China on Tuesday rubbished reports suggesting that a recent address by President Xi Jinping to military officers in Beijing calling for "combat readiness" was linked to India. It said the Indian media reports were "a wild guess" and contradicted the consensus reached by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese President to resolve issues peacefully.
China's military, has, at the same time, stuck to the line that its troops had not violated any agreements between India and China and were on "China's side" of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). With differing perceptions of the LAC in the areas in question, the PLA move has been seen as a bid by China to reinforce its control in territory where both sides have in the past been patrolling.Neither side has, however, taken the step to pitch tents since the stand-off in Depsang, in eastern Ladakh, in April 2013. That face-off took as long as three weeks to be defused.China on Tuesday reiterated that it believed this stand-off too could be resolved peacefully using the mechanisms in place, such as flag meetings and a consultation and coordination mechanism on boundary affairs that was set up three years ago.
Officials also rejected Indian media reports linking President Xi Jinping's address to the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Chiefs of Staff, during what sources said was an earlier scheduled meeting planned prior to his trip to India, to the on-going stand-off in Chumar in Ladakh.Xi had called on PLA forces to "improve their combat readiness" and "sharpen their ability to win a regional war in the age of information technology". This was not Xi's first such call: shortly after taking over, Xi urged troops in Guangzhou in December 2012 using the same language.
The reference to "winning regional wars" in the "age of information technology" has become the PLA's standard doctrine since the early 1990s, finding regular mention in defence meetings and white papers, according to military analysts, and is not country-specific.
"This is a routine statement that every Central Military Commission chairman makes when he meets a PLA delegation," said Srikanth Kondapalli, an expert on the Chinese military and Professor in Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
"The context is the shift in PLA's focus, from the Gulf War in 1991 onwards, marking that their effort to wage a global war is over and the focus now is regional wars. Winning regional wars in information age conditions has found routine mention in meetings since then, and is not related to India or the Chumar incident," he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said reports linking Xi's meeting to the Indian border were "a wild guess".
"I believe this may be a wild guess," Hua said. "President Xi just concluded a very successful visit to India and was warmly welcomed by the Indian government."
She said Modi and Xi had "reached a consensus" that although there may be some problems at the border they would "solve disputes through friendly coordination". "We will never allow the border area to influence Sino-Indian relations," she said.
At Sunday and Monday's meeting, the PLA's armed forces were also told to follow the Party line and "the instructions of Xi".
Xi is shortly expected to announce the promotions of two generals, Liu Yuan and Zhang Youxia, who are both close to him, in a bid to assert his control of the military and to signal that he was very much in command, despite some recent rumblings in the PLA amid a widespread corruption crackdown launched recently by Xi.