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'Be patient but wary as Chinese party 'controls the gun''
Hours before India's Defense Minister was to arrive in Beijing to discuss bi-lateral issues, Maj Gen Luo Yuan of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched a diplomatic hand grenade in the general direction of New Delhi's South Block. In a ritual that's become a pattern in Indo-China relations and visits, Yuan asked India to desist calling China a 'military threat' and stop troop deployment in border areas. Uday Bhaskar, the respected Defense expert has said that India should wait for the visit to be over and then decide its course of action.

Antony is meeting Chinese officials to discuss the new border cooperation agreement drafted by China. India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and his Chinese counterpart have discussed the agreement but it's yet to make progress as India has several differences with China's positions.

Yuan's "extension of brief" and the timing of his public statement prior to Antony's visit is not innocent. In May this year, there was Chinese incursion in the Depsang Valley in India's northern eastern Ladakh area after the planned visit of Chinese premier Li Keqiang in April.

Uday Bhaskar, a well-respected Indian Defence expert told ANI that this Chinese tactic is part of Chinese strategy with India to put it on the backfoot and assert itself during talks. "I hope this kind of a statement by a Major General in the PLA will not affect the dialogue between India and China, and Mr. Antony and his Chinese counterpart. The way in which the major general in the PLA has tried to either 'caution' or 'warn' India, to my mind is part of the psychological pressure that China seeks to apply - particularly whenever there is a major political event. And if you look at the recent past, before the Chinese Prime Minister Mr. Li visited India, on April 15 we had the Depsang incident.

To its credit, the Indian government was able to maintain a firm position - without letting the tension increase. In similar fashion, we know, in China, any kind of statement that appears in the media, needs to have an equivalent of either direct sanction or a tacit concurrence by the Chinese top leadership. So, if a serving General in the PLA can make a statement of this nature, to me, as an analyst, what I infer is that the Chinese military is trying to assert what it deems to be its own position on the territorial and border disputes with India. But yet we know that whether it is in China or in India, it is the politcal leadership that has to provide the framework in which the accommodation is going to be realized.

The wording of Yuan's public statement indicates that China opted to put 'military pressure' on India, when Yuan said, "The political relationship has been enhanced. Now the defence minister of India is visiting here. I believe the situation is within control and it is upto India not to start some new trouble," reported The Times of India.

But Bhasker cautioned the Indian political establishment of making any knee-jerk decisions. "I see this caution by a PLA General as a very instructive pattern where within China, I would suggest, there seem to be divergent views. I mean clearly the way the Chinese system works, there's always the dictum that the 'Party controls the gun' - that is the Chinese Communist Party controls the military, the PLA. But we are also aware that in the last 40-50 years, there have been occasions where the Chinese military has sought to influence China's overall security and foreign policy, and we have to see in the present instance how Mr. Antony's visit is going to conclude.

At this point, from the Indian perspective, we should monitor and note what the Chinese General has said, because it's indicative of a certain constituency within the Chinese military, and wait for the joint statement at the end of Mr. Antony's visit. Any kind of shrill commentary, at this stage, or jumping to conclusions, would be imprident.

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