After foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale returned from his low-key visit to China in end February, speculation was rife in the media that his visit would be followed by a ‘high-profile’ visit from China. Given that President Xi Jinping had last visited India in 2014 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi reciprocating by going to China in 2015, it was expected that the Chinese leader would visit India in 2018 to smoothen the creases that had formed after the crisis in Doklam.
Perhaps, to create the right atmospherics for such a ‘high profile’ visit, government of India distanced itself from the apparent sore points in the Indo-China bilateral ties, like the Dalai Lama. The ‘Thank You India’ celebration that the Tibetan diaspora was holding in India around the Tibetan New Year was curtailed and moved out of Delhi. Furthermore, instructions were issued to all ministers that they should not meet the Tibetan spiritual leader. However, before more could be heard about the visit from China, news came out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will go to China on an unscheduled visit. The suddenness of the visit implied that more was needed to be done by India to ensure that the unpleasantness of Doklam was forgotten.
This then is the cover story this month; how after each crisis with China, India further tightens the rope by which it has tied its hands up. This time too, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accepted Chinese conditions for supposed peace on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), at the cost of India’s defence and security. This is not all. In the weeks preceding the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s summit to be held in China in June more details are likely to trickle out about the exact price India has agreed to pay to ensure that Chinese troops do not saunter in across the LAC at will.
The cover story is followed by an extensive report on the just-concluded DefExpo in Chennai. The biggest takeaway from the Show was that, to be considered a professional trade show, DefExpo needs to have certainty of time and location. It cannot be shunted around like a headless chicken. All international shows are fixed calendar events for which the organisers and the exhibitors prepare well in advance.
On the positive side, FORCE show dailies, as always, were received very well. We have tried to bring that flavour into the May issue so that the readers who missed DefExpo get a sense of what happened there.
On that note, brace yourself for the heat. Stay well!