The much awaited “China-India Foreign Ministers Meeting in Moscow” was held on the evening of the 10th local time. However, as of this morning’s press time, the organizers have not announced any specific results of the meeting. How the host, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov hosted the two Foreign Ministers of China and India at the luncheon yesterday has also not been reported in detail as of press time. To be sure, because this is the first high-level meeting between China and India after the first shooting incident at the border in 45 years, the attitudes of all parties are quite cautious and low-key.
Some commentators believe that the meeting between the Chinese and Indian Foreign Ministers will bring a “narrow window of opportunity” to ease the tension on the border between the two countries. However, there are still many forces that instigate nationalism in India. They continue to exaggerate the combat effectiveness of the Indian army, and continue to promote various anti-China campaigns. Indian geo-political expert Jayadeva told a Huan Qiu Shi Bao reporter on the 10th that the above situation shows that the Indian Government resorted to “extreme pressure” for the last time before the China-India Foreign Ministers’ meeting in order to secure cooperation in the talks and win the initiative. However, as the Hong Kong “Sing Tao Daily” editorial on the 10th stated, “Nationalism is a dangerous monster that is easy to release and difficult to recall”. The whipped up public sentiment may force the Indian Government to take reckless actions, which may ultimately lead to an unfortunate end that could harm others and harm itself.
The outside world’s expectations of the negotiations are not high
In the early morning of the 11th Beijing time, “India Today” issued a brief instant message stating that the meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had officially started at 11:35 pm Beijing time on the 10th, which was a bit delayed over the planned hour. At about 10 pm Beijing time, Jaishankar tweeted photos of the trilateral Foreign Ministers’ meeting with Lavrov and Wang Yi, thanking Lavrov for his warm hospitality. According to “India Today” reports, the Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held before the China-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. After the Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, when talking about the upcoming China-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, “India and China are in regular contact. We reiterate that India is committed to solving the problem through peaceful means”.
According to a report by the Hindustan Times on the 10th, the meeting was considered a “crucial meeting” to ease the current situation on the Line of Actual Control on the border. Experts believe that, given that Russia maintains good relations with China and India, it is unwilling to “choose sides” between the two countries. It is expected that the China-India Foreign Ministers’ meeting will not immediately lead the two sides to reach a breakthrough agreement on the issue of border confrontation, but it may lay a good foundation for the next political intervention. But overall, the outside world’s expectations for this meeting are not high. Hong Kong’s “South China Morning Post” said on the 10th that these “high-profile talks” are unlikely to achieve a breakthrough. Zhao Gancheng, a researcher at the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, told the newspaper that the recent shooting incident has given both countries a sense of urgency and that they need to work hard to cool the situation. He said: “The Foreign Ministers’ meeting was held at a delicate juncture, when there is a long-term border dispute. Although there are various difficulties and unresolved issues between the two countries, it provides a narrow window of opportunity for both sides to seek a peaceful political solution.”
Sun Yun, a senior researcher at the Stimson Center in the United States, told the South China Morning Post on the 10th that the two sides used diplomatic and military talks to “maximize what they believe to be national interests.” But considering the sharp deterioration of Sino-Indian relations, especially after the worst border conflict in half a century occurred in June, few people think that the Moscow meeting will achieve any breakthrough. Sun Yun said, “I think Beijing is trying to repair relations, but it will not make the key concessions that India requires”.
Zhao Gancheng said that in addition to border tensions, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will work hard to dissuade New Delhi from siding with Washington in the ever-growing competition for superpowers. He said: “China does not want to have an opponent at its doorstep. Wang Yi will try to convince his Indian colleagues that China can still be a trusted development partner”.
The British “Financial Times” quoted former Indian Army officer Singh as saying on the 10th that “if the negotiations fail, the only option is for the top leaders of the two countries to engage in dialogue, otherwise the conflict will escalate”. US MIT security expert Narang Said: “I don’t think anyone would expect a major breakthrough. The best case is that both sides leave with a detailed framework of how the military can avoid clashes”.
Indian senior officials are still talking wildly
At the same time, India is also full of a contradictory atmosphere of inflated nationalism and, at the same time, not wanting to go to war. The Times of India and other mainstream media all quoted the same anonymous high-ranking official of the Indian Government on the 10th and warned that “if China dared to cross the red line in the Ladakh region, the Indian side will retaliate against it.” “If China provokes war, a heavy price will have to be paid”. He claimed that the Chinese army now even hopes to take tit-for-tat actions to try to occupy the commanding heights of the confrontation area. The Indian army’s front-line units have been given full discretion and “can make appropriate responses as they see fit.” The official also stated that the “Indian army is well-equipped and well-prepared” and has the ability to strike back at the commanding heights near the Rechin Pass. He said that the Indian side has conveyed the following message to the Chinese side, that is, “Don’t try to destroy any of India’s fortifications, including barbed wire,” and that “this is a red line.” The Indian security agency assesses that although China has deployed “approximately 50,000 soldiers and 150 fighters” in the “Ladakh region”, the deployment of the entire theater shows that it is not yet ready to launch a “full-scale war.”
The “Hindustan Times” reported that in response to the “intimidating military operations” of the Chinese army, India has deployed tanks and infantry vehicles and other equipment in the “Ladakh region” and other places. The report quoted a source as saying that China has also sent its tank squadron, mechanized infantry squadron and a number of troops to “try to threaten Indian territory by force”. He said that the current strength ratio between China and India in the confrontation area is about 1:1. “If China increases its troops in the future, India will also make corresponding deployments.” But he also admitted that “if war is launched, both sides will pay a heavy price”. He also said that “war will not break out overnight”. There will be many “wars of words” and skirmishes before this. “Obviously it has not yet reached the stage of war.” “But we have to be prepared for the worst. “For now, we should now pay attention to whether there will be a breakthrough in the talks between the two Foreign Ministers and other dialogues”.
On the 10th, ZeeNews TV station in India continued to break the news of China’s attempt to “cross-border aggression.” The report quoted a source as saying that about 40 soldiers of the Chinese army took two speedboats at 5 pm on the 8th to “try to break through the actual control line of the bilateral border.” The Indian post monitored the action and immediately issued an alarm. The report also mentioned that after India disclosed on the 9th that “the Chinese army was carrying clubs, spears and machetes to invade the border”, the commanders of the two armies held talks and mentioned this issue. The talks were from 11 am to 3 pm, but there was no progress. According to the report, the Chinese side made “aggressive behavior” during the talks, but did not specify what kind of behavior it was.
In addition to shouting “warning”, India has also increased its pressure on China in the humanitarian field. India’s “Economic Times” reported on the 10th that India has imposed stricter visa regulations on Chinese citizens, and is in the same position as Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Indian geo-political expert Jayadeva told the Huan Qiu Shi Bao reporter that a large-scale war between China and India was unlikely, and that the statements of “anonymous Government officials” in mainstream Indian media reports of the 10th actually confirmed this. The key is how the two sides find a mutually acceptable way to “retract gracefully.”
Wang Yi: Prevent the world from reverting to the “jungle age”
Some western media avail of the opportunity to provoke conflicts between China and India. The Associated Press stated on the 10th that after the “three months after the deadliest standoff” in decades, the situation in the border dispute between India and China seems to be getting worse. Since the Sino-Indian War in 1962, the economies of both countries have achieved substantial growth “but China far surpasses India, while enjoying a huge trade surplus with this neighboring country”. India is trying to take advantage of China’s rising labor costs and its deteriorating relations with the United States and Europe to become a new base for foreign manufacturers. India is increasingly worried that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will become the flagship project of the “Belt and Road” initiative. At the same time, the growing strategic alliance between India and the United States “has annoyed Beijing” and Beijing views this relationship “as a force against China’s rise.”
“The Wall Street Journal” said on the 9th that China and India are currently preparing for the severe winter to stand firm on their positions. Severe winters usually plunge local military activities into a deep freeze for months. But experts and security officials say that extreme tension may make things different this year. Indian officials said that throughout the winter this year, they will send tens of thousands more soldiers than in the past few years. The Indian side does not rule out confrontation under sub-zero climatic conditions, which is almost unprecedented.
Hong Kong’s “Sing Tao Daily” Editorial of the 10th stated that China and India should have been able to cool the situation to avoid a war. However, India’s internal affairs are facing crises such as the uncontrolled outbreak of new corona pneumonia and severe economic shrinkage. India has always been good at using national sentiment to consolidate power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi may use the Sino-Indian military conflict to shift national targets to alleviate internal conflicts. This is the biggest worry about the situation between China and India. The Modi Government has continuously increased its efforts to squeeze out Chinese goods and capital, which has shifted the public’s dissatisfaction with the failure of the Government’s internal affairs. But nationalism is a dangerous monster. The whipped up public sentiment will force the Government to take reckless actions, which may eventually lead to an unfortunate ending such as war.
“Sing Tao Daily” also said that the current Sino-Indian situation has another danger, namely US President Trump, who is good at inciting nationalism, deliberately provoking Sino-Indian conflict. He continued to extend an olive branch to India, expressing that he could help curb the Sino-Indian dispute, but with the United States frantically attacking China, his mediation was in fact favoring India one-sidedly and provoking its confrontation with China to help further the United States’ containment strategy. Under the common strategy of the U.S. and India to use foreign enemies to relieve internal conflicts, Chinese officials and people must calmly deal with the Sino-Indian border disputes, maintain strategic determination, and prevent the other side’s intentions from succeeding. When attending the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Moscow on the 10th, Wang Yi stated that the United States today is becoming the biggest disruptor of the contemporary international order and should be resolutely prevented from letting power politics take the world back to the “jungle age”.