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: The power asymmetry does exist, but that doesn’t mean that China cannot be tackled. I’m using the word tackled and not managed. We have seen what happened in Doklam in 2017. There was a 73 day standoff. India didn’t blink and we are seeing the situation now. So, power asymmetry is one thing. The second is the ability to use it and the third is the capability of the armed forces. The Chinese have certainly been restructuring. They’ve been training etc. But their forces have never seen battle. Ours are battle hardened troops. They’ve served in high altitudes and the reports that we see about Chinese troops and their ability to stay on in high altitudes leaves some questions. The second point about regional integration. We have been advocating regional integration. We’ve been trying to do it with all the countries, but then the Chinese have also stepped in with more dollars, which they can throw around. However, that hasn’t worked everywhere. I can readily mention the example of the Maldives. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka too. In fact they were here recently, though they are negotiating a new loan with China. The Chinese are getting pushback in their own way. In Nepal also, there are some problems. The Nepalese went ahead and joined an American sponsored program. The Chinese are unhappy and I guess that’s one reason why Wang Yi is going to Katmandu.
APR: Bangladesh after that as well. Since you’re talking about what the Chinese motive for this meeting could be. Could one of the motives be the RIC or the BRICS summit? A question Jaydeep is also asking, is the meeting a precursor of the BRICS summit? How do you think that would pan out given both Russian isolation and the LAC crisis? Would it be wise for the Prime Minister to visit? How important is that summit for the Chinese?
JR: The BRICS Summit is very important to the Chinese. It’s essentially a China led organisation and the Chinese economy overwhelms all the other member states’ economies put together. So, it is a Chinese sort of outfit. The other is the SCO. There are summits due in both. It’s a big thing for Xi Jinping himself, who is facing criticism internally. The Chinese economy is not in a good shape. Internationally, China runs the risk of being isolated and Xi Jinping certainly wants the BRICS summit to go ahead. But again, let me stress a point that, with the Chinese forces being deployed as they are, unless they go back to April 2020 positions, it would not only be a bad idea, it would be a terrible idea, if our Prime Minister goes to Beijing for the summit. He should not go. In fact, by not going it will be denting China’s image and Xi Jinping’s image, which at this time, considering what they’ve done to us, is a wise thing to do. Final point is that China’s always had this feeling that regardless of any actions that they may take against us or punishment that they mete out to us, India after a while, will come back and accept the Chinese position and Chinese effort to bend our will. And that we must certainly not do. And I’m almost certain that this government will not do it.
APR: If the attempt was to reach out, for China to reach out, there’s been a lot of double-tongue speak here. Considering what you mentioned earlier, the OIC statements and resolution.
JR: Exactly. That’s why I said the itinerary was curious. What they have said and done before the visit is very odd, indeed. It’s not calculated to win them any friends and certainly not here. It was not designed to prepare the ground for some kind of reciprocity from us. So I don’t think it was well planned. Unless, and I come back to the point I just made, they were so confident that India would accept what they say, since a reasonable quote unquote amount of time has gone by since the Chinese ingressed here in April 2020.
APR: And we can’t forget decades of the China-Pak nexus and where all that has led us. We saw what happened. It wasn’t just the OIC. Wang Yi met the as of now Pakistan Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa when he was there. Not to forget the (Pakistan Day) parade and the JF-17s that were flown when he was present.
JR: Yeah, and he was enjoying the parade and watching the aircraft that of course the Chinese have made for the Pakistanis. I’ll just add one more point, though it may not appear directly related. North Korea had just launched a missile, one day ago, and let’s not forget that is the result of a China brokered deal between Pakistan and North Korea.