China backs India in Ukraine war
Mith the Russian attack on Ukraine, the wheels of diplomacy are also running at full speed in Asia. While the West is pressuring India for consideration for Russia, the country has China’s foreign minister back after a long ice age Wang Yi received in New Delhi on Friday. It was the first visit by a member of China’s leadership to India since the escalation of conflict on the disputed border line between the two countries in the Himalayas.
The goal should obviously be to get the relationship back on track. According to reports, Beijing wants India’s prime minister Narendra Modi to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit to be held in Beijing later this year. However, India sees the withdrawal of all Chinese troops from the areas of tension in which the two sides have been facing each other since May 2020 as a prerequisite for normalization.
In addition, the talks should also deal with the conflict in Eastern Europe. With the visit to New Delhi, China is showing that it is by no means alone in its “neutral” position in the Ukraine war and is supporting India in its own restraint. As two of the largest countries, both China and India have so far survived the Russian invasion in the Ukraine not clearly condemned.
As a government that has sought ever closer ties with Western countries, pressure is mounting on New Delhi to reconsider India’s position. So did the American President Joe Biden Told business leaders earlier in the week that India’s stance on the conflict, unique among American allies, was “a bit shaky”. The fact that India had also accepted an offer from Russia to buy Russian oil at reduced prices caused particular astonishment.
But New Delhi’s good relations with Moscow date back to Soviet times. Especially in the increasing strategic competition with China, India relies to a large extent on Russian weapons. “China, not Russia, is still the biggest threat,” the Hindustan Times newspaper commented on Friday. She warned that friends of “the free world” could turn their backs on India at a time when India was most in need of their help. “India is feeling the heat, there’s no question about that,” American South Asia expert Michael Kugelman told the BBC. There is a greater diplomatic risk involved in not wanting to commit yourself than in the past.
Visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan
On the other hand, New Delhi is unwilling to return to normality with Beijing. This was also reflected in the way Wang Yi was received in New Delhi. Unlike usual, the visit was not officially announced. The confirmation was still a long time coming after the Indian press reported on Thursday evening that the Chinese foreign minister had landed in New Delhi. Hours later, India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted a photo showing him with Wang Yi before their meeting in New Delhi on Friday. A meeting with Narendra Modi, which the Indian press wanted from the Chinese side, did not take place.
For this purpose, Wang Yi had previously met the Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The two are charged with the border issue as special representatives. The talks are said to have taken place in a friendly atmosphere, the broadcaster NDTV reported. India had therefore expressed its demand for a comprehensive withdrawal as soon as possible. In fact, troops from both sides have withdrawn from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in some locations. But thousands of soldiers are still facing each other in other places. Most recently, on March 11, commanders from both sides met in a border town for their 15th round of talks. The talks remained fruitless.
The Chinese Foreign Minister also visited Pakistan and Afghanistan before India and continued to Nepal on Friday. A comment made by Wang Yi at a meeting of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation in Pakistan caused irritation in India. China has “the same hopes” as the Islamic countries over the divided Indian-Pakistani region of Kashmir, Wang Yi had said. New Delhi has been criticized for stripping the Indian-controlled part of the region of its autonomy status. New Delhi dismissed Wang Yi’s statement as interference in its internal affairs. Other countries “have no say” on this issue.