Beijing nudges Delhi to reaffirm One-China policy

Last Updated 21 September 2018, 11:47 IST

Beijing wants India to reaffirm its adherence to One-China policy — something New Delhi has refrained from doing since 2010.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to hold yet another bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week, Beijing has nudged New Delhi to formally iterate that it continues to adhere to the One-China policy.

The One-China policy acknowledges the existence of only the People's Republic of China and does not recognise the existence of Taiwan (or the Republic of China) as a separate entity.

India does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. New Delhi once used to reaffirm its One-China policy in all its joint statements with Beijing but stopped doing so since 2010.

Modi had an “informal summit” with Xi at Wuhan in central China on April 27 and 28. The “informal summit” was held to mend the bilateral ties, which had hit a new low last year over the 72-day-long face-off between Indian Army and People's Liberation Army of China at Doklam in western Bhutan. The two leaders are likely to hold another bilateral meeting on the sideline of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's summit at Qingdao in China on June 9.

Beijing earlier this week conveyed to New Delhi that a reiteration of One-China policy by India would significantly help enhance the mutual trust between the two neighbouring nations. The issue was discussed when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had a bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sideline of a BRICS (a bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in Pretoria on Tuesday, sources told the DH in New Delhi.

Foreign Secretary, Vijay Gokhale, and his counterpart in the Chinese government, Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou also met in New Delhi on Tuesday and discussed on India-China engagements in the coming months. They also held the discussion on the agenda and the possible outcomes of the forthcoming meeting between Modi and Xi.

The first India-China joint statement without a reference to New Delhi's adherence to One-China policy was issued after the then prime minister Manmohan Singh hosted the then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in New Delhi in December 2010.

New Delhi declined to reaffirm One-China policy in the joint statement in response to Beijing's policy of issuing “stapled visas” — instead of normal visas pasted on pages of passports issued by Government of India — to Jammu and Kashmir residents seeking to travel to China.

Beijing's policy of issuing “stapled visas” to J&K residents was seen as a ploy to question New Delhi's claim over the state as “an integral part of India”. It was also perceived as a subtle move by China to support its all-weather friend Pakistan's claim over Kashmir.

The reference to India's One-China policy did not return to the joint statements issued by the two nations even after the regime changed in New Delhi and Modi succeeded Singh as the Prime Minister in May 2014.

During her first meeting with Wang in New Delhi in June 2014, Swaraj made it clear that China should adhere to One-India policy and stop supporting Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir if it wanted India to stick to its One-China policy.

By then, Beijing drew up a plan to build an economic corridor linking Kashgar in Xinxiang Province in north-western China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in south-western Pakistan. New Delhi was concerned, as the economic corridor was proposed to pass through areas in Jammu and Kashmir that India accused Pakistan of illegally occupying.

Beijing is still continuing to invest in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — yet another move New Delhi perceives as an infringement on the sovereignty of India.

The external affairs minister, however, on Tuesday purportedly reassured the Chinese foreign minister of India's continued adherence to One-China policy. “India will firmly adhere to the One-China policy and properly handle issues involving the core interests of China, such as Taiwan and Tibet-related issues,” Xinhua, the state-run news-agency of the communist country, quoted Swaraj telling Wang in Pretoria.

No details about the meeting between Swaraj and Wang was released by the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi. Raveesh Kumar, MEA spokesperson, stated in a post on Twitter that both leaders (Swaraj and Wang) discussed a way to maintain the momentum in bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Beijing is stepping up pressure on New Delhi to reaffirm One-China policy at a time when India is trying to subtly expand its trade and economic links with Taiwan.

India, however, was very cautious on the issue of Tibet, ahead of the Prime Minister's informal summit with the Chinese president at Wuhan, ostensibly to avert irking China.

New Delhi on February 26 issued an advisory asking “senior leaders” and “government functionaries” in the states as well as at the Centre to stay away from the events attended by the Dalai Lama — the icon of exiled Tibetans' struggle against Chinese rule over their homeland.

The Dalai Lama has been living in exile at Dharamshala in India ever since he fled from Tibet in 1959 to escape the Chinese People's Liberation Army, which occupied Tibet that year. Beijing calls him a splittist and has been accusing him of leading a secessionist movement to undermine its sovereignty over Tibet.

China in April 2017 strongly criticised India for facilitating the Dalai Lama’s visits to Tawang in Aruanchal Pradesh — very close to the disputed boundary between the two nations.

(Published 06 June 2018, 17:47 IST)

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