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'Xi Jinping has got himself in a mess'

By ARCHANA MASIH
Last updated on: October 14, 2020 09:43 IST
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'If one puts the context of what Xi Jinping said at the UN about not wanting a 'hot or cold war with any country', one realises that his speech was quite bizarre.'
'The world does not expect such statements from China, a nation aspiring to be a superpower.'

Xi Jinping 

IMAGE: From right: Xi Jinping, general secretary of China's Communist party, with members of the CCP's standing committee of the politburo Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang and Wang Huning at the national day reception on the eve of the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in Beijing, September 30, 2020. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters
 

"Xi has got himself in such a mess in pursuing his ambition that he looks at Chinese belligerence in Taiwan, South China Sea and India as an opportunity to show how firm he can be."

"US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that India is facing 60,000 Chinese troops on its northern border and he went on to say that he doesn't think talks are an answer."

"If that is the mood assessed by one of the four participants of the Quad meeting, then to expect a positive outcome from the border meeting is quite unlikely," Lieutenant General Subrata Saha (retd) -- former Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, former General Officer Commanding XV Corps and member of the National Security Advisory Board -- tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih.

Do you expect any breakthrough in the seventh round of military talks between India and China?

The short answer is no.

Going by the events and statements in the recent past, especially President Xi Jinping's address at the UN general assembly, there seems to be nothing conducive to a great outcome. If there is an outcome, I will be positively and pleasantly surprised.

If one puts the context of what Xi Jinping said about not wanting a 'hot or cold war with any country' and analyse the content of his speech in the larger canvas, one realises that his speech was quite bizarre.

Usually, one doesn't see such statements, barring some exceptions like Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who threatened nuclear war from the floor of the UN general assembly last year.

The world does not expect such statements from China, a nation aspiring to be a superpower.

It shows Chinese belligerence. Frankly speaking, this aggression coincides with Xi Jinping assuming paramount power in China.

It is the design of the Chinese Communist party rather than desire of China as a nation. It is about Xi and his quest for power.

That quest for power is threatened by his internal problems like a faltering economy, devastating floods etc.

Xi has got himself in such a mess in pursuing his ambition that he looks at the Chinese belligerence in Taiwan, South China Sea and India as an opportunity to show how firm he can be.

Therefore, I would be very surprised if there is a breakthrough in the talks.

Does this mean that the standoff that has continued for five months is going to be further prolonged?

China is openly publicising its preparations as the standoff continues. They are putting all their efforts to make their troops comfortable in that terrain.

Three, four years back we had had heard reports about China providing pressurised chambers to its troops in high altitudes; such reports are being revived again. There is a sudden hype about their preparations for the winter.

There were also reports of young recruits being inducted into Tibet and welcomed by silk scarves which means there is further induction of troops that is going on.

They are making public display of missiles, aircraft, hangars. All the indications are towards a prolonged stand of belligerence.

SEE: IAF's Chinook helicopter carries out sorties

 

 

What do you make of the international reaction to this Chinese belligerence in view of the recently concluded Quad meeting?

The collective statements that came out after the Quad meeting are cautious and restrained. At the same time, if one takes the individual statements made by individuals who participated and make a combined picture, it gives you a sense of the stance vis a vis China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that India is facing 60,000 Chinese troops on its northern border and he went on to say that he doesn't think talks are an answer.

If that is the mood assessed by one of the four participants of the Quad meeting, then obviously to expect a positive outcome from the border meeting is quite unlikely.

If we have to expect some breakthrough in the negotiations, it will have to be at a much higher level, perhaps at the political level.

In the last meeting, a representative from the ministry of external affairs was also part of the discussions. The statement that came out of the MEA also did not give us much hope.

Meanwhile, the statements after the last Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs meeting were also bland reiterations.

Going by the indications of the past diplomatic and military meetings, I don't see much hope for the talks.

Even on the ground, the PLA is stuck in South Pangong Tso because the Indian Army is at an advantageous position. Our troops are dominating their major garrisons and access routes to Pangong Tso.

Then if you look at Pakistan, there is concern about the government's desire to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as a separate province. Former Pakistan high commissioner to India Abdul Basit is himself against that move because it changes their own position in the UN.

Pakistan is doing this obviously at the behest of China. Therefore, even in context of Pakistan-China, we are seeing indications to the contrary.

Looking at the diplomatic and battlefield indications -- either way -- I don't see much hope for the talks.

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ARCHANA MASIH / Rediff.com
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