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China's diplomacy, and its foreign policy, hardened in 2020, possibly a fallout of the C-19 pandemic. Its aggressive diplomatic style (which some call 'wolf warrior', though that is a misleading term), is not new. Norway saw this with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who was then in jail. It took Norway 6 years to restore normal relations.The extended contemns with Australia in 2020 remains an open issue, with China applying trade and sanctions – how will this work with RCEP?

I. Global Politics & Economics
'China's decline', long foretold, is wishful thinking. The reality is an expanding power, over-confident, and determined to strut the world stage. It acts on its own terms and norms. But like any country, it also makes win & lose calculations, looks to opportunistic gains.Further, caution has long been a hallmark, combined with rapid action. That adds to unpredictability.It is the only major country to grow in 2020 in the aftermath of C-19, when others have suffered pandemic-driven decline.

II. Chinese MFA: Institution & Constraints
It's a challenged system, with strengths and weaknesses. A major problem for the Chinese MFA is its comparatively low domestic status, and strong Party pressure, observed by some Indian scholars. The administrative reorganization of March 2018 created a Central Foreign Affairs Commission, to overcome long-standing rivalry with the Commerce Ministry that handles foreign economic issues, including aid management. The diplomatic system is under pressure.

III. Dealing with China
We should look at the experience of other Asian and other states to help in identifying approaches to working with China. What other viable options?


About the Speaker

Kishan S Rana : MA economics, St Stephen's College, Delhi. Indian Foreign Service (1960-95); Ambassador/High Commissioner: Algeria, Czechoslovakia, Kenya, Mauritius, & Germany; Joint Secretary, PMO (1981-82). Emeritus Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi; Professor Emeritus, DiploFoundation; Archives By-Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge. Authored and edited eleven books on diplomatic studies; two translated into Chinese. 300 articles and book reviews in journals and newspapers.

About the Chair

Amb. Shyam Saran is a former Foreign Secretary of India and has served as Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Nuclear Affairs and Climate Change. After leaving government service in 2010, he has headed the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a prestigious think tank focusing on economic issues (2011-2017) and was Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board under the National Security Council (2013-15). He is currently Life Trustee of India International Centre, Member of the Governing Council/Board of the Institute of Chinese Studies and Centre for Policy Research, a Trustee at the World Wildlife Fund (India) and Member of the Executive Council of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).He has recently published a book, How India Sees the World. Shyam Saran was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, in 2011 for his contributions to civil service. In May 2019, he was conferred the Spring Order Gold and Silver Star by the Emperor of Japan for promoting India-Japan relations.

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