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Friday, April 16, 2021

India’s further curbing ties with China: Here are 5 major ways

Are you planning to visit China for study, work or business in the post-Covid world? Well, if so, you should be aware of the major changes the Centre is bringing on the visa front. Following the ban on Chinese apps and curbing trade ties, this is another example of the Indian government stepping up the heat against China. And stricter visa rules are among the many latest changes to the traditional Indo-China ties.

The year of 2020 started with the Covid-19 pandemic. As if that wasn’t enough, India had to face the fury of its mighty neighbour, China, in the form of the Galwan Valley clash in eastern Ladakh in May. The Dragons’ aggression and death of 20 Indian soldiers in the clash led to several changes in the Indo-China bilateral relations. After banning Chinese apps and tweaking FDI rules to keep away Chinese investments, the Centre is now planning to tighten visa rules for Chinese businessmen, students and workers. In this article, we shall discuss all the aspects associated with this issue.

Here are the 5 ways India is further curbing its ties with China

1. Changes in the visa front

From now on, Chinese nationals will be issued visas only after security clearance is obtained, sources said in a report. As travel restrictions are being lifted gradually, countries are granting visas to students to continue their studies or research. India on the other hand, decided to scrutinise the visas awarded to people associated with Chinese think tanks — this move, the Centre claimed, was based on the interest of national security.

As per reports, the decision was taken after some suspicious activities were observed involving some individuals linked with Chinese agencies or think tanks. The Centre has reportedly asked its security and intelligence agencies to do background check of those who get sponsorships from various Chinese advocacy organizations and think tanks before the issuances of their visas. Indian intelligence agencies have alerted the Centre that China has set up various think tanks as part of its aggressive and extensive outreach programme. These initiatives have been taken with an aim to influence people in countries of strategic interest. These think tanks could be easily used to identify and recruit people for espionage, said a senior officer with an intelligence agency.

Many groups and organisations across the world, supported by China, sponsor visas for think tanks, policymakers, political parties, leaders, academics, corporates and research personnel. The agencies have prepared an extensive list of groups who are under scanner. The Centre has shared the list with the Ministry of External Affairs. From these, it is clearly evident that India is gearing up to beef up its internal security by restricting movements of people and goods between its own land and the Communist neighbour.

2. Cancellation of Chinese tenders

According to a report, in another move targeting China, the Indian Railways announced the cancellation of the tender for manufacturing 44 semi-high speed Vande Bharat Express trains. “Fresh tender will be floated within a week as per Revised Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) order,” the rail ministry tweeted. The tender, which was floated last month, had attracted only a Chinese joint venture called CRRC Pioneer Electric as the foreign player among six participants. The tender had called firms to bid for the supply of electrical equipment for 44 highspeed Vande Bharat express trains with 16 coaches each.

3. Reduced India, China educational ties

The Union education ministry is reviewing its ties with the Chinese universities, especially following the Covid-19 pandemic and the Galwan clashes. And as per reports, the agreements between Indian and Chinese institutes are likely to be reduced. “Over 50 MoUs signed between Chinese universities and prestigious Indian institutes like IITs, JNU, BHU and others are under the government scanner,” sources were quoted in a report.

India China relations
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets wounded soldiers of the Galwan valley clash in Ladakh. Photo: Twitter

4. India restricts China from oil trade

India’s major state-owned oil companies have stopped hiring Chinese tankers to ship their crude and petroleum products. This has happened after relations between the two countries got sour following the violent standoff at the LAC. Along with this, China-owned vessels have been barred from bidding on tenders too. This will surely have an impact on chartering tankers to import crude oil into India, or export petroleum products out of the country. India last month implemented regulations on business with nations sharing its border. The regulations are specially meant for China and Pakistan, though India didn’t mention the names of these two countries.

The state-run oil majors are also mooting to urge oil traders and suppliers not to send shipments to India using Chinese vessels, a report highlights. The report also states that India’s oil companies are not expecting a significant hit to trade.

5. A shift in the Indo-China nuclear relations

It is quite obvious that the previous coordination between the two neighbours won’t be intact anymore following the Ladakh clashes. According to an analysis, Indian security analysts are now giving serious attention to China’s nuclear plan and capabilities, though the Chinese analysts maintain a dismissive attitude about the importance of nuclear arms in China-India ties.

As the report indicates, the attitude stems from a widely held view that India’s native military technologies are pretty much behind China’s and that the Dragons will continue strengthening its own nuclear capabilities. “However, Chinese analysts do not appear to fully appreciate the long-term destabilizing implications of this growing gap. India may feel pressure to build out its nuclear arsenal, and this could further threaten the fragile stability between India and Pakistan. Chinese experts tend to underestimate the role Beijing may have in shaping New Delhi’s threat perception and nuclear strategy,” the report adds. China has already realised that hampering all its ties with India might be costly and hence it has spoken of support and cooperation.

Also, some Indian experts feel the Centre’s aggressive steps to restrict Chinese presence in the country could backfire as the number of Indians travelling to China is three times than the Chinese flow to India. “We should also take into consideration any counter measures from China,” BR Deepak, chairperson of Centre for Chinese and South Asian Studies at JNU, told The New Indian Express.

Now time will tell, whether New Delhi and Beijing can work on their strained bilateral relationship and reach a peaceful platform. If they don’t, it might call further danger for not only Asia but the rest of the world.

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