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China’s Motive for Wuhan Informal Modi-Xi Jinping Summit

Maj Gen BK Sharma, AVSM, SM**(Retd) writes: For China the primary contradiction at this juncture is how to deal with intransigent US. India, on the other hand, is seen more of a major irritant and potential challenger to China’s rise as an Asian power and therefore is ipso facto a secondary contradiction. Hence the need to pacify relations with India till the American challenge is managed.


Maj Gen BK Sharma, AVSM, SM**(Retd) writes: The informal summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping is being widely debated by strategic analysts. There are differing viewpoints on the motive behind the summit; some say India succumbed to China, others say China blinked and some others say it suited both leaders to seek rapprochement in the light of American protectionism and overall geopolitical scenario. In the instant article Mr. Nayan Chanda explains the Chinese motive of reaching out to India on the basis of Mao’s theory of Contradiction. Mao theorised that once beset with primary contradiction, the secondary contradiction should be temporarily set aside till the primary contradiction is resolved. At this juncture, China is entering a vicious trade war with the US. Trump Administration has designated China as a hegemonic and revisionist rival. It has imposed trade barriers on major Chinese companies that are potentially damaging for their economy and technological advancement. So, for China the primary contradiction at this juncture is how to deal with intransigent US. India, on the other hand, is seen more of a major irritant and potential challenger to China’s rise as an Asian power and therefore is ipso facto a secondary contradiction. Hence the need to pacify relations with India till the American challenge is managed.

The fundamentals of geopolitics dictate that India and China will compete for domination of resources, location and influence. This hard reality should not be glossed over by India’s policy makers and strategic community. Pragmatically speaking, there is a widening gap in the Comprehensive National Power of India and China. China is constantly gaining a competitive advantage in the strategic and military balance vis a vis India. Given the nature of asymmetric relations between India and China, we need to have a coherent policy of ‘New Modus Vivendi’ with China, albeit without compromising our core interests. Let the optics of Summit not make us complacent about China’s intent and machinations to see India as a subordinate power in Asia. We should be deftly assertive to make China understand and heed India’s sensitivities. In the meanwhile, the time window of heightened strategic brinkmanship between Dragon and Uncle Sam, should be utilised by India to build strategic capacities to reclaim strategic influence in the periphery and place India in a favourable position for long -term strategic competition with China.

To read more about  this please see the link below

The Wuhan Puzzle: Mao’s student Xi flatters India as he prepares for bare knuckles clash with US May 5, 2018, 2:00 AM IST Nayan Chanda in TOI at –

Readers are welcome to share their views on the subject.



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5 thoughts on “China’s Motive for Wuhan Informal Modi-Xi Jinping Summit

  1. Dr. Roshan Khaniejo says:

    Very well articulated, China is a master of deception and hence the Indians should be cautious  and not compromise on its core interests. The window which is provided i hope is utilised in decreasing the strategic gap between the two countries . I hope the policy makers are listening

  2. Maj Gen Rajiv Narayanan says:

    While it may be so, but China is on the back foot, and is suddenly wanting to improve relations with not just India, but also Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries. Its tone has become somewhat conciliatory with these major powers in its periphery; All cannot be termed as secondary contradictions. It is the periphery where its economic growth lies. Firstly – trade war or no trade war, USA and the West can push the envelope only so much and not more, since their economies are so deeply intertwined. Unless their MNCs and Wall Street can get alternate destinations for investment with similar profit percentages, which may happen in the long term, it may be difficult for USA and the West to walk the talk. Secondly – the thrust by USA is essentially to force China to readjust the value of Yuan, open its markets, inhibit Make in China 2025, and deny it the cutting edge technologies by blocking its investments and purchase of Technological companies. Be that as it may, it is the stalling of the BRI, which would connect its periphery with itself and supplement its economic growth, that is hurting China immediately. hence the outreach to the major powers in the periphery. Xi has time till 2021 – the mobilisation phase for the BRI, then BRI has to start delivering. So what he faces immediately, in the near – medium term is to ensure that relations with the major players in the periphery does not inhibit the BRI – China’s growth engine; the CPEC appears to have been stuck in the quagmire of FATF decision to place Pakistan on the watch list. What China faces from the West and US is a long term battle. However, with this outreach to the neighbourhood China could kill two birds with one stone. If China can improve relations with all of us, then it would have some semblance of growth through the BRI. It could then be in a better position to contend the long term issue of contest with USA and the West. By that connotation, the principle contradiction in the immediate future would be the major players in the periphery. Even as he manages this principle contradiction by stepping in himself, he has sent his staff to manage the long term contradiction with the Americans. The fact that Xi is personally involved in doing the talking with the major players of the periphery indicates that in his construct this is the ‘principle contradiction’ that needs to be urgently managed.

  3. Gaurav Kumar says:

    I think the article has aptly highlighted the important factor behind the Wuhan summit and its implication. the fundamentals of the geopolitics is the driving factor and it will and dictate the terms of engagement for both India and china.

  4. NIHAR KUANR says:

    Extremely well articulated view on the theory of contradiction driving Xi’s current diplomatic overture, supplanted aptly by the views of Gen Rajiv Narayanan which has been further corroborated by the TOI editorial of today. Unlike in the past, of late, China has been unabashedly proclaiming its desire for great power status and dethroneing USA, and  has demonstrated alarming consistency in its actions and expressions on its intent.  The conciliatory approach towards India is but a temporary measure as brought out by Gen Sharma as well as Gen Narayanan. The new strategic guidelines issued to PLA, the promises of economic cooperation in Af, praising the recent massively successful AF ex of India, etc. are but certain temporary measures to lull  India to complacency and thus derive requisite strategic payoff in its grand quest… Pl make no mistake about that…. As correctly brought out, India needs to be assertive, demonstrate its resolve to maintain its unique position and grow its CNP exponentially without compromising its democratic and spiritual credentials  without being hegemonistic and without getting involved in any sort of zero sum game, competition or unfair practices and at the same time respecting the sovereignty and strength and virtues of other States and believing in mutual benefits while dealing with  neighbors  as well as other Nations. China can only be tackled by demonstration of strength and resoluteness.

    However such gestures even though temporary can lead to greater goods and pay nice dividends if leveraged appropriately by the leadership, diplomats, and security apparatus.

  5. shaman chodha says:

    Very interesting and well articulated view. China always think long term. It focuses on the primary threat and negotiates for time with secondary threats. Remember how it solved all its border disputes (less India and Bhutan) with eleven countries with more “give” than “take”. US is all around China, in South China sea, in Taiwan, in South Korea and in Afghanistan. The potential global flash points are in a way encircling China. Thus the Chinese desire to resolve issues on it’s periphery. CPEC is the heart of BRI, it must succeed for China. Any US sanctions against Pakistan, or its failing internal security situation will hurt China’s interest in CPEC. As far as India is concerned, the present situation gives us time to fill our strategic voids and build our deterrence capabilities. China will remain our No 1 threat despite present bonhomie.

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