Thursday, December 13, 2012

About small and 'important' countries

With the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
Soon after the conclusion of the 18th CPC Congress in Beijing, a Chinese official, Li Junru headed a Goodwill Delegation from the Communist Party of China to India. 
Mr. Li also visited Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 
But who is Li Junru?
When you type his name, China Vitae, a website listing thousands of Chinese officials shows 'no match'.
According to the Chinese embassy in Delhi, Li Junru is a former Vice President of CPC's Central Party School and till March, he is a member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC (Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference).
Li was in Delhi between November 24 to 28, 2012.
One could ask: why send Li to India and not a very senior Party official?
The other question is why to eternally link India and Pakistan?
This is relatively easy to answer: for the years to come, China will continue to equate New Delhi and Islamabad; it is part of a policy to bring India down. 
A commentator (in The Hindu) remarked that 'much higher' delegations will visit the West (and particularly the United States) to brief the Western governments and local parties about the outcome of the 18th Congress held in November. There is no doubt about this.
To come back to the first question.
At 65, Li is an active official. He is a Vice Director of the China Reform Forum  and Vice Director of the China Society for Human Rights Studies. 
What these organizations are, is a separate issue. It certainly does not mean much to the profane (even to the China watcher).
Li's Unique Selling Proposition seems to be his fluency in English and the fact that he is able to eloquently convey the positions of the Party in their proper and global perspectives. He obviously enjoy the CPC's trust. 
During the 18th Party Congress in Beijing, he was already seen answering reporters fielding questions for overseas television channels. 
His trip to South Asia appeared to have been sponsored by the International Department under the Central Committee of the Party.
In the past, this Department used to liaise with other 'fraternal' Communist Parties. It probably explains the casual dress worn by Comrade Li when he met Comrade Yechury.
More relaxed between comrades
Today, the Department has contacts with all political parties. The delegation's job was to brief foreign party leaders and the media about the 'peaceful' transition witnessed during the 18th Party Congress.
According to the Chinese embassy: "During the visit, the delegation met with Mr. P.J. Kurien, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha (India's Upper House of Parliament), Dr. Karan Singh, Chairman for Foreign Affairs of the Indian National Congress Party, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Chief Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Comrade Sitaram Yechury, a senior member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Comrade Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India."
The communiqué added: 
During the meetings, Li Junru thanked the Indian political parties for their congratulations to the 18th National Congress of the CPC and the newly elected leadership, briefed them about the CPC Congress, and had an in-depth discussion on party-to-party exchanges and cooperation, China-India relations as well as regional and international issues. The delegation also held seminars with the India China Economic and Cultural Council and the Observer Research Foundation on the 18th CPC National Congress, China's future development road, regional and international issues.
Li Junru also accepted a joint interview with Indian and Chinese media.
In Delhi, Mr. Li acknowledged that the border issue has 'hindered development' of bi-lateral ties, but today both countries "should try to turn over to a new page as soon as possible so that the matter is resolved forever," he asserted.
He also affirmed: "Border issue is a headache and trouble left over to us by the British colonists. It happens because of historical reasons and we did have some unhappy and unfortunate incidents in this regard in the past."
Most journalists were delighted to hear such sweet words: "I think we should try to turn over to a new page as soon as possible. People will be happy," Li Junru said during the press conference.
And of course, he brushed aside the problem of the visas issued on maps showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as part of China.

Why could a senior Chinese official visit India?
One can always argue that National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon went to Beijing and was briefed by outgoing Dai Bingguo, a State Councillor (Menon's counterpart in the border talks).
Though the NSA said that India and China had made 'considerable progress' on the border dispute, many observers were doubtful for the simple reason that he did not meet anybody in the new team.
In fact, after 'official sources' had announced that Menon was expected to call on Vice Premier Li Keqiang, the number Two in the seven-member new Standing Committee (and soon-to-be Chinese Premier), the meeting did not materialize. Instead, the NSA met Wu Bangguo, the outgoing head of the National People's Congress.
In other words, Menon did not meet tomorrow's leaders of China.

An important country
It has not been the case of another visiting dignitary: Mohamed Nazim, the Maldives' Minister of Defence and National Security.
His visit occurred in the midst of the controversy which recently erupted between GMR, an infrastructure company  and the Male's government. 
The Indian company had been operating the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at Male after investing some 511 million US dollars, but after a dispute, GMR had to eventually hand over the airport to the Maldives government. 
In Beijing, the Maldives' delegation met General Xu Qiliang, the newly appointed Vice-Chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission. General Xu, a former Air Chief is also a member of the CCP's Politburo (which is not the case of Dai Bingguo). 
After the General met with Mohamed Nazim, both sides agreed to expand their military cooperation.
General Xu Qiliang
According to Xinhua, Xu said that the two countries in recent years have increased mutual political trust, expanded trade and economic cooperation, diversified cultural exchanges and set an example for countries to treat each other as equals and cooperate with sincerity.
Xu stated that "even the two armies should continue to enhance high-level contact, strengthen pragmatic cooperation, expand the scope of cooperation and upgrade military relations,"
Interestingly, Xu briefed Nazim on the  18th CPC National Congress. 
He said that "China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit and commit itself to world peace and development".
Nazim told his Chinese guest that "the Maldives hopes to strengthen communication and cooperation between the two countries as well as their militaries, jointly address common challenges and meet opportunities so as to promote the two countries' relations to a higher level."
India's politicians are briefed by a semi-retired official (Li Junru) and the government is told about the new happenings by someone who is not a member of the CPC's Central Committee any more; the Maldives, a 'small' State is received by one of the most powerful Party officials of post-18th Congress' China has come.
Does it means that in China's eyes, India is a 'small' country and the Maldives an important, strategic one?
General Liang Guanglie and Mohamed Nazim
Soon after meeting General Xu, Maldives Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim met his (outgoing) Chinese counterpart to "deepen military ties between the two countries". 
Xinhua reported that Nazim told General Liang Guanglie that the Maldives “are willing to cement relations between the two countries and their militaries”.
General Liang told him that China would “continue to develop friendly, cooperative and mutually beneficial relations with the Maldives under the principle of building a good-neighbourly relationship and non-interference in internal affairs”. 
He added: "China has always positively developed its military relations with the Maldives and hopes to enhance communication and cooperation, promote the construction of both militaries, and safeguard regional peace and stability.”
For Beijing, the Maldives are definitively as important as India, but this does seem to bother anybody in Delhi.

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