THERE IS an increasing feeling that China is not taking India’s concerns seriously and that it does not want to resolve issues between the two countries. China’s nonchalance is being attributed to its rapidly growing financial power, which is powering its rapid expansion and modernisation in all spheres.
In an interaction with THE WEEK, People’s Liberation Army Navy’s senior strategist Zhang Wei said, “India should follow the policy of non-alignment.” Speaking through an interpreter, she did not seem pleased with the joint military exercises of India, the US and Japan. “It is not in India’s interest to form third-party military alliances with any country,” she said. Here’s looking at other issues:
Beijing recently turned down an Indian proposal to demarcate the disputed Line of Actual Control.
MILITARY AID TO PAKISTAN
Major Jiang Bin, who oversees China’s military ties with India and Pakistan and is an India expert in the PLA, dismissed the issue of heavy military aid to Islamabad. He said it was not aimed at India or any other country. “China and Pakistan are traditional partners, but one should know that these ties are not against India,” he said.
China, in recent years, has supplied Pakistan with long-range nuclear missiles, warships and modern fighter aircraft. China has also agreed to provide eight diesel-electric submarines to the Pakistan Navy. On the other hand, China holds only basic joint military exercises with India. On a few occasions, the warships of both sides have made port calls.
While speaking to a Indian media delegation, Jiang quipped that Pakistan occasionally complained to China that its military ties with India were growing very close. The journalists burst out laughing.
Huang Xilian, deputy director general, Asian affairs department, Chinese foreign ministry, ridiculed the allegation that over 5,000 PLA troops were present in PoK. He said these days even private security guards wore military-like uniforms and Chinese construction workers there could have been mistaken for troops.
“Our presence in PoK is only commercial in nature, and it does not mean that we are supporting or rejecting anyone’s claim on the area,” Huang asserted. On the one hand, China opposes Indian presence in the South China Sea for oil exploration, and on the other hand it uses PoK to trade with Pakistan.
STRING OF PEARLS
The PLA Navy refuses to acknowledge its ‘string of pearls’ strategy, which is to gain access to strategic ports around India. “Our military strategy is defensive in nature and this can be seen in our military white paper also,” said Senior Captain Wei Xiandong, chief of staff of the PLA Navy’s Shanghai Garrison. “I do not think it is possible for China to have a string of pearls kind of policy.” Under the ‘string of pearls’ strategy, China has built ports in Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.