China-India relations, 2000 onwards
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Jeff Smith/ Foreign Policy: India’s China policy
New Delhi has been poking at Beijing's One-China Policy for years without wrecking the relationship
In an era when global powers are shunning both Taiwanese and Tibetan leaders (like the Dalai Lama) under the weight of Chinese pressure, one country has been openly challenging Beijing’s One-China policy for more than six years: India.
Like many of China’s neighbors, in the late 2000s India was still adjusting to the more assertive and nationalistic brand of Chinese foreign policy that emerged in 2008, when Beijing’s leaders interpreted the global financial crisis as symbolic of a great power shift from a declining West to an ascendant China. Bilateral ties were repeatedly tested by friction over Chinese incursions into India across their disputed border, Beijing’s efforts to block U.N. sanctions on Pakistan-based terrorists, and visits by the Indian prime minister and the Dalai Lama to the state of Arunachal Pradesh, most of which is claimed by China as “South Tibet,” among others.
One Chinese provocation cut deeper than the rest. In 2010, Beijing denied a visa to Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal on account of his posting as the head of India’s military command in Kashmir, the long-disputed territory claimed by China’s “all-weather friend” Pakistan. China had been employing consular chicanery with India for years — stapling separate, unique visas to Indian residents of Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as an informal challenge to Indian sovereignty there — but the denial of a visa to Jaswal struck a nerve.
New Delhi’s reaction was uncharacteristically swift and punitive, suspending all forms of bilateral military ties and joint exercises. When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited New Delhi in December 2010, for the first time India refused to acknowledge the One-China policy in a joint statement with China. Beijing, New Delhi signaled, would have to recognize Indian sovereignty over Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh if it wanted India’s consent on the One-China policy. “The ball is in their court. There is no doubt about that,” explained Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao at the time.
Joint statements in the years to follow continued to omit the One-China policy, a position adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he assumed office in 2014. “For India to agree on a one-China policy, China should reaffirm a one-India policy,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj declared before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first trip to New Delhi in September 2014. “When they raised the issue of Tibet and Taiwan with us, we shared their sensitivities.… They should understand and appreciate our sensitivities regarding Arunachal Pradesh.”
China relented on the visa question two years after Wen’s visit, and military ties were restored shortly thereafter. More important, six years after India’s change of heart on One-China policy, it has suffered no discernable political or economic backlash that can be tied to the policy shift.
To be sure, India’s denial of the One-China policy is less emotionally and politically contentious for China than any shift in American posture toward Taiwan. In the context of China-India relations, the One-China policy mostly relates to Tibet and, to a lesser extent, their long-standing border dispute, in which more than 30,000 square miles of Indian territory is still claimed by Beijing.
In 1947, the Republic of India inherited from the British Raj an unsettled border with China and a series of special trading privileges with Tibet, including the right to station escort troops at specified trading posts. Ever since China “peacefully liberated” Tibet in 1950, it has been critical of Indian intentions on the plateau and sensitive to Indian interference there. That anxiety was amplified after the Dalai Lama fled a Chinese crackdown in 1959 and sought refuge in India, later establishing a Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala. After China and India fought a monthlong war across their disputed border in 1962, Chinese leaders argued that the “center of the Sino-Indian conflict” was not the border dispute but a “conflict of interests in Tibet.”
It’s notable, then, that beyond its broad refusal to endorse the One-China policy, New Delhi has given no indication that it plans to walk back its repeated reaffirmations of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet (much less Taiwan). On the other hand, Prime Minister Modi has adopted several initiatives short of that threshold to signal a more defiant posture on Tibet and the border dispute. Early in his tenure, for instance, Modi fast-tracked military and civilian infrastructure upgrades along the disputed Sino-Indian border, where Beijing has enjoyed a large and widening advantage.
More recently, New Delhi granted the Dalai Lama permission to visit Arunachal Pradesh in early 2017, a move that has drawn Chinese ire in the past. Perhaps most surprising, this past October New Delhi granted U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma access to the sensitive, Chinese-claimed town of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, another first. And just last week Indian President Pranab Mukherjee hosted the Dalai Lama at India’s Presidential Palace, blithely dismissing Beijing’s protesting diplomatic note. In a rare move, it even offered to help Mongolia weather trade sanctions recently imposed by Beijing as punishment for Mongolia’s hosting of the Dalai Lama in November. None of this has resulted in any direct punitive response from Beijing.
It’s not just Tibet, either. Since the visa denial incident in 2010, India has witnessed a marked acceleration in its outreach to Taiwan, including hosting several Taiwanese government ministers in 2011; signing new agreements on double taxation avoidance, cultural cooperation, and mutual degree recognition; permitting a former Taiwanese president and vice president transit layovers in 2012 and 2014, respectively; and inviting a former Taiwanese official to address two high-profile international conferences this year. These moves have yet to draw any sharp response from the mainland.
What does India’s approach to the One-China policy tell us about the Trump-Tsai phone call? Namely, that questioning the sanctity of the One-China policy is not necessarily a “death sentence” with Beijing, especially when the challenges are indirect and inexplicit. To date, China’s muted response to the phone call supports that assessment.
To Beijing’s mandarins, Modi represents an unfamiliar commodity: a confident, assertive, nationalist Indian leader with a surplus of political capital. The same is even truer for Trump, who, for China, remains shrouded in a cloak of uncertainty and unpredictability. China’s leadership isn’t nearly as confident that it can predict Trump’s response to each move on the regional chessboard, compared with Barack Obama’s more calculable style, and is naturally inclined to proceed cautiously. After years of testing the “red lines” of its neighbors and Washington as well, Beijing is not nearly as comfortable being on the receiving end.
As a party to more than a dozen meetings in Beijing and Washington with China’s current Taiwan affairs minister, Zhang Zhijun, and to numerous exchanges on Taiwan with some of China’s senior-most diplomats, I find it difficult to overstate the intensity and seriousness Beijing devotes to Taiwan and its status. It is far more sensitive to changes in America’s posture on One-China policy than India, partly because China has never felt particularly threatened by Indian power, and partly because its leadership has more directly linked its legitimacy to the reunification of Taiwan than to any issue related to Tibet.
Defence capabilities, India vis-à-vis China, 2015
India vis-à-vis China, a comparison of defence capabilities, as in 2015
The military strengths of China and India in 2015
A comparison of the economies of China and India on selected developmental parameters, as in Jan 2016
“One Belt One Road”
The Hindu, February 2, 2016
Samir Saran and Ritika Passi
China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ could potentially allow India a new track on its own attempt to integrate South Asia.
The central feature of much of the post-World War II American external engagement has been the security of its energy interests. Likewise, recent conversations with Chinese scholars, Communist Party of China members and officials indicate that the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative of Xi Jinping’s government is likely to become the lynchpin of Chinese engagement with the world. If, to understand American foreign policy of the years past, many have ‘followed the oil’, to decipher Chinese interests going forward, we may just have to ride the Belt and the Road.
At the third edition of the India-China Think-Tank Dialogue in Beijing, hosted in January 2016, a cross-section of Chinese scholars and officials discussed India-China relations and prospects for regional cooperation. The conversation cursorily engaged with the usual tensions in the bilateral relationship; instead, the centrepiece of all discussion was the OBOR initiative.
A Mandarin tale
Some facets of the new formulations that are giving shape to Beijing’s vision for OBOR and Asia could be discerned at this recent interaction.
The first was the novel idea of ‘entity diplomacy’. This construction argues for engaging within and across regions to secure the best interests of an entity that is necessarily larger and with interests broader than those of any sovereign. This follows from the argument of a revival of ‘continentalism’ as the Eurasian landmass deepens linkages and ‘Asia’ emerges. OBOR segues perfectly into this framework. It becomes, for the Chinese, an Asian undertaking that needs to be evaluated on the gains it accrues to the entity, i.e. Asia, as opposed to China alone. It therefore follows, from Beijing’s perspective, that Indian and other Asian nations must support and work for the OBOR initiative.
Entity diplomacy also translates into the establishment of “one economic continent”, the second theme undergirding the conversation. OBOR, then, becomes a vehicle that promotes alignment of infrastructure, trade and economic strategies. Indeed, for some Chinese speakers, India is already part of the initiative, as its own projects like Project Mausam and economic initiatives such as Make in India and Digital India complement and complete OBOR. Indian participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and joint ownership of the New Development Bank only reaffirm India’s partnership in this Asian project for many in Beijing.
To counter popular allegations of OBOR being a “Chinese scheme”, à la the U.S. Marshall Plan, the Chinese were quick to clarify that the original project is named the Belt and Road Initiative; the ‘One’ has been an English effect that has popularised a mien of exclusivity around OBOR, to the primary advantage of China, instead of an inclusive Asian economic project.
The third formulation was that of a mutually beneficial ‘swap’ — India protecting Chinese interests in the Indian Ocean, and China securing India’s essential undertakings in their part of the waters, read the South and East China Seas. However, there was unambiguous clarity that if India cannot assume more responsibility in the Indian Ocean, China will step in.
Structural challenges confront the Chinese formulations and the OBOR proposal. First, the perception, process and implementation to date do not inspire trust in OBOR as a participatory and collaborative venture. The unilateral ideation and declaration — and the simultaneous lack of transparency — further weaken any sincerity towards an Asian entity and economic unity. The Chinese participants explained that Beijing is committed to pursuing wide-ranging consultations with the 60-plus nations OBOR implicates; an ‘OBOR Think Tank’ is also being established to engage scholars from these countries.
The second poser for the Chinese is on Beijing’s appetite for committing its political capital to the project. While for obvious reasons the Chinese would not want to be seen as projecting their military and political presence along OBOR, it was clear that China is willing to underwrite security through a collaborative framework.
The third challenge deals with the success of the ‘whole’ scheme, given that the Chinese vision document lays out five layers of connectivity: policy, physical, economic, financial and human. While no developing country will turn away infrastructure development opportunities financed by the Chinese, they may not necessarily welcome a rules regime built on a Chinese ethos.
Finally, how can this initiative navigate the irreconcilable geometries of South Asia that prevent India from providing full backing to OBOR? A formal nod to the project will serve as a de-facto legitimisation to Pakistan’s rights on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that is “closely related” to OBOR.
Options for India
Fundamentally, New Delhi needs to resolve for itself whether OBOR represents a threat or an opportunity. The answer undoubtedly ticks both boxes. Chinese political expansion and economic ambitions, packaged as OBOR, are two sides of the same coin. To be firm while responding to one facet, while making use of the opportunities that become available from the other, will largely depend on the institutional agency and strategic imagination India is able to bring to the table.
First and foremost, India needs to match ambition with commensurate augmentation of its capacities that allows it to be a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region. This will require New Delhi to not only overcome its chronic inability to take speedy decisions with respect to defence partnerships and procurement, but will also necessitate a sustained period of predictable economic growth; OBOR can assist in the latter.
Therefore, just as U.S. trade and economic architecture underwrote the rise of China, Chinese railways, highways, ports and other capacities can serve as catalysts and platforms for sustained Indian double-digit growth. Simultaneously, India can focus on developing last-mile connectivity in its own backyard linking to the OBOR — the slip roads to the highways, the sidetracks to the Iron Silk Roads.
Arguably, OBOR offers India another political opportunity. There seems to be a degree of Chinese eagerness to solicit Indian partnership. Can India seek reworking of the CPEC by Beijing in return for its active participation? Furthermore, for the stability of the South Asian arm of OBOR, can Beijing be motivated to become a meaningful interlocutor prompting rational behaviour from Islamabad? OBOR could potentially allow India a new track to its own attempt to integrate South Asia.
Incursions into Indian territory
Breaches Lower During NDA’s Tenure: Data
China’s People’s Liberation Army transgressions into Indian territory on the 3,488-km long border, large parts of which are disputed, have been lower in the tenure of the NDA government as compared to UPA-2 tenure, official data reveals.
For the Narendra Modi government, 2017 was a challenging year when Chinese troops crossed over 400 times into the Indian territory in different regions and both countries were locked in a standoff at Doklam near the Sikkim-Tibet-Bhutan tri-junction.
On the other hand, for straight three years, in 2012, 2013 and 2014, when UPA was in power, 426, 411 and 550 transgressions were recorded respectively, official sources said.
In 2015, the numbers came down to 290 and further to 273 in 2016, according to the data compiled by North Block officials. Officials said the number of incidents of PLA entering into Indian territory or line of perception reached 426 last year mainly due to the strains over Doklam and as there was Army build-up on both sides, in almost all regions — be it Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, or Ladakh.
Since Doklam, both sides have displayed “diplomatic maturity”, a term recently used by minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj as well while replying in the Lok Sabha. PM Narendra Modi has also had several meetings with Chinese President Xi Jingping in the last one and half years.
The result is visible this year with PLA transgressions recorded till July 2018 at just 170. An official said they are expecting maximum 125 more incidents till December end.
2016-18/ no. of transgressions increased
NEW DELHI: A total of 1025 incidents of transgressions by the Chinese Army into the Indian territory took place between 2016 and 2018, according to government data.
The number of transgressions by Chinese Army in 2016 was 273 which rose to 426 in 2017. The number of such cases reported in 2018 was 326, as per details provided by Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik to Lok Sabha.
Replying to a question on the issue, he said India is taking measures to ensure that defence forces are in a state of readiness to meet operational and security challenges.
He said the details of Chinese incursions in 2019 are being collected.
Naik said there is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China and that there are areas where both sides have differing perception about it.
"Due to both sides undertaking patrolling up to their respective perception of the LAC, transgressions do occur. Government is taking measures to ensure that defence forces are in a state of readiness to meet operational and security challenges," he said.
The India-China border dispute covers 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.
Both sides have been maintaining that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.
The two sides have already held over 20 rounds of border talks under the framework of Special Representatives (SR) dialogue which was set up to find an early solution to the border dispute.
Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day standoff in Doklam in 2017 after the Indian side stopped the construction of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam.
India deployed more troops and increased patrolling in the mountainous terrains along the borders with China following the Doklam face-off.
Naik said India and China exchanged views on outstanding issues, including on the boundary question during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India in October.
"Issues discussed also included efforts to arrive at a mutually-agreed framework for fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement based on political parameters and guiding principles agreed by two sides in 2005," he said.
China continues to needle India at different stretches along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC), with People’s Liberation Army troops intruding around 300-400 metres inside the Demchok sector of eastern Ladakh and pitching five tents.
Security establishment sources on Monday said the PLA subsequently removed three of their tents in the Cherdong-Nerlong Nallan area after brigadier-level talks between the two armies, but the remaining two tents with “some Chinese troops in civvies” are still present in the area. The Army, on being contacted, refused to say anything about the incident.
Sources said the PLA soldiers, in the garb of nomads with cattle in tow, had intruded into Indian territory in the first week of July and did not retreat despite Indian troops repeatedly conducting “banner drills” (showing flags to ask them to go back to their own territory) in accordance with laid down protocol to diffuse faceoffs along the LAC.
“The PLA removed three of the tents only after India pushed for talks between the rival brigade commanders,” said a source, adding that the Chinese troops apparently complained against the Ladakh administration’s attempt to construct a path in the Nerlong area.
Demchok is one of the 23 “disputed and sensitive areas” identified on the LAC, stretching from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, which witnesses frequent “transgressions and troop faceoffs” between the two armies due to “differing perceptions” of the unresolved boundary. The other disputed areas in Ladakh include Trig Heights, Dumchele, Chumar, Spanggur Gap and Pangong Tso.
The number of transgressions, which is military euphemism for incursions, by Chinese troops along the LAC has crossed 170 this year. If 273 transgressions were recorded in 2016, the number touched 426 last year in wake of the 73-day troop face-off at the Bhutanese territory of Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.
As earlier reported by TOI, though Indian troops in June last year had physically blocked the attempt by Chinese soldiers + to extend the existing motorable road there southwards towards the Jampheri Ridge in south Doklam, the fallout has been that the PLA has constructed military infrastructure and helipads as well as permanently stationed around 600-700 troops in north Doklam.
China trying to erode India’s strategic primacy in its own backyard
The writer is a maritime expert and former naval officer
The Indian navy spotted a People’s Liberation Army navy (PLAN) submarine in the Indian Ocean, the first sighting of a Chinese sub in the region since the Doklam crisis last year, and the eighth such deployment in the region since 2013, supposedly for antipiracy duties. Expectedly, it generated some anxiety in India’s strategic community where many viewed the development with exasperation and a growing sense of helplessness.
While China’s counterpiracy contingents have been a regular presence in the Indian Ocean region for over a decade, PLAN submarines were until recently a relatively uncommon occurrence. The rise in Chinese undersea deployments shows that Beijing is now thinking strategically about the Indian Ocean. As on many previous occasions, the PLAN submarine sighted last month was a Yuan class sub (with air independent propulsion). Accompanying it was a submarine search and rescue tender – another regular companion with PLAN submarines visiting the Indian Ocean region.
Indian observers say Chinese submarine deployments appear aimed at studying the Indian Ocean’s operating environment, a prerequisite for sustained operations in an alien space. Chinese crews, reportedly, spend considerable effort collecting hydrological and bathymetric data, seemingly to finetune standard operating procedures, developing the skill and expertise needed for sustained presence in the regional littorals. Far from performing an anti-piracy function, Indian watchers say PLAN subs mark far-seas presence, attempting to project strategic capability. Not surprisingly, they add, Chinese naval deployments appear to complement Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan and Sri Lanka in whose exclusive economic zones PLAN subs have often been sighted.
Beyond strategic posturing, the tactical context to China’s undersea forays is equally relevant. Unlike the surface and air assets, submarines stay undetected for long periods, providing a psychological advantage to a dominant power in a contested littoral. Consequently, an adversary’s inability to track a submarine in its near-seas is seen as a tactical setback. This perhaps explains why after first detection in India’s near-seas, Chinese submarines practically disappear.
To be sure, the Indian navy devotes considerable resource and effort in tracking PLAN subs. Days after first sighting a Yuan class sub in the Arabian Sea, for instance, Indian naval P-8I reconnaissance aircraft performed an anti-submarine warfare exercise with its US P-8A counterpart in the Arabian Sea. One reason India stands poised to sign a maritime pact with Japan is to expand ‘domain awareness’ that would help their navies share information in real time about unfriendly platforms in common maritime spaces.
None of this implies Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean are inherently provocative. With extensive overseas interests, China is entitled to secure its economic investment in the Indian Ocean. Even so, the political and operational consequences of Chinese naval presence in South Asia are worrisome, especially since there is the perception of declining Indian influence in the regional commons.
Indeed, more disconcerting for Indian observers is the delay in India’s own indigenous submarine programme, notwithstanding INS Arihant. The Scorpene submarine programme is five years behind schedule, and the follow-on P-75I yet to take off. In contrast, China has already built up a fleet of over 60 conventional submarines, and is even helping other South and Southeast Asian states beef up their undersea defenses.
One way to deter China from deploying submarines in South Asia is to erect an area-denial/ anti-access complex, possibly on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. For any balancing strategy to be viable, however, New Delhi would need to affect a deeper strategic convergence with Washington, Tokyo, Jakarta and Canberra. While India’s strategic elite appreciate the logic of military partnerships in the Indian Ocean, the political establishment in New Delhi has been hesitant to expand military engagement to a quadrilateral format, involving Japan, Australia and the US. Operational engagement with Southeast Asian neighbours too remains vastly under par.
India’s China-watchers often draw attention to the intensifying Pakistan-China nexus. Beijing’s military partnership with Pakistan – which now includes an offer of eight-Yuan class Chinese submarines – is indeed worrisome. But Indian analysts do not recognise enough the reality that China’s real sensitivities lie in the Western Pacific, where India must plan for a greater counterpresence. China’s submarine deployments in the Indian Ocean undercut the logic of India as a net security provider in South Asia. The attempt at eroding New Delhi’s strategic primacy in its own backyard makes the latter’s need for a counterstrategy in the wider Indo-Pacific region urgent and imperative.
Jammu and Kashmir
2018: China shows map with PoK in India
The sudden decision of CGTN, China's official broadcaster, to show Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in a map as part of India is being seen as a test balloon floated by the Chinese authorities to gauge Pakistani responses.
The move is significant because it comes ahead of the India-China military drill + on December 10 and the ongoing debate on the Kartarpur issue .
CGTN showed PoK as part of India while reporting the terror attack on its consulate in Karachi. This was seen as a signal that Beijing was extremely unhappy with Pakistan's inability to protect its citizens.
CGTN uses fixed templates for maps and production staff are not allowed to tinker with them, sources said. The decision to skip the use of the template could not have been taken by the usual production staff without directions from higher authorities, sources said.
Chinese authorities often use the official media as test balloons before considering policy changes in the domestic and international spheres.
Observers warned that this one-off deviation from the norm should not be seen as a change in China's official policy, more so because print media in China have stayed clear of the map-related issue.
Officially released maps in China have never shown PoK as part of India. The official media could not have shown a different map without a signal from higher ups in the Communist Party, sources said.
Maps are a sensitive issue in China. Chinese officials routinely visit bookshops and scrutinise local media to make sure that maps of all countries are depicted exactly in the manner approved by the authorities. Books and magazines showing maps that differ from Beijing's official view are blocked.
2019, 2020: China’s failed attempts to raise Kashmir at UN
WASHINGTON: China made another bid to raise the Kashmir issue at a closed-door meeting in the UN Security Council on behalf of its client state Pakistan, only to be rebuffed by France and other permanent members who maintain the matter should be resolved bilaterally. The visit this week to New York City and Washington DC of Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi appeared to be the trigger for China to make a token effort in support of Islamabad, which has been trying furiously to work up some lather in the international community for its long-serving “cause.” But there was no joy for the visiting minister as France took the lead role, as it did some months ago, in countering China’s provocation and shutting out any extended debate.
Reacting to the development, India’s permanent representative to United Nations Syed Akbaruddin said the outcome was on the expected lines. "We are happy that neither the alarming scenario painted by the representatives of Pakistan nor any of the baseless allegations made repeatedly by various representatives of Pakistan in UN fora were found to be credible," he added.
In any case, the matter was discussed informally and in camera in the “any other business” category, which means there would be no written records or resolutions about a matter that has long been a political and diplomatic weapon in the Pakistan-China arsenal. Both countries face internal strife.
“UNSC discussed #Kashmir in closed consultations. Russia firmly stands for the normalisation of relations between #India and #Pakistan. We hope that differences between them will be settled through bilateral efforts based on the 1972 Simla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore Declaration," Dmitry Polyanskiy, a Russian official at the UN, tweeted, expressing the views of a majority of UNSC members.
In an effort to counter the Pakistan-China moves, India has gone about trying to show that things are largely normal in Kashmir and Ladakh with resumption of communication and travel, even if a few areas in the Valley are unsettled. Fears (and expectations from Pakistan) of large-scale insurrection and “genocide” have proved demonstrably false despite alarms about New Delhi’s heavy-handedness and stray cases of violence.
India has prepared the ground well for demonstrating that normal life is returning to the region, taking a delegation of foreign envoys, including the US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster, to Kashmir, and announcing resumption of communication, including mobile telephony.
New Delhi has also taken a tough line with Malaysia and Turkey -- Pakistan’s latest supporters on the issue after Islamabad lost ground in the Gulf and Arab world – with punitive measures that will cost them economically. Pakistan’s fictitious and overwrought campaign about large scale insurrection, state violence, and genocide, has also not impressed major global powers, which continue to engage New Delhi economically and with high-level visits of the kind Islamabad doesn’t see.
Absent such engagement, Pakistan has taken it upon itself to play the peacemaker between Iran and Saudi Arabia, both of which are disdainful of Islamabad, in an effort to get some diplomatic leverage.
After visiting Teheran and Riyadh this week, foreign minister Qureshi will travel from New York (where he was on a Mission Kashmir) to Washington DC to bring results of his shuttle diplomacy to secretary of state Mike Pompeo and national security advisor Robert O’Brien. He will also brief his interlocutors on the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said.
2018: training Afghan diplomats
In a move that could upset Pakistan, India and China have launched their first joint programme for Afghanistan to train its diplomats.
An understanding to launch a joint programme in Afghanistan was reached during an informal summit between PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held in April at China’s Wuhan city. As per the understanding, officials of both sides had been asked to identify the project. Training the Afghanistan’s diplomats has been agreed as the first joint project agreed by both the countries.
“First joint programme by India and China for Afghanistan begins,” according to a tweet put out by the Indian embassy in Beijing on Saturday.
Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan (Vinay Kumar) “hosted 10 Afghan Diplomats who will be travelling to India for the 1st India-China joint training programme for Afghan diplomats under the aegis of the Trilateral Cooperation between India, China and Afghanistan,” the tweet said.
Ladakh and Arunachal
India Handed Dispute In Legacy
From the 2013 archives of The Times of India
Did India inherit the border dispute from the British?
The genesis lies in British efforts in the mid-1930s to annex territory in the Northeast to give India what ‘a strategic frontier’ [
What area were the Brits eyeing?
A sweep of territory at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The effort in 1914 failed, but in the 1940s the British moved into these areas
How did the Chinese react then?
They complained and complained against the British intrusions
Was the issue alive in 1947, when India became independent?
Yes. It was the first matter Nehru addressed as PM after he assumed offi ce
The Historic Address
On Nov 20, 1962, after Bomdila fell to Chinese soldiers, Nehru spoke on AIR. He said, “Huge Chinese armies have been marching in the northern part of NEFA. We have had reverses at Walong, Se La and Bomdila… We shall not rest till the invader goes out of India or is pushed out. I want to make that clear to all of you, and, especially our countrymen in Assam, to whom our heart goes out at this moment.” Many in Assam say the speech rankles to this day. They believe Delhi wasn’t really concerned about the Brahmaputra Valley. Nehru’s defenders insist he almost wept as he spoke. The speech was followed by virtual hysteria in Tezpur and many began fl eeing.
1961-2017: Jammu & Kashmir
India’s demarches to China on the boundaries of Jammu & Kashmir, 1961-2017
2018: Bishing (Tuting, Arunachal Pradesh): face-off resolved
China has agreed to stop road-construction activity across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Bishing in the Tuting area of Arunachal Pradesh, with Indian troops returning the two earth excavators and other equipment seized from Chinese workers last month.
“The Tuting incident has been resolved. A border personnel meeting (BPM) was held two days ago,” said Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Monday. As for Doklam, near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, where the rival troops were locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation for 73 days before disengaging on August 28, Gen Rawat said there was a major reduction in the number of soldiers on the Chinese side.
The BPM in Arunachal Pradesh, with brigade commanders from the two sides leading the talks, was held on January 6. It was in late December that Chinese roadconstruction personnel had intruded almost a kilometre into Indian territory near the Bishing village in the Upper Siang district of the state but were forced to retreat after being stopped by Indian troops, who seized their equipment on December 28, as reported earlier by TOI.
Unlike the belligerence shown during the Doklam stand-off, the Chinese troops this time “reacted very maturely to accept that the differing perception of the LAC” had led its construction workers “to inadvertently transgress” into Indian territory. “They assured us they will take care to ensure their construction personnel do not cross over into our side again,” said an officer.
But road alignment and construction bids as well as troop transgressions across the 4,057km LAC, which stretches from Ladakh to Arunachal, are highly unusual in winter months. It is an indication of the heightened tensions between the two armies after the Doklam stand-off.
China has stopped road construction across the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh and India has returned seized equipment
How the incursion was detected
Chinese Made 1.3km Of Road Inside Arunachal Before They Were Stopped. India Has No Road To Nearest Hamlet As ‘Population Is Too Low’
Bishing village at Tuting in the Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh is the closest point to where Chinese road construction machines had entered the Line of Actual Control last December. Located just 1.25 km from the McMahon Line, it is also representative of the unconnected places in the country.
The road that was built runs alongside the eastern bank of the blackened waters of the Siang river which flows as Yarlung Tsangpo from Tibet. While the Chinese have a path to enter right through the international border, Bishing does not have a motorable road of its own connecting it to the rest of the Indian territory. Villagers have to walk almost 4km and then take a bridge across the Siang to reach Geling, which is the point where the motorable road ends.
“The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) norms say a village needs to have a population of at least 100 to have a government-built road. Bishing has 16 households, with a total population of 54, which is why there is no road here,” additional deputy commissioner in-charge of Tuting circle, K Apang, told TOI.
When the Chinese excavators intruded last month, John, a local porter who helps carry supplies to Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) posts spotted them while he was on aroutine trek. The point of incursion also faces the Nyingchi, a prefecture-level city in China, where the Chinese PLA’s Tibet Military Command held a live-fire exercise during the Doklam standoff.
He at once alerted the ITBP which, in turn, contacted the Army. The place which the Chinese excavators last reached is the highest point in the area, located at a height of about 4,000 feet. It takes about eight to ten days on foot to reach the place from Bishing village.
“The area where the Chinese managed to reach is highly inaccessible. No one, except village hunters, venture out there due to its steep climb. Till this intrusion, we all thought that this area is a no man’s land as there is no river or stream to demarcate the international boundary. We realised that this is Indian territory only when we checked Google maps after the Chinese arrived,” Apang said, adding that the Chinese had already constructed a 1.25-km road inside Indian territory.
“It’s all normal now. The Chinese and the Indian army people shook hands at the place and they (Chinese) left along with the two excavators, which have been repaired. We do not know what their motive was. The Army has been deployed here along with the ITBP,” he added.
But a defence source said that the road construction was an effort undertaken by the Chinese in order to open up a second frontier after Doklam. “The Chinese roadbuilding move happened soon after the end of the Army’s month-long annual early warning test (EWT) along the border,” the source said. EWT is an exercise when soldiers and commanders from every location move to their operational areas — which are different for every Army formation — and remain there for a month before returning to their bases.
“Because of the standoff at Doklam, the EWT deployment was larger this time. But when the additional soldiers were withdrawn at the end of the month, the Chinese road-building exercise started,” the source added.
2018: Arunachal Pradesh/ Asaphila area, upper Subansiri
The Chinese side raised the issue at a 'Border Personnel Meeting' (BPM) on March 15 but the Indian Army rejected it
The Indian Army said the area in the upper Subansiri region of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to India and it has regularly been carrying out patrols there
In yet another incident of discord, the Chinese military last month strongly protested against what it called the Indian Army's transgressions into the strategically sensitive Asaphila area along the border in Arunachal Pradesh, but the Indian side roundly dismissed the complaint, official sources said.
They said the Chinese side raised the issue at a 'Border Personnel Meeting' (BPM) on March 15 here but the Indian Army rejected it, saying that the area in the upper Subansiri region of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to India and it has regularly been carrying out patrols there. Sources told PTI, that the Chinese side called India's patrolling in the area a "transgression" and the Indian Army objected to the terminology.
"China's protest to our patrolling in Asaphila is surprising," said a source, adding that there were several instances of Chinese intrusions in the area which had been seriously taken up by the Indian side in the past.
Under the BPM mechanism, both sides can register their protest over any incident of transgressions as there are varying perceptions about the LAC between the two countries.
The delegation of China's Peoples Liberation Army specifically mentioned extensive patrolling in Asaphila by Indian troops, saying such "violations" may escalate tensions between the two sides in the area.
However, rejecting the Chinese protest, the Indian side said its troops were aware of the alignment of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the Army would continue to carry out patrols up to the LAC, the de facto border between the two countries.
Perceptions of the border by India and China vastly differ in the area. Sources said the Chinese military specifically mentioned large-scale Indian patrolling in Asaphila near Fishtail 1 on December 21, 22 and 23 last. Indian and Chinese troops hold BPMs to resolve issues triggering tensions along the border. There are five BPM points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Bum La and Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh, Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul in Ladakh, and Nathu La in Sikkim. The BPM on March 15 had taken place at the Daimai post on the Chinese side in the Kibithu area.
At the BPM, the Chinese also accused the Indian side of damaging its road building equipment when a road laying party left its gear in Tuting in December last year following a protest by India. The Indian Army rejected the allegation, the sources said.
The Chinese road building team had crossed into Indian territory, about one kilometre inside the Line of Actual Control in the Tuting area, in the last week of December. The road construction team left the area after Indian troops asked them to stop the activity. The team brought in two excavators which were later returned. The sources said the Indian Army has increased war-fighting drills to deal with all possible scenarios along the LAC following the Doklam standoff.
"We are fully prepared to deal with any situation," said a senior Army official.
Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day standoff in Doklam from June 16 last year after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. The face-off ended on August 28.
Sources said India has deployed more troops and increased patrolling in the mountainous terrains along the borders with China following the Doklam face-off.
India is also strengthening its surveillance mechanism to keep an eye on Chinese activity along the borders in the strategically sensitive Tibetan region and has even been regularly deploying choppers to carry out recce.
The government has been focusing on strengthening its defenses along the border with China. In January, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat had said the time had come for the country to shift its focus from its borders with Pakistan to the frontier with China, reflecting the seriousness of the situation.
Masood Azhar, Pakistani JeM chief
2019, Mar: China’s 4th technical hold at UNSC
Objects To Move An Hour Before End Of Deadline
China yet again put on hold a proposal at the UN for a ban on Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar, bringing to a halt a renewed push by France, the US and UK to blacklist the Pakistan-based terrorist after the Pulwama attack.
China has thrice earlier put the same proposal on a “technical hold” before finally terminating the proposal. The hold can last up to a maximum of nine months, after which China can again use its veto power to formally block, or terminate, the proposal.
The government reacted to the development late on Wednesday within minutes, saying it was disappointed by the outcome. “This has prevented action by the international community to designate the leader of JeM, a proscribed and active terrorist organisation which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in J&K on February 14,” it said.
“The ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee (1267 Sanctions Committee), upon completion of the noobjection period on March 13, 2019, was not able to come to a decision on the proposal for listing Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi under the UN Sanctions regime, on account of a member placing the proposal on hold,” it added.
As in the past, China communicated its decision to put on hold the ban an hour or so before the expiry of the deadline for raising objection.
“The UN Security Council and its subsidiary bodies are run on strict rules… We already stressed China’s position on the listing of terrorist organisations and individuals in the UN Security Council 1267 Committee on many occasions,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang had said earlier this week.
But behind vague inanities was the hard realism of standing by Pakistan, an ally that has attracted global opprobrium for hosting terrorists, many of whom could pose a threat to Chinese economic interests in Pakistan should Beijing agree to lift its objection to designating them as global terrorists. In effect, China is seen as buying protection for its investments in Pakistan even at the risk of global shaming.
China was the only UNSC member to object to the proposal. India said it was grateful to Member States who moved the proposal and the unprecedented number of UNSC members as well as non-members who joined as co-sponsors.
“We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice,” it said.
Within hours, #BoycottChina starts trending
China had in the past blocked the same proposal in 2009, 2016 and again in 2017. Government sources here said the latest “hold” was another sign of China’s “double standards” on terrorism.
This was the first time that the proposal for a UN ban on Azhar came within weeks of a major terror strike. China’s decision on this occasion will rankle with India a lot more as it comes within a year of the Xi-Modi summit in Wuhan which was said to have taken the bilateral relationship to another level altogether. Both countries had cited the “Wuhan spirit” to repeatedly claim that ties had been completely transformed since the Doklam standoff. Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui said last year that the relationship was passing through one of the best phases in history.
There was no proposal for a UN ban on Azhar last year as India sought to improve ties with China in the aftermath of the Doklam standoff. The Pulwama attack by JeM though changed all that, bringing ties under strain as Azhar continues to head the terror organisation and inspire attacks on India.
With the US not sure of support from China, France took the lead in introducing another proposal for proscribing Azhar. The US and UK too backed the proposal and worked to mobilise support for it.
Within an hour of the outcome, the hashtags #China-BacksTerror and #Boycott-China were trending on Twitter. Calls to boycott Chinese goods have periodically surfaced on social media, and Beijing’s intransigence in backing Pakistani terrorists is expected to further fire up this demand. India imports about $ 55 billion worth of goods and products from China.
2019/ What made China relent on Azhar
After consistently defending its "all-weather friend" Pakistan over the issue of designating JeM chief Masood Azhar a “global terrorist” for years, China on Thursday finally relented in a massive “diplomatic win” for India. The low tolerance for global terrorism coupled with intense international pressure mounted on Beijing were some of the reasons which made China to not obstruct the listing of Azhar on this occasion. Here is a look at some of the main reasons behind China's decision
- The US, along with France and the UK, turned the heat on China in the UN security council, threatening to discuss Azhar in a forum that would isolate Beijing publicly and force it to state the reasons for opposing the ban.
The pendulum swung India's way as its deepening strategic ties with France and the UK paid off. The advent of the Trump administration, for all its nitpicking with New Delhi over trade issues, has seen an unrelenting pursuit of a zero-tolerance terrorism policy. Eventually, it was Washington that took a hard line against Beijing.
- During the bilateral meets with nations, India mounted intense pressure and asserted that Azhar is a global terror threat and hence, should be on the UN list of designated terrorists.
- The lack of criticism of the retaliatory airstrikes by India on terrorist camp in Pakistan’s Balakot following the Pulwama attack indicated that the tolerance for global terrorism is low.
- India's threat to take the Azhar issue to open discussion in UNSC, also prompted China to yield as it could have isolated China publicly.
- China said that it agreed to allow the UN Security Council to declare Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” only after it was satisfied with the "revised evidence" made available to it. It was referring to the exhaustive report showing Azhar as a terrorist which was provided by foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale during his recent visit to Beijing between April 25 and 27.
Under the UN sanctions committee decision, Azhar is accused of “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” carried out by JeM. As a result of the blacklisting, he will be subject to a worldwide assets freeze, a travel ban and arms embargo.
India rejected China’s terms for Azhar ban
In the course of the high-level exchanges between India and China, Beijing offered to lift its “technical hold” on Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar’s terror listing if India committed to not attacking Pakistan and de-escalating tensions after the Pulwama terror attack. India refused.
After the February 14 attack that killed 40 CRPF jawans, for which Jaish claimed responsibility, rising anger in India and in the government prompted the PM to declare that the terror strike would not go unpunished. In the 12 days between Pulwama and India’s air strikes in Balakot, New Delhi’s right to self-defence was acknowledged and agreed to by most of the global community.
MEA: Tag not based on specific incident
It became clear that India would not face diplomatic heat if it retaliated militarily against Pakistansponsored terror.
China was keen to avoid an India-Pakistan clash. In the discussions with top-level Indian officials, China offered to list Azhar in return for India’s de-escalation. In 2016 and 2017, when China repeatedly blocked Azhar’s listing, it used to ask India to negotiate directly with Pakistan on the issue. India correctly interpreted this as a thin end of the wedge to try to get India to reopen talks with Pakistan. After the Pathankot attack in 2016, India had stopped official dialogue with Pakistan.
On Thursday, the foreign ministry spokesperson was asked whether the lack of any reference to the Pulwama attack in the UN statement was the result of negotiations with China. “We don’t negotiate with any country on terrorism and national security. Our objective all along has been the designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist.”
“The designation is not based on a specific incident but on the evidence shared with the members of the 1267 sanctions committee linking Masood Azhar to terrorism. In the UN notification, it... states that Masood Azhar was listed for participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, and perpetrating terrorist activities associated with JeM. This broadly covers all terror activities he has been involved in,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
He said according to Pakistan’s FATF obligations, Pakistan has to “demonstrate effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists..., including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets, and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.” Pakistan will be questioned on these at the next FATF plenary in June.
Religious relations (Buddhism)
2013: Tomb of Xuanzang, who brought Buddhist scriptures from India, threatened
China to raze tomb of Buddhist monk with Indian links
April 13, 2013
Beijing: A portion of a temple that contains the remains of Xuanzang, the monk who brought Buddhist scriptures from India, is threatened with demolition.
The temple in Xian in north China contains the tomb of the monk, who played a key role in introducing Buddhism in China during the seventh century.
The local government in Chang’an in Xian claims it needs to clear a portion of the structure to strengthen the temple’s application for Unesco World Heritage status. It says it wants to remove buildings including a dining hall and a dormitory that were not part of the original 1300-year old temple, and were added in later years. Xuanzang and his Monkey King associate, Sun Wukong, are the heroes of the Chinese classic, “Journey to the West” that every Chinese child learns in school. The demolition is set to begin on June 30. But the move has sparked protests from monks and believers, who complain it was affecting their day to day worshipping. The Xingjiao temple, which is in the centre of the controversy has withdrawn its participation in the provincial government’s move to obtain the world heritage status. “If they demolish the buildings under the current plan, is it still possible that the application will be vetoed by the international panel,” temple spokesman Master Kuanshu told local journalists indicating he did not agree with the provincial government.
What lies at the heart of the Doklam dispute? China argues that the India-China-Bhutan trijunction is at Mount Gipmochi (Gyemo Chen), which is far south of where India and Bhutan mark the trijunction, near Batang la. China claims around 89 sq. km in a region south of where India and Bhutan say the trijunction lies (see map: Crossed Lines). The dispute is not just about the size of the territory in Doklam: it is one of only four areas over which China and Bhutan, who do not have diplomatic relations, have had 24 rounds of talks.
"The construction of the road clearly changes the security dynamics to our detriment significantly," says Ashok Kantha, former envoy to China and director of the Institute of Chinese Studies in Delhi. "They are changing the status quo in a very major way and it has serious security implications for us. The Chinese are changing the trijunction unilaterally, and this affects us as the Chinese military presence here will be widened and deepened."
The current dispute has echoes of a similar standoff more than 50 years ago in the same area, when the Indira Gandhi government took a strong stand against Chinese intrusions, with Beijing then dispatching herdsmen onto Doklam to stake its claims. Then, as now, China's ire was aimed not at Bhutan but at India's 'interference'. This is possibly the first time Beijing has reacted so publicly over a boundary dispute with India since the normalisation of relations in 1988. One reason for this is China's view that, by crossing over into Bhutanese territory at Doka la, India had 'trespassed' the agreed-upon Sikkim-Tibet border and entered Chinese territory.
"The trespass of Indian border troops took place at the defined Sikkim section of the China-India boundary, which is different in nature from the previous frictions and standoffs. Thus, this incident is quite serious in nature," the Chinese foreign ministry said, citing the 1890 Sikkim-Tibet Convention which says 'the line commences at Mount Gipmochi on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nepal territory'. Chinese officials now claim that both China and successive Indian governments have recognised that the Sikkim section has been 'delimited'. Says Lu Kang, the foreign ministry's spokesperson, "It has been confirmed by the Indian leader, the relevant Indian government documents and the Indian delegation at SRs' (Special Representatives) meeting with China on the boundary question that India and China share a common view on the 1890 convention's stipulation on the boundary alignment at the Sikkim section."
Senior Indian officials involved in handling the crisis dismiss Chinese claims as poppycock. They point out that any reading of the 1890 convention would show that the British had entered into it largely for reasons of trade and not to sort boundary disputes. Also, China, which was a signatory to the convention, would not proceed beyond agreeing to the alignment of the boundary but went on to thwart efforts to delineate and demarcate it. New Delhi acknowledges that since Independence, successive Indian governments may have agreed that the 1890 convention "could be the basis of the alignment" in the region. But, as one official put it, "Neither has India agreed on the alignment nor have we agreed to what China calls the specific alignment. It has never been delineated and demarcated. There are no border posts or maps that we have produced, as we commonly do in such cases. China is clearly attempting to change the boundary at a certain sector by unilateral action, and that is why it is a problem for us." What China also fails to point out is that Bhutan was never a signatory to the 1890 agreement and retained its sovereign rights over the Doklam plateau.
The Chinese foreign ministry also cited a 1959 letter written by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to his Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai where he is said to have endorsed the 1890 convention. Indian officials say that the Chinese officials are cherrypicking statements and using them to back their claims. The Indian official adds, "They take one sentence that suits them in the 10-page letter and quote it. By the way, the same letter also claims Aksai Chin is a part of India and claims the McMahon Line as the boundary. So, will China agree to concede these points too?" Agreeing that China's claims are disingenuous, former envoy Kantha says, "We have been broadly in agreement on the boundary in the Sikkim sector and we agree on the basis of alignment, which is the highest watershed in the area, but both sides are fully aware that more negotiations are required among the SRs to fix the alignment of the boundary on maps and also demarcate it on the ground. They are also aware that the biggest difference is with regard to the trijunction point."
China also went on to make the astonishing claim that Bhutan had already acknowledged that the Doklam plateau was Chinese territory and was okay with what Beijing was doing there. It prompted Bhutan to issue a stern statement pointing out that boundary talks had been
going on between Thimphu and Beijing for decades and there were written agreements in 1988 and 1998 that "the two sides agree to maintain peace and tranquility on the boundary question and refrain from taking unilateral action or use force to change the status quo on the boundary". Bhutan firmly stated that it sees the construction of the road in Doklam as a "direct violation of the agreements".
China also charged India with joining the issue without the consent of the Bhutanese government. Indian officials point out that India and Bhutan have been coordinating with each other on such issues for years. They cite an incident in 1966 where China had again made an intrusion in the Doklam region. Bhutan had requested the Indian government to take it up with Beijing and sort out the matter. Says an Indian official, "The effort by the Chinese seems to be to repeat a lie several times so that it becomes a historical fact. Let's be clear, we are not the guys who came here to dig up the place and say we are here. We will happily go back tomorrow morning if the issue is sorted out. Clearly, the guys with the bulldozers and road-rollers are trying to change the status quo."
In Bhutan, which finds itself at the centre of the standoff between the two Asian giants, there is unease over the developments. India and Bhutan have close relations as well as a 2007 friendship treaty, according to which 'neither government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other'. China and Bhutan, on the other hand, do not have diplomatic relations and are dealing with territorial disputes. There is, however, constant engagement by China and confidence-building in the area of culture and religion. Only recently, Dr Jiang Yili, wife of the Chinese ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, visited Bhutan and called on the Queen Mother of Bhutan to exchange views on Mahayana Buddhism and cultural issues.
Bhutan, however, is acutely aware of the reality of confronting an increasingly aggressive China on its borders. Beijing's claims on the disputed areas, including in Doklam, are hardening. Even for tiny Bhutan, China is in no mood to make concessions. This was made clear following boundary talks in 2002, when then foreign minister Jigmi Thinley informed the National Assembly that China "claimed to have documentary evidence on the ownership of the disputed tracts of land". Beijing has said its archives in Tibet have proof of the 'grass tax' paid by Bhutanese herders. Adds Thinley, "When Bhutan asked them to be generous with a small neighbour like Bhutan, they said that as a nation that shared its border with 25 other countries, they could not afford to be generous with one particular neighbour."
A retired official in Thimphu says Doklam is vital not just for India, considering its location overlooking the Siliguri corridor. In fact, he says, it is essential that Bhutan never cedes this territory as this could pose a serious threat to its communications network as it is connected through Siliguri in India. Meanwhile, the war of words rapidly escalated, with Chinese commentators reminding India of what happened in 1962 if it upped the ante. Defence and finance minister Arun Jaitley's riposte was measured. Speaking at an INDIA TODAY conclave, he said, "If they are trying to remind us, the situation in 1962 was different and the India of 2017 is different."
South China Sea, India's stand on
India's different stands/ 2016
The Times of India, May 4, 2016
India's different stands on S China Sea lead to confusion
What exactly is India's position on the South China Sea? In two recent international joint statements, India has taken slightly different positions on the biggest point of international conflict that is about to come to a head in the coming days, leading to some confusion.
On April 18, foreign ministers of India, China and Russia stated after an RIC meeting in Moscow that “Russia, India and China are committed to maintaining a legal order for the seas and oceans based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).All related disputes should be addressed through negotiations and agreements between the parties concerned. In this regard, the Ministers called for full respect of all provisions of UNCLOS, as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the Guidelines for the implementation of the DOC.“
But just about a week ear lier, when US defence secretary Ashton Carter was in Delhi, a joint statement between him and Manohar Parrikar had this to say: US and India “reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, including in the South China Sea.They vowed their support for a rules-based order and regional security architecture conducive to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, and emphasised their commitment to working together and with other nations to ensure the security and stability that have been beneficial to the Asia-Pacific for decades.“
Both affirmations are slightly different, raising questions about what Indi a's actual position is. Sources said the RIC statement was in the context of a multilateral forum, but India's sovereign position will be clarified on the day the permanent court of arbitration pronounces its verdict.
China has declared in its state media outlets that India is sympathetic to China's view, and the RIC statement affirms it. Meanwhile, US Pacific Command chief, Admiral Harris indicated India and US may soon be sailing together for joint patrols, as part of a roadmap of the Strategic Vision document signed when Barack Obama visited India in 2015.
The official Chinese position was clarified by the charge d'affairs at the Chinese embassy here. Speaking to TOI, Liu Jinsong said, “We do not accept the jurisdiction in the South China Sea arbitration at the request of Philippines.The matter concerns China's territorial sovereignty , which is beyond the scope of UNCLOS. We can settle and manage the issue bilaterally through peaceful means based on international law, including UNCLOS.“
Taiwan, India's stand on
Air India site renames Taiwan as Chinese Taipei/ 2018
National carrier Air India has changed the name of Taiwan to Chinese Taipei on its website, following instructions from the government, an airline spokesperson said.
China had raised concerns about Taiwan being described as a separate region by various airlines worldwide.
The spokesperson said Air India followed the procedure as advised by the Ministry of External Affairs in updating the airline's website with respect to changing name of Taiwan. Air India operates flights to two destinations in China region- Shanghai and Hong Kong.
While Air India does not have flights to Chinese Taipei, it has a code share with Air China. This is the reason that this destination is listed on Air India website.
Now, Air India describes Taiwan as 'Taipei, Taoyuan International Airport, TPE, Chinese Taipei' on its website.
Code sharing allows an airline to book its passengers on its partner carriers and provide seamless travel to destinations where it has no presence.
In April, the Civil Aviation Authority of China had sent out letters to various foreign airlines asking them to change the way Taiwan was referred to in their websites, as per media reports.
Chinese tabloid Global Times carried an opinion piece titled 'Indian scholars wrong in equating territory row with Taiwan status' on July 3.
"That Air India lists Taiwan as a country goes against India's official stance.
"Recognizing that there is only one China in the world, that the government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory is the condition on which China establishes diplomatic ties with all countries," the article had said.
The state of relations, issues: 2018
i) Transgressions by PLA troops across LAC, 2010- 2018, April;
ii) Disputed stretches of territory in Ladakh, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Arunachal;
iii) Military issues, as in 2018, April; and iv) Confidence building measures between the two militaries, as in 2018, April.
China sets up unmanned weather station near Arunachal Pradesh
China has set up an unmanned automatic weather observation station in Tibet near Arunachal Pradesh border to provide meteorological support to its military and assist operations of aircraft and missiles in case of “regional live-fire conflicts”, a report in Chinese media said.
The station in Yumai township under Lhunze county of Shannan Prefecture in Tibet will eliminate a blind area of meteorological services, state-run Global Times reported. It will also provide strong meteorological support for national defence and further promote border development as well as military-civilian integration, according to a statement by the Tibet weather bureau. “The station can observe six factors, including air temperature, air pressure, wind speed, wind direction, humidity and precipitation, with more accuracy than before,” Tashi Norbu, a technician in charge of the station, was quoted as saying by the daily.
“Yumai is at the border. The station could provide data to help with transportation and communication in national defence. It could also offer support during regional live-fire conflicts,” Tashi said. Regional weather is an important factor that could influence the take-off and landing of aircraft and the launch of missiles during a battle, Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the Global Times.
The small weather observation station could provide such information, Song said. Grasping accurate weather information could help seize good opportunities in the battles, Song added.
India cold shoulders Dalai Lama
India has toned down an assertive stand toward China in the hope of calming ties strained by the Doklam stand-off
The idea is to "be sensitive" to each other's core concerns and not let differences turn into disputes, a government source said
The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, faces increasing isolation in his home in exile as India tones down an assertive stand toward China in the hope of calming ties strained by a border stand-off. The two countries were locked in a 73-day military face off at Doklam + last year, with, at one point, soldiers from the two sides throwing punches and stones at each other.
The confrontation between the nuclear-armed powers in the Himalayas underscored Indian alarm at China's expanding security and economic links in South Asia.
China's ambitious Belt and Road initiative of transport and energy links bypasses India, apart from a corner of the disputed Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir region but involves India's neighbours Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives.
Now the Modi government is reversing course apparently after realising its hard line on China was not working, and the Dalai Lama is facing the cold shoulder.
"We are moving forward with this relationship, the idea is to put the events of 2017 behind us," a government source involved in China policy said.
The idea is to "be sensitive" to each other's core concerns and not let differences turn into disputes, the source said. The Dalai Lama has lived mostly in Dharamsala since 1959, when he fled a Chinese crackdown on an uprising in his homeland.
In Dharamsala, his supporters run a small government in exile and campaign for autonomy for Tibet by peaceful means. India has allowed him to pursue his religious activities in the country and to travel abroad.
Early this month, India issued an unprecedented ban on Tibetans holding a rally with the Dalai Lama in New Delhi to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the failed uprising against Chinese rule.
This week, the Dalai Lama cancelled a visit to Sikkim hosted by authorities there, officials say, lest it offended China.
Sikkim is south of the Doklam plateau where the hundreds of Indian and Chinese soldiers confronted each other last year after India objected to China's construction of a road in an area claimed by India's tiny ally, Bhutan.
Even "thank you" rallies by Tibetans planned for New Delhi to show appreciation to India for hosting the Dalai Lama and his followers have been shifted to Dharamsala.
The external affairs ministry said the government had not changed its position on the Dalai Lama.
"He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. His Holiness is accorded all freedom to carry out his religious activities in India," spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.
But India's recent attitude is in stark contrast with his former treatment.
In 2016, the Dalai Lama was invited to India's presidential palace for a ceremony honouring Nobel Peace prize winners. The government later allowed him to visit the disputed state of Arunachal Pradesh, disregarding Chinese objections.
China reviles the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist and his activities in India have always been a source of friction, and a tool with which India can needle China.
"Tibet has utility to irritate China, but it is becoming costly for us now. They are punishing us," said P. Stobdan, a former Indian ambassador.
China has blocked India's membership of a nuclear cartel and it also blocks UN sanctions against a Pakistan-based militant leader blamed for attacks on India.
'Understanding and respect'
The Tibetan government-in-exile has been phlegmatic, expressing understanding of the shifting circumstances and gratitude to India for hosting the Dalai Lama for 60 years.
"The Indian government has its reasons why, these coming months are sensitive, and we completely understand and respect that so there's no disappointment at all," Lobsang Sangay, the head of the government in exile told reporters. China has hailed better ties.
"Everyone can see that recently, due to the efforts of both sides, China-India relations have maintained positive momentum and development, and exchanges and cooperation in all areas have achieved new progress," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
Lu said China was willing to work with India to maintain exchanges on all levels and to increase mutual political trust and "appropriately control differences".
Flurry of visits is planned
Next week, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is heading to China and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is due to visit in April.
Modi will visit in June for a regional conference and talks with President Xi Jinping.
The two sides are also expected to revive "hand-in-hand" counterterrorism exercises when defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, visits China in April, a defence source said. The drills were suspended earlier.
India counters China via energy pacts
India signed an agreement to build an LNG terminal near Colombo in collaboration with Japan
India sees this as incremental energy diplomacy
Myanmar and India have just started talks for India to build an LNG terminal near Yangon
Pushing a regional integration strategy as part of its foreign policy in the neighbourhood, India is building energy infrastructure in several south Asian countries. In Sri Lanka, where power plants are run mainly on liquid fuel, India recently signed an agreement to build an LNG terminal near Colombo in collaboration with Japan.
This will help Sri Lanka transition from more polluting fuels to less polluting ones. India sees this as incremental energy diplomacy. The hope is Sri Lanka, after moving to LNG from oil or coal, in the next step would see growth of CNG for vehicles and piped gas for households and commercial establishments in cities like Colombo. That would further aid India in expanding its energy markets outside the country. Bangladesh is already moving towards a gas-based economy, having significant gas resources of its own.
However, they will soon be running out of the resource. In Bangladesh, India is building a 6.5 mmtpa LNG terminal in Qutubdiya island off Chittagong forwhich a joint working group is already at work. India also wants to supply LNG to the Jessore-Khulna power plant with LNG from Dhamra. The two countries are currently working to connect their grids and finalised the alignment of the supply from Panitar on the Indian side. Sources said, India wants to ramp up supply substantively to Bangladesh’s energy grid.
In addition, India would build connections from north-east states into Bangladesh — this would allow India to transport LNG to its northeast via Bangladesh. Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, during his recent trip to Dhaka, signed an MOU to build a petro products pipeline from Siliguri to Parbatipaur in Bangladesh. India plans to supply diesel to Bangladesh from the Numaligarh refinery, which is already being augmented from 3 to 9 mmtpa.
Nepal PM K P Oli’s visit provided an opportunity for India and Nepal to augment an existing energy relationship by inaugurating a petro products pipeline between Motihari and Amlekhganj. India has also agreed to run an LPG pipeline along the same alignment. Myanmar and India have just started talks for India to build an LNG terminal near Yangon.
India, which also supplies 100% of energy products to Mauritius, is considering an LNG terminal there too, to help Mauritius transition to cleaner fuel as well. Maldives is the only country in the neighbourhood where India is not moving at all. Officials said there was no interest forthcoming from the Maldives government.
India going the extra mile to 'accommodate' Chinese sensitivities
The Dalai Lama acquiesced to India’s “sensitivities” by cancelling the Delhi leg of his programmes.
Tibetan officials said there were “verbal” indications to the Tibetan leader to reduce the profile of the celebrations.
Govt would not like to provoke China with obvious trigger points as both countries want to reset ties, sources said.
India is going the extra mile to “accommodate” Chinese sensitivities a year after standing up to Chinese aggression on multiple fronts.
The Dalai Lama cancelled a programme in Delhi scheduled for March 31 where he was supposed to present the Indian government with a “thank you” memento marking the 60th anniversary since he arrived here fleeing Chinese repression. Tibetan officials said while there was no “formal” advisory from the Indian government, there were “verbal” indications to the Tibetan leader to reduce the profile of the celebrations.
The Dalai Lama acquiesced to India’s “sensitivities” by cancelling the Delhi leg of the programmes — however, Dalai Lama will address a gathering in Dharamsala on April 1 on the subject. Tsering Dhondup, Dalai Lama’s spokesperson, said “all other events of the ‘Thank You India’ celebrations would go on as planned. We have something scheduled for every month until the end of the year.”
On May 29, which is Buddha Purnima, all Tibetan monasteries across India will have special prayers for India. On June 5, world environment day, Tibetans across India undertake a mass tree plantation drive. On June 21, World Yoga Day, Tibetans will join yoga celebrations with the ministry of Ayush. On July 6, Dalai Lama’s birthday, Tibetans will launch a programme to feed the hungry and homeless, Dhondup said. Gandhi Jayanti will see Tibetans on a mass cleanliness drive, in deference to the Swachh Bharat Mission, and on December 10, Dalai Lama’s office will distribute blankets and clothes to the poor. “All these programmes to go on as planned,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MEA has refused clearance to an annual conference by the ministry of defence-sponsored think tank, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) whose theme was “India-China: a new equilibrium”. The conference slated for this week has been “deferred” said people familiar with developments.
What could be the drivers for India’s recent efforts to appear more conciliatory toward China? Sources, refusing to be named, said there was a distinct sense in the government that they would not like to provoke Beijing with obvious trigger points as both countries want to reset ties. This line has been pushed by the government from late last year as the “forward-looking” mantra for bilateral relations.
“It has been a tough year for both countries. Without abandoning our positions, in the larger interest of the bilateral relationship as well as for peace and tranquility in the region, it's important for us to take a softer line with each other,” said sources.
Kepang la, a new meeting point for armies
This Independence Day, India and China opened a new point for officers of the armies of the two countries to meet. The move is being hailed as an “ice-breaker” by Indian defence officials and signalling the beginning of positive relations between the two countries.
The officials met at the relatively low-altitude Kepang la (1,915 m), northwest of Gelling village, where the Yarlong Tsangpo river from Tibet enters India as the Siang river which later joins the Lohit to form the Brahmaputra in Assam. The defence PRO, Col C Konwer, told TOI, “At the new location at Kepang la Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops met on August 15, marking a historic day in the India-China relationship. The Indian Army delegation was led by Col Manish Joshi and the PLA delegation by Col Chen Sau Feng. The two sides had eight members each and both sides welcomed the opportunity for the opening of this new location and allowing for a better contact process to resolve any issues in times to come.”
“Gifts were exchanged. Both sides affirmed their resolve to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation for maintaining peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control,” the PRO added. It was in this sector that the Chinese PLA had brought in bulldozers to build a road last January, prompting a build-up of Indian military there.
Defence sources said efforts were on to put the past behind and engage in improving bilateral ties at the political level. “The Kapeng la meeting was to break the ice between the two armies.”
Lhunze (Tibet): mines of gold, silver, precious minerals
China has begun large-scale mining operations on its side of the border with Arunachal Pradesh where a huge trove of gold, silver and other precious minerals valued at $60 billion has been found, a media report said. The mine project is being undertaken in Lhunze county under Chinese control adjacent to the Indian border, the South China Morning Post reported. China claims Arunachal as part of southern Tibet. Projecting the mining operations as part of China’s move to take over Arunachal, the report said, “People familiar with the project say the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet”.
“China’s moves to lay claim to the region’s natural resources while rapidly building up infrastructure could turn it into ‘another South China Sea’, they said,” it said. The Post report with inputs from Chinese geologists comes less than a month after the informal summit between PM Modi and President Xi Jinping that was aimed at cooling tensions to avert another Doklam standoff.
‘Tibet mines will lead to an SCS-like situation’
The 73-day standoff marked a new low in ties. Lhunze was in news last October, two months after Doklam, when Xi replied to correspondence from a herding family in Lhunze underscoring Beijing’s claim to the area.
The herding family is based in Yumai, China’s smallest town in terms of population located close to Arunachal Pradesh.
The Post report said most of the precious minerals, which include rare earths, are hidden under Lhunze county. By the end of last year, the scale of mining activity in Lhunze had surpassed that of all other areas in Tibet, it said. People have poured into the area so fast that even local government officials could not provide a precise count for the current population, it said.
With more mines being dug in Lhunze, an official told the Post that over 80% of the county government’s tax income came from mining. The mines would also lead to a situation akin to “another South China Sea” , it said.
Modi-Xi's informal summit
After spending 24 hours in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today wrapped up his informal meetings with President Xi Jinping. Though no official agreements were struck, the summit gains significance as a marker of a growing rapprochement between India and China following the Doklam dispute. Here are the key takeaways from the talks between Modi and Xi.
China and India are important engines of world economic growth
President Xi Jinping said China and India are the "backbone" of the world's multipolarisation and economic globalisation, and the two countries should jointly make positive contributions to the global peace and development.
"As the two largest developing countries and emerging-market economies with a population level of more than one billion, China and India are the backbone of the world's multipolarisation and economic globalisation," he said.
"China and India have many similar ideas in international affairs. When dealing with relations between major powers, China insists on strategic autonomy, insists on not conflict and confrontation, and building a new type of international relationship that is based on mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation.
"This is in line with the five principles of peaceful coexistence (Panchsheel) jointly advocated by China and India in the 1950s," the Chinese President said.
Reducing border tensions
In light of the tense face-off between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam last year, Modi and Xi underlined the importance of "maintaining peace and tranquility in the border region". To this effect, they will issue strategic guidance to their respective militaries to strengthen communication in order to build trust and mutual understanding. The two sides will also work together in implementing confidence building measures.
Need for greater cooperation
As the West, led by the US, becomes increasingly inward-looking, emerging superpowers India and China must step up and assume a more significant role in the world order. As such, stable and balanced relations between the two neighbours is vital and recognising this, Modi and Xi decided to strengthen the Closer Development Partnership in a mutually beneficial and sustainable manner. This will be conducive for the development and prosperity of the people as well as the region.
During the course of the summit, the two leaders also agreed to undertake a joint economic project in Afghanistan, a first of its kind by India and China in the war-ravaged country.
More dialogue to pre-empt conflict
It is in the long term interests of India and China to create a broad platform of dialogue and discussion through which contentious matters can be addressed and resolved before they escalate. The two leaders agreed that both sides have the maturity and wisdom to handle differences through peaceful discussion.
Both China and India said they seek a fair settlement to their border disputes, and to this end, the Special Representatives appointed by the two nations will play a key role.
Balancing skewed trade
The two leaders agreed to push forward bilateral trade and investment in a balanced and sustainable manner by taking advantage of complementarities between their two economies.
They reiterated the importance of building an open and pluralist global economic order in which all countries can freely participate to pursue their development, while also contributing to the elimination of poverty and inequality in all regions of the world.
Crackdown on terror
Modi and Xi recognised the common threat posed by terrorism and committed to cooperate further on counter-terrorism.
However, when foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale was asked at a press conference whether the issue of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar was raised, he said the two leaders "did not go into specifics".
China has repeatedly blocked India's bid to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.
Informal summit a success, more on the cards
The two leaders highly assessed the opportunity for direct, free and candid exchange of views offered by the Informal Summit and agreed on the utility of holding more such dialogues in the future. The "forward-looking dialogue" was a unique opportunity for direct and candid exchange of views between the two premiers and helped them forge a common understanding. Both agreed that meetings on the lines of the Wuhan summit will determine the future direction of India-China relations. Before leaving, PM Modi reciprocated by inviting Xi to India for a similar informal summit next year.
Xi wants screening of more Bollywood movies in China
Briefing reporters at the end of the two-day informal summit between PM Modi and President Xi in the central Chinese city, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said they proposed collaboration in the areas of spirituality, trade, technology, tradition and entertainment including films.
"President Xi said that he had seen a number of Indian films, both Bollywood and regional, and that it would be a good idea that more Indian films come to China and more Chinese films go to India," Gokhale said.
China will "not be too hard" with India on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
China today said there is no fundamental difference with India on the issue of "inter-connectivity" and Beijing will "not be too hard" with New Delhi on the issue of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
"We feel that there is no fundamental difference between China and India on the issue of supporting inter-connectivity. As for whether India accepts the expression Belt and Road, I think it is not important and China will not be too hard on it," Chinese vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou said.
The BRI, a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013, has become a major sticking point in the bilateral ties. The BRI also includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which India opposes as it goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India had boycotted last year's Belt and Road Forum organised by China. Get latest news & live updates on the go on your pc with News App. Download The Times of India news app for your device. Read more India news in English and other languages.
Strategic guidance to armies
Modi and Xi decided to issue strategic guidance to their respective militaries to maintain peace along the border
They endorsed the special representative to find a fair and mutual settlement of India-China boundary dispute
During their "extensive and fruitful talks" in Wuhan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to maintain peace at the border and strengthen greater strategic communication between the two sides, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
"The two leaders (Modi and Xi) underscored that it is important to maintain peace along India-China border region and decided that they will issue strategic guidance to their respective militaries to strengthen communications and to build trust and understanding, to implement various confidence-building measures which have already been agreed upon by the two sides and to strengthen existing institutional mechanisms to prevent and manage situations in the border areas," foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told mediapersons at a press briefing on the sidelines of the two-day informal summit.
On the India-China boundary issue, PM Modi and Xi endorsed work of the special representative to find a fair, reasonable and mutual settlement of the dispute.
"The two leaders were of the view that the two countries have the maturity and wisdom to handle all our differences through peaceful discussions within the context of the overall relationships and bearing in mind, we would respect each other's sensitivities, concerns and aspirations," Gokhale said.
No agreements were inked, nor any announcements made at the summit, since the focus of the two leaders was to take stock of and further strengthen bilateral relationships as well as the strategic and long term partnership between India and China.
PM Modi and Xi also recognised the common threat posed by terrorism and both reiterated their resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Both committed to cooperate further in counter-terrorism, the foreign secretary said.
New Delhi and Beijing would also continue to pursue informal talks, said Gokhale.
Prior to the press conference, Modi and Xi resumed their "heart-to-heart" talks on the second and concluding day of the summit aimed at forging consensus to improve bilateral ties and address the contentious issues plaguing India-China relations.
Modi and Xi began the day with a walk along the East Lake, followed by a boat ride during which the two leaders were immersed deep in conversation. They would conclude their talks with a one-on-one lunch hosted by Xi in honour of Modi. The Indian Prime Minister is due to leave for home after that.
Joint project in Afghanistan
The understanding was reached between the two leaders during the two-day informal summit which concluded.
This will be a first such project in the war-torn country where China, while trying to expand its influence, has tacitly backed Pakistan.
In a move that could upset Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to undertake a joint India-China economic project in Afghanistan at their first informal summit here, official sources said. The understanding was reached between the two leaders during the two-day informal summit which concluded today, they said.
As per the understanding, officials of both sides will identify the project in following up discussions and work out modalities.
This will be a first such project in the war-torn country where China while trying to expand its influence has tacitly backed Pakistan, which has been accused by Afghanistan and the US of backing the Taliban and its most violent attacks in the country destabilising any attempts to restore peace.
China for the first time held a trilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan in December last in Beijing to narrow down the differences between the two countries.
China had also announced plans to extend its controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan at the meeting.
Panchsheel, new and old
Xi Takes Modi On Museum Trip, Sees Him Off To His Car After Dinner
Prime Minister Narendra Modi complimented Chinese President Xi Jinping for creating an environment of positivity through the informal summit and the two leaders seemed to hit it off well from the time Xi received Modi at the Hubei Provincial Museum with a folk dance programme.
After a one-on-one meeting, the two leaders took a tour of the Exhibition of Marquis Yi of Zeng Cultural Relics and Treasure, which were unearthed in Suizhou City,
Hubei province, in 1978. According to the museum, Marquis Yi of Zeng was the king of a vassal state 2,400 years ago. The era of Marquis Yi of Zeng, both leaders were told, was a little later than that of Confucius, and was contemporary with the later period of Mahajanapada Age of India.
Xi also invited Modi to witness a traditional Chinese tea ceremony on Saturday when the two leaders will meet again over a walk in a heavily wooded stretch on the banks of East Lake. This will be followed by a boat ride in the lake which is expected to last for almost an hour. The tea ceremony is likely to take place on the boat. Modi had a similar ‘chai pe charcha’ with PM Shinzo Abe when he visited Japan in 2014.
Modi presented Xi with reprints of two paintings of celebrated Chinese painter Xu Beihong (1895-1953), which he painted during his stay at Santiniketan during 1939-40.
Sources said a lot of thinking had gone into deciding the gift for Xi. “Titled ‘The Horse and Sparrows’ and ‘Grass’, these paintings are in the collection of Visva Bharati, and their single reprints were especially commissioned by the ICCR on the occasion of the informal summit between the two leaders in Wuhan,” said a source here.
Xu Beihong came to Santiniketan and taught at the Kala Bhavana as its first visiting professor from China. “During his stay, Rabindranath Tagore inaugurated an exhibition of more than 150 paintings of Xu Beihong in December 1939,” the source said.
Diplomatic sources said the meeting at the museum was an exercise in cultural diplomacy meant to showcase China’s soft power. Modi recalled an earlier visit to Hubei province as Gujarat CM when he saw the Three Gorges Dam. “It’s important to remember that for 1,600 years out of the past 2,000 years, India and China accounted for 50% of the world GDP,” Modi said.
Modi’s meeting and dinner later at the East Lake guest house lasted for over two hours. Officials said Xi walked right up to Modi’s car to see him off after the dinner.
Relations under strain; Dalai Lama is one factor
Dalai Issue Adds Layer Of Complexity As Ties Reach Most-Challenging Phase Since Doklam
Behind the facade of a ‘successful’ informal summit, India and China may be passing through the most challenging phase in ties since the Doklam standoff. While a lot of it has to do with Beijing’s unequivocal denunsciation of India’s reorganisation of Jammu & Kashmir, the Dalai Lama issue has added another layer of complexity to the troubled relations.
China officially reminded India yet again this month that any interaction which senior Indian leaders or government functionaries might have with the Dalai Lama was going to be detrimental to the bilateral relationship, TOI has learnt. This was conveyed to Indian officials days before the November 8-9 ‘Rising Himachal’ global investors’ summit in Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which was addressed by PM Modi.
China was apparently spooked by the possibility of Indian leaders and officials from both central and state governments engaging the spiritual leader, who met some of the delegates, in public. India responded by reiterating that the Dalai Lama was not allowed to carry out any political activity and that the summit was a nonpolitical event. That the US ambassador at large for religious freedom Sam Brownback had met the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala just a week earlier also seemed to be playing on Chinese minds.
The issue was resolved in the end to the satisfaction of both countries, allowing them to work for the bilateral meeting which Modi had with President Xi Jinping in Brasilia last week. This was a particularly sensitive time as the issue of Dalai Lama’s reincarnation has dominated headlines internationally in the past few weeks. The 14th Dalai Lama is now 84 years old and the US is actively working to ensure that Beijing is not allowed to handpick his successor. It has even called for the UN to intervene in the succession issue.
It was foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale’s letter early last year calling for government functionaries to avoid sharing public space with Tibetans that helped pave the way for the first informal summit in Wuhan. While the first summit prevented any LAC flare up, the Chennai Connect, or the second edition of the informal summit, is not yet visible on the ground.
It has been widely reported in the past few weeks that India has delayed visas to Chinese dignitaries and the two countries have even failed to finalise dates for boundary talks between the special representatives, which should have been the natural and early outcome of the summit. Official sources said though that a six-member Chinese defence delegation will be visiting India on Tuesday for a military exchange.
China strongly opposes any contact between the Dalai Lama and leaders and officials of India or any other country. The government has so far shown no inclination to wade into the Dalai Lama succession controversy, or play the so-called Tibet card, even though the Dalai Lama has suggested that his successor could come from his followers in India. China wants the next Dalai Lama to be chosen through the “traditional” process, namely drawing of lots from a golden urn and recognition of the central government.
China-India relations, 2000 onwards