|Disclaimer: This is an independently written article by the author without allegiance to any political party, ideology or government.
Yesterday the south block was most engaged. With some uncertainty and anxiety over Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi , everyone was trying to guess the objective of Chinese Foreign Minister Mr Wang Yi’s visit especially when he made some uncomfortable non warranted statement over Kashmir during the OIC conference in Pakistan.
|This visit of Mr Wang has raised many questions in the diplomatic circles and even public interest over social media. Prior to coming, Mr Wang visited Afghanistan and met Taliban leaders there. He Was scheduled to visit Nepal after his India’s tour.
Summing up the visit one of the best analysis was by former Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao who took to Twitter and wrote the following, ” Why is #WangYi coming to India? Some thoughts in this thread:-
The Chinese have a confirmed propensity for such choreographed diplomatic maneuvers- that is their style and habitual mode of transacting foreign relations. Secondly, they see an opening, a scope for new alignments that must be explored against the scenario of the Russia-Ukraine war, especially if any new alignments can take away from the sum of coalitions within the Indo-Pacific, led by the United States. India is a key and central power in this calculus-an India that is careful not to criticize or condemn Russia for its actions, or, pin its colors to a western mast – a country which powers like China (and by extension, Russia) would like to see inching towards their side, although I believe, we remain solidly (and not ‘shakily’ to use a Bidenesque term) with our partners in the Quad (and I believe they have little option but to understand, and accept, our position on Russia, given the constraints dictated by our defence relationship with that country).
Thirdly, the Chinese want to use the current situation to see how they can pin down and probe India on the future of bilateral relations, away from our emphasis on restoration of the status quo along the LAC in Ladakh, to a wider canvas of ‘business as usual’ in relations which would convey a ‘success’ for China. How China can imagine such an eventuality defies logic or reason or realism. Wang Yi’s flat-footedness at the OIC meet in Islamabad and the reference to Kashmir was not designed for a successful India visit.
Which leads me to think – China continues to ignore a basic tenet about how good relations and mutual trust can be built – which is mutual sensitivity. China, are you listening?”. period.
Before meeting EAM Dr JaiShankar, Mr Wang has met NSA Doval also where it is said that the NSA has firmly put de-escalation on the borders as a pre condition for any course towards normalization including his visit to China when he was invited for it. EAM Dr JaiShankar has also stressed on border situation for normalization of relations We will not rush to catch the Chinese mind on this visit. May be it was sort of on a second thought after he spoke at OIC. As Rao says had they been sincere for the normalization of relations Mr Wang would not have spoken on Kashmir in Pakistan. on the contrary, it could be seen as putting pressure on India before his meetings.
|Out of all the possible scenarios building up we think the CCC meet to be held in China where President XI will seek third term could be one of the most important factor for this visit.
|Second China would have wanted to know the Indian mind on Russia. So far India has played excellently on the Russian affair, giving Russia the same support as China while also convincing US to understand . This was also our position when we have written two three posts on the Russian situation when the war has started.
|We are of the opinion that China is not serious and sincere for border talks and they will keep the pressure on India for sure. It will be premature for India to expect any such leniency from them. Therefore India has to be pretty realistic. We think that China was just reading Indian pulse and nothing more than that.
|We don’t agree with Mrs Rao that China is looking for normalising the relationship with India (point 2 of her tweet). On the contrary, we have to keep a sharp eye on Chinese movements in the next two-three weeks of time.
|While it appears less probable that the Chinese might venture anything adventurous after seeing the debacle of Russia on the ground and through sanctions. Yet we can’t rule out such possibility. The reason is why does a foreign minister to take a round of all neighboring countries in a hurry looks rather out of line if not totally unusual.
|The other possibility could be something sinister happening inside China which is also quite probable.
Overall India must not fall for anything dramatic or even reasonable improvement with China until the picture gets more clearer. Definitely, in days to come, we will come to know and get more information about the objectives of this visit directly and indirectly. When we say indirectly it refers to Chinese actions elsewhere including Indian borders.
India has done well to meet Mr Wang with confidence and lay the conditions before them. Chinese would have definitely taken it as a sign of resurging India and not a weak India. We would conclude that this was the best outcome of Mr Wang’s visit , especially from an Indian point of view; a confident message and nothing else. We have to play the game with China on a level footing talking eye to eye. If Mr Wang was looking for something to exploit he must have been surely disappointed.
Dr Asheesh Shah Samanvaya