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From visas to youth exchanges, govt weighs options to limit China’s soft power in India.

Date: 06-08-2020
Subject: From visas to youth exchanges, govt weighs options to limit China’s soft power in India
NEW DELHI: The government’s China Study Group is considering recommending a series of punitive measures to limit Beijing’s soft power in India, following the People's Liberation Army’s (PLA) intransigence on expediting disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The group met twice recently, including on Tuesday.

From limiting visas to minimising youth exchanges and clamping down on the Chinese-funded Confucius Institutes, a series of measures is being weighed by the government. These proposals are understood to have been discussed at the China Study Group meetings led by national security advisor A K Doval.

In 2018, the then foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and the visiting Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, had agreed on “ten pillars” of cooperation to enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges. These included cultural exchange, cooperation in films and television, museum administration and sports, exchanges between youths, cooperation in tourism, exchanges between states and cities, cooperation in traditional medicine, yoga and education.

At the maiden informal summit in April 2018, the two sides had set up “high-level mechanism on cultural and people-to-people exchanges”. Swaraj and Wang held dialogue under this format in December 2018.

While inflow of Chinese tourists to India is low as compared to Indians visiting China, the visas of Chinese nationals, including those who worked in various Chinese business enterprises here, have not been renewed following their return to Beijing amid Covid-19 outbreak, ET has further learnt.

Chinese language has been removed from the curriculum of Indian schools and the status of Confucius Institutes, which was on the radar for the last few years, is being reviewed. The institute, which was to be set up in JNU, never took shape following an adverse report against visiting Chinese nationals by the security establishment. The institute functions in Bombay University in collaboration with a study centre . But this has also come under scanner, sources hinted.

“The government could consider several counter measures to limit Chinese footprints and presence in India, both in areas of hard and soft power,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, one of India's leading experts on China.

In the Vellore Institute of Technology, the Confucius Institute had once upon a time enrolled 200 Chinese students but the numbers had started dwindling following suspicion of subversive activities, ET has learnt. In West Bengal, the Confucius Institute has chapters in two universities and are run with the support of the Chinese consulate in Kolkata. Two private universities in NCR have also housed such institutes, ET has learnt.

As a punitive measure, India has so far banned 59 Chinese apps, including the popular TikTok video sharing service, imposed embargoes on imports of Chinese colour televisions and restricted Chinese investments in critical sectors. Delhi is considering additional measures to mount pressure on China to withdraw, even as it negotiates with Beijing disengagement along the LAC.

China is unwilling to restore the status quo ante. While there has been some disengagement in the Galwan Valley and Hot Springs area, Pangong Tso remains a challenge for India.

Source:- economictimes.indiatimes.com

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