Rajnath likely to deliver China a strong message in Cambodia

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to give a strong message to China on its aggressive agenda during his upcoming address at the meeting of the defence ministers of the 10 ASEAN (Association of the South-East Asian Nations) countries in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh. The meeting will take place on 22-23 November. The aggression of China would also figure during the bilateral meetings that Rajnath will hold with his counterparts from different nations on the sideline of the conclave, sources told The Daily Guardian. Rajnath Singh will come face to face with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe, as both will be attending the ‘ADMM Plus’ (ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus). However, the bilateral meeting between the Indian and Chinese defence ministers has not been confirmed as of now. Sources have not also ruled out the meeting between Rajnath and Fenghe.   
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to hold bilateral talks with his counterparts from Quad nations—Australia, US and Japan. Sources said that these interactions would be quite important as Rajnath will discuss among other issues the Chinese expansionist agenda in the Indo-Pacific with the Quad defence ministers.       
Sources said if the meeting takes place, Rajnath would use the occasion to deliver a strong message to his Chinese counterpart on the standoff along Line of Actual Control (LAC). “The Defence Minister would also make it a point to remind the Chinese minister of how Beijing is disrespecting the written pacts aimed at maintaining peace and tranquillity along the borders between India and China,” sources said, adding, “It was Wei Fenghe who had during a conclave in June this year blamed India for the LAC military standoff. India had objected to his remarks then,” say sources. In this backdrop, Rajnath’s meeting with Fenghe would be quite important if it is finalised.  
The defence ministers of both India and China will come face to face at the conclave at Phnom Penh in Cambodia on Tuesday and Wednesday. This will be happening just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a handshake during the G-20 summit at Bali in Indonesia. Phnom Penh is hosting a meeting of the defence ministers of the 10 ASEAN countries as well as the eight dialogue partners of the bloc—India, China, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Australia, Russia and the US. An official said that Rajnath would have bilateral meetings with defence ministers from various countries in Cambodia. However, no list of these upcoming meetings has been given so far.  

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