China Dream

Barring unforeseen turbulence, Xi will remain China's top leader until 2022, when the 20th Congress of the CPC convenes. The 18th Congress had set the target of doubling China's per capita income by 2020. Last year, the per capita income in China stood at around US $5,000.

Border Disputes

As Xi relies on the Chinese nationalist spirit to boost the legitimacy and authority of the party, the betting is that Beijing will have even less political space for any significant concessions in its territorial disputes with its Asian neighbours, especially Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and India.

China's decision to put its map as the watermark in its passport pages has evoked strong reactions from its neighbours, who have reacted with their own measures. New rules announced last week by the island province of Hainan that promise tougher action against ships entering its waters in the South China Sea has added to these concerns.

Unlike the waters of East Asia, where China's territorial disputes have become much sharper in the last two years, the contested Himalayan frontier between Delhi and Beijing has been relatively tranquil. While the two sides continue to negotiate on the border dispute, the focus may inevitably turn towards advancing the bilateral relationship. A decade ago, India began the new round of boundary negotiations with the express objective of finding an early settlement.

Beijing, which seemed to accept that proposition then, has been suggesting for some time that the two sides should leave the difficult boundary issue to future generations and concentrate on the deepening of bilateral partnership.

Russia Returns

After prolonged marginalisation from the geopolitics of Southeast Asia, Russia seems determined to reclaim a role in the troubled waters of the South China Sea.

After the recent visit to Vietnam by Russia's prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, speculation is mounting that the Russian navy might return to Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay.

... contd.

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