Chinese Minister Wang Yi makes rare Tibet visit

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.   | Photo Credit: Behrouz Mehri

China’s Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi has made a rare visit to inspect “border infrastructure” in Tibet, which Chinese media has linked to the recent tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India. Mr. Wang on Friday met with the top Communist Party official in Tibet, Wu Yingjie, as well as the chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government, Qizhala, and called for efforts “to safeguard national security”.

Mr. Wang was quoted as saying “the diplomatic front will work with people in Tibet to safeguard national security and support Tibet’s opening-up” and that “the security and stability of the region is important to the overall development of China”, said a report in the Party-run Global Times citing the official Tibet Daily newspaper. The Global Times said the “trip came against the backdrop of China-India border clash in the Galwan Valley in June”.

Construction of villages

Mr. Wang “also visited the border area to learn about the situation of poverty alleviation, infrastructure building and the construction of villages,” the report said.

State broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN) reported that Mr. Wang “held a symposium briefing local officials on the current international situation and the main schemes of the diplomatic work.” He referred to challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and “the dramatically evolving international situation”, and said the Foreign Ministry “will be working with local officials to thoroughly implement the plan of the Communist Party of China in governing Tibet.”

Without specifically referring to the border tensions with India, the report quoted the Foreign Minister as mentioning “the current international situation and China’s diplomatic work” and said “Tibet has made great achievements regarding economic development, stabilizing and developing border areas, joining external cooperation and participating in projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Among the BRI projects under way in Tibet is a cross-border economic corridor to Nepal, called the Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network project, which also envisages a railway link connecting China and Nepal. The Global Times noted that Mr. Wang “conducts special research trips to several Chinese regions every year” and had visited the China-Myanmar border in 2019.

On Friday, India’s Ambassador to China Vikram Misri held talks with China’s top military body, the Central Military Commission (CMC), in Beijing, amid an acknowledgement from New Delhi that completing the stalled disengagement process along the LAC would require “reciprocal actions” from both sides.

India’s calls rebuffed

The Chinese side has so far rebuffed India’s demand for a return to the status quo ante prior to this summer’s tensions that saw multiple transgressions and the Chinese military establishing positions on India’s side of the LAC. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) remains present on India’s side of the LAC on the north bank of Pangong Lake, has continued to obstruct India’s patrols in the Depsang plains, and has not diluted its build-up in several other areas, according to officials.

Five rounds of Corps Commander-level talks have been held so far, while the situation in Depsang was discussed at Major General-level talks on August 8.

The Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday that India “expect[s] that the Chinese side to sincerely work with us towards the objective of complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas”, which was “also necessary and essential in the context of overall development of our bilateral relationship.”

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 3:40:14 AM |

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