India - China Relations and African Continent IAS Target

India - China Relations and African Continent

25 Jun 2019

Category : International Relations

Topic: India - China Relations and African Continent

Africa: A New dome for India-China competition

Africa’s global outreach was once mainly towards the western world, but lately, India, Japan, and China have penetrated the picture, because Asian countries are excitedly seeking opportunities to exploit of natural resources of Africa and market in Africa for their exports. Both Countries head of state and head of government visited Africa to fortify their relationship with Africa. We can see the 10th BRICS Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) was held in South Africa in this perspective.

Indian Outreach

  • Indian PM trip to mainland Africa after his trip to South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya in 2016.
  • In the last four years, there have been 23 outgoing visits to Africa by the President, the Vice President, and the Prime Minister.
  • Mr. Narendra Modi's current tour saw him go to Rwanda and Uganda, and his trip to Rwanda (a rapidly growing economy) is the first-ever by an Indian PM even country doesn't have an Indian diplomatic mission.
  • Indian many goodwill programmes and development projects in Africa, At the same time many Indian companies are exploring alternatives to invest in Africa and many have already started their operation

Chinese Outreach

  • Africa is the new focal area for china to export its products when a trade war creates uncertainty in the global economy.
  • Mr. Xi’s visit to Africa was his first to Africa after being re-nominated for a second term in March this year.
  • China heavily invested in mining and other operations and extracting raw materials, wood, fishes, etc, and put its cheap products. China also pays attention to infrastructure projects in Africa under its “One Belt-One Road” project

Level of Economic and trade relations

  • Indian private sector is yet to take full benefit of the investment climate in Africa, which could gather immense benefits.
  • On the contrary, China is the largest trading partner of Africa with $166 billion in 2011 and further potential for growth.
  • For India, economic relations with Africa is of paramount significance, recent pattern shows small economic trade compare to china.
  • Africa exports raw materials and imports manufactured goods and India-Africa trade currently stands at $62.66 billion (2018).

India is unlike China with respect to Africa

Indian engagement emphasizes long-term relations.
  • People Centric
    • Cross-border connectivity will increase investment-led trade and business opportunities, and strengthen bilateral partnerships and reduce Africa dependency on China and provide good bargaining to small African countries against china.
    • Enhancing Africa’s productive capacities, diversifying knowledge and skills, and investing in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are on the cards.
    • India’s cross-border connectivity initiatives with Eastern African countries are a natural extension of its policy to improve people-to-people ties.
    • India is also seeking to strengthen its cultural links with East Africa under the rubric of Project ‘Mausam’, an initiative of the Ministry of Culture. The project seeks to renew lost linkages with the “Indian Ocean world” - East Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian Peninsula and Southeast Asia.

    On the other hand China’s approach
    • Huge loan offering
    • Resource utilization
    • Infrastructure development
    • Burden on small economies to manipulate their policies for China's interest
    • Exploitation of poor in Africa and elite-level wealth creation.

  • Connectivity
    India’s African cross-border connectivity initiatives have three key forms:
    • Digital connectivity under the African e-Network project on tele-medicine and tele-education
    • Maritime-port connectivity under the government’s “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) and the SagarMala initiative
    • Air connectivity through direct flights between African & Indian cities.

    In contrast, China’s focus
    • Big ticket investments
    • Infrastructure development
    • Huge pocket to provide loan to small countries that will provide strategic control to it for enhancing its economic strength.

Joint Initiatives

India, Japan, and many African nations have established a trilateral initiative, the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC). This is to develop ‘industrial corridors’, ‘institutional networks’ for the growth of Asia and Africa, and to promote development cooperation.
The AAGC is a consultative initiative b/w three equal partners (India, Japan and Africa), which contrast it to China’s BRI. Notably, BRI is framed more as a top-down, unilateral approach to secure and enhance China’s economic and strategic interests. In China’s determined Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), East Africa and the Indian Ocean Region are focus areas.

Competition b/w India-china in international affairs

  • Along with the U.S., Japan, and Australia, India is also seen as one of the major factors that have an interest in influencing China’s dominance over Asia. Recent QUAD grouping seen by China to contain china by the USA with the support of Asian Countries and even China expresses its sorrow over India participation in such arrangement.

  • India and China also known as fellow members of the BRICS don’t suffice by itself to reverse∙ the two giants’ inherent tendency towards taking sides with rival groupings which are once again beginning to overwhelm Asia’s strategic environment.

  • New Delhi set its permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a primary national goal in the name of being known as a great power on a global scale.

  • The two countries’ strategic interests in South Asia are not only mutually exclusive but competitive where both countries try to outsmart the other whenever they get a chance.

  • China's closeness with Pakistan and high-level defense cooperation disturbs India. On the other side, Beijing feels uncomfortable with India’s hosting of the Tibetan opposition.

  • Likewise, there is a heated rivalry and competition b/w New Delhi and Beijing for influence over Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal. New Delhi shapes its foreign policy in line with the West, backing Myanmar’s opening to the rest of the world and support for democratic establishment against china's backing military rule. Although, Beijing believes one of the essential motivations behind such a policy is to separate Myanmar from China’s larger zone of influence.

India-China arrangements & steps to solve differences

Shimla agreement of 1914 To distinguish the boundary b/w North East India and Tibet, a meeting was held at Shimla in 1914, representatives of all three -Tibet, China, and British India. After the discussion, the agreement was signed by British India and Tibet but not by the Chinese officials. At present, India identifies the Mcmahon line, as agreed by the Shimla convention, as the legal boundary between China and India. However, China discards the Shimla agreement and the Mcmahon line.
Panchsheel Agreement of 1954
  • Mutual non-aggression.
  • Peaceful co-existence.
  • Cooperation and equality for mutual benefit.
  • Mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
  • Mutual respect for each other's territorial sovereignty and integrity.

The Panchsheel doctrine apparently indicated the willingness to ‘Respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity’. However, we have come a long way since the 1962 war to the cold peace era of 1962-1989, to the revived tensions of the present and the intent of the doctrine was well directed. It must have acted as a safeguard against any such clashes arising in the first place.
Line of Actual Control (LAC) The LAC is an effective military border which detaches Indian controlled areas of Jammu and Kashmir from Aksai Chin, but this border isn’t a legally recognised international boundary. India considers the Johnson line of 1865, which put Aksai Chin in Jammu & Kashmir. On the other side, China recognises the Macartney-Macdonald Line as the actual boundary which puts Aksai Chin in the Xinjiang region of China. In 1993, when the then PM Narasimha Rao visited China, ‘The Agreement for Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the LAC has been signed b/w India and China.

In 2003 India and China signed a Declaration on Principles for Relations and complete Cooperation and also mutually decided to nominate Special Representatives to explore the framework of a boundary settlement from the political point of view. China recognised India’s sovereignty over Sikkim in 2003. This was also followed by a framework of Guiding principles and political parameters to improve bilateral ties.

It proposed 3 step resolutions to the border clashes:

  • A bilateral pact on the laid down principles.
  • This was to be followed by an exchange of maps between both the countries.
  • Once contented with the markings, the final demarcation of borders was to take place.

The policies have not sufficed in realizing a solution to the long-standing clashes. A status-quo exists owing to the face-off between differential aspirations of the two nations. While China’s help for the resolution of border disputes stands subservient to the Tibet issue, India would continue to hold on to the Tibet card unless the border-disputes are resolved. Besides, the changing global and regional picture – from China’s move towards ‘assertive regionalism’, its escalating relations with Pakistan, and its complete disregard for counter-opinions on debatable issues like the South-China sea – has only deteriorated the chances of a quick resolution.