苏桑特·辛格、周波:中印在俄乌冲突上的立场没有根本不同

来源:观察者网

2022-04-13 07:25

苏桑特·辛格

苏桑特·辛格作者

印度新德里政策研究中心高级研究员

周波

周波作者

清华大学战略与安全研究中心研究员、中国论坛特约专家

【编者按:4月11日,美国总统拜登将和印度总理莫迪举行线上会晤,这一度被认为是美国向印度直接施压,以寻求在俄乌问题上印度能站在美国一边。

近日,印度政策研究中心高级研究员、美国耶鲁大学访问教授苏桑特·辛格,邀请清华大学战略与安全研究中心研究员、中国论坛特约专家周波访谈,双方就国务委员兼外交部长王毅对印度的工作访问、中印关系应如何走出加勒万河谷冲突低谷、两国边境实际控制线问题解决、中印在俄乌冲突上的立场之“同”与“不同”,以及中印在亚太和全球事务的合作等热点畅言。访谈播客已在印度政策研究中心网站发布,观网和中国论坛全文翻译,以飨读者。】

苏桑特·辛格:大家下午好!我是印度政策研究中心高级研究员苏桑特·辛格。我们很少听到来自中国的权威声音。今天我们的节目有幸请来中国的周波大校(退休),他是清华大学战略与安全中心研究员,中国论坛特约专家。

周波大校于1979年入伍,在军队中担任过许多职务,包括中央军委国际军事合作办公室安全合作中心主任。周波是空军工程学院的本科生和剑桥大学圣爱德蒙学院的硕士研究生。他在各种西方出版物上撰写了100多篇论文和文章,并作为解放军代表在新加坡香格里拉对话会和慕尼黑安全会议上发言。他是中国人民解放军国防大学外军硕士研究生导师。周波,欢迎您的到来。

周波:苏桑特,感谢您的邀请。

苏桑特·辛格:周波,我们现在这个对话正好是在中国国务委员兼外长王毅访问新德里仅四天后。他在新德里时会见了印度外长和印度国家安全顾问。你如何看待王毅对印度和整个南亚的访问?在你看来,他对印度进行特别访问的原因是什么?

周波:王毅国务委员兼外长访问南亚的直接原因是参加在伊斯兰堡举行的伊斯兰合作组织外长理事会第48次会议。我认为他为了充分利用这次机会,也顺道访问了印度、尼泊尔和阿富汗。他对印度的访问时间并不长,但不言而喻的是,这种简短、直接的交流是非常需要的,因为这是至少两年来,中国外长第一次访问印度。因此,这种工作访问,特别是在2020年加勒万河谷发生了不幸的冲突的背景下,是极为重要和有益的。

苏桑特·辛格:除了双方(很久)没访问对方国家之外,还有任何其他原因吗?王毅来印度,也许是在寻找(双边关系)突破口,也许是想赢得印度支持?他访问的主要动机是什么?

周波:在双方士兵之间发生最不愉快的冲突(2020年加勒万河谷冲突)之后,双边关系肯定会冷一阵子。双方都需要一些时间来疗伤。因此我们可以理解这种沉默,但这种沉默不应该继续下去。

中国,不仅对亚洲,而且对世界而言,都是重要的国家,而印度也是如此。中国是世界上第二大经济体,而印度是世界上第六大经济体。因此,对我们这两个相邻的大国来说,我们不能让这种关系如此冷淡,如此疏远。所以,接触是符合双方的利益的。当然,我知道双方是有很多接触,参加了各种线上会议,但这种个人(面对面的)交流是最重要的,它无法被任何线上会议所取代。

3月25日,王毅同印度外长苏杰生举行会谈(图片来源:中华人民共和国外交部网站)

苏桑特·辛格:如果你们希望他的访问取得突破,就好像你建议的那样,与印度重归于好,为什么他却选择在巴基斯坦的伊斯兰合作组织外长理事会上发表了那些涉及克什米尔的声明,然后与巴基斯坦外长一起发表声明,谈到了巴基斯坦的领土完整。如你所知,新德里站出来谴责了这些声明。显然,如果王毅想在印度寻求关系突破的话,这一举动并没有为实现突破创造一个很有利的环境。

周波:我认为这种言论对外交突破是否有益并不重要。我认为最重要的是他必须真诚地说出中国对巴基斯坦和印度所关注的事情的感受。克什米尔问题由来已久,这并不是印度和巴基斯坦之间的新问题,实际上中国在这方面的立场是尽量保持公正。

当然,中立对当事双方来说总是一个问题,因为别人会认为你的平衡实际上是一种权宜之计。但是中国实际上在尽力一碗水端平,巴基斯坦与中国友好有其历史原因,而中国与印度的关系,除了边界问题,基本上也是好的。至少在克什米尔问题上,中国的立场并没有改变。所以我不认为他说了许多对印度听众来说很新的东西。

苏桑特·辛格:是的,我理解对印度听众来说,王毅没说什么新的东西,但要考虑他说这话的背景。显然你知道,印度对中国和巴基斯坦之间的某种“合谋”有一种忧虑,这似乎加深了印度的很多恐惧和不安全感,即中国和巴基斯坦可能会在军事上合作甚至“勾结”起来。如果中国决定,或者说王毅决定,在某些方面让印度放心,或者让印度政府放心,这难道不是一件好事吗?

周波:我不会用“勾结”一词来形容中国和巴基斯坦之间的关系。中国与巴基斯坦的关系不是一个秘密,实际上巴基斯坦的对华政策也不是一个秘密。我认为,巴基斯坦的外交政策是根植于与中国的良好关系。我在过去接待了许多巴基斯坦代表团,其中一位部长对我们说的一句话令我印象深刻,他说“除了与中国的友谊,巴基斯坦人基本上不能就任何事情达成一致”。所以中巴友谊是一个事实。

但我们又不得不考虑,中国和巴基斯坦之间什么样的合作会让印度如此担忧。我想,中国对巴基斯坦的军事援助可能是印度的主要关切。但如果我们更透彻地看待它们,这些算什么问题?基本上就是军事装备的交易而已。的确,我们卖给他们飞机军舰,但这些出口是完全合理的,因为它们只是正常贸易。例如,从国际贸易来说,你不能出售大规模杀伤性武器,你不能出售超过一定射程、一定载荷的导弹,因为这超出了导弹技术控制制度(MTCR)规则。所以除了这些,你基本上可以出售任何你想卖的东西。

我再反问你一下。印度的军事装备主要来自俄罗斯,俄罗斯提供了印度60-70%的军事装备。有时印度与中国的关系并不那么好,但中国有没有向印度或俄罗斯抱怨过这种军品贸易?从来没有。所以,我同样认为印度不应该抱怨中国与巴基斯坦的军事关系,部分也是因为印度在军事上比巴基斯坦强大得多。那么,印度有什么必要对中巴合作恐惧呢?

印度从俄罗斯购买的S-400防空系统(图自澎湃影像)

苏桑特·辛格:是的,我同意你说的关于恐惧的部分。我所说的某种不安全感、某种恐惧,是因为你也知道有很多关于印度面临双线作战的军事威胁的讨论,即中国和巴基斯坦一起行动来对付印度的威胁。这是唯一的原因。但我是能清楚地听懂并理解你要表达的观点。

周波:我想就这个问题多说几句。在印度,有一些战略家,他们关心的是所谓中国和巴基斯坦包围印度的噩梦。这是完全错误的,这绝对是错误的。中国为什么要这样做?人类心理的弱点,就是人们总是仰望另一个更强大、更有力量的群体,以获得灵感,进行效仿。例如,中国有时会将自己与美国比较,巴基斯坦会将自己与印度比较,而印度会认为自己可以与中国相比。

包围印度确实不符合中国的利益。为什么呢?我给你举个例子。1998年,印度首先进行了核试验,紧接着是巴基斯坦。而印度(核试验)的借口是,中国是印度头号潜在威胁。当时我是负责南亚地区的国防部参谋。大家听了都很震惊,因为实际上我们的总参谋长(傅全有)刚刚访问了印度,在他访问期间一切都很好,大家谈得也很好。他回来后不久,印度突然宣布中国是潜在的头号威胁,这怎么可能?当时中国的注意力完全集中在台湾,因为当时以李登辉为首的台湾当局正在制造各种“台独”麻烦。

但当我们听说中国是潜在的头号威胁时,每个人都很震惊。后来我想为什么印度会把中国视为潜在的头号威胁?印度无论如何都要发展核武器,所以它必须有一个非常、非常重大的理由来证明这一点,因为任何小的理由都不能证明它是合理的。因此国防部长乔治-费尔南德斯提出,中国是潜在的头号威胁。这就是我对此事的看法。

苏桑特·辛格:是的,回到1998年和(国防部长)费尔南德斯的声明,当时印度政府对该声明反悔了。你也会记得美国在泄露那封信方面所起的作用,当时的印度总理给克林顿总统写了一封信,美国转而向《纽约时报》透露了那封信,使印度非常尴尬,不知如何向中国解释。

但这都是过去的事了。现在回到王毅最近对巴基斯坦的访问。正如你之前所说的,这次访问在某种意义上,在拉达克或锡亚琴冰川的这些边境危机的背景下,我想问的是为什么印度和中国这两个国家,如你所说的两个亚洲大国,在过去十年左右,边境有这么多的危机?是什么因素驱动这个问题现在越来越频繁地发生?

周波:我给你个非常简短直接的答案:因为边境实际控制线并没有划定,而中印对如何解决这个问题有不同的看法。这就是真正的问题所在。

让我首先非常清楚地说明,这些最不幸的问题是殖民主义者遗留下来的,对吗?因此,这不是我们制造的问题,但我们确实因此深受困扰。印度对边境实际控制线的看法与中国的看法有本质的区别。基本上,印度的观点是采取自下而上的方法,希望通过核定边境实际控制线来解决这个问题。而中国则希望自上而下,表示首先让我们做出一个政治决定,商议如何置换土地,以实现互谅互让,而印度却不同意。

印度的立场从表面上看是合理的,因为冲突发生是由边境实际控制线(模糊)造成的,那我们为什么不确定这条边境实际控制线的位置?这样我们就可以避免这种闯入对方国界的问题。但是印度的做法有一个危险,中国并没有真正把实际控制线当作边界,如果边境实控线被核定后,印度可能会说:这就是事实上的边界,让它成为既成事实吧。

历史上中国和印度就围绕这个问题进行了很多会谈,而我自己早期作为专家参加过这种双边军事会谈,所以我清楚地记得有哪些分歧。实际上,印度认为西部地区是有更多争议的地方。换句话说,中国不认为在西部地区有很多分歧,而印度认为那里有更多问题。

但是,如果你看一下整个中印边界,其实存在很多分歧,比如边界的长度,中国认为它只有2000公里,而印度认为是3488公里。但在中印边界东段和中段,就没有很多冲突事件发生。为什么呢?因为印度在这两段地区有实际的控制权,所以最终还是在西部出现更多的问题。

因此,让我回到我所说的:实际控制线是我们的分歧、对峙和致命冲突的根本原因,但我们不应该让实际控制线控制两国政府和两国人民。

苏桑特·辛格:这个问题我再挑战你一下。正如你所说的那样,实际控制线的问题从1947或1948年开始一直存在,但从1988年、1990年开始,在此后的几乎20多年里,边界上没有重大危机。我想问你的问题是,在过去十年左右的时间里,是什么发生改变了?尽管实际控制线没有被划定,但在边境上出现了这么多问题,无论是洞朗危机,还是你所说的2020年6月在加勒万河谷发生的重大不幸事件。现在不断地,几乎每一或两年,我们都会发生这样的危机,还有在双方部署部队的边界,危机继续存在。那么,在过去十年左右时间里,这样强烈的、重大的危机出现,是源于什么变化?

周波:这是个好问题。当人们谈论致命的冲突时,往往被结果所限,而没有回顾历史,没有看到危机中的机会。当我谈到这一点时,让我提醒你,自从拉吉夫-甘地1988年访问中国以来,我们实际上达成了大量包括政府层面和军事层面的建立信任的措施。我相信你知道这些协议。如果你把这些信任建立措施与中国和外国之间的任何措施,例如与美国的相比较,我们会得出结论,中印的信任措施比中国与美国的信任措施要有内容的多。数量上,我们与美国有两三个协议,但与印度的协议比中国与任何其他国家之间的协议都多。

这些信任建立措施非常好,因为它们富有内涵,充满细节。例如,在边境部队协议中,它明确指出,当一方的部队在巡逻时,另一方不应尾随。所以这是非常具体的规定。而且,在实际控制线附近,不应该举行师级演习,也就是不超过15000人,如果要举行旅级的演习,也就是5000人,应该事先通知对方,而且不应该在距离实际控制线10公里的近距离内出现军用飞机。因此,我相信这些规则,自从1993年我们有了第一个协定以来,确实是发挥了巨大的作用,大体上维持了边境实际控制线的和平与安宁。

我们只在过去几年前发生过一次致命的冲突,我们此前仍然有很多对峙,因为实际控制线并没有划定。唯一的区别是过去的对峙没那么致命。

加勒万河谷冲突

2020年6月15日的事件是非常不幸的。我们也能够理解当这种致命的冲突或事件发生时,人们难免互相指责。在这里我就不长篇累牍地讲事情的经过了。你有你一方的解释,我也有我这边的叙事。

但在这个事件中,好的一面是双方都没有试图向对方开枪。所以他们实际上是以石器时代的方式,用石头和棍棒斗殴,这意味着在他们的意识中,他们清楚在任何情况下都不应向对方开枪。尽管后来印度军队确实向天空开枪了,但他们没有向中国士兵开枪。所以,这说明中印建立信任的措施在很大程度上起到了作用。

但是信任措施并没有阻止这种事故的发生。那么,我们应该怎么做?双方坐下来探讨可能的信任措施的时刻肯定会到来。而其实我们不需要去其他地方寻找信任措施,我们只需要看看我们已经达成的这些协议。它们细致入微,非常具体。如果你执行了所有这些协议就不会有任何问题再出现。中印现在处于一个僵局中,大部分的部队已经脱离接触了,但我了解印度方面并不是非常满意。

我的建议是,双方部队应该从最危险的地方脱离接触。我们在班公湖一带所做的就是脱离接触,这种经验应该在其他地方效仿,以使我们保持中印边境实际控制线的和平安宁。

苏桑特·辛格:我相信你所说的在某种程度上是真实的。但现在的问题是,双方已经使用了棍棒,即使朝向空中,子弹也已经射出。死难发生后,双方都不信任对方。双方之间没有信任,中印边境实际控制线没有被明确界定,而信任已经破裂。双方都声称对方没有遵守协议。印度外长公开表示,中国没有遵守1993年和1996年的协议。中国方面则说是印度人没有遵守这些协议。我们如何向前迈进?脱离接触从理论上是可行的,但是你认为中印应该如何在这种环境中向前发展?

周波:好吧,让我们来设想一下最坏的情况,即中国和印度彼此之间完全没有信任了。这当然不是事实,但假设前景一片黑暗,让我举一个冷战时期的例子加以说明。

在冷战期间,美国和苏联根本不信任对方,他们是敌人,但是即便有这样一种不信任存在,他们仍然能够制定很多信任措施,这些措施主要是在核领域。有一些重要的协议可以反映这一点,如限制战略武器条约(SALT)、削减战略武器条约(START)、开放天空条约。他们甚至在两个领域进行了合作,一个是在消除天花方面的努力,另一个是在外层空间上的合作。

中国与印度的关系,除了边界问题外,我很难想象其他方面会有严重的问题。中国关切印度的担忧,但印度的担忧有时是无道理的,比如中国与巴基斯坦的密切关系。如果我提出印度与俄罗斯的密切关系,印度会怎么说?中国与俄罗斯也是友好的,俄罗斯与印度有很好的友谊。所以,我的意思是,信任固然很重要,但对于有效的建立信任措施而言,互信并不是那么要紧。中印之间在许多其他领域仍存在互信。我给你举一个最新的例子,俄乌战争中,你是否发现我们的立场有相似之处?当然有相似之处。

印度网友推特留言支持俄罗斯

我认为,这实际上表明在过去几年里,印度并没有完全如实地表达自己的观点。在过去几年中,你会发现印度几乎在以美国的口吻谈论自由开放的印太。但让我说,印度的立场实际上与中国的更像,而不是与美国的更像。因为印度同中国一样对《联合国海洋法公约》中的相同条款即第298条有保留。当有外国军舰进入印度的专属经济区进行军事演习时,如果涉及弹药和爆炸物,印度政府会要求他们首先征得印度政府的同意。与中国的相关法律相比,印度的法律比中国的法律要更严苛。

我再举一个例子,去年4月,美国约翰·保罗·琼斯号驱逐舰驶入了印度西南部的专属经济区,美国海军第七舰队发表书面声明称这样做是因为美国将挑战印度的“过度海洋主张”。我发现,印度专属经济区占印度洋的三十分之一。换言之,美国挑战印度的主张意味着,至少在美国人眼里,1/30的印度洋是因为印度才不自由、不开放的。那么,印度怎么能用同美国一样的口吻谈论印太必须是自由开放的呢?这是不对的,因为海洋本身是天然相互联系的,它们本来就一直是自由的、开放的。

如果一定要说印度洋中存在的问题,那就是海盗问题。从2008年开始一直到大约2013年,海盗很猖獗。在包括中国和印度海军在内的共同努力下,我们已经解决了这个问题。印度海军帮助救援中国商船“富城号”,在这个过程中印度海军同一艘在北约指挥下的土耳其军舰和一艘中国海军军舰进行了配合。我在几年里一直是中国军队反海盗的国际协调人。因此,我也在许多场合对印方表示过感谢,包括在巴林,因为各国海军反海盗协调会会议总是在巴林举行。

苏桑特·辛格:我明白你想表达什么,但有一点,关于你提出的印度和中国在俄乌争端中持相似立场,我想要反驳你。印度政府已经明确表示,虽然表面上看我们立场相似,但在这两者之间,驱动它们的原因或驱动它们的原则是不同的。甚至在王毅访问之后,印度外交部长苏杰生先生特意站出来,想澄清印度的立场与中国不同。这一点你也从西方国家那里听到了,大家立场是不一样的。所以这是我想向听众澄清的唯一一点。但我明白你的论点,我不是在争论,仅仅是想把印度政府的立场说清楚。

你谈到了印度对中国和中国对印度的担忧。中国对印度的担忧到底是什么?地缘政治?意识形态?还是担忧是由一些其他原因驱动的?中国对印度的担忧是美国吗?是印太战略吗?还是四国集团?中国真正关心的是什么?关于对印度的担忧还有什么是中国没有公开表达的?

周波:我知道印度政府试图在对俄乌争端的立场上表现出同中国不同。但坦率地讲,我研读了你们的立场,我发现,印度与中国的立场没有根本的不同。中国并不是想通过表达“好吧,我的立场跟你的立场很像”来接近印度,这样没有意义,也并不重要。中印一直以来谈论的都是同一枚硬币的两面,一面是一个主权国家的主权,另一面是俄罗斯对北约扩张的合理关切。我认为我们基本上谈论的是同样的事情,所以我不认为有什么不同。坦言之,我认为,由于目前中印关系的氛围,印度政府对中国采取了一些看似强硬的态度以试图吸引公众舆论,但是这其实只是一种姿态。

苏桑特·辛格:那么中国对印度的担忧呢?是美国吗?是四国集团吗?是印太战略吗?是意识形态、地缘政治吗?中国对印度的担忧,究竟是为何?

周波:实际上,我没有这样的担忧。中国是为印度的所谓担忧感到担忧。让我换个说法,中国担忧只是因为印度在为某些事情担忧,虽然中国根本不知道印度为什么要担忧。很多人会说,中国担心四国机制(QUAD)。确实有一些人甚至称其为“亚洲的北约”。我不这么认为。为什么呢?因为我对印度的外交政策有信心。

如果我们看一下印度外交政策史,作为不结盟运动的创始国之一,作为一个自信的大国,印度当然会尽量不偏不倚,保持中立。在四国机制中,其他三个国家都已经是盟友,我也会说印度是最重要的。印度的态度对四国集团的生存和发展至关重要。

但是印度和其他国家一样,会把自己的国家利益放在首位。印度不能与美国走得太近,因为印度和俄罗斯的关系也很好,印度大约70%的军事装备都来自俄罗斯,还在购买俄罗斯的S-400导弹。因此,如果印度和美国走得太近,中国和俄罗斯会不高兴,而这不符合印度自身的利益。

如果你观察四国机制的最新发展,你会发现,它实际上正在朝向许多其他方向,而不是军事方向发展。就其军事内容而言,目前仅有一个名为“马拉巴尔”的军事演习,仅此而已。除此之外,四国机制正在各个领域发展,如基础设施建设、气候变化或向东南亚国家联合分发疫苗等。

但我想说的是,它能有多成功呢?比如说,基础设施,拜登推出的“重建更美好世界”倡议基本上已经泡汤了。据我所知,因为共和党的强烈反对,它已被描述为一个雄心勃勃的回忆而已。而且,美国实际上能为该地区的基础设施贡献多少钱?它完全无法与中国的“一带一路”倡议比拟。如果我们谈论气候变化或疫苗分配,这些计划确实都很好。但这些并不是这四个国家的专属问题,而是同每个国家息息相关。

因此,如果四国机制的发展不是针对中国的,它就没什么特别的。我不会说四国集团是针对中国的,我相信美英澳三边安全合作协议(AUKUS)是针对中国的,而四国机制可以说是因为中国的。但是,如果让四国集团勾结在一起的是一种“反华”的情绪,那么四国机制将永远不会壮大。它可以在我以上提到的那些领域存在,但不会蓬勃发展。

苏桑特·辛格:但是,美国的印太战略,以及由五角大楼提出的、被送到国会的最新的军事文件(被拒绝的版本),它当中明确提到中国是一个对手,它提到了印太战略,表示欧洲(疑指俄罗斯)只是第二个对手,美国主要的竞争是与中国的竞争。即使在这种情况下,你也不认为四国机制是针对中国的吗?

周波:好吧,我认为,四国机制如果是针对中国的,它不会真正起很大作用。谈到美国的印太战略,我读了这份报告,它是在2月发表的。我认为首先整个印太战略的假设就是错误的,因为它假设中国想要在印太地区建立一种势力范围。这是完全错误的。为什么呢?让我这样说吧,即使中国想,中国也无法建立势力范围。即使在中国影响力最强的东亚,中国也无法建立势力范围。东亚有朝鲜,朝鲜在核扩散问题上不听中国,坚持发展核武器。东亚国家里还有几个美国的盟友。甚至在南海问题上,也存在一些声索国持有自己的主张。因此,尽管中国的影响力在这个地区是最强的,但距离在这里建立势力范围,我认为还有很大差距。

人们经常犯一个错误,他们混淆了两个概念,一个是影响力,另一个是势力范围。如果你谈论中国的影响力,中国的影响力现在绝对是全球性的。中国的影响范围几乎与美国的影响范围重叠,只是军事影响力逊于美国,对不对?但中国没有建立势力范围,这就是为什么中国在海外的军事活动都是人道主义性质的,无论是反海盗,还是维和,还是救灾及撤侨。中国没有全球军事布阵的野心。在中国自己的领土和附近水域也就是中国的领海之外,我们只是想帮助其他国家。这就是为什么中国只做人道主义的事情。我们有什么必要建立代价高昂又难以维持的势力范围吗?

所以这个假设从一开始就是错误的。此外,美国没有足够的能力来实现它在印太战略中的诸多目的。印太战略有这么多目的,有多少国家会真正跟随美国,站在中国的对立面?我真的很怀疑。因为美国的盟友很多是中国的贸易伙伴,所以他们很难做出这样的跟随美国,对抗中国的决定。

中国无缘无故地被卷入了这场大国竞争之中。因为如果你看一下中国对美国的政策,中国对美国的政策是非常一致和稳定的。我们自始至终一直谈论同样的事情。但实际上是美国不得不从根本上改变其对华政策,因为他们最终意识到他们无法改变中国的政治制度,中国正在变得越来越强大。所以他们很恐慌。自特朗普上台,他就引入了大国竞争的概念。在中美关系中,中国犯了什么错误吗?我不能说我们事事都对,但是我们至少没有给美国制造任何特殊的、非常困难的局面。所以中国对美国政策,相对美国的对华政策,要稳定得多。

苏桑特·辛格:好的,周波,回到你之前说的一点,你说中国对印度的关切就是印度自己的担忧,也就是说印度基本上没有什么让中国关注或担心的地方。这是因为中国比印度大得多吗?无论是在经济上、军事上、地缘政治上,相关领域的差距是如此之大。换言之,这是否意味着印度对中国来说太小了?

周波:不,印度一点都不小,印度目前是第六大经济体,到2030年你们将赶超日本成为亚洲第二大经济体。因此,中国充分意识到了印度的份量,中国也充分尊重这一点。作为一个观察者,我发现印度过去做的很多事同中国曾经做过的事情一样。印度的改革比中国晚十年,但印度做的事几乎同中国相同。因此,印度的发展也非常快,中国很高兴看到这一点。因为事实是国际政治和经济重心正在向亚洲移动,这是显然的。中国当然将会位于中心位置,但是印度也十分重要。我不想谈所谓的“亚洲世纪”,但我相信,我们两国有充分理由进行良好的合作。

我个人的工作经历中有十年都和南亚有关。我去过巴基斯坦,也去过印度,我相信我是极少数能报出一些印度菜名的中国人之一。那些菜名普通中国人听起来会是一头雾水。当我访问印度时,我认为印度的确是一个让中国受益匪浅的国家。历史上,佛教从印度传入,我们还有丝绸之路的文化交流。现在我们却仅因为殖民者留下的东西而不和,这太可悲了。我不知道如何解决这个问题,我觉得我们很难解决这个问题。但我相信,随着所有的这些措施到位,可能还会有一些新的想法,比如从所有危险的地方脱离接触,我们能处理好两国关系。也许你比我更有信心,因为你说在冲突发生之前,两国很少发生意外事件。

因此,如果我们可以从20个印度士兵和4个中国士兵死亡中吸取教训,在边境冲突后维持和平与稳定,那么我们可以再和平相处40年,避免这么多伤亡。我相信这是可能的。因为这是一个血的教训,我们都应该从中吸取教训。如果这是我们付出的代价,我们就不应该在接下来的40年里重蹈覆辙。

苏桑特·辛格:说到你对印度菜的口味,我必须说你的品味很好。但说到更严肃的问题,你提到了印太战略。印度是否有可能作为四国机制的一部分,即一个非安全、非军事的联盟的积极成员,同时仍与中国保持友好关系?

周波:我认为这首先取决于四国机制是什么,以及它将如何演变。因为中国肯定会关注四国机制的演变,看其是否真的不会损害中国的利益。

坦率地说,我相信从现在开始,印度的态度会逐渐改变,会在过去的亲美政策上再退回来一点。印度关于俄乌战争的最新声明就表明了这一点,这一点不出所料。但我相信这一次,因为印度被逼到了墙角,所以它必须展现自己的本色。因此,我们看到它在(联合国)表决中投了弃权票,它所说的话或多或少类似于中国的立场。这是真实的印度,我相信这是“不装”的印度。

在未来的日子里,国际秩序变化将会是一幅宏大的图景。我基本上相信欧洲在这场热战之后肯定会迎来另一场冷战。但在亚洲,美国已经对中国发起了新冷战,尽管在政府层面,他们不会称之为新冷战。但如果你仔细看一看,拜登的对华政策基本上就是极限竞争。如果竞争已经非常激烈了,不是新冷战,还能是什么呢?从理论上讲,它离热战只有几步之遥,对吧?那么它还能是什么呢?因此,我们不再幻想中美关系将会大幅改善。当然,能有好的结果最好。

最根本的是,中国是现有国际秩序的一大受益者。因此,中国不像俄罗斯那样以受害者心态怨恨当前的国际秩序。中国感谢当前的国际秩序,并从中受益。这就是为什么中国坚定地要维护国际秩序。我们都在呼吁多极化,这与我们如何实现目标无关,而是因为,无论多么缓慢,美国的实力都是在不断下降的,这终将成为一个事实。

当我和美国人谈话时,他们承认这一点。但他们会说这是相对下降。但相对衰落也是一种衰落,对吧?所以我相信美国人对印太的关注实际上反映了其实力的下降。因此,它必须收缩。它从阿富汗、从其他地方撤退到印太地区,实际上反映出它没有以前那么强大了。因此,它必须专注于与中国的竞争。

因此,在这方面,印度将扮演什么样的角色至关重要。因此,中国有充分的理由希望自己与印度有着良好的关系。我们不希望你们站在美国一边,历史错误的一边。

印度在乌克兰问题上的立场,让美国非常不满(资料图)

苏桑特·辛格:我同意印度不希望陷入与中国冲突的局面。但是,正如我们今天看到的那样,情况正在发生变化。所以我要问你的最后一个问题是,在你对形势的客观评估中,不是说希望或愿望,你会怎样评估中印关系和它的未来?是合作吗?是竞争吗?还是冲突?还是三者的混合?

周波:我认为是三者的混合,但问题就在于三者混合的比例。由于加勒尔万河谷发生的事情,我认为印度政府仍然处于一种怨恨、情绪化的状态。他们像过去一样说,除非边界问题得到解决,否则不能指望双边关系得到极大改善。基本上就是这个意思。这很像印度政府在甘地访问前所说的话。但事实是,边境问题不容易解决。即使印度政府想把双边关系的改善完全寄托在边界问题的妥善处理上,也是不对的。因为从经济角度来说,两国仍将有巨大的经济互动,而这种经济规律将突破这种人为的障碍。

因此,中印关系肯定会越来越好。但由于已经发生的事情,可能会非常缓慢。我相信时间总会治愈创伤,毕竟中方也有伤亡。我认为我们必须面对现实。我相信,总体而言,尽管存在问题,两国关系仍将继续向前发展。

苏桑特·辛格:实际上,印度的立场并不是边界问题应该永久解决。印度的立场是,一旦边界上的紧急危机——无论是班公湖附近、德普桑、碟穆绰克——得到解决,士兵们脱离接触,双边关系就可以得以改善,然后恢复某种正常状态。我认为正如你所说,脱离接触是完全可能的。

周波:是的,如果这是印度政府的条件,我不认为有多难达成,因为中方也说过类似的话。肯定的是,其中还有很多细节问题,这就是为什么我们到目前为止举行了15轮军长级别指挥官会晤。当然,为了使会谈取得成功,双方必须都得到来自首都的政治和战略上的指导。我认为情况正在逐渐好转。所以总的来说,我对中印关系持乐观态度。因为除了这个边界问题,我实在想不出双边关系中还有什么其他重大问题。

苏桑特·辛格:周波,你比我采访的大多数印度人——印度评论员或印度官员都更乐观。我愿意相信你。我希望情况会有所改善,中印任何地方都不会再有冲突。非常感谢你抽出时间。非常高兴可以和你交谈,倾听你的想法。我从中获益匪浅。

周波:谢谢你,苏桑特。

(访谈链接:https://india-speak-the-cpr-podcast.simplecast.com/episodes/episode-22-unpacking-the-chinese-perspective-of-sino-india-ties)

【翻译:李泽西、程泽笠、张佳奕;核译:韩桦 许馨匀】

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Good afternoon everyone. I am Sushant Singh, Senior Fellow of Centre for Policy Research India. We hardly hear any authentic voices from China. We have today on our show Senior Colonel Zhou Bo(retired), a senior fellow of Center of Strategy and Security of Tsinghua University and China forum expert. Senior Colonel Zhou Bo started his military service in 1979 and served in numerous appointments in the people's liberation army, including as director of the Center for Security Cooperation in the Office for International Military Cooperation, Ministry of national defense. Zhou Bo is an undergraduate of Air Force Engineering College and a postgraduate of St. Edmund College of Cambridge University. He has written more than 100 essays and articles in various western publications and speaks as a PLA delegate at Shangri- La Dialogue in Singapore and at Munich Security Conference. He's supervisor to foreign postgraduate office at PLA National Defense University. Zhou Bo, welcome to hear you speak.

Zhou Bo:

Thank you, Sushant, thank you for having me.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Zhou Bo, we are speaking only four days after Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi's visit to New Delhi. He met the Indian foreign minister and Indian national security advisor when he was in Delhi. What do you make of Wang’s Visit to India and to South Asia in general? And what were the reasons, to your mind, for his visit to India in particular?

Zhou Bo:

The direct reason for him to go to visit South Asia is to attend a meeting in Islamabad, that is 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and I think by making best use of this chance, he went to visit India, Nepal and Afghanistan as well. His visit to India was not  very long, but it is self-evident that this kind of short, direct communication is badly needed because, I think, for at least two years this is the first time that a Chinese foreign minister visited India. Therefore, this kind of  working visit, especially against the backdrop of the most unfortunate clash in Galwan valley in 2020, is extremely significant and useful.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

But were there any reasons, what were the motivations, that Wang had when he came to India, maybe looking for a breakthrough, maybe trying to win India? What were the reasons, what were the primary motivations for his visit?

Zhou Bo:

After the most unpleasant clash between the soldiers of the two sides, there must be a kind of cooling down of bilateral relationship, and it takes some time for both sides to heal the wounds. Therefore, we can understand this kind of silence. But it should not last because China is such an important country, and not only in Asia but in the world. And so is India. China is the second largest economy in the world, and you are the sixth largest economy in the world. Therefore, for us, the two great neighbors, we cannot afford to keep this kind of relationship so cold and so remoted. It is in the interests of both sides to come into  contact. Of course, I know they have a lot of contacts, and they even attended some kind of visual meetings. But of course, this kind of personal exchanges would be most important. It cannot be replaced by any virtual meetings at all.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

If you want a breakthrough, as you seem to suggest, during his visit, and reestablish the warmth in ties with India, why did he give those statements in Pakistan in the organization of Islamic conference summit that you spoke of, which involved Kashmir, and then statements along with the Pakistani foreign minister, where he spoke about Pakistan’s territory integrity. As you know, India, New Delhi came out and condemned those statements. Clearly that was not creating a very conducive environment for kind of a breakthrough if Wang was looking from breakthrough in India.

Zhou Bo:

I think the most important is he has to be honest, to tell the truth, to tell how China feels about Pakistan’s concerns and also about India’s concerns. And these are  not new issues between India and Pakistan. There is a longstanding issue of Kashmir. Actually China’s position on this is try to be as impartial as possible. Of course, neutrality is always a problem for people on the two sides, because they would consider your balance actually is a kind of expediency. But China is trying its best to strike a balance, because of course Pakistan is friendly with China, and this has certainly historical reasons. And China’s relationship with India basically is good apart from the border issue China’s position, at least on the Kashmir issue, has not changed. So, I don't think he has said a lot of things that are really new to Indian audience.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Yeah, I understand that Wang Yi said nothing new to the Indian audience, but the context in which it was said,and clearly, you know, there's an apprehension in India about a certain kind of collusion between China and Pakistan, which seems to drive a lot of Indian fears, Indian insecurities, that China and Pakistan can militarily collaborate and collude together. Would it not have been nice if China decided, or had Wang Yi decided to, in some ways reassure India or reassure the Indian government?

Zhou Bo:

Well I won't use this word collusion to describe the relationship between China and Pakistan. China's relationship with Pakistan is not a secret, and actually Pakistan’s policy toward China is not a secret neither, because I believe Pakistan’s foreign policy is, rooted in, above all, a good relationship with China. I received many Pakistan delegations in the past, and I was impressed when one of the ministers told us that Pakistani basically could not agree on anything except on friendship with China. So that is a fact.

But then I have to consider what kind of cooperation between China and Pakistan could be such a concern to India. I assume probably China’s military assistance to Pakistan might be a major concern. But if we just look at this issue more thoroughly, what are they? They're basically trading on military hardware. Yes we sell them aircraft, we sell them ships. But these exports are totally justifiable in that they are just normal trading. For example, internationally speaking, you're not allowed to sell weapons of mass destruction and you're not allowed to sell missiles whose ranges and  payloads go beyond the MTCR rules. Apart from these, you basically can sell whatever you want.

Let me ask you another question. India's military hardwares are mainly from Russia, which provided from 60- 70%  military hardwares to India. Sometimes India’s relationship with China is not so good. But has China ever complained either to India or to Russia about this kind of military sales? Never, yeah, never. So in the same fashion, I believe that India should not complain about China’s military relationship with Pakistan, in part because India is much stronger militarily than Pakistan. So what's the fear of India of this kind of cooperation?

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Yeah, I agree with you about the fear. I meant to say that  certain insecurity, certain fear, because a lot of discussion in India, which you are aware of, is about a two front military threat, so to speak, which comes with both China and Pakistan acting together against India. That was the only reason. But I understand and hear you clearly to the argument that you're making.

Zhou Bo:

I want to say something more about this. In India, there are some strategies who are concerned with a kind of nightmare of China and Pakistan encircling India. This is totally wrong. This is absolutely wrong. Why should China do that? In human feelings,  people always look up to another one more strong, more powerful for inspiration, for emulation. For example, China sometimes would compare itself with the United States, and Pakistan would compare itselff with India, and India would believeit is itself comparable to China.

It is really not in China’s interest to encircle India. Why? I give you an example. In 1998, India conducted nuclear tests first, followed by Pakistan. And India’s excuse is that China is a potential threat number one. I was staff officer in the Ministry of national defense at that time for South Asia. Everybody was shocked. Because we actually just had our chief of general staff visiting India. D uring his visit, everything was fine and all the sweet words were spoken.  Not long after he came back, India suddenly announced  China to be potential threat number one. how can that be? At that time, China’s attention was totally focused on Taiwan because at that time the Taiwanese authorities led by Li Denghui was making all the troubles, of calling for referendum and tose kind of things.

When we heard that we were potential threat number one, everybody was shocked. And later I thought about it. I thought, why was that? I thought that India wanted to develop nuclear weapons anyway, so it has to have a very, very big reason to justify it, because no small reasons could justify it. So defense minister George Fernandes raised China as  potential threat number one. This  is how I look at the issue.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Yeah, just going back to 1998 and the statement by George Fernandes. If you remember that, you would remember that the government of India had backtracked from the statement. And you would also remember the role of Washington DC, in leaking that letter, which then Indian prime minister had written to President Clinton and then released that letter to New York Times, putting India in a very embarrassing situation vis-à-vis Beijing. But that's all in the past. Now coming to the recent visit of Wang Yi’s Pakistan visit. So, as you rightly said, the visit was in a certain sense, in the backdrop of these border crises in Ladakh or in Siachen. The question I want to ask you is, why are the two countries, as you said two big Asian powers, why are they having so many crises at the borders in the past decade, the last ten years or so why are so many crises at the border between India and China? What are the drivers of this problem, which is happening more and more now?

Zhou Bo:

My answer to you is very brief and straight. That is because the line of actual control is not demarcated, but the problem is we have different views as to how this issue should be resolved. That is the genuine problem.

Let's me first make it very clear that these most unfortunate problem is a leftover by colonialists, right? And so it's not something that really we have created, but we are really troubled by this. India's approach to the line of actual control is fundamentally different from that of China. Basically, India’s argument is let's have a bottom-up approach. We verify the line of actual control and resolve this issue. China, preferring a top-down approach, would say that, okay, let's first of all make a political decision about how we might a kind of swap land, for mutual accommodation and mutual understanding. And India disagrees.

And so India’s position looks  reasonable superficially. Because this is created by line of actual control, so why don't we just verify it and then determine where the line of actual control lies, so we can avoid this kind of a problem of trespassing to the other side. But there is a danger in India’s approach, that is, if this kind of line of actual control, which is not really taken by China as border, is verified, it could be taken by India to say, this is the de facto border, and let's make it as it is.

Historically speaking, both China and India had a lot of talks on this issue, and I myself was an expert at the earliest day of such bilateral military talks. So I remember clearly what the differences are. And in the western sector actually India has more places that they believe are controversial. So in other words, China doesn't believe that there are many differences in the western sector, while India believes there are more problems there. But if you look at the whole Indo-China border, then there are so many differences, including the length of the border. China believe it's just 2000 kilometers while India believes it's 3488 kilometers. In  the eastern sector and the middle sector of the China-Indian border, there aren't many incidences happening. Why? Because India has actually de facto control in these two sections. So we end up having more problems in the western sector.

So let me come back to what I said. Line of actual control is the fundamental root cause of our disagreement, of the standoffs, of the deadly clashes, but we should not let the line of actual control hijack the two governments, the two peoples.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Just to push you a bit on this, the issues with the line of actual control had been there as you said, starting from 1947 or 1948. But almost for two and a half decades, there were no major crises on the border. The question I wanted to ask you was, what changed in the last ten years or so, that despite the line of actual control not being defined, there have been so many problems at the border, whether it was the Doklam crisis,or the major unfortunate incident in Galwan in June 2020 as you rightly said or others. Virtually every one or two years, we are having this crisis. And the crisis on the border from both sides, where the troops are deployed, continues to remain. So what has changed in the last 10 years that the crisis have emerged, such strong, big, major crisis have come up?

Zhou Bo:

Good question. When people talk about the deadly clashes, people actually are hooked with the results, without looking back into history, without looking at the opportunities actually in the crisis. When I talk about this, let me remind you that ever since Rajiv Gandhi's visit to China in 1988, we have actually established a number of confidence building measures, both at the governmental level and at the military levels. I'm sure you are aware of these agreements. And if you compare these confidence building measures with any of those between China and foreign countries, for example the United States, we would conclude that these confidence building measures are much more substantive than those we have with the United States, and they outnumber those. We just have a couple of agreements with the United States, but with India we have more than any other agreements between China and other countries. And these confidence building measures are so good in that they are so substantive. And in that they are full of details. For example, in the border troops agreement, it stated clearly that when the troops on one side are in patrol, the other side should not follow them. So this is very detailed. And, near the line of actual control you should not hold exercise at the division level, that is more than 15,000 people, and if you hold the exercise at the brigade level, that is 5000 people, you should notify the other side in advance, and you should not fly a military aircraft within close proximity of 10 kilometers from the LAC. So these rules have played a role, I believe they did, ever since 1993 when we have the first agreement. So they have played a huge, huge role, in maintaining, by and large, peace and tranquility along the borders of actual control.

We only had a deadly clash in a couple of years ago. We still had a lot of standoffs because the line of actual control is not demarcated. So the only difference is it’s not so deadly.

The incident on the 15th of June 2020 is most unfortunate. There are of course accusations against the other side, we understand that whensuch deadly clashes or incidents happened,people always pointed fingers at each other. So, here I do not give you a long story about how it happened. You have your interpretation and I have my own story.

But the good thing still, in this incident, is that neither side tried to shoot at the other side.  So, they were actually fighting against each other in a stone age manner with stones and clubs. That means deep in their minds, they know  that they should not shoot at each other at any circumstances, although later the Indian troops did shoot into the skythey didn’t shoot directly at the Chinese soldiers. So, it tells that these kinds of confidence building measures have really worked to a great extent.

Yes, they haven't stopped such a kind of accident from happening. So, what should we do? There definitely will come the time when both sides sit down and start to explore possible confidence building measures. And you don't need to look elsewhere. You just need to look into these agreements we have already made. They are so, so detailed. They areso tangible. So, if you carry out all of them, you don't have problems at all. And then, what makes the difference (is), because we were right now in a in a deadlock because the troops have very much disengaged, but not completely satisfactory to the Indian side, I understand that.

So, actually my suggestion is the troops from both sides should disengage at all most dangerous sectors. Yeah, so just disengage from each other. This is what we did along Pangong Tso lake and this type of experience should be followed elsewhere, for us to maintain the Line of Actual Control to be peaceful and tranquil.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

I believe what you are saying is to an extent true. But the problem is that neither side trust each other, not after deaths have occurred, after people have died and you said, you know, clubs have been used, rounds have been fired even though in the air. There is no trust between the two sides and the fact that the Line of Actual Control is not defined, the fact that trust has broken down, the fact that you know both sides say that the agreements are not being followed by the other side. The Indian foreign minister is on record saying China is not following these agreements of 1993 and 1996. The Chinese side is saying the Indians are not following the agreements. How do you move forward? How do you, you know in theory it's fine, we should disengage, but how do you move forward in this kind of environment?

Zhou Bo:

Okay, let's come to the worst scenarios, that China and India have no trust at all, with each other. This certainly is not the case, but let's assume, it's just an absolute black picture. Let me give an example of the cold war. During the cold war, the United States and Soviet Union did't trust each other at all, right? Because they were simply enemies, but out of such a kind of absolute mistrust of each other, they still were able to develop a lot of confidence building measures, primarily in nuclear fields. This is reflected in a number of important agreements, such as SALT, such as START, such as Open Skies Treaty. And they even had cooperation, for example, in two areas, one is joint efforts in eradicating smallpox, another is  joint cooperation in outer space.

So, China’s relationship with India, apart from the border issue, I can hardly imagine there are serious problems elsewhere. Yes, you see, we in China are concerned with your concerns, but your concerns sometimes are not really justifiable, such as China’s close relationship with Pakistan. If I just raise your close relationship with Russia, what would you say? China is also friendly with Russia, which has  great friendship with you. What I mean is that trust is of course important, but it's not that necessary for us to have effective confidence building measures. But between us, we still have trust in many other fields. I give you the latest example, the Russo-Ukrainain warDid you find the similarity in our positions? Yes, of course.

I believe this actually shows that India didn't say the right thing really wholeheartedly in the last few years. In the last few years, you would findIndia talking almost in an American tone about the free and open Indo-Pacific. But let me tell you, Indian position actually is more like that of China rather than that of the United States, because India has reservation for the same article in the UN Convention on Law of the Sea, that is article 298 for which  China has reservation. When foreign military ships entered your exclusive economic zone to conduct military exercises, the Indian government would ask them for consent if it involves ammunitions and explosives. Well, if you compare your law on that with that of China, actually I would say that India’s is much more strict than that of China.

And let me give you another example, in April last year, the USS John Paul Jones sailed into the exclusive economic zone in the southwest of India, and the Seventh Fleet made a written declaration to say that in doing so, the United States would challenge India’s excessive maritime claim. India’s EEZ, I found, is actually one thirtieth of the whole Indian Ocean. That means if the United States challenged your claims, that means, at least in American’s eyes, 1/30 of the Indian Ocean is not free, not open because of India. So, how can India say, like the United States, that the Indo-Pacific has to be free and open ? This is wrong because the oceans themselves are interconnected naturally, so they are always free, they’re always open.

And if you look at the problems in the Indian Ocean, that is piracy. Piracy was rampant from 2008, basically to 2013. And thanks to joint efforts, including Chinese and Indian navy. We have solved this problem and the Indian navy has helped the Chinese merchant ships “Full City” in tandem with a Turkish ship under NATO’s command and a Chinese naval vessel. And I have been coordinator of the PLA on counter-piracy for quite a few years. I thank India on many occasions, including in Bahrain where international navy's efforts in counter-piracy were  coordinated because the international military coordinations conferences about  counter-piracy in the  Gulf of Aden and the Somalia Basin are  always there in Bahrain.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Yes, I'm hearing you. Bo the point I will push back on you, one point that you made about the Indian and Chinese position on the Russia-Ukraine war being similar. The Indian government has clearly come out saying, while the positions superficially look similar, the reasons driving them or the principles driving them are different in both cases. And even after Wang Yi’s visit, the Indian Foreign Minister Mr. Jaishankar actually came out and wanted to make it completely clear that India’s position is different from China’s. This is something which you heard from western capitals as well, and the position is not the same. So that's the only thing I would like to clarify to the listeners. But I get your argument, I'm not contesting your argument. I just wanted to make the Indian government's position clear.

But you spoke about concerns that India has from China and China has from India. What exactly are Chinese concerns with India? Are they geopolitical? Are the ideological? Are they driven by some other reasons? You know, I mean, is it the United States? Is it in the Indo-Pacific Strategy? Is it the Quad? What is it that the Chinese really are concerned with India about? What is something else about India, that is not publicly said? What exactly are those reasons?

Zhou Bo:

I'm fully aware that the Indian government try to make a difference in terms of its position towards the Russian-Ukrainian war. But to be honest with you, I read them and I haven't found them to be particularly different from that of China. Because you see China is not trying to get closer to India by saying, “Okay, my position is really like yours and your position really like mine”. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't matter. But you see, we have been talking about the two sides of the same coin, the sovereignty of a sovereign states and the legitimate concerns of Russia over NATO's expansion. I think we basically talk about the same things. So I don't know what are the differences. Frankly speaking, I believe because of the current atmosphere between China- India relationship, therefore, the Indian government is trying to appeal to the public opinion, to look somewhat hard, you know, on China. But, well, that is kind of gesture only.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

What about the concerns, about the Chinese concerns with India? Is it the United States? Is it the Quad? Is it the Indo-Pacific? Is it ideological? Is it geopolitical? What exactly are the reasons, all the areas that concern China when it looks at India?

Zhou Bo:

Actually, I do not have such worries. China is concerned with India’s so-called concerns. Let me put it in another way, we are only worried because you're worried for something and we don't know why you're worried at all. For example, a lot of people would say that China is worried about the Quad, and there are indeed some people even calling  Quad “Asian’s NATO”. I don't think so. Why? Because I actually have confidence in India’s foreign policy. Because if I look at the history of Indian foreign policy, being one of the founders of the non-aligned movement and being a self-perceived great power, of course India will try its best to be impartial, to be neutral. And inQuad, I would say India is most important, because  all the three other countries are already allies. India’s attitude really, really matters to the survival and development of Quad.

But India, like any other countries, would put its national interests as first priority. India cannot afford to even look too close to the United States, because of your good relation with Russia, because about 70% of your hardware comes from Russia, because you're still buying Russia’s S-400. So if you get too close to the United States, China and Russia won't be happy, and that is not in your interest.

If you look at the latest development of Quad, you would find that it is actually developing into many other directions rather than the military direction. In terms of its military content, that is only a military exercise called “Malabar” exercise, and that's it. And beside that, it is developing into a bit of everything, for example, like infrastructure building, climate change or joint distribution of vaccines to Southeast Asian countries. But I would argue that how successful can it be? For example, infrastructure. Joe Biden’s grandiose Build Back Better project basically is dead already. From what I read, it is described as a kind of ambitious memory, because of the strong opposition from the Republican parties. And then, how much money could actually United States contribute to this region in terms of infrastructure? It cannot be compared at all with China’s Belt & Road Initiative. And if we talk about climate change or joint distributional of vaccine, these are fine. But these are not exclusive issues for the four of you. It is for everybody. So, there's nothing particularly exclusive if it is not against China, well, I won't say it's against China. I believe AUKUS agreement is against China, and the Quad is because of China. But if the glue is, a kind of, anti-China sentiment, then Quad will never grow stronger. It can survive because of all the things I mentioned, but it won't thrive.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

But Bo the Indo-Pacific strategy of the United States and even the latest military document, the rejected version that put out by the Pentagon, which was sent to the Congress. It clearly mentions China as an adversary, it mentions Indo-Pacific, it says, you know, Europe is the second resister, the primary contestation is with China. Even within that context, you don't think that Quad is directed towards China?

Zhou Bo:

Well, I don't believe that Quad would be very useful if it is against China. Let me talk about the Indo-Pacific strategy of the United States. I read the report, which was published sometime in February. I believe that this is a, how can I say, first of all the assumption of the whole Indo-Pacific strategy is wrong because it's assumed that China wants to create a kind of a sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific. This is totally wrong. Why? Let me put it this way, even if China wants, China cannot achieve it, even in East Asia, where its influence is the strongest. In East Asia, there is DPRK who won't listen to China on nuclear proliferation issue right? That is why they develop nuclear weapon. And there are quite a few American allies. And even in South China sea issues, there are a few claimant who have their own claims. So, in spite of the fact that China’s influence is strongest in this region, we still have a huge major difference for me to say that it is China’s sphere of influence.

The problem is, people often make a mistake, they confuse two things. One is the influence, another is  sphere of influence. If you talk about China’s influence, absolutely, China’s influence is global now, it is already global. It's almost overlapping with that of the United States, short of  military influence, right? But China is not creating a sphere of influence, and that is why China’s military activities overseas, be it counter-piracy, be it peacekeeping, be it evacuation of personals from disaster relief. They are all humanitarian in nature. So that tells China doesn’t have a global military ambition. So apart from its own territory and its adjacent waters which is Chinese territorial water, China just wants to help other countries. So that is why we are only doing things that are humanitarian. Why should we create our own spheres of influence that are so costly and so difficult to maintain?

So, this kind of assumption, from very beginning, is wrong. Besides, the United States does not have enough tools to realize it's too many purposes in the Indo-Pacific strategy, because you have so many purposes, and how many countries would really follow the United States in the antagonizing in China? I really doubt, because even its allies are the largest trading partners of China, so it would be very difficult for them to make such a decision.

And we simply were thrown into this kind of great power competition without reasons at all. If you look at  China’s policy towards the United States, it is very much consistent and stable. Yeah, and then we will talk about the same thing. But it's the United States that actually have to change its policy fundamentally because they realize eventually that they could not change China’s political system, China is getting stronger. So, they were panicking. And since Trump, he ushered in this kind of great power competition. And what happened? What's wrong with China, on China’s part in this kind of relationship? Well, I won't say we did nothing wrong, but at least we haven't created any special, very difficult situation for the United States. Yeah, so China’s policy, comparatively speaking, is much more stable, right?

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Yeah, Bo, just getting back to something which you said earlier, you said that China’s concerns about India are India’s concerns, essentially saying that there is nothing about India which concerns or worries China. Is it because China is so much bigger than India? Economically, militarily, geopolitically, the gap is so much dilated, the difference in related part is so much. Is it another way of saying that you're too small for us?

Zhou Bo:

No, India is not small at all, and this economy is currently the sixth largest economy, and by 2030 you will become the second largest economy in Asia, overtaking Japan. So, we are fully aware of your magnitude, and we have full respect for that because, I, as an observer, found you were actually doing a lot of things that China did in the past. Basically, your way of reform started ten years behind that of China. But you are doing almost the same thing. So, you are also developing very fast. And we're happy to see that because the fact is the international political and economic shifts are just moving to Asia. That is for sure. China certainly is in the center, but India is also looming large. I won't talk about the so-called “Asian century”. But I believe there are really, really good reasons for our two countries to have  good cooperation.

I myself in my working days, ten years of my working experiences are associated with South Asia. I went to Pakistan, I went to India, and I believe I'm among very few Chinese who at least know some Indian dishes by name. Those dishes make no sense to ordinary Chinese. When I was in India, I thought that this is a country which actually has benefited China a lot. Historically, the Buddhism, the exchange of cultures on The Silk Road... We are just not on a good term because of something left by the colonialists. Ah, it's very sad. I don't know how to resolve this, and I believe it's very difficult for us to resolve this. But I believe, yeah, with all those measures in place, and probably with some new ideas, such as a disengage each other from all the dangerous places. We can manage it. Probably you are more confident than me, because you talk about how very few accidental incidents happened before the clash.

So if we, with all this have maintained peace and stability with a cost of 20 Indian soldiers and 4 Chinese soldiers, probably with good lesson learned, we could make another 40 years peaceful and tranquil with even less casualty. I believe this is possible。 Because this is such a bloody and deadly lesson, both of us should have learned something from it. But if this is the price we paid, we should not pay it in the next 40 years.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Going back to your taste in Indian dishes, I must say you have good taste in Indian food. These are some of the nice dishes that India has. But to the more serious things, you mentioned the Indo-Pacific strategy. Is it possible for India to be a part of the Quad, to be an active member of the Quad, even though it's a non-security, non-military alliance and still be friendly with China?

Zhou Bo:

Well, I think it depends on, first of all, what Quad is and how it is going to evolve. Because China certainly would pay attention to the evolution of Quad to see if if this is not really harmful to China's interests.

Frankly speaking, I believe India's attitude from now on will change gradually because I believe it will just stay back a bit from its pro-American policy in the past. And the latest comments on the Ukraine and Russia war demonstrated that. I should have known that. But I believe this time because India was somehow pushed to the corner, therefore it has to show its true color. Therefore we see it abstained from the vote, and it said something more or less similar to that of China. And this is true India. This is not India in pretension, I believe.

So in the days to come, then there is a grand picture of how the international order would look like, right? So basically, I believe in Europe definitely we are going to have another cold war after this hot war. But in Asia, the United States has already initiated a new cold war against China, although at the governmental level they would not call it a new cold war. But if you look at it carefully, Biden’s policy toward China is basically extreme competition short of war. If competition is already extreme, what else can it be, if it is not like a new cold war? It is only a few steps away from hot war theoretically, right?  W hat else can it be? So we do not have any  fanciful wishes that China-American relationship will improve tremendously. But of course we still wish for the best.

The fundamental thing is, China is a large beneficiary from the existing international order. So China is not like Russia, which resents the current international order with victimhood. China is grateful to the international order and China has benefited from international order. So that is why China vows to safeguard the international order. And we all call for multipolarity. It's not about how we can actually achieve it. It's because it is a fact that the strength of the United States is on the wane, however slowly. When I talked to americans, they would admit that. But they will say this is relative decline. But relative decline is also kind of decline, right? So I believe Americans’ focus in the Indo-Pacific actually reflects its decline in strength. Therefore, it has to retrench. And its withdrawal from Afghanistan from elsewhere into the Indo-Pacific is actually a reflection that it's not as strong as it was. Therefore, it has to stay focused on competition with China.

In this regard, what kind of role would India play is critical. So China, for all good reasons, wish it has good relationship with India. We do not wish you take the American side. It’s on the wrong side of history.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

I agree that India would not want to be in a situation where it is in conflict with China. But the situation, as we see today happens to be something evolving. So my final question to you is, in your objective assessment of the situation, not a hope or a wish. In your assessment, how do you see the future of China-India, relationship, China-India ties? Is it collaboration? Is it competition? Is it conflict or is it a mixture of the three?

Zhou Bo:

Well, I think it's a mixture of three, but the only question is the proportion, right? Because of what had happened in the Galwan Valley, therefore I believe that the Indian government is still in a kind of resentmental, moody situation, because they say very much like in the old days that unless and until the border issue is resolved, we cannot expect the bilateral relationship to improve tremendously. Well, basically something like that. This is very much like how the Indian government before Karamchand Gandhi’s visit said. But the fact is the border issue cannot be resolved easily. And even if the Indian government wants to place this kind of relationship hostage to the border issue, they cannot. Because economically speaking, the two countries would still have  tremendous, huge economic interactions, and these kinds of economic rules will break through such kind of man-made boundaries.

So the relationship definitely will get warmer and warmer, but slowly and slowly, because of what happened. I believe that time might just heal the wounds and the Chinese side also have casualties.  I think we have to live with the reality. And I believe, generally speaking, the relationship will just  move forward in despite of the problems.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

The question actually is in Indian position, it is not that the border issue should be resolved permanently. The Indian position is that the bilateral relationship can improve once the immediate crisis on the border, where the soldiers are facing each other whether at PP15 or Depsang or Demchok. Once that is resolved and disengagement happens, then some kind of normalcy can resume in the bilateral ties, which I think as you yourself said, a disengagement is definitely a possibility.

Zhou Bo:

Yes, so if that is the condition of the government, I don't believe it's difficult to meet because the Chinese side also said something similar. Of course, there lies many details. So that is why we have  held so far 15 rounds of talks at corps-commander level. But of course for  talks to become successful, we have to have political and strategic guidance from the two capitals. I think  things are improving gradually. Generally speaking, I'm optimistic about this relationship. Because apart from this border issue, I can see no other major issues in the bilateral relationship. I really cannot figure it out.

Mr. Sushant Singh:

Bo, you are more optimistic than most Indians or most Indian commentators or most Indian officials that I talk to, who are less optimistic than you. I would like to believe you and I hope that things would improve and there are no more conflicts anywhere. Anyway, Bo, thank you so much for your time. It was wonderful talking to you and listening to your thoughts. I really enjoy speaking to you.

Zhou Bo:

Thank you Sushant for all this, thank you.

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