A seminar with China under the lens

April 26, 2017

With recent developments in the Indo-Pacific Region (South China Sea) and the Indian Ocean Region having the potential to change regional and global dimensions of the existing geo-political, economic and strategic contours, the Press Institute of India in association with the Chennai Centre for China Studies conducted a seminar on April 20-21 at PII for journalists, journalism students and researchers, to try and analyse ongoing developments in relation to China, India and their neighbours and provide a better understanding of the picture.

Commodore R. Seshadri Vasan (Indian Navy, Retd), director, Chennai Centre for China Studies, head, Strategy and Security Studies, Centre for Asia Studies (CAS), and regional director, National Maritime Foundation, Chennai Chapter, set the ball rolling with a broad sweep of the political and geo-political complexities in the region.

In his keynote address, Nitin Gokhale, national security analyst, media trainer, founder, BharatShakti.in, and former Security and Strategic Affairs Editor, NDTV, spoke about how the centre of gravity of the world has shifted to the Asia Pacific. From a bit player in South-East Asia, India now has an important role in the region, he said, adding that the rise of the PLA Navy is the story of the decade, and as China ventures into the Indian Ocean Region, strengthening the Indian Navy has become a priority. Language is a barrier to Indian media personnel, Gokhale pointed out. “It hampers good reportage. Our people should make an effort to learn Mandarin.”

Pratap Heblikar, director, Asia Dialogue Society, Singapore, and former special secretary, Government of India, dwelt on the dynamics of security issues in the neighbourhood. C. Joshua Thomas, deputy director, Indian Council of Social Science Research, North Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong, spoke about the developments in ASEAN-China relations and their implications for regional stability.

Colonel Hariharan, VSM, retired officer of Intelligence Corps, India, and member, Chennai Centre for China Studies, made a presentation on the challenges in the East China Sea and South China Sea from an Indian perspective. India in Chinese Media’s Eyes – Illuminating the Picture, was the subject of Asma Masood’s talk. She is a research officer with the Chennai Centre for China Studies.

Sanjay Pulipaka, fellow and consultant, Strategic Studies Chair, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, New Delhi, brought a lot of perspective to his presentation focused on China in the Indian Ocean Region, with specific reference to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the One Belt One Road initiative and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar corridor.

Jacob A. Bonofer, assistant professor, Department of Political Science, Madras Christian College, and research fellow at the Centre for Asia Studies, supplemented that with his take on the challenges in India’s immediate maritime neighbourhood.

Sashi Nair, director, Press Institute of India, coordinated the proceedings.