Electric Modi decision & short circuit in China

At the end of the formal meeting between PM Modi and Premier Li Keqiang, the FS K. Jaishankar held a press conference and informed reporters that there was no decision on e-visas for Chinese nationals. Less than two hours later, speaking to students at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Modi announced that e-visas would be available to all Chinese visitors. There’s either insufficient communication between the PM and MEA, or Modi took it on himself, on th spur of the moment, to shove aside whatever Home Ministry objections may have held up a decision, and to announce it as done deal. Just a few weeks earlier he had made an end-run around Defmin Manohar Parrikar when he announced, again apparently off the cuff, the G2G deal for 36 Rafale combat aircraft, when Parrikar himself was leaning on the side of the more economical option of the Su-30MKI already being produced at HAL, Nasik. Parrikar had to scramble to now hail Modi’s decision as a big breakthrough. Not sure what this means other than wondering if this is to be the pattern for the Modi tenure, and if so, what the policy implications are or will be?

Curiously, Modi at Tsinghua mentioned “mutual and equal security” — a formulation that finds no mention in the Joint Statement issued by the two govts at the end of Modi’s time in Beijing, nor does the notion of “shared neighbourhood”. Considering there’s only the mention in it of “peace and tranquility” on the border — a construction from the 1996 agreement signed when Jiang Zemin visited Delhi, it suggests the two countries are not in synch, which”s the strategic reality. Especially because Modi also said at the Tsinghua event that without resolution of the border issue “neither side knows where the border is” and hence that military tensions will occasionally occur. But this is apparently acceptable to the Chinese because they have not as Jaishankar informed the media, agreed to direct links at the military “command” level but only at the unit level. In other words, Beijing has reduced the differences over the undelineated border to a tactical, field level, military problem!

The Chinese have, however, extended the idea of a “new relationship between major powers”, originally used to describe China-US relations in the new Century, to include India to now talk about “new relationships between major countries”. There’s however less to this than meets the eye.

There’s a laughable lapse on MEA’s part when it agreed to the language re: nuclear nonproliferation. The point #39 in the Joint Statement states that the two sides noted “the commonalities in their approach to global arms control and non-proliferation”, come again!! This is ridiculous that China has, with MEA’s help, elevated itself to the too scrupulous status of India where nonproliferation is concerned when, in reality, China has been the most brazen proliferator of nuclear weapons and missile expertise and materials in the last three decades to Pakistan (with, and we should not forget it, the US complicity), and North Korea and, more recently, Iran!!!! Why did MEA allow this?? Jaishankar and NSA Ajit Doval will have to answer for this quite extraordinary giveaway — permitting China to equate itself to India as an ardent nonproliferator!!! Sheerest fiction and nonsense! Did Modi expressly approve this? In that case, a black mark against him and his PMO.

And, finally, with India outsourcing its infrastructure development to China — telecommunications, high-speed railways, highways, won’t China have an inside track on Indian security as well (logistics — rail movement, and cyber penetration through telecom network, and Xiaomi, Huawei mobile telephony sets)? Is anybody in GOI worried?

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, China, China military, Cyber & Space, Defence Industry, disarmament, DRDO, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Internal Security, Iran and West Asia, Military Acquisitions, Missiles, nonproliferation, Northeast Asia, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Pakistan nuclear forces, society, South Asia, South East Asia, Strategic Relations with South East Asia & Far East, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Technology transfer, Tibet, United States, US., Weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Electric Modi decision & short circuit in China

  1. Shail says:

    Agreed Sir,

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