implementation of these three economic
initiatives, each of which also has a strong
The policy, for the first time ever, categorizes China’s neighbors as ‘friends’ and
‘enemies.’ It promises substantive economic, security and other benefits, including
those flowing from the global influence
that China wields, to ‘friends’ who support
China’s regional objectives.
Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been
informed that they are viewed as ‘friends.’
The policy similarly cautions countries
who are hostile to China, or oppose it, that
they will be confronted with sustained
periods of tough sanctions and isolation.
The intrusion in Chumar has certainly
overshadowed Xi’s visit. Its continuance
during and beyond the Chinese president’s
visit is unprecedented and has qualitatively changed the tone of the India-China
relationship. In addition to conveying that
issues concerning China’s sovereignty and
territorial integrity trump all other considerations, it also warns India against drawing closer to Japan or the US.
President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to
Vietnam elicited an official note of cau-
tion from Beijing. The outspoken People’s
Liberation Army Major General Luo
Yuan has on two occasions, in December
2010 and mid-2013, written articles in
the government-owned official Global
Times, saying that China cannot call itself
a strong nation unless it ‘recovered the
land looted by neighbors.’
Amidst arguments preferred by
Chinese and pro-China elements that the
Xi visit was overall a success and the
incidents on the border should not be
exaggerated, a couple of disingenuous
reports have appeared.
One palpably unacceptable report surfaced September 19, claiming that Xi had
assured Modi he had instructed PLA
forces to withdraw.
Another more recent report that
appeared to similarly spread specious disinformation suggested that on return to
Beijing, Xi had summoned PLA commanders and urged them to follow orders.
It is likely around the same period Xi
could have met senior military leaders to
finalize promotions to the Central
The intrusion and consequent ongoing
military standoff in Chumar is undoubtedly a carefully planned and calibrated military action. As in the case of the intrusion
in the Depsang Plains in Aksai Chin last
April just before Chinese Premier Li
Keqiang’s visit, it would have been
approved by the Chinese Communist
Party’s Politburo and Central Military
Commission. Both are headed by Xi.
The authority exercised over the PLA by
Xi, described by the authoritative party
fortnightly magazine Qiu Shi in its June
issue as ‘one of China’s greatest
Communist leaders,’ is unchallenged.
Xi has also either selected, or approved
the selection, of senior PLA commanders.
Particularly, the commander of the
Lanzhou military region which includes
the Ladakh region, in its overall area of
responsibility, was promoted by Xi and
has publicly expressed fealty to him. The
political commissar of the Lanzhou
region has also benefited from a promotion given by Xi this July.
Similarly, the commander of the Ali mili-
tary subdistrict subordinate to the
Lanzhou military region exercises direct
operational jurisdiction over the Depsang
Plains and other areas in Ladakh. He has
sound political credentials. Neither of
manders have, incidentally, been in posi-
tion since 2012.
The intrusion and ongoing military
standoff in Chumar in Ladakh that persists despite three flag meetings held so
far is rather disconcerting and needs to
be viewed seriously. It at once signals
that Beijing is ‘testing’ the Modi government and neither is it unduly concerned
about any embarrassment caused to the
When viewed, however, with the
Chinese-language dispatch of China’s
authoritative official news agency Xinhua
of late May, which asserted that Modi has
economic and military power in the region
and has no choice but to have economic
cooperation with China, the ongoing
intrusion suggests that it is the sustained
punitive pressure envisaged in China’s pol-
icy of ‘peripheral diplomacy.’
Jayadeva Ranade is a member of India’s
National Security Advisory Board
and former additional secretary in the
Cabinet Secretariat, government of India.
He is president, Center for China Analysis
Xi and China are testing Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with China's President Xi Jinping in New Delhi, September 18. AHMAD MASOOD/REU TERS