the Government on its toes, along with the Baramulla Attack, the Nagrota attack and the Amarnath Yatra attack.  On 29th November, Qamar Javed Bajwa was appointed Chief of Army Staff, the most powerful post in the military establishment. Bajwa is expected to have a more dovish stance on India, but that hasn’t translated into any real action on the ground.

On 28th July 2017, Nawaz Sharif was removed from office on corruption charges, rendering any personal chemistry between him and Mr. Modi moot.

Since September 2016, 51 civilians and 54 soldiers have died on the Indian side and 235–237 soldiers killed on the Pakistan side, the above numbers being India’s claim. On 29th May 2018, the Indian and Pakistani Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs), agreed to fully implement the 2003 Ceasefire pact. While encouraging, it is unclear how long this peace will last. A number of flashy high profile incidents aside, are we back to where we were four years earlier?


– Shaaban Karim



On June 18th 2017, the Indian army marched across an international border to hinder the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China from marching on. Some eight weeks have passed, but under the tense grey clouds of Sino-Bhutanese territorial dispute, a highly sensitive question remains.

Whose border did they cross?

For the last two months, the Indian and Chinese forces have been at an impasse in a tri junction between India, China and Bhutan, while the world is fearing what the outcome would be.

What happened? Why is the situation so fraught with uncertainty? These are some of the questions that need to be answered.

The epicentre of this territorial battle is the small, bowl shaped plateau in the previously unheard of location, called Doklam. The three main stakeholders here are Bhutan, India, and China.

It all started with China extending its road network through the disputed territory of Doklam, which China believes has belonged to it “since ancient times”. Bhutan, which did not like the fact that China started making roads in a disputed territory, sought help from India. Since then, there has been increasing numbers of both Indian and Chinese troops stationed at the tri-junction, with both sides refusing to budge.

Map according to Bhutan and Google Maps:


Map According To China:


All this comes at a time of steadily deteriorating ties between the two countries, say analysts, who point to Chinese investment in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and Chinese frustration with India’s unwillingness to join its One Belt One Road development initiative as points of contention.

What India says:

India maintains that the Chinese construction work was done without consultation with Bhutan, thereby changing the status quo and violating the understanding on the tri-junction boundary points.

But what is India’s problem if China is building roads?

There are fourteen countries China shares its 22000 km land borders with. And it has a border conflict with eighteen. The only neighbouring country China has managed to not have a conflict with is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. India sees this fact as China trying to cement its place as the sole superpower in the Asian region, and eliminating India as its competition.

More importantly, the primary concern for India is the strategically all-important Siliguri corridor, also known as the Chicken’s neck.

According to BBC India,

“Sikkim is the only area through which India could make an offensive response to a Chinese incursion, and the only stretch of the Himalayan frontier where Indian troops have a terrain and tactical advantage.”

India’s attention was ignited when a group of Chinese builders started clearing the path to pave off a track to a pass called Gymochen, which China claims to be the southern extent of its realm. Now this pass occupies a ridge that has a commanding view to the Siliguri Corridor, a critically important splinter of land jutting out, which connects the North East to the rest of India. If China builds roads through the Doklam area, its distance to the Siliguri corridor would significantly be reduced. If it ever comes to war, China could easily keep weapons in the Doklam region and also transport soldiers via that road and get to the Siliguri corridor. Hence, China would hold military superiority over India.

What China says:

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said that “the border in Sikkim had been settled in an 1890 agreement with the British”, and that India’s violation of this was “very serious”.

China has repeatedly cited the 1890 Britain-China treaty that the former Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru had according to them, accepted in 1959. The Chinese media and officials have made frequent use of this treaty to cement their claim of the tri-junction area belonging to China. Contrary to this claim, Nehru made it very clear that only the upper Sikkim and Tibetan area was talked about in the treaty, and NOT the tri-junction area. Chinese officials say that in opposing the road construction, Indian border guards are obstructing “normal activities” on the Chinese side. They also reiterated sovereignty over the area by saying that the Indian troops are trespassing on a land that has belonged to China “since ancient times”, and called on India to immediately withdraw. China has accused India of undermining Bhutan’s sovereignty by interfering in Sino-Bhutanese matters. It has also called Bhutan a puppet nation, and accused India of trying to sabotage chances of Bhutan and China coming to an amicable agreement. China has warned India several times to remember its defeat in the 1962 war, warning Delhi that China is also more powerful now than it was then. The Global Times newspaper, meanwhile, accused India of undermining Bhutan’s sovereignty by interfering in the road project, although Bhutan has since asked China to stop construction.

Possible solution that India could employ:

It is essential that both Bhutan and India do not cave under pressure from the Chinese government and give up. At the same time, the situation of a war must be avoided at all costs.

China brings up the argument of siding with Pakistan against India, as it has done multiple times by using its power of veto against India’s gain in the UNSC. India could employ a similar strategy with Tibet and extend support to Dalai Lama. India must also strengthen ties with countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Philippines, which China continues to harass in the name of border dispute. Boycotting Chinese products would not be of much help as China only exports 1-2% of its goods to India. Diplomatic options would be the best course to solve this crisis, with one option being to have troops from Bhutan replace the Indian soldiers at the border and hope it leads to a mutual disengagement by China and Bhutan themselves. Another thing that could be done by India would be to wait it out till November when the National Congress of the Communist Party of China happens, post which the intensity of the conflict could be alleviated via hushed diplomacy.

Also, though a war would hurt both economies hard which neither Xi Jinping nor Narendra Modi would want, neither of them would want to back down at this moment. India needs to be able to support Bhutan during its time of need, as Bhutan is its closest, and for all practical purposes, its only ally amongst the South Asian countries against China. Modi faces elections in 2019. Jinping doesn’t exactly face elections, but the Chinese Communist Party’s Nineteenth Party Congress is coming up in November, and the changes he announces there will create political enemies. Hence either of the two cannot afford to look politically weak.

As China continually reminds India of what happened in 1962, it does not seem to want to keep an imminent war out of the picture. It would be up to India now to try its best to resolve everything through diplomatic options, without having to cave in to the ominous Chinese threat looming over.

– Palak Oswal


2016 surely proved to be a roller-coaster ride on the global stage. The Colombians struck a peace deal with the guerrilla group, the coup in Turkey failed, Britain voted to leave the EU, Donald Trump was elected as the President of the United States and Eastern Aleppo fell, to name a few. Another milestone in economic partnership has been the development project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It is an ambitious infrastructure project of Pakistan to solidify its support with China. This “game changing” move has given rise to a few questions that need to be answered: “Is China about to transform Pakistan?”, “How much is this of concern to India?” and “Could China be having other ulterior motives?”


The US $50 billion (INR 3.4 lakh crore), 3000km CPEC is basically a group of projects that will connect Kashgar in Western China to the Arabian sea port of Gwadar in Pakistan. It is a part of advancement of China’s desire to seek for a quicker, and a more direct route to the Middle East and the Western world. It involves the construction of a network of highways, railways, pipelines and fibre optic cables. It is considered to be an extension of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. Through this project, China can substantially reduce the distance covered in the existing route to Middle East – through the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca – by almost 10000km. The 15 year project has been partially funded by China, and is believed to improve the economy of Pakistan and create lakhs of jobs.



Pakistan views the corridor as a game changer, as it believes that it would build world class infrastructure, increase revenue for the government and increase foreign investments. Also, it would supply oil and natural gas through the proposed pipelines and create employment opportunities for the youth of Pakistan. CPEC alone is expected to create 7,00,000 jobs for Pakistan. It is also believed to boost tourism in a few regions, especially for mountaineers, due to their proximity to some of the ‘eight-thousanders’ (peaks above 8000m).

Pakistan is facing a serious energy shortage of 4,500MW, but a private consortium would develop 10,000 MW energy generating capacity by 2020. This would greatly help Pakistan to bring down its energy deficiency to zero. Ultimately, CPEC is extremely important to Pakistan and it cannot afford to lose this opportunity. There is more for Pakistan to gain, considering the long term economic impacts.


China considers these development initiatives a potential source of stability and prosperity for both countries. From a Chinese perspective, cooperation in the areas of security and economics are closely intertwined, and improvements on one side can improve the other. It is almost as though security and economics are two separate wheels on the same vehicle, and both need to be spinning to move things forward.

More broadly, the CPEC has to be understood in the context of China’s strategic interests in East Asia. China hopes it can expand its strategic space by heading west. Pakistan serves as a crucial bridge between China and Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Security and stability in Pakistan will make it possible for China to exercise greater influence in these regions and to ensure security at home. This is why China is willing to pour vast amounts of resources into the economic corridor—based on the logic of improving security through economic development.


In my opinion, the security, political and cultural risks must not be overlooked.

The first of these is obviously, terrorism. It was not a surprise that India labelled Pakistan as the ‘Ivy League of terrorism’, given the terrorist organizations being nurtured on its home soil. It has long affected Pakistan’s internal stability and security, the situation seems to be showing no signs of improvement. Because the CPEC is so important to the government, the construction sites and personnel could become targets for religious and nationalist extremists. The Pakistani authorities have promised to provide security to Chinese workers, but this is a short term solution. It is uncertain if over time, Pakistan would maintain its promise by deploying the military and ensuring the safety of the workers.

Secondly, Pakistan’s domestic politics is also important to the CPEC’s success. The country’s political system has never been particularly stable. Political power oscillates between military and civilian leaders. Pakistan’s traditional political culture, which is almost feudal in nature, also continues to play an important role. Powerful families based in different provinces, such as the Bhuttos and the Sharifs, have typically held political power. Behind the party politics are local interest groups associated with these families. Various parties within Pakistan have disagreed a lot about how CPEC transportation routes should be mapped out. The debate over which route the CPEC would follow has caused and will cause substantial delays.

And finally, the cultural concerns. As China and Pakistan gradually expand cooperation, there will be an increasing number of Chinese corporations investing in Pakistan. Different cultural practices and ways of thinking could cause misunderstandings, and this could negatively affect CPEC projects. For these corporations to be successful, they will need to understand local cultures, norms, and rules. Having information about and services for doing business in Pakistan is also crucial for Chinese corporations.



One of India’s major concerns is that the corridor is passing through the disputed territory of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). This is a violation of the sovereignty of the Indian territory and hence, India has been quite vocal about this. Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Chinese President Xi Jinping the two countries need to be “sensitive” to each other’s strategic interests. If China continues with this project, it means that they consider this region to be a part of Pakistan, thus infringing India’s sovereignty.

Secondly, China will get additional access to the Pakistan territory and the Arabian Sea. It is a geo-political advantage for them. Also, considering the fact that the friendship between China and Pakistan has been lasting for the past five decades and the recent backing of Pakistan by China in the United Nations against India, China shall back Pakistan militarily in case of a skirmish with India. India must take all steps that it can to sabotage its development, if it still wants to remain the superpower in the region.

The insurgency and the militant groups of Balochistan needs no introduction. Ever since the mention of the ‘B’ word by PM Modi in the Independence Day speech last year, it has left the Pakistan government furious and has even accused India on conducting terrorist activities in the region. Balochistan is one of the least developed provinces of Pakistan and epicenter of CPEC. Pakistani government has been ignoring the Baloch region since its incorporation into Pakistan. At the time of independence Balochistan was an independent princely state but was later annexed by Pakistan. Since its annexation the demand and struggle for independence is going on which is being suppressed from time to time by excessive use of force by Pakistani military. Balochistan’s Gwadar city is the crux of CPEC but people are raising their voice against this project. Hence, Pakistan has much to do and a long way to go in order to instill confidence in the people of this region.


If we look ahead with the hope of the CPEC dream coming true, it would be a win-win situation for both China and Pakistan. China will use Pakistan as a pathway to increase its access to global markets, and in doing so, the economy of Pakistan would be accelerated. To be frank, all India can do is to wait and watch. It is not under the power of India to impose sanctions or condemn this act on a global stage. The best India can expect is to hope that this turns tables around and becomes a burden for Pakistan and China, thereby decreasing the economy further of Pakistan.

– Sundaresan Manickam

Macron – Europe’s Saviour?

To greater convergence, we need more integration.

– Emmanuel Macron


The world can learn a lesson or two from the French, especially with respect to the art of decision-making. The French people seem to understand their country and politics better than Americans could understand theirs, as is evident with the conclusion of the recent French Presidential Elections. Emerging triumphant over his rivals, Emmanuel Macron has brought back hope to his nation, and possibly, to Europe as well. Since taking office four weeks ago, his star has been shining bright, restoring a sense of national pride, and his words have spread a sense of relief after many believed that France would follow America’s example and elect the next Trump.


After Obamamania spread through America in 2008 and NaMomania spread through India in 2014, 2017 is seeing the advent of Macronmania. Let us examine how a man on a mission changed the entire political scenario. In a country where political careers have traditionally been built over decades, Macron took the risk of founding his own centrist party from scratch rather than seek the nomination of the right or left. It was a gamble that paid off in the end, as he won the vote of those disillusioned with the existing political class. However, all was not all bright and sunny for him. His campaign was initially met with cynicism, with rivals writing off the ambitious upstart as too inexperienced, but Macron kept moving forward, paying no heed to his critics.


He used his image as a moderniser to draw huge crowds. He modelled his party on Obama’s successful 2008 campaign. Luck favoured him, as a scandal engulfed the conservative Republicans while the Socialists had a downfall. This fuelled his rise to the top, as he led the battle against far-right Marine Le Pen. And we know what happened next – Macron beat her soundly and went on to win the elections.


Since his inauguration, Macron has sought to restore lost grandeur to the presidency, delivering his victory speech in front of the Louvre museum — a former royal palace — and hosting Russian President Vladimir Putin at Versailles palace. He has also kept a tight rein on communications, to minimize the risk of slip-ups and avoid the excessive media exposure soured voters on Hollande and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. His election also has brought about stability, both economic and political, in the European Union after the fiasco of BREXIT.


Recently, when US President, Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of America from the Paris Agreement, Macron sent out invitations to American researchers, with the perfect slogan- “MAKE OUR PLANET GREAT AGAIN”. While it is funny, using Trump’s election campaign slogan, this new recruitment effort is hardly the first time that Macron has stood up to Trump, or even to other world leaders. But it is the first tangible evidence we have that the new French president puts his money where his mouth his, and that is significant.


With world politics changing every moment, the world needs more progressive leaders to guide the people. Emmanuel Macron appears to be a leader that can do so. His start has certainly been dynamic, but will he be able to keep this up throughout his tenure? Will he bend to pressure from the US and from other sources? Will he stand-up to problems or will he find a way around them? Is he the man who will come to the rescue of Europe? Only time will reveal the answers.


– Aditya Ramaswami

India-Pakistan : A Face off, yet again.

18th May 2017 was a historic day, not only for the International Court of Justice but also for the doomed relations between the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It left those billion beholders on either side of the Line of Control, wade through a heap of emotions; those of shock, relief, grief, hope, distrust, anxiety, hate…and even more hate. It is sadder still to helplessly witness the ever-widening gorge between the two countries.

Amidst the developments in India and Pakistan, the Media has been the only source of information for the citizens. Hence, all that they have is a set of polarised views and completely different tales, from either side. To get a better idea of the extent of the polarisation, let us explore a few pivotal questions related to the entire case –


Who is Kulbhushan Jadhav?


Pakistan: An Indian national, who serves the Indian Navy. He is working as a spy for the Indian Intelligence agencies, under the pseudonym of Hossein Mubarak Patel. He was commissioned in the engineering branch of the Indian Navy in 1991 and has been involved in intelligence operations since 2003.

India:  An Indian national, who served the Indian Navy, but has had no contact with the government, since he left service in 2001. He runs a small business in the Iranian port cities of Chabahar and Bandar Abbas.


What is Jadhav’s role?


Pakistan: Jadhav is a spy, working for the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) for India and has been involved in subversive activities in Karachi and Balochistan. A confession video was released, where he admitted to all the above allegations.

India: Jadhav was abducted by last year, from the Iran-Pakistan border, by the Sunni Group Jaish-ul-Adl and Pakistan has fabricated the documents and the confession video.


What is the broil about?


India: Jadhav was sentenced to death on 10th April through a Field General Court Martial (FGMC). Firstly, Pakistan has made “egregious violations” of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963: India has been denied information regarding Jadhav’s trial and the request to consular access to Mr Jadhav over 15 times. Instead, Pakistan suggested Consular access only on the condition that India exchanges information regarding Jadhav’s activities in the home country.

Secondly, Indian intelligence officials have questioned the legality of an Army general court martial sentencing an unarmed foreigner like that.

Pakistan: The Vienna Convention provisions, according to Pakistan are not intended for a ‘spy’ involved in terror activities. According to the bilateral agreement of 2008, matters related to political and security issues will be decided on merit. As per that, there has been no violation. Moreover, Jadhav, who Pakistan views as a bigger threat to security than Ajmal Kasab, has been given 150 days to legally challenge his sentence.

Why ICJ?

India and Pakistan are signatories to the Optional Protocol of the Vienna Convention which deals with Compulsory Settlement of Disputes. As per the Protocol, disputes revolving around the interpretation or application of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations falls under “compulsory jurisdiction” of the ICJ.


What were the arguments at ICJ?


India: The country submitted a plea to stay the execution of the alleged Indian Spy, which was granted by the court on 10th May 2017. In the hearing at the Peace Palace, on 15th May, the Indian Counsel, Harish Salve pointed out that the “situation was grave” and Pakistan has “egregiously violated” the Vienna Convention of Consular Regulation. India felt extremely threatened by Pakistan on the security issues of the former Navy officer. Concerns were raised on Jadhav’s execution in Pakistan, even before the arguments concluded in the court. The 150-day window for him to challenge the judgement is no relief to India because no Pakistani Counsellor was willing to take up Jadhav’s appeal.

Pakistan: Pakistan’s Counsel, Khawar Qureshi QC rejected the projected urgency of the case. He also termed India’s allegations of the alleged abduction of the spy from Iran, as far-fetched. The Pakistani Defence Minister had earlier stated that Jadhav’s prosecution followed a “due legal process” and “there was nothing in the legal proceedings that was against the law”.  Pakistan also added that it would not allow concessions to any element who threatens the country’s stability and security.

After considering arguments from both sides of the table, the bench of U.N.’s highest court, comprising 11 judges, at the Peace Palace, announced the verdict, effectively laying a stay at the execution. President Ronny Abraham said, “The Court considers it a failure on the part of Pakistan to present counsellors to Jadhav”.

Amidst the clamour of the verdict, Indians were found heaving a sigh of relief, while the Pakistani Media was busy spilling some creative ink.

The entire episode just poses the following existential arguments: We say that humans are progressing to a better, more peaceful tomorrow. Has any nation ever gotten even remotely close to what that noble word means, by wallowing in the dirty pool of blame game and manipulation? How can two nations think of fostering good will, if they can’t respect each other’s point of view? Is Media – as the most important pillar of society, being responsible enough with its facts and opinion?  Finally, are we, as humans, doing any better at dealing with prejudice on the basis of religion and race?

All that the citizens of the two countries can do is, to wait and watch, hoping that their blood smeared history does not repeat itself.

– Aayushi Sharma

Anti-Ballistic Missile Technology – A sword or a shield?

In today’s world, with a persisting arms race that has resulted in a cut-throat competition among countries to emerge on top, constant development of new defence technologies has become a necessity. One such technological advancement, which can give any country an edge in the global arms race is the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM).

The term “Anti-Ballistic Missile” is a generic term conveying a system designed to intercept and destroy any type of ballistic threat. Along with the rocket, it also requires a radar to accurately pinpoint the trajectory of the incoming missile. It is usually done by first launching the interceptor missile to within a certain radius of the mid-flight ballistic missile and following it up with an explosion to destroy the ballistic missile or push it off its target.

The US, however, has been focusing on a more precision-based system, wherein the interceptor missile collides with the incoming projectile and uses its kinetic energy to make it deviate from its path. One major advantage of this system is that a nuclear tipped ballistic missile will not detonate upon a kinetic energy hit.

All ABM systems have been proven to be largely effective against short and medium range ballistic missiles, but intercepting an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) poses a serious challenge as they move too fast for most of these systems. Currently, only USA and Russia possess the technology to intercept incoming ICBMs.

One situation where the ABM technology will probably fail is against Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs), which can launch multiple ballistic missiles at a time from a single source to multiple locations. Therefore, ABM technology can be relied on against countries that pose a comparatively smaller threat, like North Korea or Iran. However, if the likes of China, USA and Russia are involved, then it is a different ball game altogether.

Cost wise, ABM technology is more expensive and much harder to procure than the corresponding ballistic missiles that it can take down. This is because of the much higher accuracy required to counter a moving target. In addition, if an ABM system is designed to effectively take down and MIRV threat, then the already high cost increases exponentially. This is why many countries have preferred to go with conventional ballistic missiles as deterrents rather than investing on an ABM system.

The recent news about the installation of the American Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence system in South Korea raises the question about the role that ABM technology plays in world politics. Although technically made for “defence” purposes, these systems have serious abilities to undermine the strength of the enemy, hence disturbing the balance of power.

This is not the first time that there has been a controversy over these systems, causing many countries to be concerned about the implications. The Anti- Ballistic missile treaty of 1972 between the USA and USSR is testimony of this fact. The treaty limited the number of ABMs that the countries can possess and also the number of sites that they can be kept in. However, the treaty was withdrawn by the US in 2002 as it felt the need to be able to develop effective missile interceptors in case of a threat by a “rogue actor”.

Coming to the recent issue in the Korean Peninsula – there is a sense of “déjà vu“ that recent events provide. In 2013, at the time of tensions between North and South Korea, Kim Jong-un had threatened South Korea of a nuclear weapon strike, and even talked about using nuclear tipped missiles against US bases. US back then had claimed to send their THAAD missile defence system to South Korea as a means of protection. Now, this move not only angered North Korea but also neighbouring China, whose security could have been undermined by the deployment of this system in the Korean Peninsula. This was considered to be one of the reasons why China took up measures such as targeted sanctions against North Korea, in spite of being its only ally, to bring the situation back to normal. As a matter of fact, the THAAD system did not even reach South Korea in 2013. Possibly the threat itself did the trick.

In the present day, with North Korea staging a strong display of Artillery and the US conducting joint military drills with South Korea and Japan, tensions in the Korean Peninsula are rising. The USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine, arrived on April 25th at the South Korean port of Busan for what seemed to be a routine exercise by the US seventh fleet. Simultaneously, two American destroyers conducted maritime exercises with ships from South Korea and Japan.

On the morning of the 26th, the Korean Defence Ministry released a statement that parts of the THAAD system had been installed in North Gyeongsang province, in view of the threat from Pyongyang.  As expected, this has invited strong criticism from both China and North Korea, with China stating that it will “firmly take necessary measures to safeguard its own interests.”

North Korea has had a history of making tall claims and threatening to conduct pre-emptive strikes against alleged American plans of attack on itself, to gain leverage over South Korea in bilateral matters or even ask for some form of aid from the US and others. Fortunately, the violence has not translated in the same proportion on the ground, but this move by the US and South Korea does raise eyebrows.

The US further vowed to complete the installation of the THAAD system within a matter of days and also use more sanctions against North Korea. North Korea, in turn vowed to conduct more missile and nuclear tests. China has displayed its concerns as well, going to the extent of conducting military drills as a response and has also promised retaliation if the US goes ahead with the mission.

Amidst this tension, the US also did admit that the THAAD missile defence system is not sufficient, since North Korea has pre-emptively been working on missile systems that can be launched from the sea. This will render THAAD less effective since it can be trusted completely only to block missiles from certain trajectories, not all. Moreover, even if THAAD can overcome the threat of a missile attack, even then, North Korea’s military might be a force to reckon with. All this possibly might be the hint of further US activity in the peninsula.

There is another twist to the story, as US President Donald Trump made comments that South Korea will have to pay for the missile defence system, indicating some disagreements between South Korea and US as well. The situation is getting messy, and it can lead to possibly the biggest escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula in a long time. Only time will tell whether this happens or not.


–  Madhav Singh

Emergence of China as a Superpower

When China awakes, it will shake the world.
– Napoleon Bonaparte

Has China finally awoken? That is the billion-dollar question.
The history of China is both fascinating and complex. Its culture has been described as both peaceful and warlike. China was created by conquest and has essentially been ruled by a series of warlords. However, China has also experienced periods of peace and active trade with its neighbours. There have also been extensive periods where China has isolated itself from outside influence and became a closed society. These experiences have profoundly shaped the culture and strategic thought of China.

The rise of modern China to become the second largest economy in the world was made possible only through the success of the Chinese communist revolution in the mid-20th century.  The People’s Liberation Army, also known as the Red Army at the time, defeated the invading Japanese Imperial army in the Second Sino-Japanese War. They later defeated the US imperialist-backed comprador-led Kuomintang Nationalist army.  This allowed the reunification of China as an independent, sovereign state.  The Communist government abolished the extra-territorial privileges of the Western imperialists and ended the territorial fiefdoms of the regional warlords and gangsters. They also drove out the millionaire owners of brothels, the traffickers of women and drugs as well as the other “service providers” to the Euro-American Empire.

Following Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, the new leader, Deng Xiaoping, commenced a series of reforms that radically changed China. Deng encouraged international trade and allowed foreign capital investment. The specific aim of these policies was to obtain large foreign exchange earnings, which would allow China to modernize and become more independent. Thus, China made a phenomenal entry into world markets, resulting in a booming economy.

The Chinese state re-directed massive public subsidies to promote high capitalist growth by dismantling its national system of free public education and health care.  They ended subsidized public housing for hundreds of millions of peasants and urban factory workers. Instead, they provided funds to real estate speculators for the construction of private luxury apartments and office skyscrapers. China’s new capitalist strategy as well as its double-digit growth was based on the profound structural changes and massive public investments made possible by the previous communist government. China’s private sector “take off” was based on the huge public outlays made by them since 1949.

The triumphant new capitalist class and its Western collaborators claimed all the credit for this “economic miracle” as China rose to become the world’s second largest economy. The new Chinese elite , however, have been less eager to announce China’s world-class status in terms of brutal class inequalities, which rivals only the US.

China has been growing at about 9% per annum and its goods and services are rapidly rising in quality and value. In contrast, the US and Europe have wallowed at around 0% growth from 2007-2012. China’s innovative techno-scientific establishment routinely assimilates the latest inventions from Japan and the West and improves them, thereby decreasing the cost of production. China has replaced the US and European controlled “international financial institutions” (the IMF, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank) as the principle lender in Latin America. China continues to lead as the prime investor in African energy and mineral resources. It has replaced the US as the principal market for Saudi Arabian, Sudanese and Iranian petroleum and it will soon replace the US as the principal market for Venezuelan petroleum products. Today, China is the world’s biggest manufacturer and exporter, dominating even the US market, while playing the role of financial life line as it holds over $1.3 trillion in US Treasury notes.

There have been various attempts in the past to undermine China’s growth. For example, in the nineteenth century, British imperialism demolished China’s global position with its military superiority, seizing China’s ports because of China’s reliance on ‘mercantile superiority’. The conquest of India, Burma and most of Asia allowed Britain to establish colonial bases and recruit local mercenary armies. The British and their mercenary allies encircled and isolated China, setting the stage for the disruption of China’s markets and the imposition of the brutal terms of trade. The British Empire’s armed presence dictated what China imported (with opium accounting for over 50% of British exports in the 1850s) while undermining China’s competitive advantages via tariff policies.

Today the US is pursuing similar policies to halt China’s growth: US naval fleet patrols and controls China’s commercial shipping lanes and off-shore oil resources via its overseas bases. The Obama-Clinton White House is in the process of developing a rapid military response involving bases in Australia, Philippines and elsewhere in Asia. The US is intensifying its efforts to undermine Chinese overseas access to strategic resources while backing grass roots separatists and insurgents in West China, Tibet, Sudan, Burma, Iran, Libya, and Syria. The US military agreements with India and the installation of a pliable puppet regime in Pakistan have advanced its strategy of isolating China. While China upholds its policy of harmonious development and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, it has stepped aside as US and European military imperialism have attacked a host of China’s trading partners to essentially reverse China’s peaceful commercial expansion.

A communist government that has demonstrated that it is unhappy with its status in the world rules China. While Western governments have devoted a great deal of time and thought on how to treat China, their policies have not had any effect on the current regime’s respect for human rights or democracy. The fundamental issue is that the stability of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) itself represents a concern for both Asia-Pacific and world security. Any movement by the West to promote human rights and democracy in China represents a direct threat to the existing regime. China sees itself more and more as a counter to Western values and the Western way of life. In its effort to emerge as a great power, China has changed its security strategy from defensive to offensive. If China wants to be a dominant world power, and chooses to act based on the example of the former Soviet Union, it will have the potential to seriously undermine the current world order.

China is slowly climbing up the ladder of the superpowers, with the US trying to shake it off. Some say China has awoken, some say it will wake up in a few years, but it seems like China is playing its cards right just to wake up at the right time. Famous economists and researchers believe this century is going to be the Chinese Century. Only time will tell if China lives up to the predictions or is nothing more than a flash in the pan.

– Aditya Ramaswami