Herculean task for PM Modi in improving ties with China

When PM Modi visits China in May President Xi Jinping will seek his pound of flesh, by demanding entry into SAARC as a full-fledged member. Xi Jinping also wants to settle the border issues, to the satisfaction of China, if India wants their support to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council


During the recent visit of Sushma Swaraj to Beijing, to attend the Foreign Ministers meet, President Xi Jinping met her in an unusual gesture to show China's friendship for India.  He appears to have reiterated that both India and China have taken "solid steps" to make progress in bilateral ties.
Her visit was to attend the summit of Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC), when Swaraj was able to get both China and Russia to back the UN pact against Pakistan. India has been seeking to push the 19 year old proposal for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to punish those who shelter and finance terrorism. China, it must be remembered, has often claimed that "foreign forces" are helping terrorists in Xinjiang province.
After the RIC meeting, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying is reported to have said that "the reform of the UN Security Council should give priority to increasing the representativeness of developing countries". China "respects" the aspiration of India and Brazil to play a bigger role at the UN Security Council.
After his return to the US, it appears President Barack Obama spoke to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to appraise him of his visit, possibly hinting at the likelihood of India's move to get the coveted honour of getting the UN Security Council permanent seat.  Pakistan has itself been eyeing the seat with the support of Beijing but its track record on nuclear proliferation and acts of support for terrorism besides chronic political instability has been stumbling blocks.  Nawaz Sharif appears to have informed President Barack that India "does not deserve the permanent UN Security Council seat as the country has been violating the UN resolutions on Kashmir".
In the meantime, China's Silk Road Fund, with a $40 billion infusion, for financing infrastructure projects connecting South Asia, South East Asia, Central Asia and Europe along an integrated land corridor has become operational. This fund is meant to finance development of roads, rail tracks, fibre optic highways etc has received enthusiastic support. The Maritime Silk Road (MSR) envisons development of ports and facilities mainly in the Indian Ocean and these ports will be connected to the hinterland by a string of land arteries which, eventually, are likely to hook up the main Silk Road Economic Belt at specified junctions. All these are meant to break the connectivity bottleneck currently experienced in Asia. And these are in addition to the $50 billion that Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has on hand to offer.
According to Justin Yifu Lin, a former Chief Economist of the World Bank, "the strategy is good for the stabilization and development of the world economy and China, as it has a large overcapacity in construction materials".  All these activities will strengthen the influence of China in the region and bring about a strong influence in the area.
So, what has all these to do with the Indo-China relations? Firstly, China has been claiming Arunachal Pradesh as being a part of China, as an extension of Tibetan province, which itself was usurped by it, while the whole world watched, and did not react.  It has not accepted the actual line of control or the MacMahon Line, claiming it to be "disputed".  Not only regional area maps have been altered, but, in the past, they have continued to play around with issuance of visit visa to China as not being applicable, and issuing them, in separate detachable forms.  Border incursions, which took place even during the visit of President Xi Jinping to India and regular airspace  violations have been "treated" small border incidents of no consequence, because, the "areas are in dispute" and that clear demarcations have not been done!  Assurances have been made that these will be resolved amicably by mutual discussions!  Nothing concrete, however, has happened so far! They have claimed that people from this region "need not get visa" to come to China!
In the meantime, China has been demanding its elevation, from being a non-observer status to that of being a full-fledged member in SAARC!  There are eight permanent members, nine others, holding the "observer" status, which includes, China, US, Myanmar, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Mauritius and European Union.  By its present constitution, these nine observers can sit and speak in inaugural and concluding sessions, but they are not allowed to vote or take active part in negotiations and discussions.  However, in recent times, both Nepal and Pakistan have been actively supporting China to become a full-fledged member.
India has been opposing this move and has made it clear that this matter will be reviewed after five years to consider it further. So, when PM Modi visits China in May, this issue will surely be brought up and President Xi Jinping will seek his pound of flesh, by demanding entry into SAARC as a full-fledged member and also want to settle the border issues, to the satisfaction of China, if India wants their support to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Even at this point of time, China would still seek a role that Pakistan can play in the Security Council.
China will not surrender Aksai Chin that Pakistan had ceded to them, and therefore it is going to be a herculean task that PM Modi has in his hands!  
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
9 years ago
As an Indian, I do not want Mr. Modi to improve relations with China per se. I want Mr. Modi to secure India's position vis a vis China and the rest of the World. Better relations with China MAY be one adjunct to this adventure but certainly not a vital one. There are many other cards that India could hold if it chose. For example, cutting off trade relations with China pending settlement of border disputes. China exports a great deal to India with an overwhelming trade surplus against India, and at this time, China would hurt from such a sanction. Equally, Mr. Modi could apply his mind to finding and promoting persons capable of strategic thinking to multiply and orchestrate military resources and methods. Certainly replacing extortion (aka corruption) and reservations with accountability and rule of law is one vital method for building an India with the competence and integrity that can look China and the rest of the World in the eye.
Dr Anantha K Ramdas
9 years ago
Press reports show that China's Vice Foreign Minister, Liu Zhenmin called in Ashok Kantha, Indian Ambassador in China "to lodge stern representation on Prime Minister Modi's visit to a "disputed border region". He expressed "strong dissatisfaction and staunch opposition" to the Indian side's insistence on arranging the visit by its leader to the disputed area on the China-India border.

He reiterated that the Chinese Government "has never recognized the so called "Arunachal Pradesh" unilaterally set up by the Indian side"

So, what does China expect India to do? Do they expect Premier Modi will seek China's permission for his visit to another part of India?

This Arunchal Pradesh was and is a part of India that existed even before China became a nation, as such in 1949, if I remember history correctly. Simply to say "that we do not recognize MacMahon line or the international borders" that were in force, will not hold water.

It is now India's turn to demand return of Aksai Chin first before we resume our "peace" talks. Period. Pakistan illegally ceded something that did was not hers in the first place, which itself was taken by force!

India must take a firm stand. PM Modi is bold enough to call off this visit.
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