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Chinese Foreign Minister's Visit to India on 12th August- Significant

Paper No. 6159                                Dated 12- Aug-2016
By Dr Subhash Kapila
Against the backdrop of Indian Prime Minister’s forthcoming visits to Vietnam and Laos in early September 2016 on his way to attend the G-20 Meet in China, the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister to New Delhi on August 12 does not seem a regular dialogue, hence significant
The Indian Foreign Ministry has termed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit as part of a regular process of dialogue between the two Foreign Ministers. It does not seem so as in any case the Chinese Foreign Minister and India’s External Affairs Minister have been meeting on the side-lines of international forums. The last meeting took place in April 2016 at the Russia-China-India Trilateral Meet.
Further, this visit of Chinese Foreign Minister to New Delhi comes after two years. He last came to New Delhi in June 2014 soon after PM Modi’s swearing in as Prime Minister. At that time also it was read as a significant visit in that China was attempting to probe or get a pre-view of PM Modi’s foreign policies to be adopted.
This visit also neds to viewed as significant because PM Modi will be meeting the Chinese President in China during the G-20 Meet in early September and thereafter for the BRICS Summit in Goa in October 2016. Hence China’s desire to read the Indian Prime Minister’s mind.
While the above are welcome but the statements emanating from China in its official media organs and also interviews by leading Chinese academics to the Indian media suggest that China is unhappy with India’s evolving foreign policy initiatives in East Asia, primarily with Vietnam and Japan
The other significant contextual factors that have preceded the Chinese Foreign Minister’s dash to New Delhi is China’s stiff opposition and preventing India’s entry into NSG. Also hovering menacingly is China’s virtual veto in the United Nations to declare Massod Azhar as an international terrorist. This amounted to China tacitly supporting Pakistan’s terrorism against India. That is the perception that has gained currency in India.
China has issued a virtual warning to India not to meddle in the South China Sea issues and conflicts. This gains significance after the International Tribunal’s ruling annulling China’s pretentious claims over the South China Sea. China’s claims on South China Sea are no longer valid legally.
With PM Modi visiting Vietnam before he arrives in China, it would be expected by his Vietnamese hosts to come out with some firm support of Vietnam on South China Sea conflict generated by China. This should be extremely troubling for China besides the fact that PM Modi’s China visit is being preceded by a visit to Vietnam
Chinese academics have been stressing these last few days that China and India enjoy wide strategic convergences and that India in the interest of good China-India relations should give priority to geoeconomics as being the predominant factor over geostrategic issues.
This is also a giveaway as if genuine strategic convergences existed between China and India then why the emphasis on advocating geoeconomics being the driving engine
Concluding, it would be interesting to observe the outcome of the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to New Delhi against the contextual background outlined. China obviously wants to probe the Indian minds before the G-20 and the BRICS Summit. China also wishes to discern more contours of India’s Act East Policy. India too should take this opportunity to firmly signal to the Chinese Foreign Minister as to what it accepts China to do to be considered as a responsible stake-holder in Asian affairs and the space that India desires contributing to good relations between the two Asian giant nations.