• Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

Jaishankar And His Chinese Counterpart Qin Gang To Hold Bilateral Meeting, Talk LAC

BySymbels Journal

Mar 1, 2023

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang are likely to hold a bilateral meeting on the margins of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to be held in New Delhi on March 2 where both sides are expected to find “final and lasting solution” to the military standoff continuing at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since 2020, ABP Live has learnt.

This is the first time a top official of the Chinese government will be visiting India ever since the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army got embroiled in a bitter border standoff in April-May 2020 that resulted in several clashes, including the Galwan valley incident where 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives.

“At the invitation of India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang will attend the G20 Foreign Ministers conference in New Delhi, India on March 2,” said a note by the Chinese foreign ministry.

 While in New Delhi, the Qin will not only be attending the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the G20 countries but also hold a bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Jaishankar to come out with a “final and lasting” solution to the ongoing border standoff, top level official sources told ABP Live.

Qin is also expected to meet National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on the margins of the G20 meet during his short trip to India.

The visit assumes significance in the light of the fact that in the whole of 2022 there has been not any progress on the military standoff in eastern Ladakh in terms of disengagement and de-escalation.

The LAC standoff is yet to be completely resolved. In 2021 and 2022, India and China disengaged from north and south banks of the Pangong Tso, Gogra and from Gogra-Hot Springs (PP-15) after the 16th round of military talks.

Both sides will have to resolve Demchok, Depsang (PP 9 – 13) even as Chinese troops continue to block PP 10, 11, 11A, 12 and 13, according to sources. 

Qin, who was earlier Beijing’s envoy to the US, was appointed the foreign minister in December 2022. Since assuming the charge in January 2023, the minister has had several diplomatic trips, especially to the African countries, and telephonic conversations with his counterparts around the world such as Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Malaysia, among others.

But this will be his first ever visit to neighbouring India. 

During the meeting expected to take place between Jaishankar and Qin on the sidelines of the G20 meet, both sides are going to explore ways to pull out their troops from the friction points, owing to the fact that both countries have decided that they will “not let the tensions” between them jeopardise the summit-level meetings SCO and G20, for which President Xi Jinping is likely to visit India.

The SCO summit is likely to take place in Goa on May 4-5 and New Delhi is believed to have already extended an invitation to China as well as Pakistan to attend the gathering.


When Wang Yi Visited India In June 2022

When Qin’s predecessor State Councillor Wang Yi, who is now promoted to a higher diplomatic rank in the Xi Jinping administration, last visited India in March 2022, both sides had discussed how “frictions and tensions” on the border had adversely impacted the bilateral relationship. Wang had also met Doval at that time where the NSA pushed for de-escalation.

Both ministers later also met in Bali in July during the last G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting. Following that, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi were seen exchanging pleasantries at a G20 dinner reception that was hosted by Indonesia in November 2022. 

However, there have been movement in the de-escalation process despite the high-level meetings.

Last month, India’s Army Chief Manoj Pande stated that the PLA continues to increase troops and India has also deployed an equal number of forces to face any contingency at the border.

He said the situation at LAC is “stable and unpredictable”, and that “five out of seven issues” concerning the disengagement process have been followed. 

In 2022, China also had its 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, in which some core changes were done within the government even as President Xi, 69, won a third term for himself, essentially becoming China’s President for life. He is now regarded as the most important leader of China after party founder Mao Zedong.

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India, China In State Of ‘Armed Co-Existence’

Manoj Kewalramani, Fellow-China Studies at The Takshashila Institution, told ABP Live: “I think it is important since there hasn’t been any significant high-level engagement between the two sides for some time. Since November, China has been engaging with Australia, Japan and EU members to try and rebalance ties.”

He said: “The US effort fell by the wayside after the balloon saga. But there has been no significant engagement with India. So the meeting between Qin and Jaishankar is welcome. But one should not expect any significant breakthroughs on the LAC. For that, we should look at what happens at the next Corps Commander-level meeting. For now, ensuring Beijing’s support for the G20 is likely to be the key point.”

Kewalramani, also author of Smokeless War: China’s Quest for Geopolitical Dominance, added: “Qin has spoken to many foreign ministers since taking over. He hasn’t called his Indian counterpart … Shows the lack of interest in outreach to India.”

He also believes both sides are “in for the long haul” as far as the process of disengagement and de-escalation is concerned.

“Unless there is a strategic shift in Beijing’s approach, and there are no indications of this, we are going to be in a state of armed co-existence. We should be prepared to tough it out, and not be pressured by the time disengagement, de-escalation and return to status quo takes. We should also be ready to respond with mirror escalation, if needed,” said Kewalramani.

So far, India and China have had 17 rounds of military-level talks since the standoff began. The 18th round is expected to take place soon.

Last week, both sides held diplomatic-level talks under the aegis of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) in person for the first time since July 2019 for which an Indian delegation visited China.


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