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China Faces Heat in Russia; By Dr. Sridhar Krishnaswami

C3S  Fortnightly Column No. F012 /2015

It is easy to find fault with Indian foreign policy especially from opposition politicians and agenda based media outlets. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi had returned from Ufa, Russia, without meeting his Pakistani counterpart he would have been accused of missing an opportunity. Now that he has met Mr. Nawaz Shariff on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation  Organisation meeting he is targetted for many things, especially going soft on terror. It would appear that Mr.Modi is well aware of the media games and hence his reluctance to carry a troupe with him every time he steps out of New Delhi.

It was not just the Modi-Sharrif meeting that was important in Russia at the multilateral get together. It was also in the Indian Prime Minister’s meeting with the President of China and in a rather repeat of New Delhi’s total displeasure and angst over Beijing’s so-called technical objection to discussing Pakistan and the U.S. Security Council Resolution 1267. Beijing very well understands that its stance that India has not provided “details” is a sham and vague argument when the writing is all over on the wall on Zahir Lakhvi and those of his ilk freely roaming about its vassal state of  Pakistan. Mr. Modi has conveyed to President Xi Jinping that the decision to throw China’s weight behind Pakistan  was simply untenable.

A day after the Indian leader met the Chinese President,  Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying maintaied, “As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China always deals with 1267 (sanctions) coimmittee matters based on facts and in the sp[irit of objectiveness and fairness”.India’s Ministry of External Affairs was right on track when it pointed out that Prime Minister Modi had made his point. “The fact they have reacted means that the point that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made on Wednesday (July 8) has been registered.

China would also have to take note of what transpired in the Modi-Shariff meeting– that top officials from the two sides would be meeting to further discussing terrorism as also in a fresh exchange of documents that would further nail Lakhvi and his cohorts. Perhaps Beijing can also be convinced of the so-called details it has been looking for before it shows up one time time to protect its client state from humiliation in the international arena. It is time that Beijing realises that terrorism will come back to haunt China in its own neighborhood if it did not do some plain talking to states like Pakistan on fomenting terror and distmantling the elaborate training machine in that country.

Totally unrelated to India, China and Pakistan is something that happened at the time of the SCO meet– the decision of Thailand to deport some 109 Uighurs including 20 women back to China. This move has undoubtedly brought in some tough reactions from the United States and Turkey, both of which see definite persecution upon arrival of these Uighurs back in China. While Washington has seen this move as incompatible with the international convention on torture, the U.N. Refugee Agency sees a glagrant violation of international law by Thailand. And non governmental organisations see Thailand caving in to China– the argument that it did not deport “all” the Uighurs and only this group doesnot seem to justify the action, it has been felt.

 All this at a time when Chinese authorities had supposedly given “assurances” to Bangkok on the safety of the Uighur Muslims– assurances that would seen in many parts of the world as not worth the paper it is printed upon. And Beijing wants the world to believe the “details” it is providing on these 109 Uighurs that had left China. Media observers have already made the point that Beijing has already decided on dropping the sledgehammer by stressing that “some” of them have been involved in “terrorism activities”. The fear in many quarters is that in a system like China where democratic rule of law and transparency are absent, the Uighur Muslims have been condemned before they have arrived back.

(Dr. Sridhar Krishnaswami has been a senior journalist with The Hindu in Chennai, Singapore and Washington and currently Heads the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications  at SRM University, Chennai and can be reached at Views expressed here are personal.)

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