Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping’s fake smiles mask underlying hostility
THERE is considerable enthusiasm over the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping during the informal Brics meeting on the sidelines of the recent G20 summit. Earlier, the Chinese media said that there would be no meeting and talks between the two leaders.
The Chinese foreign ministry also ruled out a meeting, saying that the “atmosphere” was not conducive for such talks, even as the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) clarified no meeting had been sought. These Chinese announcements of no meeting and no discussion were for the consumption of the Chinese public and to create the impression that India requested such a meeting which was rejected by China – to talk of the Chinese threat of supporting Sikkim independence – an obvious distraction from the suppression of Tibetans and Uighurs in Xinjiang.
There was no logic to such bluster. China knew full well that Modi and Xi would have to meet at the informal Brics meet at Hamburg hosted by China, in the run up to the 9th Brics summit which will be hosted by China from September 3 to 5 at Xiamen City.
The website of China’s People’s Daily displayed the photograph of a smiling Modi and Xi holding hands and standing alongside the presidents of Brazil, Russia and South Africa at Hamburg. In fact, Modi and Jinping held an informal meeting and had a conversation on a range of issues, as intimated by the MEA spokesperson. Whether the Sikkim stand-off came up during the discussion is not known, but most likely it would have not been mentioned by either leader.
At the Brics informal meet, Xi called for “peaceful settlement of regional conflicts and disputes”, expressed appreciation for India’s strong resolve against terrorism as well India’s success in economic and social development.
He also called for consolidation of the G20 as the premier platform for international economic co-operation. Xi also expressed appreciation of progress made by Brics under the earlier stewardship of Modi.
Modi too, praised the progress made by Brics under Xi, while emphasising the need for co-operation aimed at global economic recovery. He called for G20 to collectively oppose terrorism financing, franchises, safe havens, support and sponsors.
Referring to the introduction of GST in India, Modi advocated a collective stand against the practice of protectionism, specifically in spheres of trade and movement of knowledge and professionals, while also reiterating India’s commitment in implementing the Paris Agreement.
While Xi mentioned the significance of the Paris Agreement and the need for it to be implemented, his alluding to terrorism was limited mentioning India’s strong resolve.
Utopians in India appear upbeat at Xi’s mention of “peaceful settlement of regional conflicts and disputes”, not knowing what lies behind the mask and the fake smile.
It may be recalled that Modi and Xi met on June 9 (on the sidelines of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation) summit at Astana, Kazakhstan, where both leaders concurred that bilateral differences should not lead to disputes.
But even as Xi shook hands with Modi and smiled away (as in Hamburg), it has now emerged that during the night of June 8 to 9, People’s Liberation Army troops were breaking bunkers of the Royal Bhutan Army on the Doka La Plateau, in clear violation of the written Bhutan-China agreement that pending a final boundary settlement, peace and tranquillity be maintained along the boundary and both sides refrain from unilaterally altering the status on ground.
So, there is no cause for optimism. China will continue to maintain, as she is doing now, that there is no dispute because the Doka La property is Chinese territory. This, even as “another blatant lie” of China has been exposed by Claude Arpi, who exposed that Tibet was not signatory to the Sikkim-Tibet Treaty of 1890 that China has been flouting in order to claim Doka La. Arpi also highlighted that leaving aside 1890, China did not agree to a treaty on the Bhutan-Tibet and Sikkim-Tibet borders until as late as 1960.
This was another fact that China did not mention when it went about using the 1890 document as the basis of its claim over Doka La. China pretends there was no need to get the treaty approved by the Tibetan government but China had no control over Tibet in 1890, and was merely represented by a resident, which means precisely zilch.
China’s move to illegally occupy the Doka La Plateau is based on the three principles of ambiguity, deception and deceit she has been using since time immemorial.
Subsequently, the joint statement of the G20 stated: “We, the leaders of the G20, strongly condemn all terrorist attacks worldwide and stand united and firm in the fight against terrorism and its financing. These atrocious acts have strengthened our resolve to co-operate to enhance our security and protect our citizens. Terrorism is a global scourge that must be fought and terrorist safe havens eliminated in every part of the world.”
At the G20, Modi equated Pakistan-based terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed with the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.
India’s best option is to hold fast until China agrees to mutual de-escalation. – Firstpost