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
JR: People are pointing to the so-called similarity between the positions that China has taken and India has taken on the entire issue, by abstaining at the vote in the UN. But the point is that the votes are prompted by entirely different circumstances. As far as the Chinese are concerned, this is important to underline, there is an ideological kinship between China and Russia. The leaders, Xi Jinping and Putin are both creatures of their respective communist parties. Xi Jinping has nurtured the relationship and enhanced it with Putin personally and with Russia. It is almost certain that when Putin went to Beijing, on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics for the summit with Xi Jinping, he briefed him on what his plans for Ukraine were, or at least gave him a fairly detailed insight into what he was planning. And he got a full throated backing from Xi Jinping. So that is one thing. The second is, in China, the media is very tightly controlled, including social media. Whatever we see and read coming out is all supportive of Russia. There are abuses hurled at Ukraine, abusive remarks about Ukrainians by ordinary Chinese netizens, obviously, because that’s what he has been fed. There are also other remarks including the discussion between Biden and Xi Jinping, where Xi Jinping basically said we can’t do anything. You sort out the problem. He justified Russia’s actions by saying that their national interests were threatened. So the Chinese position is very clear. As far as we’re concerned, the fact is, unfortunately we are dependent on Russia for almost 55-60% of our military technology and supplies. That really is something that we need to be very conscious of, which is why we have been careful, apart from the technology assistance that we are getting from them. But, we have started diversifying and we have to be sensitive. The other point is that this is being viewed as something between Russia and Ukraine and the Western powers. It doesn’t really involve us. Neither, if I may make the point, when the Chinese came into India in April 2020, when they massed their forces and ingressed and also since then, they’ve kept about 50-60,000 troops in readiness on our borders, there hasn’t been any noise of support, any voice of support coming from the west, either. That may or may not be a calculation of the government, but that certainly is something that Indian strategists do note.
APR: And this narrative that is being put out there, that we are on the same side of the fence as China, when it comes to what is happening in Europe-the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
JR: That’s a very mischievous narrative. That’s what’s being put out by the Chinese. They’re doing it systematically. Wang Yi himself has made a couple of remarks like this. Chinese academics have made these remarks, saying that we are on the same side. We are certainly not. I’ve explained to you the two different reasons why we are voting that way along with about 35 others. As far as oil is concerned, the U.S. is still buying oil from Russia and spending about $600 million a day. Germany is buying oil, in fact, they have said we are not going to apply sanctions on Russia as far as oil is concerned. They’re buying a huge amount on a daily basis. You can’t have double standards. This propaganda that the Chinese are putting out, is designed for two reasons. One, to deflect the possibility of sanctions against them being applied by the U.S. and the West. That’s becoming a stronger likelihood as days go by. Second, to try and drive a wedge between us and the U.S. That hasn’t happened. But we have to be careful of that. The Pakistanis too, you may have noticed have now started saying the same thing. So it’s obviously a programmed effort at creating mischief and deception as far as we are concerned.
APR: Is China trying to step in between the Quad members with what a viewer says are clear differences coming out between India and other members in the light of the Ukraine crisis? We’ve seen another virtual summit of the Quad leaders. In Melbourne there was the in-person meet. In Japan, there’s going to be hopefully an in-person summit again. How do you see the Quad standing up in the current scenario?
JR: Well, let’s be quite honest. China has certainly tried to create differences between India and the Quad. They do realise that India is probably the key element in the Quad taking shape and putting paid to Chinese intentions in the coming years. But, at the same time, we need to realise that there are really no differences. The parties concerned are still talking to each other. Japanese Prime Minister Kishida came here. That was a lengthy thing. Yes, there was a point of difference. But it wasn’t central to the discussions. Neither with Australia. The quad is intact. It’s moving ahead. There will be differences off and on. But that’s what democracy is all about. And everyone is conscious of it.