Blue Beijing sky

These days, a visit to Beijing and any major Chinese city evokes thoughts of face masks, diesel smelling air and smoggy skies. When I arrived in Beijing as part of the Aspen Institute of India’s delegation to the fourth India-China Strategic Dialogue two weekends ago, I was greeted by clear blue skies, clean air and bright sunlight. And it continued for three days. Read more

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There’s a lot of scholarly work on the Third Plenary Session of the Chinese Communist Party so I won’t pretend I have any value addition to add. The pessimists have said the plenum was notable for its failure to mention the state-owned enterprises and financial sector liberalisation. This means Xi Jinping is wary of treading on the corns of vested interests. The optimists have said the reformist outline of the plenum’s pronouncements show there is a consensus on more things than many had expected. Read more

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The Catholic Church and the Chinese government, within a 24 hour space, both finalized their leaders. The church chose and anointed Pope Francis. The party completed its leadership succession by appointing Xi Jinping as president of China, the third and last position he needed to become the new ruler of the Middle Kingdom. Read more

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India has now invited three Southeast Asian heads of government or heads of state in a row as Republic Day guests. The Thai prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, watched the march past this year. President Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Razak Naijib, Prime minister of Malaysia, preceded her the two years before. Read more

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I am sceptical about how much commonality there is between Asians. So going to China to attend my first Common Agenda Roundtable meeting of Asia-Pacific editors I wasn’t expecting too much in the way of unity of thought. One of the Thai speakers asked rhetorically at one point, “Is there such a thing as an Asian view?” My response was that there wasn’t really such a thing as an Indian view so to expect the continent to have one was a stretch. Read more

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Recently, flitting from one aircraft to another, I read an old 2007 essay-cum-book James Mann’s The China Fantasy. Mann’s argument was that there were two broad schools of thinking about the future of China in the West. One school argued that as China’s economy grew and its middle class expanded it would, over time, become a more tolerant and democratic regime. The other school said that the contradiction of a modern economy and a totalitarian polity meant that China would ultimate suffer a political meltdown. Read more

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Back in Beijing

Wandering through the central business district of China’s capital is to experience construction superfreakonomics. Read more

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For much of the first year of the Obama administration, Washington sought a broad accommodation with Beijing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told US diplomats and officials to keep China happy. Read more

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Is Obama going to own the Indian relationship

I don’t know, but I’ve been told that Barack Obama that the India relationship is one of the few foreign policy issues that he thinks his Oval Office predecessor got right. Read more

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There are plenty of theories as to what is going wrong, or at least why so little seems to be going right, with relations between India and China:  It has to do with the Dalai Lama, the legacy of 1962, Beijing’s fears of a US-India alliance, general bloody-mindedness on both sides. Read more

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