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Chinese Communist Party meet: State councillor Yang Jiechi likely to step down, Wang Yi to replace him

On watch is whether General Zhao, who commands the PLA guarding the borders from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, is going to be replaced.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2017 13:48 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Doklam standoff,Yang Jiechi,Wang Yi
While India is watching whether Xi will be re-elected as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party or upgraded to the all-powerful post of chairman --- like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping --- significant changes are expected in the powerful PLA hierarchy as Beijing’s focus shifts from land to naval and air forces.(AFP)

India is looking towards the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party next month. State councillor and special representative for boundary-level talks Yang Jiechi is expected to give way to hardline foreign minister Wang Yi as his successor, while uncertainty looms over the future of PLA Western Theatre Commander General Zhao Zongqi after peaceful resolution of the Doklam standoff.

Diplomatic sources based in New Delhi and Beijing confirmed to Hindustan Times that councillor Yang will step down as special representative by March 2018, and perhaps the 20th round of boundary resolution dialogue will be held with his successor and current foreign minister Wang Yi.

It was a July 27 meeting between Yang and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, at the instructions of President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that gave preference to diplomacy over warmongering and led to the peaceful resolution of the 73-day standoff on the Doklam plateau. The area is claimed both by Bhutan and China.

New Delhi is apprehensive about Yang’s likely successor Wang, as the latter adopted a hardline posture during the entire Doklam standoff. The Chinese ambassador to India too followed a similar approach. “Wang’s inflexible approach during the crisis could lead to hardening of positions during the next round of SR-level talks,” said a senior official.

While India is watching whether Xi will be re-elected as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party or upgraded to the all-powerful post of chairman --- like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping --- significant changes are expected in the powerful PLA hierarchy as Beijing’s focus shifts from land to naval and air forces.

On watch is whether General Zhao, who commands the PLA guarding the borders from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, is going to be replaced. Observers feel that hardline generals put President Xi in an awkward position during Doklam standoff.

The question being asked is who misled Xi to believe that New Delhi would not intervene on behalf of Bhutan at Doklam, given the fact that any unilateral change in ground position directly impacts India’s strategic posture. The fact is that at Doklam the PLA was at a comparatively weaker position, with the Indian Army surrounding them from three sides.

Although retired Chinese experts in the previous UPA regime conveyed to the NDA government that Beijing would not back down at Doklam, national security and foreign policy advisors to PM were convinced that diplomacy would win the day.

First Published: Sep 17, 2017 13:48 IST