DPG China Monitor

China Monitor

India and China held the 26th meeting of the ‘Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs’ (WMCC) physically in Beijing on February 22, 2023. The two sides discussed the security situation in eastern Ladakh, including proposals regarding disengagement from remaining friction points. They agreed to hold the 18th round of the senior military commanders’ meeting at an early date. Separate post-meeting statements released by the two sides clearly indicated continued differences in perceptions on the resolution of outstanding issues.
In the backdrop of this continued standoff, now nearly three-year-old, the Indian Army reiterated its preparedness to give a befitting response to any Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh, with appropriate posturing of forces backed by complete synergy among the three services. Furthermore, to enhance the existing border deployment, the government of India sanctioned the raising of seven additional battalions of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), comprising 9,400 personnel. The Indian Army is also enhancing its firepower along the LAC through the introduction of long-range weapon systems.
A bipartisan resolution was introduced in the US Senate to recognise Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India, as a push back against China’s military aggression to change the status quo along the LAC. Meanwhile, China has started working on a new railway line between Xinjiang and Tibet that is expected to enable faster deployment of troops in the border region.
Pakistan, along with China and 50 other countries, took part in the annual ‘AMAN-23’ multinational maritime exercise off the Karachi coast. The drills were aimed at enhancing interoperability to deal with threats in the Indian Ocean region, securing safeguarding vital international sea lines of communication, and safeguarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In a move that could slow down IMF’s aid to Sri Lanka, China has asked multilateral lenders to provide debt relief to Sri Lanka as part of a broader loan restructuring. The statement from China came after the Paris Club of creditors joined India in formally supporting debt restructuring for Sri Lanka, bolstering Colombo’s efforts to unlock a USD 2.9 billion bailout from the IMF.

US-China relations continued to fray during the month. China strongly criticised Washington’s move to shoot down an unmanned Chinese civilian airship (balloon) over US airspace, stressing that “the civilian airship was being used for research, mainly meteorological purposes, and had unexpectedly entered the US due to force majeure”. Describing US’s actions as “irresponsible” and “a violation of international practices”, China declined Washington’s proposal for a phone call between the defence ministers of the two countries. Owing to the balloon incident, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his China visit.
Chinese state media severely criticised US democracy in the aftermath of President Biden’s ‘State of the Union’ address. China issued a report titled “US hegemony and its perils”, shedding light on the US’s “Political Hegemony - Throwing Its Weight Around”, “Military Hegemony - Wanton Use of Force”, “Economic Hegemony - Looting and Exploitation”, “Technological Hegemony - Monopoly and Suppression”, and “Cultural Hegemony – Spreading False Narratives”.
Ahead of the first anniversary of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, Wang Yi, Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 22, 2023. Wang Yi reiterated that China-Russia relations have “stood the test of the international situation and are mature, resilient, and stable”.

Further, China released a paper on its position on the ‘political settlement of the Ukraine crisis’, in which it called for a ceasefire and talks between the two parties. The US and the European Union rejected China’s 12-point peace plan for Ukraine. 
Wang Yi, in his address at Munich Security Conference, warned that “standing at a critical juncture in history, human society must not repeat the path of antagonism, division, and confrontation, and must not fall into the trap of zero-sum game, war and conflict”.
Following Wang Yi’s address, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang released a concept paper on the country’s “Global Security Initiative” (GSI). Core principles of GSI include “staying committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security”, “respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries”, “abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter”, “taking legitimate security concerns of all nations seriously”, “peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation”, and “maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains”.

Amidst China’s economic slowdown, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called upon Beijing to pursue “comprehensive reforms” to bring the country’s economy back in line with its true growth potential.  The IMF warned that without reforms, China’s growth could drop to about 4 percent on average over the next five years, and 3 percent thereafter between 2028-37.