India Tells China Ties Can’t Be Normal While Border Tensions Remain

NEW DELHI—Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi landed in India on March 24, just a few days after a serious diplomatic war of words between the two countries over Kashmir and after the failure of the 15th round of military talks earlier this month. Wang’s visit is the highest-level visit between the two countries after a bloody border conflict in 2020. He held talks with India’s national security advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Friday. Both nations have deployed thousands of troops on the high-altitude border since hand-to-hand fights killed 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers northern Himalayan region of Ladakh in June 2020. Talks between senior military officers have made little progress. “I was very honest in my discussions with the Chinese foreign minister, especially in conveying our national sentiments,” India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told a news briefing after his three-hour meeting with Wang. “The frictions and tensions that arise from China’s deployments since April 2020 cannot be reconciled with a normal relationship between the two neighbors.” Jaishankar added that the large deployment of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers on the Ladakh border is in contravention of the 1993-96 agreement between the two countries, and demanded complete disengagement by the Chinese side from the area. Tibetan Youth Congress activists shout slogans as they protest during China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visit to India, in New Delhi on March 25, 2022. (Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images) In a statement, Wang said China and India should work together to promote peace and stability around the world. “The two sides should … put the differences on the boundary issue in an appropriate position in bilateral relations, and adhere to the correct development direction of bilateral relations,” he said. Aparna Pande, director of the Hudson Institute’s Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia, said the meetings showed that both sides have stuck to their respective points of view in relation to the border dispute. “Wang Yi hoped his visit to Delhi would lead India to move on and forget all that’s happened over the last few years. India refuses to move on unless China moves its troops back and so the stalemate continues,” she told The Epoch Times in an email. India has “firmly drawn” conditions for the normalization of ties with China and has made it clear to the Chinese side that it wants the status-quo on the border to be restored, Pande noted. “Restoration of normalcy and business-as-usual approach cannot go hand in hand with tensions along [the Ladakh border region],” she said adding that after Wang’s visit “some disengagement” may be witnessed by the Chinese side in the near future. “However, it is unlikely that even then India would lower its guard.” An Attempt to Improve Ties Wang’s visit also marked an attempt by the Chinese regime to improve its global image amid growing international scrutiny over its stance towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Pande noted. “At a time when Russia is under tremendous global pressure, and sanctions, I view China’s reaching out to India as an attempt to appear as a country that has good ties with its neighbors and compromises and negotiates border disputes,” said Pande. The Chinese regime has refused to condemn Moscow’s aggression and reaffirmed its “rock solid” ties with Russia since the onset of the war. India, which maintains deep security ties with Russia, has similarly refrained from denouncing Moscow’s actions, a stance that has drawn some frustration from the United States. The trip to New Dehli suggests that the Chinese regime was probably looking for “areas of convergence” thinking that India’s stance on the war has created fissures in New Dehli’s relationship with Washington, according to Pathikrit Payne, a New Delhi-based research consultant in geopolitical and strategic affairs. While Beijing thought that it could use this India-U.S. disagreement to its advantage, New Dehli appeared not to be amenable, Payne said. “India has taken an extremely nuanced approach,” he said. “India has kept the entire visit by China’s top diplomat a low-key affair. While India has kept the doors open for the improvement of relations with firm conditions in place, the urgency seems to be shown more by China.” Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi (L) speaks during the 48th session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers, in Islamabad on March 22, 2022. (Farooq Naeem/AFP via Getty Images) Kashmir Comments Wang’s visit to India came on the heels of his surprise visit to Afghanistan’s Kabul on Thursday, and a three-day visit to Pakistan to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the council of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), where China is an observer. In Islamabad for his first OIC meeting, Wang said: “On Kashmir, we have heard again today the calls of many

India Tells China Ties Can’t Be Normal While Border Tensions Remain

NEW DELHI—Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi landed in India on March 24, just a few days after a serious diplomatic war of words between the two countries over Kashmir and after the failure of the 15th round of military talks earlier this month.

Wang’s visit is the highest-level visit between the two countries after a bloody border conflict in 2020. He held talks with India’s national security advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Friday.

Both nations have deployed thousands of troops on the high-altitude border since hand-to-hand fights killed 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers northern Himalayan region of Ladakh in June 2020. Talks between senior military officers have made little progress.

“I was very honest in my discussions with the Chinese foreign minister, especially in conveying our national sentiments,” India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told a news briefing after his three-hour meeting with Wang.

“The frictions and tensions that arise from China’s deployments since April 2020 cannot be reconciled with a normal relationship between the two neighbors.”

Jaishankar added that the large deployment of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers on the Ladakh border is in contravention of the 1993-96 agreement between the two countries, and demanded complete disengagement by the Chinese side from the area.

Epoch Times Photo
Tibetan Youth Congress activists shout slogans as they protest during China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visit to India, in New Delhi on March 25, 2022. (Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images)

In a statement, Wang said China and India should work together to promote peace and stability around the world.

“The two sides should … put the differences on the boundary issue in an appropriate position in bilateral relations, and adhere to the correct development direction of bilateral relations,” he said.

Aparna Pande, director of the Hudson Institute’s Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia, said the meetings showed that both sides have stuck to their respective points of view in relation to the border dispute.

“Wang Yi hoped his visit to Delhi would lead India to move on and forget all that’s happened over the last few years. India refuses to move on unless China moves its troops back and so the stalemate continues,” she told The Epoch Times in an email.

India has “firmly drawn” conditions for the normalization of ties with China and has made it clear to the Chinese side that it wants the status-quo on the border to be restored, Pande noted.

“Restoration of normalcy and business-as-usual approach cannot go hand in hand with tensions along [the Ladakh border region],” she said adding that after Wang’s visit “some disengagement” may be witnessed by the Chinese side in the near future.

“However, it is unlikely that even then India would lower its guard.”

An Attempt to Improve Ties

Wang’s visit also marked an attempt by the Chinese regime to improve its global image amid growing international scrutiny over its stance towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Pande noted.

“At a time when Russia is under tremendous global pressure, and sanctions, I view China’s reaching out to India as an attempt to appear as a country that has good ties with its neighbors and compromises and negotiates border disputes,” said Pande.

The Chinese regime has refused to condemn Moscow’s aggression and reaffirmed its “rock solid” ties with Russia since the onset of the war. India, which maintains deep security ties with Russia, has similarly refrained from denouncing Moscow’s actions, a stance that has drawn some frustration from the United States.

The trip to New Dehli suggests that the Chinese regime was probably looking for “areas of convergence” thinking that India’s stance on the war has created fissures in New Dehli’s relationship with Washington, according to Pathikrit Payne, a New Delhi-based research consultant in geopolitical and strategic affairs.

While Beijing thought that it could use this India-U.S. disagreement to its advantage, New Dehli appeared not to be amenable, Payne said.

“India has taken an extremely nuanced approach,” he said. “India has kept the entire visit by China’s top diplomat a low-key affair. While India has kept the doors open for the improvement of relations with firm conditions in place, the urgency seems to be shown more by China.”

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi (L) speaks during the 48th session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers, in Islamabad on March 22, 2022. (Farooq Naeem/AFP via Getty Images)

Kashmir Comments

Wang’s visit to India came on the heels of his surprise visit to Afghanistan’s Kabul on Thursday, and a three-day visit to Pakistan to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the council of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), where China is an observer.

In Islamabad for his first OIC meeting, Wang said: “On Kashmir, we have heard again today the calls of many of our Islamic friends. And China shares the same hope.”

Kashmir is a region that both India and Pakistan rule in part but claim in full, and is one of the world’s most dangerous geopolitical flashpoints.

Experts said that Wang’s comments on Kashmir reveal Beijing’s closeness to Pakistan.

“China’s message to India is that irrespective of what India does on their border, irrespective of what India offers China, China will continue to take up the Kashmir issue in international fora and side with Pakistan,” said Pande.

Wang’s statement drew sharp criticism from India’s foreign affairs ministry whose spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, said, “We reject the uncalled reference to India by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his speech at the Opening Ceremony [of the OIC meeting].”

It’s rare for India to openly criticize Beijing while naming a high-ranking official like this, experts noted.

“India’s official reaction shows that Delhi has understood that with China you need to be upfront, open and clear otherwise China takes you for granted,” said Pande.

But China’s stance at the OIC meeting was consistent with its long-held position.

“There is nothing new in this statement by Wang Yi. For many decades now, China has openly sided with Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute. That is one of the reasons that Pakistan views China as a close strategic partner and ally,” Pande said.

The Chinese regime is investing in the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project that links China’s far west Xinjiang region with Pakistan’s southern coast through a network of roads and railway lines. The development also involves the construction of dams and the establishment of economic zones. The project goes through Gilgit-Baltistan, a territory disputed between India and Pakistan.

Alongside the OIC meeting, Wang met the Secretary-General of the OIC, Hissein Brahim Taha and the two leaders talked about China’s historic ties with the Muslim world.

“China, despite its genocide against Uyghurs, wants to ensure it has good relations with the greater Muslim world, and here too Pakistan’s support is critical as is shown by Pakistan,” said Pande.

Payne said Wang’s statement on Kashmir at the OIC meeting justifies India’s firm stance towards Beijing during the Chinese foreign minister’s visit.

“Wang Yi’s statement is obnoxious and defies logic. It is also the reason why India cannot lower guard in spite of Chinese overtures,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report. 


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Venus Upadhayaya reports on wide range of issues. Her area of expertise is in Indian and South Asian geopolitics. She has reported from the very volatile India-Pakistan border and has contributed to mainstream print media in India for about a decade. Community media, sustainable development, and leadership remain her key areas of interest.