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Straight from the Specialists

Chinese general warns India even as Antony visits Beijing

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

India’s Defence Minister A. K. Antony is in Beijing on an official visit and a provocative curtain-raiser was provided by a retired major general of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who cautioned India not to “provoke new problems and increase military deployments at the border area and stir up new trouble.”

Predictably, this statement by Major General Luo Yuan, who is associated with the PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences, hit the headlines in both countries. Luo is no stranger to such controversy and has in the past made shrill and hostile remarks to local media and in Chinese cyberspace about Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. One assertion – since denied – was that China should bomb Tokyo if Japan stepped out of line in relation to the long-standing island dispute between the two East Asian neighbours.

Luo is among a handful of former PLA personnel who have been taking an extremely hardline stand and advocate Chinese military assertiveness to deal with complex territorial disputes that the political leadership in Beijing is trying to address through political dialogue. The  question that engages China watchers in the region and globally is the degree to which such views are reflective of the tension between hardliners and moderates in the  Chinese political  leadership – and among the opaque strategic community that is grappling with many such issues under the veil of authoritarian secrecy.

Luo’s remarks are in sharp contrast to the more official position echoed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting in Brunei this week said his discussion with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid had been cordial:

Word and deed must match in Xi Jinping’s Boao speech

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s maiden speech at the Boao forum is to be welcomed – but cautiously. The vision he has outlined of harmonious co-operation and co-existence among members of the global community has echoes of the 1954 Sino-Indian panchsheel (five principles of peaceful coexistence) agreement. History reminds us that the two Asian giants engaged in a brief border war in October 1962.

Low-key outcome as Singh meets Xi on BRICS sidelines

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The BRICS summit in Durban last week, which brought the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa together, is best recalled for the rich visual imagery that Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked. Putin suggested that the five countries were like the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. Notwithstanding the normative vision for the developing world that was outlined by the leaders, the subtext is a logical extension of this animal metaphor.

Xi Jinping at the helm in Beijing, responsibility looms large

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The carefully orchestrated and much awaited leadership transition in Beijing was formally concluded on Thursday with the elevation of Xi Jinping as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China.

Bashing China won’t fix U.S. economy

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Both ends of the political spectrum seem to be competing to be tougher on China economic issues. They’re both wrong.

Can BRICS evolve into a power bloc?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The fourth BRICS meeting held in New Delhi on March 29 did not end with mere rhetoric; it agreed to some substantive mutual arrangements that would promote common interests.

The rare earths distraction

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The U.S., EU and Japan are suing China in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), calling Chinese export quotas on rare earth elements an illegal trade practice.

China’s rise and India’s obvious partner (the U.S.)

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The release last week of an Indian think tank report entitled “Non-Alignment 2.0: A Foreign and Strategic Policy for India in the 21st Century” has prompted robust discussion about Indian foreign policy in the age of a rising China.

China defence spending rises as U.S. budget declines

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

As China prepares for the final plenum of the 17th Party Congress, it has announced that the new defence budget would amount to 670 billion RMB (approximately $106 billion), which equates to a 11.2 percent increase. This is in sharp contrast to the United States, which, despite a so-called “pivot to Asia,” is busily reducing its defence budget.

Market reform in China: Should we believe it?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The first step in solving a problem is admitting it. For years, the Chinese government and their defenders overseas insisted first that China was still reforming, then that state-led economic development was superior to market-led development. Evidence to the contrary came as news to many.

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