NEW DELHI: An excerpt from ‘Talking Point‘, with Jayadeva Ranade, President of the Centre for China Analysis & Strategy in discussion with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi.
Watch the complete conversation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28PD9JXIF1o&t=10s
APR:It cannot be business as usual until you sort out what’s happened since April 2020 on the border.
JR: That’s one of the reasons why the External Affairs Minister himself gave the briefing to show to the people that our opposition is firm and that we are not going to yield ground. Secondly, the itinerary that Wang had for his tour is also very curious. It certainly doesn’t make for having a good discussion in India. It was extremely insensitive to our requirements. He went to Pakistan. He included Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan in his itinerary. In Pakistan, to make matters worse, as if to rub salt in our wounds, he attended a meeting for the first time ever by China of the OIC-the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. There he backs Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir issue. That is certainly not calculated for him to gain any brownie points in India. And then we will discuss the India part when he comes here. The points he made are not points on which there could be any meeting ground. So I think he got a fairly frank appraisal from India. The External Affairs Minister made a point of saying that he was quite honest with him. I think he would have been almost brutally honest in saying what can and cannot be done. But the Chinese Foreign Minister also made clear by saying, according to the readout, telling the National Security Adviser, who’s also the Special Representative for border talks, telling him that we must take a long term perspective of the border issue. In other words, nothing great is going to come out of the army commander level talks. He said, let’s put it in its proper place. In other words, let’s restore the rest of the relationship. To which he got a response saying nothing of the sort. So I think there’s no progress in that and he should not have expected any better. I wonder what exactly they were planning, or anticipating when they planned this visit. Unless, and I’m going to make the point, going by precedent, unless they thought we would just roll over and accept what they say. And I think they would have got a rude shock.
APR: What in your assessment was the Chinese tactic, plan, strategy? What did they want?
JR: Wang Yi would have wanted a couple of things. One was to push India to start looking at the rest of the relationship. And he made a couple of very deceptive points. He said that China is not looking for a unipolar Asia, which is absolutely untenable. We all know what China’s position is, and what its military activities are also. Second, he pointed to something, he put it in a different way, but, he said China is open to a one plus in this region. The meaning he didn’t spell out. It appears to be joint projects in the region. His actual reference or implication would have been to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar proposal. He was trying to say let’s move ahead on that. I think he’s not going to get any joy on that either. If we look at it from that point of view, he did come with his points, but he didn’t get anything and the planning itself was wrong. Had the itinerary been planned properly, at least, the atmospherics would have been better if nothing else.
APR: So from the Chinese point of view, since you were mentioning the Chinese MFA statements. When they say keep the border issue at the appropriate place. Can you expand on what that means from the Chinese point of view. Status quo as of now? Not as of April 2020?
JR: There are two things here. One, keep the border issue at its proper place is a standard line that the Chinese have been saying after April 2020. It’s got two parts in it. One, let’s keep the border issue aside. We’ll keep talking about that. But, meanwhile, get the economy etc to the previous levels. (India’s position is) where you guys are now, you must go back. Then we will start talking. So that is one thing which is clear. China was pushing for that. The second, yes, it does mean that they are where they are. And they don’t seem to have given any indication that they’re willing to pull back to the April 2020 positions. And that was also there in the remarks that he made to the National Security Adviser, where he said we should take a long term perspective. That means it is going to be many many years before things start moving on that front.