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“A man’s true character comes out when he’s drunk, and Xi is drunk on power” ~ Insightful Geopolitics
Chinese foreign minister and State Councilor Wang Yi was to visit Nepal from 25-27 March 2022. He is also likely to visit Bhutan and Bangladesh after that. However, as per the latest information, Wang has already landed in India on 24th March.
China is a country of contrasts, and its leaders personify contradictions. On the one hand, its foreign minister sent a request to visit India, and in the same breath, he compared Jammu and Kashmir with Palestine at the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) meeting.
Nevertheless, it would be the first trip by any senior Chinese leader to India after the bloody standoff in Galwan Valley in May 2020. It is not that Indian and Chinese leaders have not met. Indian foreign minister Dr. S Jaishankar has held several rounds of talks with Wang on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Moscow and Dushanbe.
So why is Wang Yi visiting India? Is he self-invited? What is his plan? Does China think that such optics would put the relationship back on track?
The Opportunist China
China has been observing the exchanges between India and the USA over India’s neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict with utmost keenness. China is delighted to have India on the same page as far as the Russia-Ukraine conflict goes. This also allowed them to take a dig at the United States. Without naming the USA, Wang had recently stated that some forces have always sought to stoke tensions between China and India.
So why is Wang in India? Chinese President Xi Jinping recognizes two facts. Firstly, American President Joe Biden and his team are poking and pressurizing India from time to time, which can be exploited. Secondly, this is the first time in years India and China have agreed on any issue, and this opportunity can’t be wasted. Therefore the most significant motive of Wang’s visit would be to confuse India and sow a wedge between the two countries.
Beware Of The Chinese Carrying Empty Promises
As one should be beware of Greeks bearing gifts, so should Indians be beware of the Chinese proposing empty promises. Indian leadership should clearly understand two facts. If the West has pushed Ukraine into harm’s way, then it is China that has made Russia take this dire step. CCP hasn’t grown out of its revolution and guerrilla warfare days. They continue to hide and strike from behind. This time they are firing from Russia’s shoulder, and India should not become part two of this gameplan.
To elaborate further on this, one has to study Xi Jinping. He is modern-day Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier during the 1962 India-China war. As per declassified CIA paper, Zhou deceived the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on several occasions through a strategy of assurances and intimidation. Zhou went back on many of his promises or presented them opaquely. His intentions were clear; he conveyed to Nehru that China is a great power and will punish India at will.
In 2018 when Indian Prime Minister Modi was undertaking a river cruise with Xi Jinping in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was undertaking one of the 326 transgressions into Indian territory. The very next year, in 2019, while Xi was sharing swing space with Modi in Mahabalipuram, promising to resolve the contentious issues and improve trade ties, a contingent of 1000 PLA soldiers were intruding in Eastern Ladakh’s Chumar sector.
Despite all that, 2020 was designated the ‘Year of India-China Cultural and People to People Exchanges.’ PLA took the theme to heart and did people-to-people exchange by intruding into Indian territory and backstabbing unarmed Indian army soldiers in May 2020. No Indian would forgive and forget the ‘Galwan Valley’ betrayal.
September 2020, five-point agreement with China was to resolve the eastern Ladakh border dispute. Quick disengagement of troops, avoidance of provocative activities, complying with all agreements and protocols in border management, and restoring peace were part of this agreement. However, within months of the agreement, the Chinese troops tried to enter Naku La in north Sikkim. Indian soldiers once again displayed utmost discipline and restraint. They pushed back the PLA patrolling party, though the Indian Army was in a position to send body bags back to Beijing.
The Chinese Objectives
“Ethics and leadership are the first casualties of absolute power, and today Xi has absolute power” ~ Insightful Geopolitics
Some naive observers reported that Wang is in India to discuss trade and lifting the ban on the Chinese apps. That is not the case. Wang’s visit is part of a bigger game plan. China is ready to go to any length to increase its circle of influence while damaging the American hold.
On 1st January 2022, China officially took over the BRICS chairmanship and will host a series of activities, including the 14th BRICS Summit. Therefore the first aim of Wang’s visit is to persuade Prime Minister Modi to attend the summit personally. China knows it very well that without Modi, the summit has no value attached.
The second aim of the visit is to read India’s mind vis-a-vis the Quad and the United States. One reality has dawned upon China that in the coming years, India is the only nation in Eurasia that would emerge as a challenger. Therefore China is desperate to find a weakness in India’s relationship with its partner countries. Now it is up to Indian leadership. They must keep China’s true nature in mind while dealing with any of their leaders.
The Indian Objectives
India’s sole aim is to live in tranquility on all its border with its neighbors, and China is one of them. It is also clear that Indian principles do not conform to the Chinese objectives.
The USA has acknowledged India’s security and energy concerns. Presently India is getting waver on oil import from Russia, and soon it could be S-400. The recent visit of US Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland further throws some light on the issue. She stated that the US could help India find its Russian weapon components from other sources.
Is Indian MoD’s list of 107 banned imported weapon components announced on 24th March indication of a new beginning? The banned weapon component list includes T-90 and T-72 tanks, BMP-II infantry combat vehicles, warships, submarines, and anti-tank missiles, all imported from Russia. India would produce these components indigenously with a timeline ranging from 2025 to 2027.
So what would happen until 2025-27? Would India continue to import components from Russia or take help from Poland and Georgia? Both these countries have experience with upgrading tanks and armored vehicles indigenously.
From the foregoing, it is amply clear that India has no military dependence on China. However, India heavily depends upon Chinese imports in the civilian realm. The government of India has to layout a road map to overcome that deficiency at war footing. India cannot remain hostage to the mood swings of the Chinese leadership and the ‘Punish India’ attitude.
Visit of the Japanese Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi’s interaction with his Australian and British counterparts showcases India’s importance in the ‘Quad+.’ Russia-Ukraine conflict is an actual present-day reality. However, rather than getting bogged down with present-day occurrences, India has to start getting ready for the next 50 years, and China is the most significant impediment to India’s long-term dreams.
China: A Country Without A Soul
The 16th-century German folklore has a fictitious soulless devil called ‘Mephistopheles’ or, in short, Mephisto. He is a cultivated and cynical supporter of materialism and nihilism. Ironically, although he depicts evil, he can also be an unconscious force for good. Mephisto fails because he cannot understand or appreciate the positive sides of human nature. It is mesmerizing how close China’s character is to Mephistopheles.
India must keep its cards close to the chest, and the meeting with Wang should restrict to areas of mutual interests. Wang Yi is here to fulfill his bosses’ dream, and there is no place for India in that dream. The earlier India understands these facts and carves out its independent path, the better and safer future generations will be.
”Chinese promises are like the Chinese products; they will last until the time you are willing to believe in them.” ~ Insightful Geopolitics