|General Xu Qiliang signing a defence agreement in Colombo|
That is nice to hear.
Xi was addressing a function marking the 60th anniversary of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
Analysts related his remarks to the dispute with Hanoi regarding the setting up of an oil rig in the South China Sea.
But China’s DNA is not unicolour.
At the same time, General Fang Fenghui, the PLA’s Chief used a threatening tone during a press conference with his US counterpart General Martin Dempsey in Washington; he affirmed: “the US Asia pivot had inflamed tensions in the South China Sea”, adding that “some neighbouring countries were using the [US] policy as a pretext for provocations.”
Though President Xi had just explained: “Chinese people do not accept the logic that a strong country must also be hegemonic,” General Fang vowed that China would never ‘lose an inch of its territory’.
Does Fang have different DNA than Xi?
No, Xi and Fang's remarks belong to one single Chinese DNA!
It is called the Chinese Art of Diplomacy …and War.
A few days later, Hua Chunying, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman expressed China's willingness to work with India's new government to promote the two countries' bilateral partnership. That’s the ‘good’ DNA!
She said: “China has always attached great importance to ties with India. …China and India are friendly neighbors, and the current relations between the two countries are maintaining a good momentum.”
A day earlier, one of the senior most PLA officers, General Xu Qiliang, a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo and vice chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission left for a tour of three Asian countries, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Interestingly, for his visit to India’s two strategic neighbours, General Xu was accompanied by Maj. Gen. Diao Guoxin, the political commissar of the PLA Tibet Military Command.
What was General Diao, whose troops face India in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, doing in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka?
In Dacca, bdnews24.com reported that the Chinese delegation signed four military agreements with Bangladesh ‘to enhance Dhaka’s defence capabilities’.
Under these agreements signed with the Bangladesh Armed Forces and the Bangladesh University of Professionals, China will provide military support to Bangladesh’s armed forces and train its military personnel. Beijing will also help setting up a language laboratory. And of course, all these will be free of charge.
|General Xu Qiliang in Bangladesh|
Tarique explained that Bangladesh and China have similar history, culture and traditions, adding that the two countries have had close cooperation and exchanges in the fields of politics, economy and culture.
The Security Adviser hoped that the two militaries could consolidate and deepen pragmatic exchanges and cooperation in all fields.
General Xu Qiliang asserted that China and Bangladesh are friendly neighbors (is not India in between??), and the people of the two countries have had a history of friendly contacts for thousands of years; a fact which may surprise you, if you still believe that Bangladesh was born in 1971.
The fact that the Chinese delegation appreciated Dacca’s firm support to Beijing’s policy vis-à-vis Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet, probably explains Maj. Gen. Diao Guoxin’s presence.
Let us not forget that according to the Sweden-based think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), during the last five years, China has been the largest supplier of arms to Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently announced that two Chinese submarines would be inducted in the Bangladesh Navy by 2015, while two new frigates (Abu Bakar and Ali Haider) also from China were commissioned in March this year.
The visit to Sri Lanka was more discreet, probably because the results of the Indian elections were going to be out by the time General Xu left Dacca.
It is certainly an indirect Chinese reaction to Modi’s election as Prime Minister of India. For three days, not a word about the Sri Lanka’s visit in the Chinese press, including specialized publications like The PLA’s Daily.
A friend of mine joked: ‘here is a new Flight 370 affair’; Xu seems to have disappeared from the radar from the time he left Dacca. Has Xu (the first Air Force officer to make it as a vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission) crashed in the Bay of Bengal?
Now, finally on May 19, Beijing announced that the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had met with Xu Qiliang on May 16. But it is a clear indicator that Beijing did not want to negatively attract the attention the new Government in Delhi. For sure, Beijing will thread more carefully with Modi’s government than with the Congress’.
The Sri Lankan President expressed Sri Lanka’s gratitude to China for its long-term strong support and help and assured Xu that Sri Lanka will adhere to the friendly policy towards China, firmly upholding the ‘One-China’ policy.
According to a communique from Colombo, Xu also met Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary in the Ministry of Defence on the same day and three important ‘agreements of mutual cooperation’ were signed. Gotabaya Rajapaksa expressed Sri Lanka’s sincere appreciation for the financial and material support extended by the Chinese Government for several projects under the Defence portfolio.
General Xu Qiliang answered that the "sincere mutual assistance and friendship from generation to generation is the reality of the bilateral ties between China and Sri Lanka”. He noted that the challenges faced by Sri Lanka were due to the strategic concerns of other nations rather than the actual human rights situation of the island.
But that is not all in India’s neighbourhood.
General Chang Wanquan, China’s defense minister paid a visit Laos and Myanmar around the same dates. In Myanmar, the ‘goodwill’ visit was at the invitation of Wai Lwin, the Burmese defense minister.
Very little news has filtered out so far about Chang’s visit.
On the western front, the all-weather friend is always ready to work with Beijing. Islamabad is presently organizing a joint drill with the Chinese Air Force; code-named ‘Shaheen (Eagle)-3’, it is held at the Rafiqui airbase in the northeastern province of Punjab.
But this too has been rather discreet.
China is probably aware that India has changed its DNA, dropping the old Nehruvian ones.
Narendra Modi could, without hesitation, say: "in the Indian blood, there is no DNA for aggression or hegemony, but India will not lose an inch of its territory.”
Sensing that the new acquired Indian DNA may resemble the Chinese, Beijing apparently may force Beijing to accept the logic that even a strong country cannot always be hegemonic, there is a price to pay. This was demonstrated when China had to evacuate thousands of its nationals from Vietnam.