December 9, 2014


[Below shared today are two posts on South Asia Forum - SAARC: one from China and the other from India. These both articles are contrary to each other on China's getting into the forum as a full member. Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at the 18th Kathmandu Summit, made an asserted motion for China's full membership of the organization. But getting China on board the forum won't speed up South Asian economic growth and development, rather complicate the situation. It is understandable why China is so keen in getting into the forum. China, not being a South Asian nation, looks better an observer than any member. India, as the biggest and powerful among all in the organization, must also come forward as a good neighbour first. Let India and Pakistan sort out Kashmir problem or in other words India, as a largest democracy in the world, must listen to the voice of Kashmiri people. - The Blogger]

By Liu Zongyi

Image: Google
The 18th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) concluded in Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu on November 27 with the adoption of the Kathmandu Declaration. Heads of South Asian states also signed a framework agreement on energy cooperation, the biggest achievement of the two-day summit. The energy deal indicates that South Asian countries expect to strengthen interconnection and that SAARC is making gradual progress.

SAARC has long been characterized by relatively slow economic growth. As an organization of regional economic integration, SAARC has, however, failed to make substantial progress on this issue. Even since the agreement on the South Asian Free Trade Area came into effect on January 1, 2006, the internal trade among SAARC member states has only accounted for some 5 percent of their total foreign trade volume. SAARC countries have failed in gaining ground on economic integration for two main reasons.

The conflicts between India and Pakistan as well as other South Asian nations have been an obstacle for them to achieve common consensus. And the decision-making mechanism of SAARC can barely effectively address these internal conflicts. India, the biggest power among SAARC members, is relatively economically underdeveloped and has failed to play a leading role in boosting the regional economy.

Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May, he has been reiterating the need to restore relations with peripheral countries, which seems to have created an opportunity for the development of SAARC. Nevertheless, there has been no obvious improvement in India-Pakistan ties. Though Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to attend his inauguration, the breakout of the simmering conflict over the control of Kashmir between New Delhi and Islamabad has again deteriorated their bilateral relations.

Plus, although India appears to spare no effort to enhance relations with other South Asian nations, it displays great-power chauvinism and selfishness from time to time. In October, India expressed serious concerns to the Sri Lankan defense secretary in New Delhi over a Chinese submarine docking at a Sri Lankan port.

India does hope to promote interconnectivity among South Asian countries and to connect its poverty-stricken northeast territory through the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. But the country seems tepid in making efforts to connect to China.

Generally speaking, New Delhi has not entirely changed its behavioral patterns toward neighbors despite its occasional petty favors to them. By readjusting its relations with its neighbors, India aims at consolidating its supremacy in South Asia and including the whole region in its sphere of influence, instead of realizing common development and prosperity.

SAARC members inked the energy-sharing pact mainly because Bangladesh longs to harness hydropower from Bhutan and Nepal and connect its power infrastructure with India, while India intends to transmit electricity from its isolated northeastern region and Bhutan to the rest of India via Bangladesh. This accord manifests exchange of interests between New Delhi and Dhaka. It also benefits Kathmandu and Thimphu, but it highlights separation between the east and the west within SAARC.

The economic integration of SAARC needs the help of external forces to overcome the current plight of political division and a lack of leadership. Many South Asian nations expect China to become an official member of SAARC. China, now an observer of SAARC, is geographically adjacent to the region as well as owns a huge market and a fast-growing economy. Other South Asian countries have a lot of concerns about the India-led integration process of SAARC. If SAARC can imitate the "ASEAN Plus Three" mechanism, it will be bound to push forward the integration process not only in South Asia but also within a larger region including China as well.

China has backed India becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. New Delhi should agree on Beijing joining SAARC if it attempts to return the favor. But it seems that the country is not that broad-minded. It  is afraid that an anti-India group will take shape once China joins SAARC. 

Under the current decision-making mechanism of SAARC, China cannot become a member as long as India objects. Modi emphasized India's leading role in the region in his speech at the summit and claimed "South Asia is slowly coming together." Nonetheless, other countries in the region cannot afford to wait for its slow pace.

Even though it cannot join SAARC, China will strive to ramp up bilateral collaboration with South Asian nations or multilateral cooperation in accordance with the "One Belt and One Road" initiative, to create a prosperous future.

(The author is an assistant research fellow of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and a visiting fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. Posted in: Viewpoint)


[नेपाल में चीन की बढ़ती हुई गतिविधियां तो सर्वज्ञात हैं ही लेकिन दक्षेस में घुसने की उसकी यह कोशिश बिल्कुल बेजा है चीन दक्षिणएशिया का अंग कभी रहा ही नहीं वह अफगानिस्तान से अपनी तुलना बिल्कुल  करे इतिहास में अफगानिस्तान भारत का और भारत अफगानिस्तान का अंग रहा है अभी तो बर्मा को दक्षेस का पूर्ण सदस्य बनाना ज्यादा जरुरी है चीन का पर्यवेक्षक का दर्जा ही काफी है ]

डॉ. वेदप्रताप वैदिक
त नोवेम्बर महीना मे दक्षेस का शिखर सम्मेलन नेपाल की राजधानी काठमांडो में सम्पन्न हुआ  जब पिछला सम्मेलन १२  साल पहले हुआ था, तब नेपाल की राजनीतिक दशा बहुत ही विषम थी राज-परिवार का नर-संहार हो गया था नए नरेश के विरुद्ध बगावत चल रही थी सत्तारुढ़ सरकारें अस्थिर थीं माओवादियों ने युद्ध छेड़ रखा था जैसे-तैसे वह सम्मेलन संपन्न हो गया लेकिन इस बार नेपाल अति सक्रिय हा  यह सम्मेलन काफी गाजे-बाजे के साथ हुआ  इसमें अफगानिस्तान की नई सरकार के नेता भी ए 

नेपाल की अति सक्रियता के दो उदाहरण हमारे सामने हैं पहला, भारत-पाक वार्ता कराने का प्रयत्न और दूसरा चीन को दक्षेस का सदस्य बनाने की कोशिश! जहां तक नरेंद्र मोदी और नवाज़ शरीफ की भेंट करवाने का प्रश्न है, नेपाल का उत्साह सराहनीय है लेकिन हमें यह नहीं भूलना चाहिए कि दोनों देशों के नेता अपनी-अपनी सरकार के अविवेक पर पछता रहे हैं हुर्रियत के बहाने विदेश सचिवों की वार्ता भंग करने वाली हमारी सरकार और कश्मीर पर अनाप-शनाप शोर मचाने वाली पाकिस्तानी सरकार को अब समझ में रहा है कि उन्होंने जो रास्ता पकड़ा है, वह उन्हें किसी अंधी सुरंग में ही ले जाएगा यदि नेपाल की मध्यस्थता से दोनों देशों में बात हो जाए तो दक्षिण एशिया की कूटनीति में नेपाल का कद ऊँचा हुए बिना नहीं रहेगा

लेकिन अपना कद ऊंचा करने की यह कवायद खतरनाक रुप भी धारण कर सकती है नेपाल चाहता है कि चीन भी दक्षेस का सदस्य बन जाए शिन्हुआ न्यूज़ एजेंसी के अखबारएशिया पेसिफिक डेली में दक्षेस सम्मेलन के अवसर पर १२  पृष्ठों का एक विशेषांक निकाला है, जिसमें नेपाल के वर्तमान और भूतपूर्व मंत्रियों ने चीन को दक्षेस का सदस्य बनाने की वकालत की है इसी अवसर पर चीन ने नेपाल को एक करोड़ युआन की मदद भी दी है नेपाल में चीन की बढ़ती हुई गतिविधियां तो सर्वज्ञात हैं ही लेकिन दक्षेस में घुसने की उसकी यह कोशिश बिल्कुल बेजा है चीन दक्षिण एशिया का अंग कभी रहा ही नहीं वह अफगानिस्तान से अपनी तुलना बिल्कुल करे इतिहास में अफगानिस्तान भारत का और भारत अफगानिस्तान का अंग रहा है अभी तो बर्मा को दक्षेस का पूर्ण सदस्य बनाना ज्यादा जरुरी है चीन का पर्यवेक्षक का दर्जा ही काफी है यदि चीन दक्षेस में घुस गया तो दक्षेस के गले में दोहरी फांस लग जाएगी अभी भारत-पाक फांस को खोलना मुश्किल हो रहा है फिर भारत-चीन फांस खोलने में ही सारा खेल खत्म हो जाएगा अतः नेपाल सक्रिय जरुर रहे लेकिन वह अतिवाद से बचे, यह उसके हित में भी है

(This article was received while South Asian leaders were in Kathmandu Summit. Posted here as it seemed relevant. - The Blogger)