Video Summary

[RSTV The Big Picture] India, China Ties – Marching on

External Affairs Minister of India visited China from August 11-13 in which he reiterated that India’s decisions on Jammu and Kashmir are the country’s internal matter and have no implication on the external boundaries of India.
By IT's Video Summary Team
August 26, 2019

Contents

  • Introduction
  • The significance of the visit of Foreign Minister
  • How has the Sino- Indian relation evolved in the recent past?
  • Have India and China put aside crisis like Chumar (2014) and Doklam (2017)?
  • Do both countries understand that working together is in their best interest?
  • Is China is going to bring the Article 370 abrogation issue again even after India allying the Chinese concern?
  • Where does this leave Pakistan in midst of Chinese going away from leftover PoK issue?
  • Way Forward for Sino- Indian Ties
  • IT’s Input
    • What is Doklham Incident?
    • What is Chummar stand-off?

[RSTV The Big Picture] India, China Ties – Marching on 

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Introduction

  • External Affairs Minister has made it clear to his Chinese counterpart amidst Chinese objections to the formation of Ladakh as a Union Territory, that India’s decisions on Jammu and Kashmir are its internal matter and do not have implications either for external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control with China.
  • He also pointed out that bilateral differences should not become disputes and emphasized that the future of the Sino- Indian ties will depend upon the mutual sensitivity to each other core concerns. Based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence (Panchsheel), both countries can have mutually beneficial cooperation.
  • India and China seem to have been stepped back from allowing Kashmir to become an unmanageable irritant between the two countries. Both the countries also signed four MoUs and agreed to organize one hundred activities in the coming months.

The significance of the visit of Foreign Minister

  • This is the second high-level meeting between India and China for giving impetus to bilateral relations through people to people exchanges. The first meeting was held at Wuhan, China in December 2018.
  • This meeting is a timely visit in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and also due to the bifurcation of J&K into two union territories (UTs).
  • The visit of Indian Foreign minister is also significant as Pakistan has said that China will help them to raise the issue of J&K, hence India had to clear the idea to Chinese government about the recent J&K decision.
  • During the meeting, some of the important matters were put by the Indian External Affairs Minister to Chinese counterpart.
  • First, it is being made clear that abrogation of Article 370 is the internal matter of India and India is not answerable to any country as the move was as per the Indian Constitution which made the way for the socio-economic development and improved governance.
  • Secondly, India has full sovereign rights to scarp Article 370.
  • Third, if the bilateral relations between China and India have to improve, the difference between the two countries should not be allowed to become disputes (as discussed in Astana consensus in 2017).
  • India also tried to put forward a statement to China that concerning Indo-Pak relations, China should look for the ground realities rather than just listening to Pakistan.

How has the Sino- Indian relation evolved in the recent past?

  • If China has accepted this new reality, it is because it was preceded by a few years of India’s approach of trust-building (such as Successful Wuhan summit) which was until 2018 was a period of tension, heightened mistrust which led to the Doklam border crisis.
  • Now we are, certainly, at a period of stability and both sides recognize the larger global changes and have brought them together as two rising powers in Asia.
  • In 2005, India and China signed a landmark accord aimed at resolving a boundary dispute in which it was stated that the any dispute will be resolve with negotiations and not by military conflict.
  • The Chines academic and think tank are taken aback by abrogation of Article 370 because this group had become comfortable with a particular South Asia where India would remain bog down and India would have no meaningful role to play in the Asian subcontinent.
  • However, the present development is accepted by the Chinese government as it has the backing of larger stability gained after Wuhan Summit.

Have India and China put aside crisis like Chumar (2014) and Doklam (2017) and moved ahead?

  • There was a certain level of lack of coordination between Chinese Political authority and military leadership.
  • Now, given the synergy between Political authority and military leadership of china, there is less chance of repeating of the Doklam crisis.
  • The Indian side has made it quite clear that India is not going to bow back and even do not want to escalate the matter.
  • The Informal Wuhan summit in 2018 was mocked as it didn’t have any Agenda, however, it paved the way for leaders to move beyond the set parameters and talk freely upon various issue.
  • The current statement by China (changing the status of Ladakh to Union territory is unconstitutional) has, surprisingly, does not include the rest of the J&K part except Ladakh, specifically because they are concerned about the area of Aksai-Chin, which was occupied by China in the 1950s and now it has been merged with Xinjiang Province.
  • The Chinese concerns lay upon the Line of Actual Control (LAC) which runs through the above area. But that can’t be resolved now and should be left as it is, in the wake of prevalence of other issues, by maintaining the stability in the region.
  • By 2020, 50% of the world’s total economy will be in Asia and India and China will be the major players. Therefore, both the countries should handle the border disputed very cautiously.

Do both countries understand that working together is in their best interest?

  • The meeting undergoing form last few years do indicate that both the countries want to clear the doubts and work together.
  • Both the countries understand that they need to focus their energies into domestic economic development, social development rather than frittering away their energies.
  • India does understand that too but certainly cannot remain complacent over military guards and readiness.
  • China remains aggressive on some part, hence India should always be cautious and do not ease too quickly.
  • The way China is capturing the South China Sea region in recent times by intruding in an exclusive economic zone of other countries is quite wary of the situation.
  • Moreover, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have also showed concern over china’s action in south china sea in terms of creating new islands and militarizing them.
  • India too has a critical interest in the region and if it wants success as far as Act East Policy is concerned, then India has to be present there in a more assertive manner.

Is China is going to bring the Article 370 abrogation issue again even after India allying the Chinese concern?

  • China would not bring the issue up again at least at in the current political scenario.
  • India and China relations are heading towards the second stage in the background of broader geo-economic issues like changing US-China dynamics, the trade issues etc.
  • In this second stage, India and China are finding the common ground on multilateral affairs, global governance and even on regional stability. The leaders are responding to these structural changes happening.
  • The Indian and China, both are seeing the domestic economic slowdown. China is structuring its export economic structure which, now, does not have demand of its export in the western countries. India needs to grab this opportunity and attract Chinese investments in India.

Where does this leave Pakistan in midst of Chinese going away from leftover PoK issue?

  • The Mirpur- Muzzafarabad and Gilgit- Pakistan comes under the PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) and China is only focusing on Aksai-Chin area of Ladakh despite the fact that Pakistan is heavily relying on China. This leaves Pakistan in a very embarrassing situation.
  • The United Nations, Saudi Arabia and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is not in Pakistan’s support which has perturbed Pakistan. It is getting isolated in the changing economic dynamics.
  • Both India and the world are looking at the state of J&K in a different than earlier perception.
  • If there were any talks on J&K in 2014, it was assumed that the talk is only on the Indian J&K, leaving aside PoK. Now, India has made it clear that it will talk about the Mirpur-Muzaffarabad and Gilgit-Baltistan areas (PoK) as well, showing the dramatic psychological shift in the J&K issue.

Way Forward for Sino- Indian Ties

  • Both countries should maintain contact at every level including strategic communications as discussed at Wuhan summit in 2018.
  • China has act as barrier for India such as preventing India’s membership of Nuclaer supplier group, blocking of China to India’s bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as a UN-designated terrorist, ‘String of Pearl’ policy etc. Hence, being the greater economy than India, China needs to engender the Agenda of trust and belief as far as India is concerned.
  • Sino-India relations have attained a certain level of maturity and global balance of powers provides India with a certain space to pursue its core interest.
  • Reorganization of J&K has separated two disputese. one with Pakistan and another with China. These means that India can solve Aksai Chin dispute with china without touching India-Pakistan dispute.
  • With India growing stronger, China needs to accept the reality and India should extend the Sino- Indian relations as well as always keep its military preparedness.

IT’s Input

What is Doklham Incident?

Doklham Incident

  • Doklam is an area comprising a plateau and a valley at the tri-junction between India, Bhutan and China.
  • It is surrounded by the Chumbi Valley of Tibet, Bhutan’s Ha Valley and Sikkim.
  • In 2017, Chinese troops were trying to construct a road in the Doklama area towards the Bhutanese Army camp near the Jampheri Ridge, which according to both Bhutan and India are an integral part of Bhutanese territory.
  • Indian troops, in aid of their Bhutanese counterparts, objected to which results in the stand-off between India and China. Subsequently, after more than 70 days, china stopped its construction.

Impact of Doklham Incident on Indo-Bhutan relationship

  • It is important to know that Bhutan is India’s strongest ally in the east and is the buffer state between India and China, along with Nepal.
  • Doklham is strategically located close to the Siliguri Corridor, which connects mainland India with its north-eastern region. The corridor, also called Chicken’s Neck, is a vulnerable point for India.
  • Hence, presence of china in Doklham region could cut the North-East India with the rest of the India as the Siliguri corridor can easily come in the artillery range of china.  
  • One cannot deny the possibility that China will not come again in the Doklham region. Hence, as far as the Bhutan and India is concern, India’s strategic interests in Bhutan is very high.

What is Chummar stand-off?

Chummar stand-off

  • Chumar, the last village in Ladakh area bordering Himachal Pradesh, has been a bone of contention with China claiming it to be its own territory and has been frequenting the area with helicopter incursions almost every year.
  • On 15 April 2013, Chinese military set up a camp in Raki Nula, south of Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) near the Aksai Chin-Ladakh Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Indian forces responded to the Chinese presence by quickly establishing their own encampment 300 metres away.
  • Chinese troops dismantled their tents on May 5 and then the Indian forces removed their tin sheds. Flag meetings were held and the Chumar standoff was resolved in 21 days with China agreeing to patrolling by the Indian troops in the area as before.

 

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