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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightChina's hide and seek

China's hide and seek


The China-Pak high-level meet held in the backdrop of the Pulwama terrorist attack and the consequent India-Pak face-off disturbing the regional situation, does not give India any optimistic signs.   When the internatinal community offered all co-operation as a response to Indian call to prevent cross-border terrorism,  China pushed back on that.  China does not seem to have made any change from that stance, as proven by the Pak-China joint statement issued after the talks between Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Pak foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. 

Beijing has closed its eyes on the provocative acts of Pakistan after the Pulwama attack and India's retalitory strike against Jaish-e-Mohammed's camps in Pakistan.  It has lauded Pakistan's efforts for 'making peace' in the region.  Yang Li also assured China's firm support for the efforts to protect Pakistan's sovereignty,  integrity and independence,  regardless of the changes in the region.  In reciprocation,  Pakistan expressed its gratitude for  China's support in an hour of difficulty.  The post-Pulwama scenario,   the chasm it created in India-Pak relations  and the the threat it caused to the security of the region did figure in the dialogue between the two foreign ministers.   But,  the explanations by the two make it clear that neither Jaish-e-Mohammed,  the villain of the piece, nor declaring its leader Masood Azhar as global terrorist figured among the topics of discussion.   Beijing,  which like other big powers had come forward to strongly condemn the Pulwama terrorist attack,  was also instrumental in defeating the UN Security resolution attempted by  America, Britain and France to  declare Jaish-e-Mohammed,  which had claimed responsibility of the said attack.

India has always viewed with suspicion China's relations with Pakistan,  and with good reasons too.  China,  which has positioned itself strongly in the global power-balance equations,  is insistent on remaining an unquestionable big power in the region.  As a corollary,  it makes covert moves against India which raises a threat against China in this respecct.  Although,  relations between India and China have moved away from the earlier war-time hostilities, and a new bhai-bhai tone has set in,  that does not seem to have gone any deeper,  as illustrated by the persisting untoward incidents in bilateral relations.   In addition to periodic incursions into the territory of Arunachal Pradesh,  China has interests in parts of Kashmir too.   India suspects that Beijing's liberal aid for many projects in Pak-Occupied Kashmir have become helpful for border terrorism.  At the same time when China gives the impression of taking an impartial position in India-Pak border disputes and conflicts,  China can be easily seen as showing a notch closer leaning towards Pakistan.   Islamabad counts more on China to stabilise its shaky economy.   And in return,  the strategic geographaical position of Pakistan pushes China to a counter dependence.   China has granted an industrial loan of 2 billion dollars for Pakistan's industrial trade progress and to stabilize its economy.  And it was Pakistan that opened the gateway to Arabian Sea for Chinese President Xi Jinping's dream project of the global Belt and Road Initiative.    China is expending 60 billion dollars for roads and power plants in Pakistan.  Thus,  what prevails between the two countries is a huge give-and-take of relations in which  Pakistan sets the ground and China invests.   When Western powers including America try to enter the resource-rich east and to use Pakistan as an intermediate corridor,  it is China's need to hold Pakistan close in order to defend against such moves.   On another level,  China does not view with relish India's excessive pro-US leaning either.  Therefore,  whatever stance it may take outwardly regarding India-Pak dispute,  China is adopting a wishy-washy approach,  unwilling to  antagonize Pakistan.

However,  the BJP government at the Centre has not been successful in evolving an effective foreign policy in view of this peculiar situation of the region,  and in implementing one.  The past failure of Modi's predecessors,  in having let go of Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar - responsible for the Pulwama terror attack -   is being continued by the Modi regime too,  as proven by the post-Pulwama incidents.   Our diplomatic tactics could not convert the Chinese enthusiasm to condemn the atttack and to express solidarity with India,  into an aid and support for New Delhi's moves in the region.   Tuesday's talks establish that even in the midst of hasty moves by the foreign secretary -  who was appointed in view of the expertise and proficiency in Chinese affairs -  China has not made any departure from its stances.   Instead of sitting complacent and celebrating big power declarations and promises,   the need is to identify the basic facts and formulate competitive approaches in the diplomatic tug-of-war -  an urgent pre-requisite for the security of India,  and the region.

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