Journal : Jiefang Daily (Chinese) Date : Author : Reporter Liao Qin Page No. : 9
URL : http://newspaper.jfdaily.com/jfrb/html/2016-04/22/content_187817.htm解放日报第三版

This week, the visit by India’s two high ranking officials to China in quick succession attracted a lot of attention from the outside world. On the same day that Indian Defense Minister Parrikar concluded his five day visit to China, India’s National Security Adviser, Doval, arrived to hold the 19th India-China boundary issue special representative meeting. Of great concern is the India-China boundary issue is the most important topic of discussion for the two high ranking Indian officials visiting China.

Progress in establishing an upgraded military hotline

From Shanghai to Beijing and then back to Chengdu, during this five day trip Indian Defense Minister Parikkar, who was on his first visit to China since he took office in 2014, felt extremely satisfied. However, he was most excited about was the fact that this trip didn’t go to waste. Both the sides pushed for establishing military hotline and made headway with adding more border meeting points.

Indian Defense Minister Parrikar announced that the Chinese side had already prepared the Memorandum of Understanding draft between both the countries for the setting up of military hotline, reported the Hindu newspaper. He also said that this issue will be resolvedwithin the next one-to-two months. In this meeting with Parikkar, Chinese State Councillor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said that that China is positive about the establishment of border military hotline.

For the past few years, establishing a military hotline has been a cooperation mechanism promoted by both the countries. The hotline was first proposed in the Border Defense Cooperation Agreement(BDCA) signed in 2013. During last year’s visit by Prime Minister Modi, both the countries reiterated in their joint statement: “we will try hard to start a telephone line between the military headquarters of the both the countries”. Now during this visit by the Indian Defense Minister, leaders of both countries have reached an understanding to take the implementation of the military hotline a step further.

Zhao Gancheng, director of the Asia-pacific Center in the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, believes that China and India already have a hotline for border issues, which is used by a responsible officer in the region for timely communication when the border protection forces sense friction. However the establishment of a high level military hotlinebetween the regional military command centers would be very significant. The scope of supervising authority will also be far larger while the strategic decision making will be more efficient.

Hu Shisheng, an expert on South Asia, says that “in recent years, improper handling whenever incidents between the border military forces could have led to military disputes between the two countries. In future, when the military hotline opens up, the crisis control capability will improvem and will help in enhancing mutual trust between Indian and China defense establishments.”

Increasing the regional military staff meeting places in border areas was also mentioned in last year’s India-China joint declaration. Presently, India and China have five border military staff meeting places. Zhao Gancheng says, there is information from sources that suggest an addition of two more places, so that it helps in resolving disputes whenever there is a friction locally. It will also be beneficial for timely coordination, convenient operation so as to avoid the dispute from escalating.

Conditions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC)  not stable

If the Indian Defense Minister first opened the subject of boundary issue, then the National Security Advisor Doval entered the “relay race” by meeting the India-China boundary issue special representative to cut straight to the subject.

Previously, during the discussions with the Chinese side, Parikkar did raise the issue of re-establishing the LAC. The Indian side definitely believes that resolving the Line of Actual Control will be helpful in preventing tension between the two countries in the border area. The capability to solve the issue of the LAC will be the biggest breakthrough in the India-China boundary issue but Hu Shisheng believes that even if this problem is discussed in the Special Representative meeting, there may not be any significant breakthrough. The clear cut precondition to resolve the Line of Actual Control is to exchange maps but since the exchange of the middle section maps in 2001, there has been none so far. Considering the current situation, many grey areas exist in the India- China border area. Both the sides claim to have sovereignty but the western section seems to have no “real control”. In terms of concept, India and China differ in their acknowledgement of the Line of Actual Control, so clarifying this issue is easier said than done.

“Right now, India and China are both are going through a strong reform period and both the sides don’t want this highly sensitive border issue to interfere in their domestic reform process. Thus it seems that for both the sides, strengthening border crisis management is more pragmatic than resolving the  entire issue. Also, ensuring that the border problem can be controlled is also possible through tools, mechanisms, agreements and other multiple strategies agreed upon by both the sides.

“Closer” India-U.S. ties influence Chinese geometry

Just a week before Indian Defense Minister and National Security Advisor visited China, American Defence Secretary paid a visit to India. Both the sides signed the “Logistics Safeguard agreement”. From start to end, the visit had seamless connection and it gave rise to much speculation — whether purely coincidental or completely intentional. Indian media even analyzed that the Indian Defense Minister hurriedly went to China after the American defense Minister left India in order to eliminate any apprehension that Beijing may have.

Zhao Gancheng says that the India-U.S. “Logistics Safeguard agreement” does not affect China at all. Only if India decides to participate in joint patrols with U.S. in the South China Sea, then it will be a completely different matter. However, so far, India hasn’t expressed anything like that. Moreover, high level visits and mechanisms between India and China are decided in advance and the U.S. Defense Minister’s visit to India had no relation with China, so making any speculation is completely unnecessary.

However, the presence of India in the U.S.-China bilateral “diplomatic rivalry” objectively reflects the fact of the U.S.-India-China trilateral, India is in a more advantageous position as it can court benefits from both sides. But it is an exaggeration to say that India will become America’s “pawn” to contain China. It is true that India, to some extent, needs U.S., for example for military cooperation, getting America’s advanced military technology to improve combat readiness and for strengthening its military superiority in South Asia. But India pursues an independent foreign policy and has its own independent strategy. It will not be in its own interests to form an alliance with U.S., especially to antagonize China.

Of course, Hu Shisheng reminded that the U.S. roping in India for serving its global strategic interests in undeniable. Moreover, the India-U.S. military relationship is much closer and of a much higher level than India-China military relations. The disparity can be gauged from the joint military exercises alone. The density and frequency of India-U.S. military exercises is very high, ranging from rescue and assistance to live ammunition drill practice, in which all three military services participate For example, the Malabar military exercises, which started in 1990, haven’t not been stopped  so far. On the other hand joint military exercises between India and China are mainly limited to search and rescue drills. They have yet to enter the combat practice level and presently only involve the participation of the army and navy. “By means of the already existing base of military cooperation and adding the new ‘Logistics Safeguard Agreement’, America is trying to gradually trap India while squeezing China’s strategic space in the Indian Ocean and South Asia further.

Reporter Liao Qin

印度重量级高官接踵访华引关注

 

前脚刚送走美国防长,后脚就开启中国之行

印度重量级高官接踵访华引关注

■本报记者 廖勤

本周,印度两位重量级高官接踵访华,引外界侧目。印度防长帕里卡尔昨日刚结束五天的行程,印度国家安全顾问多瓦尔就同日抵达参加中印边界问题特别代表第十九次会晤。更令人关注的是,中印边界问题是此次印方两位高官访华的首要议题。

建升级版军事热线有进展

从上海到北京再到成都,为期5天的中国之行,想必让2014年上任以来首次访华的印度防长帕里卡尔感到很充实。不过,更令其兴奋的是,这次访问不是徒劳无功,双方就推动建立军事热线、增设边防会晤点取得进展。

据《印度教徒报》报道,印度防长帕里卡尔透露,中方已经返还印方关于在两国间建立军事热线的备忘录草案。他还表示,在一两个月内将解决这个问题。在此次与帕里卡尔的会晤中,中国国务委员兼国防部长常万全曾表示,中方在建立两军边防热线方面持积极态度。

建立军事热线是中印双方近年来一直在推动的机制合作。早在2013年签署的中印边境防务合作协议中就已提出;去年,印度总理莫迪访华时,两国又在中印联合声明中重申“努力开通两军总部间热线电话”。这次印度防长访华“破题”军事热线也是进一步落实两国边防合作协议及两领导人达成的共识。

上海国际问题研究院亚太中心主任赵干城认为,中印已在边防事务上建有团一级的军事热线,以便在边防哨所发生摩擦时能由当地负责军官及时沟通处理。如果未来能建成更高层级的军事热线,比如开通管辖军区的军事司令部之间的电话热线则意义更大。因为沟通层级越高,管理权限就越大,决策效率也会提升。

南亚问题专家胡仕胜表示,“近年来,两军边境对峙事件时有发生,处理不当极易引发军事冲突。未来,军事热线一旦开通,将提升双方危机管控能力,增进中印防务安全互信。”

至于在边境地区增设军事人员会晤地点,这也同样被写入去年的中印联合声明。目前,中印已有5个边防会晤地点。赵干城表示,有消息称将再增加2个地点,边防会晤点的增加有助于解决当时当地发生的摩擦,且利于及时协调,更方便操作,从而避免矛盾升级激化。

实控线划设条件不成熟

如果说印度防长就边界问题先开了局,那么,印度国安顾问多瓦尔则进入“接力赛”,在中印边界问题特别代表会晤上直入正题。

此前,帕里卡尔在与中方会谈时提及划设中印边界实际控制线问题。印方认为明确实控线将有助预防两国边境紧张局势。能够划定实控线无疑是解决中印边界问题的最大突破,但胡仕胜认为,这一问题会在特代会晤上进一步讨论,但未必会有实质进展。明确实控线的前提是交换地图,但是,自2001年交换中段地图后至今没有下文。从现状来看,中印边界地区存在十几块灰色地带,双方均号称拥有主权,而西段位置更无“实控”可言。从理念来看,中印双方对实控线的认知存在分歧,所以当前要厘清实控线说易行难。

“现在,中印各自国内改革都处于攻坚期,双方均不希望被高度敏感的边界问题干扰两国改革进程。因此,在双方看来,加强边境危机管控比解决边界争议更务实。而管控边境也可以通过双方已达成的协定、机制和共识等多重手段加以保障。”胡仕胜说。

美印“走近”对中国影响几何

就在印度防长、国安顾问来华一周前,美国防长刚刚到访过印度,双方还签了《后勤保障协议》。前后访问如此无缝连接,纯属巧合还是有意安排,引起极大猜测。印度媒体甚至分析,印度防长在美国防长走后赶紧访华,意在消除北京方面的顾虑。

对此,赵干城认为,美印《后勤保障协议》对中国并无直接影响,除非印度参加美国主导的南海联合巡逻,那就另当别论了。但迄今没有看到印度有任何表示。而且,中印之间的高层访问、机制化会谈都事先敲定,也与美国防长访印没有关联,所以没必要牵强附会。

但是,印度在中美两国之间的“奔跑外交”客观上反映了一个事实,就是在中美印三边互动中,印度处于更有利的战略环境,在中美博弈中能够左右逢源。但要说印度会成为美国遏制中国的“马前卒”则言过其实。印度对美国固然有所需求,比如借力军事合作,获得美方先进的军事技术以提升战备,进一步强化其在南亚的军事优势。但是印度奉行独立自主的外交政策,有其战略自主性,它不会与美国结盟,更不会与中国为敌,这不符合其自身利益。

当然,胡仕胜提醒,美国竭力拉拢印度为其全球战略利益服务的事实不可否认,而且美印军事关系比中印军事关系更为密切,层级更高。仅仅从联合军演就能看出落差,美印军演密度大,频率高,从人道救助到实弹演练,且海陆空三军都参加,比如“马拉巴尔”军演从上世纪90年代就已开始,至今未断。但中印之间的联合军演主要停留在搜救演练,尚未进入作战演练层次,目前也只有陆军、海军参演。“凭借已有的军事合作基础,加上新签的《后勤保障协议》,美国企图逐步把印度套牢,中国在印太、南亚的战略空间将受到更大的挤压。”

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