Narendra Modi-Xi jinping meet : Agendas and priorities

The politics by Modi government is putting national security at risk by not acknowledging the construction of roads, seven helipads, trenches and deploying of military vehicles by the Chinese PLA near the face-off site in Doklam from December to January 2018.
Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping

The Modi government has been deeply involved in  secretive meetings and agreements with China, keeping  the Opposition parties and people of India in dark amidst the heavy deployment of PLA and military vehicles in South Doklam, providing Chinese access to the ‘Jampheri Ridge’ that overlooks the Siliguri Corridor i.e. the strategic ‘Chicken Neck’ which is the ‘Gateway to India’s North East’.

The informal meeting between PM Modi and President Xi Jinping in the Wuhan on the banks of Yangtze is being billed as “unprecedented” and “the most important since 1988” by the Chinese media, even though the agenda of the talks are shrouded in secrecy.

But the media of both the countries are predicting that both the leaders will be setting aside the differences to built trust for maintaining Sino-India ties and the developments at the LAC (Line of actual control)  is not in India’s national interest as China has expansionist vision and Doklam incident has raised embarrassing questions for Narendra Modi on the deal it had struck  with Beijing in the Sikkim-Butan-Tibet trijunction area.

The Modi government was questioned numerous times by the Opposition inside and outside the Parliament about the crucial developments at the border with China, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains silent and defiant Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said the status-quo at the face-off site in Doklam near the Sikkim- Bhutan- Tibet- tri-junction has not been altered.

The tensions between India and China increased when Indian Armed Forces stopped China from building a road in Doklam plateau in June 2017 leading to a 73-day Stand-off with China. But PM Narendra Modi, who was more than willing to attend the BRICS summit in China from Septemeber 3-5,2017, hurriedly asked the External affairs ministry to resolve the issue and on Aug 28,a statement was issued that both India and China have agreed on “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam” thus betraying the people of India by not disclosing the very details of the disengagement, nullifying the efforts of the armed forces and keeping them at risk at the Line of actual control.

There is now the likelihood of increasing face-offs and transgressions by the renewed muscle-flexing” by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the disputed and sensitive areas” on the 4,057-km LAC, stretching from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.

Modi government came to power on the promise of giving a transparent and accountable government but there are many discrepancies about what transpired between the meeting between PM Modi and President Xi Jinping at BRICS and the recent visits by both Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj when they met their Chinese counterparts from 20-24th April.

Congress leaders and media in charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “There is a complete omission of the two Cabinet Ministers to confront China on the creation of ‘full-fledged Chinese Military Complex’ in Doklam right upto 10m from Indian Army post.”

The politics by Modi government is putting national security at risk by not acknowledging the construction of roads, seven helipads, trenches and deploying of military vehicles by the Chinese PLA near the face-off site in Doklam from December to January 2018.

It is astonishing and alarming the PM Modi who in 2014 used to brag his 56-inch chest and assured the voters that he will not allow China to enter into India’s territory also turned out to be a “Jumla”.

It is being talked that Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping will seek a solution to border disputes during their meeting on 27-28 April that will herald a new Sino-India relationship.

But it is questionable when India is having boundary dispute with China and Chinese military has built roads that can give its PLA troops access to the southern part of the Doklam plateau, thus, giving it easy access to the ‘JampheriRidge’ that overlooks the Siliguri Corridor i.e. the strategic ‘Chicken Neck’ which is the ‘Gateway to Northern states of India .

Surejewala said, “When Congress party pointed out this apparent Chinese threat, Modi Govt, through External Affairs issued a statement on two occasions denying any such construction by the Chinese.

Contradicting Sushma, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman admitted on the floor of the Parliament that Chinese Army “had undertaken construction of some infrastructure, including sentry posts, trenches and helipads”.

India is under continuous threat along the Line of Actual control as there is a heavy deployment of PLA troops at Doklam and concrete observation tower about 10m from the Indian Army’s forward post has been constructed beside other military infrastructure.

Uptill now China was using soft power to pursue its One Road One belt initiative but now it is adopting aggressive approach after President Xi Jinping was regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader in Line with Mao and his doctrine as been enshrined in the Constitution of China.

No doubt Xi Jinping is credited by making China an Asian power by building military infrastructure in the South China Sea and knitting ties with countries in Indian’s neighborhood.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s credentials of being nationalist is highly questionable as he does not disclose the details of the deals that he struck with other countries flouting the rules of the Constitution and the Prime Minister’s post .

India and China are rivals due to the fact that both countries aspire to become Asian power but China’s influence has increased manifold in the region.

But during Modi’s rule, China under Xi emerged as the strongest leader and made his country a manufacturing giant and with his ambitious OBOR China dominates the global trade market and connects China to Asia and  Europe.

During his four year rule, Modi has just talked about connectivity, ties and terrorism on his foreign trips but failed to do anything substantial or address the basic concerns of our Armed forces: the ammunition, weapons, good food and modernising defence through technology.

Xi Jinping’s agenda

  • Seeking India’s endorsement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Try to forge a pro-globalization alliance against U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • Talks to resolve boundary disputes: Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh to be the part of its southern Tibet. The territory, a key focus of a 1962 war fought between the Asian giants.
  • Another hotly contested territory by both countries is Aksai Chin, which New Delhi considers part of its Jammu and Kashmir state while China believes the zone belongs to its Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
  • Strategically and militarily Doklam is important and that’s why China has moved its weaponry, deployed PLA troops with massive military infrastructure and logistics.
  • Beijing has constructed a road in Doklam for easy access to CHICKEN NECK, which connects India to northeastern states

China can block it in the event of a war between India and China and can completely cut the supply of northeast from other parts of the country. China has expansionist history and Xi has been asserting territorial and maritime claims where ever he desires through soft and hard approach.

The priority of Xi is to forge trilateral cooperation among Nepal, India, and China.
Modi government had criticised President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative but how Xi is going to convince Modi for an India-Nepal-China economic corridor is to be seen. China has proposed an India-Nepal-China economic corridor with multi-dimensional connectivity through the Himalayas after Nepalese Foreign Minister held talks with his Chinese counterpart.

Modi’s agenda

  • To win 2019 Lok Sabha Polls and wants to show stability.
  • Eager to enter into an elite club of 48-member NSG Nuclear Suppliers Group and China remains the biggest obstacle as it has been opposing India’s bid primarily on the grounds that Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • Looking for long-term relations.
  • Want cooperation on terrorism.
  • New Delhi wants support from China to label Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist.

China’s global image

  • China is the rising economic and military power in Asia after Congress unanimously approved incorporation of Xi’s ideological contribution into the Party Constitution as ‘Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’.
  • China — the second most important economic power after the U.S.
  • China has knitted close ties with countries in India’s neighborhood and invested billions of dollars in the economies of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
  • In Addition, Beijing has been pursuing territorial and maritime claims.
  • While North Korean leader Kim Jong un’s friendly meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing has brought China into a central position by reinserting into the diplomatic negotiations.
  • China’s military modernisation and reforms are intrinsic to its goals of expanding its political and economic footprint across the world.
  • China is increasing its economic, military, and strategic influence in Nepal.
  • India’s position
    Rising Unemployment, Economy is in a bad shape due to demonetisation.
  • Finance minister Arun Jaitley has not given a good amount of defence budget for 2018 and it will neither enable the armed forces to achieve defence preparedness nor allow them to undertake the military modernisation.
  • The Indian military revealed that a shortage of 15 to 20 percent exists in the stocks of critical war material.
  • Rising fundamentalism and divide among communities.

PM Modi has to be very tactful and cautious while dealing with China as Delhi has to take care of national interests. Delhi and China can never be trading partners but can be short-term, economic partners. Moreover, Delhi has also embraced the Trump Administration’s concept of Indo-Pacific and revived the quadrilateral security dialogue with Washington, Tokyo and Canberra.

 

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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