About the Panelists
Ambassador Shyam Saran is an Indian career diplomat who is a Member of the Governing Council of the Institute of Chinese Studies and Life Trustee of the India International Centre. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1970 and rose to become the Foreign Secretary of India. Earlier, he served as India's Ambassador to Myanmar, Indonesia and Nepal and as High Commissioner to Mauritius. Upon completion of his tenure as the Foreign Secretary he was appointed Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Indo-US civil nuclear issues and later as Special Envoy and Chief Negotiator on Climate Change. A respected commentator and writer, he has recently authored the book entitled How India Sees The World: Kautilya to the 21st Century.
Ambassador Shivshankar Menon is an Indian diplomat, who is Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Chinese Studies and a distinguished fellow at Brookings. His long career in public service spans diplomacy, national security, atomic energy, disarmament policy, and India’s relations with its neighbours and major global powers. Menon served as National Security Adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Foreign Secretary of India. Prior to that, he was Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Ambassador to China and Israel. He is the author of the book entitled Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy, published in 2016.
Ambassador Ashok K. Kantha is currently the Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies. A career diplomat, Kantha was Ambassador of India to China until January 2016. Prior to this, he was Secretary (East) at Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi. His previous assignments include High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka and Malaysia, Consul General in Hong Kong, Deputy Chief of Mission in Kathmandu (Nepal), and Joint Secretary (East Asia) in Ministry of External Affairs. In his diplomatic career spanning over 38 years, Kantha specialized in Asian affairs, with a particular focus on China.
Dr. Jabin T. Jacob is a China analyst based in New Delhi and Associate Editor of the academic journal, China Report. He was formerly Fellow and Assistant Director at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi. Jacob holds a PhD in Chinese Studies from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and has spent time as a student and researcher in Taiwan, France and Singapore. Jacob’s research interests include China-South Asia relations, and centre-province relations in China. Jacob's latest work is a co-edited volume, China and its Neighbourhood: Perspectives from India and Vietnam.
The panel explored the changing dynamics of India-China relations in a fluid and uncertain international environment, characterised, inter alia, by intensification of strategic contestation with transition in the balance of power, concerns regarding China’s assertive actions and unpredictability associated with the US President’s policies. Though India-China engagement has a relatively impressive track-record of achievements despite numerous outstanding issues, it is passing through a particularly challenging phase which possibly calls for a new modus vivendi between the two countries. The panellists assessed the state of the relationship post-Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi, examined its prospects and challenges and identified elements of an updated paradigm for managing this critical relationship. They also looked at multiple transitions underway in China; its leadership ambitions; implications for India and India’s response.
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