DPG China Monitor

China Monitor

On March 2, 2023, India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar met newly appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on the side-lines of the G20 Foreign Minister’s meeting in New Delhi. The Ministers reviewed challenges to bilateral relations, in particular, “peace and tranquillity in border areas”. Dr. Jaishankar in his remarks highlighted that the current state of India-China relations remains “abnormal” and the situation along the LAC in eastern Ladakh “very fragile” and “quite dangerous”.

Amidst continuing border tensions, the Indian Army and Air Force carried out a 96-hour joint exercise, ‘Vayu Prahar’, in the Eastern sector aimed at enhancing the readiness of the two forces for executing joint operations in a multi-domain environment.

The Indian government has constituted a committee to fast-track the implementation of infrastructure projects along the LAC with China.  37 new border roads with a cumulative length of 875 km are under consideration.

The Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, released on March 8, warned that the "expanded military postures" of India and China along the LAC elevate the risk of "armed confrontation" between the two countries.

H.H. The Dalai Lama has named a US-born Mongolian boy the ‘10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche’ - the third highest rank in Tibetan Buddhism, reigniting the larger question of the 14th Dalai Lama’s own reincarnation. China maintains that it will only recognise Buddhist leaders of its own choosing.

Six years after the Doklam standoff, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering’s statement that Beijing has an equal say in finding a resolution to the dispute is troubling for New Delhi. India is opposed to China extending its footprint in Doklam as the plateau lies close to the sensitive Siliguri corridor.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s stopover in the US on her trip to Central America added further strains to US-China relations. Amidst mounting Chinese criticism of the US role in the South China Sea, the Philippines announced that the US will have access to four more military bases across the country, including one in a province overlooking Taiwan.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley warned that while “war with China or Russia is neither inevitable nor imminent”, “any attempt by China to give lethal aid to Russia in its war with Ukraine will broaden the conflict beyond the region”.

President Xi Jinping visited Moscow from March 20-22, 2023. In a joint statement, the two sides stressed “deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries for a new era”.

On March 7, 2023, in his first major foreign policy statement, Foreign Minister Qin Gang highlighted China’s firm opposition to hegemonism and power politics including the US Indo-Pacific Strategy seeking to create an Asia-Pacific version of NATO. He called for advancing China-Russia relations based on “non-alliance, non-confrontation, and non-targeting of any third party”, and resolution of the Ukraine crisis through peace talks.

On March 5, 2023, Li Keqiang delivered a “Report on The Work of the Government” to the NPC, his final report as China’s Premier. China targeted GDP growth of around 5 percent for 2023, and announced a defence budget of CNY 1.55 trillion (USD 224.79 billion) for 2023, an increase of 7.2 percent over 2022.

On March 10, 2023, the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) unanimously elected Xi Jinping as the President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) for an unprecedented third term. President Xi appointed Li Qiang as China’s new Premier.

Premier Li Qiang called upon the government to “ensure sound and faithful implementation of the decisions of the CPC Central Committee”, implying a possible weaker role of the State Council in national decision-making.

President Xi, in his address to the NPC, stressed on coordinating development and security for building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects. Xi also called for adhering to the one-China principle by resolutely opposing Taiwan independence separatist forces.

President Xi proposed “Global Civilization Initiative” calling for respecting the diversity of civilizations, advocating common values of humanity, valuing civilizational inheritance and innovations, and jointly advocating robust international people-to-people exchanges.