Interaction with the Delegation from Yunnan University
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The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) hosted a Chinese delegation led by Prof. Li Chenyang, Vice President of Yunnan University and Dean of Institute of Myanmar Studies on 08 August. The other members of the delegation include Lu Guangsheng (Vice Dean of School for International Studies, Chief Expert of Center for China’s Neighbor Diplomacy, Yunnan University), Liu Peng Associate Professor, Yunnan University and Luo Xuefang, Attache, Policy Planning Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China. The welcome remarks were delivered by Lt Gen Ravi Sawhney.

In the opening remarks, the Chinese delegation highlighted the role of the Yunnan Province in overall Chinese diplomacy, especially towards South and Southeast Asia. They also informed that the Yunnan University had started a centre for Hindi language and there are already 40 Chinese students taking the course. Two students have taken research projects on India. In the meeting, discussions were held on Indo-Pacific, the ‘Quad’, China’s Neighbourhood Policy and Bangladesh-China- India-Myanmar (BCIM). The issues of discussion are described hereafter.

On the issue of Indo-Pacific, the Chinese delegation argued that there is no single/agreeable definition of the concept, there are different versions. They expressed apprehension on about the goals of the US strategy, the nature of cooperation, the dominant power in the region, and its intention behind the strategy. The Indian side expounded on the Indian views on Indo-Pacific. India stands for a common rules-based order for the region where there will be equal access to all under international law for the use of common spaces on sea and in the air. Overall India stands for freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.

The Chinese participants shared their views on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) and expressed concern on the functioning of the grouping and its likely future. They were anxious if it would develop as Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Indian side explained that the grouping aims to maintain a strategic balance in the Indo-Pacific region. At present, it is in the nascent stage and it will take some time for the concept to evolve. At the moment, it serves the purpose of coordination in the Indo-Pacific region and is not aimed at anyone.

The Chinese participant expounded on China’s Neighbourhood Policy and stated that there is essentially no difference in China’s policy towards South and Southeast Asia. Chinese interest in Southeast Asia is essentially economic. However, the delegation deflected the question on developments in the South China Sea.

On the issue of BCIM, the Chinese participants argued that after reaching an agreement in 2013, India has not participated actively. Indian participants reiterated their concern on the Belt and Road Initiative and the related issue of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). After the second Belt and Road Forum, China removed the BCIM from the list of corridors in the BRI project. However, in June 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said that the corridor was part of the BRI. This has raised concerns in India.

Overall, the Chinese delegation felt that both India and China have a lot of opportunity for cooperation. There is a prospect for India-China cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, and specifically in Myanmar on hydro-power and other projects.

Event Date 
August 8, 2019

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