What does Xi Jinping’s third term mean?

Xi Jinping’s third term would also have its ramifications for India, in the context of Jammu and Kashmir
Chinese President, Xi Jinping [Representational picture]
Chinese President, Xi Jinping [Representational picture]File

Chinese President Xi Jinping has barged into unprecedented third term in office with a  complete control over  Communist Party of China. That he would be continuing president of China  was known much before the critical 20th Congress of CPC took off in Beijing last week.  For China, it means continuity.  Xi Jinping’s third term and his tight grip over the party has ramifications for the world, as  at the moment there are only two superpowers -  the United States of America and  China.

India  is creating its own space  in the world in between these two superpowers. It is a strategic partner of the US. The two countries have crossed many milestones  ever since the  nuclear deal was signed  in 2005. There has been a lot of progress in their relations. China, is a neighbour, with which India has had sweet-sour relations. The two countries are Asian giants. Both  compliment each other and they can build Asian century together by walking in lockstep with each other. But, China by inflicting a tense military standoff  in eastern Ladakh  has  soured the  relations. These unfortunate developments that took place during Xi Jinping’s second term cannot be erased  from the  history.

Now India will have to look at the fresh term of Xi from three angles. One, its own relationship with Washington, as it cannot escape the tag of being an ally of the US. This alliance  is seen by the world as Washington’s move to use India to counter balance China’s influence in the region.  This is the world view  which  India finds it difficult to remove despite it having spurned all  elements of the carrot and stock policy that the West, and US, in particular, sought to use in the  aftermath of  Russian invasion of  Ukraine. India  continued with its import of the Russian oil and weaponry, symbolising its independent foreign policy and national interest above all other considerations. This, in itself, was a message to the world, that the country of India’s size, population, and potential, cannot be taken for granted.  Washington got the message, so did the rest of the  west that  thought that India could be bullied into adopting  anti-Russia line.  India, not only resisted that, but also declared it unequivocally that it would  watch its national  interest first. At the same time, what needs to be looked  at is that how will India play its role in  evolving  Chia – US relations. There comes the catch.  If it knows its strengths, there are vulnerabilities too. 

Second, there is iron clad relationship between China and Pakistan. Beijing has larger strategic interests in Pakistan than  China- Pakistan Economic Corridor, the pilot project of China’s all-time ambitious project, influencing continents and driving their politics and economy through its Belt and Road Initiative. Pakistan’s strategic location serves China’s interests in reaching to Central Asia and enhancing its  influence in  South Asia and Central Asian  regions .

India is facing China-Pakistan  alliance pressure in all spheres. Recently China has shielded Pakistan at the international level. It stood like a rock in defence of Pakistan in blocking   designation of Pakistan-based terrorists as global terrorists. The resolutions sponsored by India and the US could not sail through only because China  intervened  and blocked the whole process. This  has two contexts – one, China is doing what it  could  do, in fact it has done so at the risk of its own reputation of  countering terrorism. Secondly, these moves helped Pakistan  exit FATF’s grey list.  That’s a big relief for Islamabad. In both the cases, China  has  worked in favour of Pakistan, and worked against the interests of India. Had it taken a holistic view of the need to fight terrorism, it would not have backed the faces of global terror. China has  harmed its own reputation for the sake of Pakistan. This speaks  about the thick relationship that Beijing and Islamabad enjoy and believe in.

Third, and the most critical part of Xi Jinping’s third term would also have its ramifications  for India on Jammu and Kashmir.  There is absolutely no merit in pretending that China is holding the same view about Jammu and  Kashmir as it had  prior to August 2019.  China vows by its resolve to have friendly ties with India, but its actions since April 2020 standoff in Ladakh,  work in opposite. It is a historical fact that Ladakh was part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Though there were many incursions in Ladakh  prior to the  current standoff, but all those were minor as compared to what it is today.  Militarily, we might think that this is  Ladakh-specific or part of the overall design of Beijing on LAC, but  it has its psychological impact on  the mindset of the people of J&K.  There is a strong narrative in Pakistan that China, too, may be involved in the  talks on Kashmir.  That is something that should  be taken cognisance of. The  west is unreliable. China is in aggressive mood. There is a  need for strengthening and sharpening our diplomatic skills  and ensuring a message from the people of Kashmir how the things have changed.

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