New India-China conduit?
Today I am going to tell you a story. The story is about a lady named Dana Schubert – of German birth settled in what is now the “new land of opportunities” – China. Dana has an impressive scholastic bio-data. She has a PhD in Human Sciences and Economic Sciences from the University of Bonn, Germany.
She now runs an organisation called Strategic European Investment Management Ltd that has its office within a 10-kilometre radius of Zhongnanhai, the compound housing all the Chinese political elites beginning with Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, the dual power centres of the Chinese State.
If you search her name on the web, you will find a rather low-key profile on the Bloomberg website, where the only things mentioned are bare bones of business details. But if you search her name on Baidu, the Chinese search engine, you will find a little more.
That states, “Dr. Dana Schubert, Central Europe Investment Management Ltd. President and CEO, long active in China and India, is committed to the development of Europe and China, Europe and India Senior strategic bilateral relations.
Dr. Dana Schubert has nearly 25 years of professional experience in the government and enterprise development strategies and planning, corporate restructuring, human resources, economics and has held several seminars and government-level meetings.
She has long served as a private consultant in multinational companies and family business strategy consultant and manager, in investment advisory business, and decided to settle in China and “married” China in 1998. Dr. Schubert in Beijing founded her own investment banking company - Central Europe Investment Management Ltd. and became its president and CEO.
Dr. Dana Schubert of Germany and France mestizo descent, has a Masters’ degree from University of Paris, a PhD in Human Sciences and Economic Sciences from University of Bonn, Germany. The interesting part is in the first paragraph of her Chinese profile that states that she works on the “bilateral relations” between India and Europe. Now, the information floating around the bazaars of Delhi is that she finds dabbling with Sino-Indian relations more profitable than Indo-European or Sino-European relations.
An unofficial figure being bandied about amongst the strategic community in this part of the Suez, that research and development business of Sino-Indian relations is worth $48 billion. She naturally does not want to catch the tail-end of that kind funding but catch the headwinds.
The bazaar gossip further says that about six to eight months ago when she visited India and was staying at the Taj Palace hotel in Chankyapuri, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited her. Now, at this juncture, it must be said that she cut her teeth in “facilitating” Indian business (incubating, if you prefer!) into China with the Tata’s Taj group setting up hotels in China in 2013.
But what is more important in that narrative is that after PM Modi left her suite, a couple of the Shankaracharyas were presented. Reason: she apparently runs something called the “21st Century China India Centre for Culture and Communication.”
While if you believe in all this, you may note that there is a civilisational dialogue that has begun between the two countries. Xi Jinping began his first visit to India in 2014 from Varanasi. And as if as a diplomatic return, Modi was invited to begin his visit to China from Xian – the famous city where the Qin dynasty’s terracotta soldiers get the attention of millions of visitors worldwide.
Amidst all this is Madame Dana, like a Teutonic princess who sinifised herself so much that she can deal a few cards for profitability. Now the question to ask is how valuable she is to Sino-Indian relationship. Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had used the used the offices of one RK Mishra to open doors to Lahore. There was the Kargil conflict after that.
Narendra Modi is using the offices of Madame Dana for opening the gates of the Forbidden City with five kilometers is her office, but hundreds of miles away from the Zhongnanhai compound where the actual business of Chinese national power is undertaken. So we have the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group fiasco. Is that the sign of the naivete of the Indian diplomacy?
My friend Justin Fong wrote from Beijing in response to an email about her: “My best bet is that she is a consultant-for-hire that (sic!) leverages the contacts she makes to try and broker “cooperation”, “deals”, “meetings” for the contacts that she makes. It is likely she isn’t always paid for her activities but uses them as advertising and leverage at times to garner name recognition to keep potential opportunities for business contacts and opportunities.
I’m sure she has met people along the way and somehow seems to play her European identity and sometimes some Indian associations. I would doubt that she is seriously relied upon by the Chinese for Sino-Indian relations - though she may utilise contacts on both sides for middle and low-level quasi-business meetings and opportunities.”
Incidentally, Der Spegiel and Frankfurter Zeitung Alegmaine, correspondents in Beijing are not yet aware of her. Is it that they don’t need to know?
(The author is a senior journalist. Views expressed are strictly personal.)