Juggling US and China: Modi to visit Beijing

In a delicate diplomatic waltz, after rolling out the red carpet for US President Barack Obama, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit China by May, underlining the new Indian leader’s foreign policy of multi-alignment, which entails forging closer ties with the world’s leading power centres.
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is currently on a three-day trip to China, has told Indian journalists in Beijing that Mr Modi will visit China before the end of his first year in office. Government sources indicated that the visit is expected around April-early May.

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Reappraising Relations with China: From Strategic Ambiguity to Recognising Mutual Interests

As global economic and strategic concerns shift to Asia, Chinese analysis of global trends has resulted in a strategic shift in China’s approaches to foreign and security policy. This is, for instance, reflected both in the call for a ‘new type of major power relationship’ with the United States as well as in the new outreach initiatives towards Asian countries. Beijing has been among the first to reach out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and our relations with China should not respond merely to its re-emergence but also engage with it in shaping the future regional and global orders.

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Breakthrough Diplomacy@India: What to expect in 2015

Diplomacy is the art of the possible. If successful and effective diplomacy is about reigniting the spark in old relationships, winning new friends, breaking new grounds, and shaping the outcomes in the international arena to promote the country’s enlightened national interests and development, then the seven-month old Narendra Modi government scores high as it builds on the successes of 2014 and looks ahead to 2015 with “new vision and new vigour.” Breakthrough Diplomacy, as India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj writes in a prologue to the eponymous e-book published by India’s Ministry of External Affairs, is about melding ‘Diplomacy for Development’ as the overarching themes in India’s global engagements.
“2014 has truly been a Year of Breakthrough Diplomacy. India’s star is today shining ever brighter on the global firmament,” writes Swaraj.
Talking of breakthrough diplomacy, it’s time to unscramble the jargon and introduce some balance in diplomatic discourse and the unfolding possibilities in the coming months. For one thing, breakthroughs don’t happen every day or every year in diplomacy; the India-US nuclear deal was a breakthrough, but getting Obama to be the chief guest at the 2015 Republic Day celebrations is a diplomatic triumph, but not a breakthrough. To claim routine diplomatic successes as breakthroughs, therefore, would be misleading, and lowering the bar. For another thing, diplomatic breakthroughs presuppose a perceptible and substantive rise in a country’s comprehensive national power, economic and military strength as well as soft power.

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Is China’s dealings with the world set to change?

Change seems to be afoot in China’s dealings with the world. At a major conference on foreign affairs in Beijing on November 28-29, President Xi Jinping called on his colleagues to create a “more enabling environment” for China’s development. Xi’s remarks are nuanced and balanced and seek to distance China from its brash and assertive posture which has generated considerable unease in the regions neighbouring China.
At another level, China is signalling that it is a big power and wants to be seen in a more benign light as one, rather than being feared and distrusted , as it is at present.
At a third level, it also reflects a Chinese understanding that despite its impressive capabilities, it is still a relatively passive power as is evident from the Chinese absence in dealing with any of the serious global crises like Ukraine, Syria or Afghanistan.

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