Chinese defense chief’s South Asia tour to safeguard regional security:

Global Times

Beijing: Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe’s visit to key neighbors – Pakistan and Nepal in the Southwest border were of practical meaning to safeguard regional security, according to observers.

Wei met with Pakistani President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad and discussed a wide range of topics, including the building of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and defense cooperation.

During Wei’s visit to Nepal, he also discussed international and regional situation and bilateral diplomatic and military relations with Nepal’s Chief of Army Staff General Purna Chandra Thapa.

India, which has territorial disputes with Pakistan and Nepal, has been paying close attention to Wei’s tour, deeming it a move to confront India as China and India are also going through a military standoff due to border disputes.

But Chinese observers said India has over-evaluated its importance because international and regional situations must be on the agenda of China-Nepal, China-Pakistan military leaders’ communications.

China is a friendly neighbor of Nepal and Pakistan, and Wei’s visits are more to enhance the relationship and deepen cooperation, and lift military mutual trust, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.

China, as a major country, is bound to support Nepal and Pakistan morally and diplomatically. The tour is a warning to some anti-China hardliners in India, who do not reflect on their own mistakes but try to sow discord between other countries and keep stirring up trouble in the region, Qian said.

The tour is also part of China’s neighborhood diplomacy which is also seen in State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s latest tour. Wang visited Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia in September. In October, Wang visited Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos and Thailand. From November 24-27, he visited Japan and South Korea.

Neighboring countries are a priority of China’s diplomacy, which is of special importance in a special 2020, Qian said, noting the pandemic as one reason.

Neighboring countries are important for China to prevent a coronavirus resurgence, and helping them shake off the virus is helping others and helping China itself, Qian explained.

A stable relationship with neighboring countries can help China deal with a complicated international environment, Qian said, citing Wei’s attendance to defense ministers’ meeting of member states of Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Russia as another example.

The situation in South Asia also went through major changes, and the China-India standoff had threatened the security of China’s southwestern borders.

Qian believes a close relationship with southwestern neighbors will help China maintain regional security, and their participation in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative underlines their importance in pushing forward the framework amid major changes in global situation.