Monday, January 27, 2020

Will China solve the long-standing Kashmir issue?

By Jaiya Lalla, Global Classrooms DC Deputy Manager

As the United States falls into a period of isolation, the international system requires another actor to fill its space, and right now, the obvious answer is China. As tensions rise in South Asia, India and Pakistan need a global mediator to quell the conflict before the conflict escalates into nuclear war.

China has a long-standing involvement in the region that dates back to the 2nd century B.C. through trading on the Silk Road. However, once the British Raj partitioned the region into separate states, China’s relationship with India and Pakistan ebbed and flowed based on U.S. involvement in the region. Considering diminishing Western influence in the region, China has begun to warm up to both nations, opening up the idea that China could be an essential actor in solving the Kashmir crisis.
Historically, China sided with Pakistan’s claims to Kashmir because of tensions with India over Tibet. Yet, as the United States began warming up to India in its resolve to spread global capitalism, China declared neutrality on the issue to maintain its interests in both states. Considering India’s current aggressions in Kashmir, China has again sided with Pakistan, declaring support for Pakistan’s “legitimate rights and interests.”[i]

However, despite supporting Pakistan, China still maintains their ties with India. During the G-20 summit in Summer of 2019, before the decision to revoke Article 370 was announced, Prime Minister Modi held a trilateral meeting with Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. At this time, the Belt and Road Initiative was starting to gain steam in Eurasia, and India wanted to get involved. The initiative and who is involved is still progressing today. Prime Minister Modi claims that India, China, and Russia are “laying the groundwork for [an] equal and indivisible security architecture in Eurasia.”[ii]

Despite condemning India’s declaration of Jammu and Kashmir as Union Territories, China seems to remain committed to an improved economic relationship with India. A few months after criticizing Modi’s action, Xi Jinping traveled to India to discuss their future economic and trade ties.[iii] Against a background of never-ending border skirmishes, this new cooperation could represent a further turn for the Sino-Indian relationship. Considering the new deepening ties and China’s historical relationship with Pakistan, could China finally solve the Kashmir issue?

Since India revoked Article 370, China has repeatedly called upon India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve the issue without immediately getting involved.[iv] The United States, namely President Trump, has also offered to help solve the dispute. However, with the aftermath of the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, India is committed to limiting foreign intervention in the Kashmir issue, and the United States has essentially been forced to back down.[v] Nevertheless, Kashmir will continue to be on China’s radar. Considering their physical proximity to the region, an escalation of the Kashmir conflict would implicate China’s southern border, especially if India and Pakistan begin to employ nuclear weapons. Furthermore, China pursuing economic relationships with both states shows that they still have vested interests in the region.

However, unless China is willing to completely mobilize support behind Pakistan (unlikely, seeing that attention towards CPEC has subsided, and China is preoccupied with other issues), they will most likely only get involved if the conflict erupts into war. A war between India and Pakistan not only implicates China’s national security and economic interests but also their territorial claims to parts of Kashmir. Yet, it would not be unlike China to hold Kashmir as leverage, especially as it negotiates economic and trade issues with India.[vi]

At the same time, India’s aggressive nature is not without its disadvantages for its relationship with China. If war breaks out, they have the most to lose. China will most likely side with Pakistan, risking India’s attempts at stabilizing their trade imbalance with China. Internationally, conflict with China endangers India’s competing sphere of influence in Sri Lanka and Nepal. Finally, India jeopardizes losing more of Kashmir to China as it did in 1962. Although the Modi government will continue to pursue its Hindu nationalist objectives across the region, they must strategically avoid agitating China.






[i] Ankit Panda, “China Issues Statement Condemning Indian Decision to Bifurcate Kashmir,” The Diplomat, August 7, 2019, https://thediplomat.com/2019/08/china-issues-statement-condemning-indian-decision-to-bifurcate-kashmir/.; Keegan Elmer, “China says it will support Pakistan ‘upholding its rights’ in Kashmir row with India,” South China Morning Post, August 10, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3022254/china-says-it-will-support-pakistan-upholding-its-rights.
[ii] Andrey Panevin, “Osaka G20: The Important Meeting Most Media Missed,” The Diplomat, July 2, 2019, https://thediplomat.com/2019/07/osaka-g20-the-important-meeting-most-media-missed/.
[iii] “The Leaders of Asia’s Two Rising Powers Meet in Chennai: Does It Amount to a Reboot?” Rising Power Initiative – Sigur Center for Asian Studies, October 17, 2019, https://t.e2ma.net/message/cydl8c/ozin6zc
[v] Sumit Ganguly, “The United States Can’t Solve the Kashmir Dispute,” Foreign Affairs, July 30, 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/india/2019-07-30/united-states-cant-solve-kashmir-dispute.
[vi] Kunal Purohit, “How far will China go to support Pakistan’s position on Kashmir?”, DW, August 12, 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/how-far-will-china-go-to-support-pakistans-position-on-kashmir/a-49993550.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Why MUN Matters - Finding Victories Within Failures

By Nayana Celine Xavier, Global Classrooms DC Youth Intern for 2019-2020

Growing up, there was nothing I wanted to do more than sing. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with vocal cords that could produce the melodies I yearned for. Instead, my vocal cords were used to deliver speeches. I started public speaking at a young age and participated in local competitions.

Although I dreamed of standing under the spotlight and belting out songs, I soon realized that I could still be under the spotlight, but through different circumstances. When I entered middle school, I was all set to be part of my school’s debate team. We had debate team tryouts, and the first part of the selection process required a written persuasive essay on a given topic. I meticulously worked on my essay for weeks, editing and rewriting it. I was proud of my work. If my essay didn’t make it, I didn’t know what would!

The day results were announced, my shaky fingers opened up the email. To my surprise and confusion, I did not make the first cut. My heart dropped, and I felt every ounce of confidence in myself wither away. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t make the team! Up until that time, I had never truly experienced failure, and I hated the cold blanket of dread that surrounded me and supplanted my usual cheerful demeanor.

As I sat in anger and on the verge of tears, my friend consoled me and told me it wasn’t a big deal. She said that she was going to try out for Model UN, and that I should as well. It was during that moment of despair that I first heard the words “Model United Nations”.

Something about those words ignited a spark in me, a spark that had been let out by failure in not making the debate team. I decided to avenge my failures and tryout for the MUN team. Unbeknownst to me, as one door closed, a million others had opened. I tried out for MUN and I made it.

Fast forward to my first MUN conference, I strode into committee confidently, expecting to be the best in the room. I thought my past public speaking experiences would give me an upper hand in committee. I had never been so wrong. I was surrounded by incredible delegates that were able to deliver compelling speeches and propose well-rounded solutions. I was awe of those amazing delegates, and I realized I had greatly overestimated my abilities. That day, I learned about the power of humility. No matter how great I think I am, there will always be another person who is smarter, more experienced, and better at MUN. But I can strive to learn from that delegate and work to be the best delegate, person, and leader I possibly can.

The willingness and ability to accept and learn from others and one’s own mistakes is what pushes us forward. It is what separates a good delegate from the best delegate. Model United Nations has been an integral part of my education and teenage years, making me more aware and connected to a myriad of issues that face our world today.

After participating in a UNEP committee with the topic of discussion on electronic waste (e-waste), I realized that my community was not aware of the environmentally sound management of e- waste. I set up an e-waste drive and received an overwhelming response. Not only was my community able to properly dispose of their electronic waste, but they also became better informed on the issue and became aware of local e-waste disposal facilities.

My participation in one MUN conference resonated greater change in my community, and in myself. Awareness is the first step in addressing any issue, no matter how big or small it may be. MUN makes you aware, and it equips you with the knowledge to take action. MUN has also taught me how to effectively work with others. Several times during committee, you are met with backlash and little support for your solutions. It can be frustrating to have your work be completely disregarded. But you succeed when you’re able to direct that frustration into progress. Compromise is paramount in solving any problem, whether that be in MUN or in life. It requires us to see beyond our personal pursuits and work for a greater goal.

Most of all, MUN has shown me the path of perseverance. Every working paper that failed, every block that dismantled, and every award that was passed over has made me stronger. We have an incredible will, and the obstacles in our path serve to remind us of this will. I have learned to never give up and try till the very last second, for there is always a chance of success.

MUN has opened my eyes to the world, to others, and to myself. Model United Nations has forever changed my life. It transformed me as an individual, leading me to find victories within my greatest failures.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Celebrating International Education Day 2020

by Sara Smith, GCDC Program Assistant

The United Nations General Assembly established January 24th as International Education Day to bring awareness to the profound impact of education. Many people realize that education is important, but when I asked a group of peers why it is meaningful to them, the responses were limited to personal benefits, such as personal growth and career advancements. These responses do not seem to appreciate the immense benefits education has on not only the individual but also the society, planet, and prosperity. That sentiment is reflected in this year’s International Day of Education, as it brings attention to this important issue by announcing the theme as ‘Learning for people, planet, prosperity, and peace.’ While education provides us opportunities to advance personally, it also allows us to design the world we live in.

Through education, you gain knowledge by learning to store, interpret, and apply information. The acquired knowledge enlightens our perspectives and influences our individual opinions and beliefs, weighing in on our character and actions. On an individual level, education is a tool for self-discovery and self-improvement. The more knowledge a person has, the more skills and insight they will be able to provide. In a job market with an emphasis on known skills, quality education can offer benefits to an individual’s career path. 

Further education allows the individual to progress in their career, yielding more financial and economic benefits. Having educated individuals in the workforce benefits everyone in society. Education gives people opportunities and resources to participate fully in society. With a plethora of knowledge, comes the progress and enrichment for everyone.

For these reasons, education plays a vital role in sustainable development. The United Nations set 17 sustainable development goals to be reached by 2030. Each goal is interconnected and rooted in education. 

For example, the first goal is to eliminate poverty. The UN’s Global Education First Initiative conducted a study that showed if people who are burdened by poverty had access to education and gained basic literacy skills, 171 million people could no longer live in poverty. The second goal is zero hunger. If people were knowledgeable about fundamental nutritional values, could hunger be eradicated? Over 800 million people are undernourished. Results from this same study showed that if mothers received secondary education, 12 million children could avoid stunting issues. This leads to the third goal of good health and well-being. If people were educated on common signs and symptoms, would they be able to realize illnesses before it was too late? If individuals in a poverty-stricken society had access to a medical book, could that change the medical issues in that community? 

Research shows that secondary education could lead to 49% fewer child deaths. For the rest of the SDGs, I continued to see links between the goals and education. Education allows humanity the opportunity to reach these sustainable development goals by being our most valuable and renewable resource for future progress.