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    OpinionsWhy China is not going to soften its stance towards India

    Why China is not going to soften its stance towards India


    Why China is not going to soften its stance towards

    ‘Even US would have to think twice before it messes with China… What makes India so confident…? Sometimes India behaves like a spoiled kid.'

    Ananth Krishnan

    The upcoming “Year of the Chicken”, the start of which China marks on January 28, will be a testing time for the country's leadership. Beijing is already in the throes of preparing for several crucial summits in the new year, all leading up to a key once-in-five-year Communist Party (CPC) meet, the 19th Party Congress, set to be held in October or November.

    What will the year have in store for China, as well as for its relations with India and the ?

    “Hold the steady, press ahead with reforms, and improve the well-being of ordinary people,” is the declared focus for the CPC in 2017, according to the economic work conference held late last year, which declared “stability” as the main emphasis. At home, keeping the economy stable is certainly the abiding priority, by managing the increasingly intractable problems of corporate debt and excess industrial capacity in many sectors, while at the same time, trying to prevent huge job losses.

    To ensure GDP last year didn't fall below the 6.5-7 per cent target, the government had to strike a balance, even if it meant delaying ambitious economic restructuring and pumping money into the economy.

    On New Year's Eve, just as India was glued to television sets for the PM's speech, so was China, looking to President Xi's annual address for clues as to which direction policies would be headed in 2017. Xi delivered an expectedly populist message, stressing that what worried him the most was “the difficulties of the masses” — people's employment, housing and . Ten million people were lifted out of poverty in the past year, he said.

    Xi also delivered a tough message to the world, saying that China wouldn't swerve when it came to issues involving its sovereignty and territorial integrity. As much as Beijing is hoping for stability on its home front during a year of political change, it is more than aware that a calm external environment may be elusive in the new year.

    The biggest concern, of course, is dealing with its arch-rival, the United States, under Donald Trump, who takes over on January 20. Trump began the new year just as he ended 2016 — aiming barbs at China. He tweeted that China was “taking out massive amounts of money and wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won't help with North Korea. Nice!”.

    He also continued appointing to key offices economists and experts known for their strong views against trading with China, although he somewhat assuaged a worried Beijing by appointing as envoy to China a long-time close acquaintance of President Xi.

    Beijing, meanwhile, responded by ending the year with a show of strength by deploying its aircraft carrier for the first time in drills in the western Pacific and in the South China Sea.

    While a hard-line Trump may certainly open up opportunities for India, Delhi's relations with Beijing are likely to remain tested in 2017, just as they were last year by key differences on three issues that continue to strain ties: China's stalling of India's bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), its blocking of sanctions at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against the Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar, and its continued building of infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

    There is little to suggest Beijing may change course on any of these issues, even if a widely-respected former Chinese diplomat and strategic expert, Mao Siwei, surprised observers in the new year by coming out with a rare criticism of China's moves at the UNSC and its shielding of a well-known terrorist, arguing it should change tack.

    Whether India will find ways to retaliate remains to be seen. President Pranab Mukherjee's hosting of the Dalai Lama in Rashtrapati Bhavan at an event with other Nobel laureates was seen by some in Beijing as a sign of things to come, although Indian officials insist the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader attending a non-political event with other Nobel laureates was hardly reason for Beijing to vent its anger.

    The Dalai Lama's scheduled March visit to Arunachal Pradesh is likely to elicit a stronger response. Perhaps looking to March, the Communist Party's hardline tabloid paper, Global Times ended the year with a warning for India on the Dalai Lama issue. “Even the US would have to think twice before it messes with China on such sensitive problems, so what makes India so confident that it could manage? Sometimes India behaves like a spoiled kid,” the paper thundered, “carried away by the lofty crown of being the biggest democracy in the world.”

    (Courtesy of Mail Today.)

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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