Chinese Defense Minister to attend Russian parade, meeting with Indian counterpart ‘likely’

By Guo Yuandan Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/23 22:06:02

Russian military helicopters fly over the city during the rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, on June 20, 2020. Russia is preparing for a military parade on June 24 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory against the Nazis in World War II. (Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Xinhua)

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe is expected to attend Russia's Victory Day parade in Moscow on Wednesday, and since Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh is also attending the event, the two will very likely meet in Moscow over border tensions between the two countries.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed to the Global Times that Wei is attending the Russian military parade on Wednesday.

Singh started his three-day visit to Russia on Monday, and will also attend the Wednesday parade, media reported. 

A total of 105 Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) honor guard members have been sent to Russia, and 95 of them will participate in the parade in formation, Russia's TASS news agency reported on Friday, citing Russian ambassador to China Andrey Denisov. 

This will be the first time Wei has visited another country in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wei had visited Russia in 2018 and 2019.

As of Monday, Russia had 599,705 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with Moscow adding 1,081 more in a single day.

An anonymous analyst told the Global Times on Tuesday that despite Moscow still suffering from a severe epidemic situation, China must have overcome many challenges and decided to visit. This shows a high level of military relations between the two countries and an embodiment of the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.

In the meantime, Indian media expects a potential meeting between the defense ministers of China and India in Moscow on the China-India border conflict, and the two sides are keeping close communication through diplomatic and military channels to ease the tensions.

Qian Feng, the director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the possibility that the Chinese and Indian defense ministers will meet in Moscow is very high.

"It is possible that the Chinese and Indian sides will hold a formal meeting. Russia is the host country, and the three countries are all members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and Russia can bring them together. China and India should not give up this chance for talks.

"Even if they are not formal talks, both countries' defense ministers can still speak informally. This also supplements a formal meeting," Qian said.

Chinese and Indian border troops held an army commander-level meeting on Monday, the first since the two sides clashed on June 15 at Galwan Valley, showing that both sides hope to properly handle their differences through dialogue and consultations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a routine press conference on Tuesday.

Qian said if the meeting between the two countries' defense ministers materializes, it will contribute to easing the situation following the army commander-level meeting. 

This will indicate that top defense officials are communicating over the tensions and will significantly help de-escalation, Qian said, noting that this will also show that both sides are avoiding a larger scale conflict in the border region, or even an escalation to war.

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