By Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran Special Forces
Recently during the visit of a Chinese delegation led by Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to India, the Indian Raksha Mantri had wide level of talks with her counter part. Both side have agreed towards signing a bilateral pact on defence cooperation and operationalisation of a military hotline between the two countries.
Indian side rightly raised the issue of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and its affect on India’s sovereignty. As usual China side stepped the issue by saying “ that its good for the economic development of the region”. India should have immediately agreed with it and asked China if that is so then China must pay a rent of One Rupee for leasing the land for commercial use from India.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has swallowed around Rs 300, 000 crores with nothing much in return so far. In fact this project has not only turned Pakistan into a vassal state but also given a boost to Baloch Freedom Fighters and angered the Kashmiris whose lands been forcibly occupied. This project is trying to connect China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Baluchistan, so that Chinese products can reach their markets. However, passing through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir,it squarely challenges Indian sovereignty and hence has not attracted even one penny as International investment.
Both the delegations during their talks also agreed for more interactions between the two militaries. The Chinese side suggested having more than one military hotline. They want that Indian HQ Commands controlling the Indo Tibetan border should each have a military hotline with the Chinese equivalent Commands and the Indian DGMO should have a hot line with the Chinese Western Theatre Commander.
This should be either turned down most politely with a firm NO or just be ignored. The Indian DGMO should have a hot line with his Chinese Counter part in the PLA and nothing less. In no case he will be talking to the Chief of Staff of a mere theatre Commander or even to the theatre Commander himself. Yes, if agreed to then our Eastern and Northern Command HQ may establish a hot line with the Chinese Western Theatre Commander.
There was agreement on signing a memorandum of understanding to replace the 2006 pact. Earlier the two Countries were just having regular military exchanges and joint military exercises. Now both have decided to expand the engagement between the armed forces through training and joint exercises. The Indian Defence Minister extended an invitation to China to send one of the chiefs of their forces to India. At this the Chinese defence minister suggested that there should also be a mechanism for regularly interacting at least once in six months at any level.
Sitharaman gave her views on Pakistan sponsored cross-border terrorism, on bringing peace in Afghanistan and freedom of navigation in South China Sea. She also raised the issue of the CPEC which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The two agreed to enhance ‘port calls’ between the two Navies.During the talks our Raksha Mantri told her counterpart India was carrying out development on own side in the border areas for better connectivity, water supply, irrigation and electricity. She said that such measures should not be viewed with doubt. Chinese Defence Minister could not help saying that it should not affect our national interest…….he meant that unlike Chinese activities in POK, India should not carry out any development work in Arunachal, as it is claimed by China !!!
In spite of already having 4 to 5 Border Personnel Meeting points on the Indo Tibetan border, China during the talks focused on having greater interaction at the local unit, brigade and command levels. The Indians though side stepped the issue and issued a statement that “It was agreed to work towards full implementation of ongoing confidence building measures as well as greater interactions at the working level to ensure the maintenance of peace and tranquillity.”
It is well understood by India, that the Chinese Defence Ministry actually has no say in matters military within the Chinese system. The ministry has no command or even staff powers, it only deals with ceremonial, protocol issues and diplomatic talks with defence ministries of other Countries. The actual military nerve centre for day to day operational control is vested with the JOINT STAFF DEPARTMENT, which reports to the Central Military Commission. The Indian side should suggest that the proposed hot line should either be between the Joint Staff Department and HQ IDS or JSD and the DGMO.