by N. S. Venkataraman 26/4/2018
It is reported that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on 27th April at Wuhan, China. It is further said that the formalities and protocol would be set aside and it would be an informal meeting, and there would be no statement after the meeting between the two leaders.
This news had caused considerable surprise in India, as until recently Indians have been hearing about the hostile attitude of China towards India and repeated claim by China that Arunachal Pradesh in India is part of China and also the recent Doklam standoff when Indian troops faced the Chinese soldiers with the immediate military confrontation. China has not given up its claim on Arunachal Pradesh nor has it changed it stands on Doklam.
In recent times, China has been highly critical of India for permitting the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh. The recent celebration of Tibetans in India on the 60th year of Dalai Lama’s arrival in India was not to the liking of the Chinese government. It is reported that the Government of India advised the Dalai Lama to tone down the celebration and not to have the event in New Delhi, perhaps to please the Chinese government.
Further, to add to the confusion, the Dalai Lama has repeatedly been saying that Tibet can remain as part of China, virtually giving up the earlier stand that Tibet should reclaim its position as an independent country. The Dalai Lama talks about autonomy for Tibet region inside China and China has not even cared to comment on this view.
While Tibetans in India are treated with the respect that they deserve and the Dalai Lama commands considerable popularity in India and Indians look forward to listening to him, the ground reality is that Government of India has not changed its position that Tibet is an autonomous region of China.
It appears that Mr. Modi’s visit to China is to rebuild the relationship after the recent troubled times. China’s role in Pakistan has been a cause of concern for India, as China’s domination over Pakistan is so much now that many believe that Pakistan has already become an extended territory of China virtually.
India is also highly concerned about China’s One Belt One Road ( OBOR) plans, as it will affect India’s security interests.
In such circumstances, what Mr. Modi expects from his visit to China is unclear. Does he expect that there will be a change of heart in President Xi Jinping who is now virtually a dictator in China?
China is known to have aggressive expansionist plans, and it is also known that China is capable of playing hot and cold depending on the scene without giving up or diluting its long-term plans and priorities.
The recent trade war between US and China has undoubtedly caused apprehension amongst the Chinese leadership, given the excessive trade dependence of China on the USA.
Will President Xi Jinping ask Mr. Modi to open Indian market to the Chinese products much more than the present level ? Will President Xi Jinping ask Mr. Modi to give up India’s opposition to OBOR project, which is ultimately meant to benefit Chinese economy? Perhaps, President Xi Jinping may also ask Mr. Modi to disown the Dalai Lama and Tibetans in India and in turn promising sort of autonomy for Tibet in China to erase the worldwide impression of China is an occupier of Tibet. Granting sort of autonomy for Tibet in China may technically meet the Dalai Lama’s demand but would mean practically nothing for the Tibetans. Even after giving autonomy, it is highly doubtful whether China would allow the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans in India to enter Tibet.
All said and done, Mr. Modi has to be extremely cautious in dealing with China, and he has to act without fear of Chinese military strength and economic power, keeping in view China’s past acts of commission and omission against India. He should certainly ensure that he would not appease China to buy peace.
Today, China has more compulsions than India in the relationship between both the countries.
Perhaps, Mr. Modi will expect that China would force Pakistan to give up its demand for Kashmir and stop supporting terrorism in Kashmir. He would also, perhaps, expect China not to precipitate any conflict in the border.
China in its characteristic style would give vague promises to India and expect India to concede its demands immediately.
In the relationship between India and China, it would be regrettable if Mr. Modi would sacrifice the interests of Tibetans much more than what India has already done.
One only hopes that Mr. Modi will be able to read the writing on the wall and conduct its dealings with China with firmness and without sacrificing India’s interests. He needs to keep in mind that the overwhelming view of Indians that India should stand by the Tibetan cause.
After Mr. Modi’s meeting with President Xi Jinping, China should not have the last laugh.