With the return of troops from front lines and end of confrontation at LAC, with statement from China that ‘Positive Consensus’ with India over border dispute, it is evident that diplomatic relations, though primarily were appeared weak, but seem to be on track again, however this episode also has given an insight to both sides that hope exists in strengthening the relations, not in weakening it.
Few speculated that this faceoff was an intentional one from China’s side to interpret the probable consequences in case any such situation arise in future and this has brought the fact that such situation won’t be completely eliminated by global community by naming it as ‘bi-lateral’ issue and instead direct intervention (such as from USA) and indirect ways may affect it. Even a reputed Chinese expert recently claimed Indian troops as best in experience and weaponry who are capable in plateau and mountain.
Line of Actual Control was in news for the movement of Chinese and Indian troops near fingers along Pangong Tso Lake and Galwan valley where the boundary limits are either undefined or understood differently by two sides. However the most appreciable approach by both sides was that both sides including their military and political leaderships maintained an approach to keep it low and avoided any undesired statements. This mature effort certainly brings a message that both countries are capable enough to resolve the crisis through mutual dialogues and not through militaristic adventure.
India avoided any harsh words against China and in fact the ruling party leadership (BJP) asked its members not to speak on China’s issue. Similarly, Chinese government representatives have not spoken any such thing that could be a barrier in engaging positively. Both sides deputed their military leaders on ground to be engaged in talks and this again was another positive aspect and mature step from both sides.
With the historical relations between the two countries and present geo politics, there are multiple approaches overlapped with their bilateral relations and their relations to other countries or regional groups, combined with trade and other interests including the internal policies and politics that define an overall diplomatic-trade-political relations between these two countries. Informal summits between Indian and Chinese heads of government (Modi-Xi) are surely something that help in strengthening their bond and understanding. India and China needs to be engaged not only to resolve the present crisis and boundary issues, but also to explore what other side seeks, what are the motives-objectives and what if any mutual consented ways can be made available to both sides to complete their objectives without negatively affecting the other in terms of their internal and external policies.
On this, there are ample reasons to move with all hope because for India, unlike the Line of Control (with Pakistan), Line of Actual Control (with China) remained very peaceful all time and therefore military to military relations, state to state relations are in better position than with Pakistan. At citizen level, both sides are still not engaged much with each other and hence ample scope available at this level too that should be explored through exchange programs, joint working groups in technical-scientific-educational and other fields.
China is a global power and India has a big market, powerful talent pool and emerging space, engineering, research, technology areas that makes it a strong contender to be in alliance with global leaders. Both countries exist in Asian continent and neighbors, where still many other Asian countries may need investments, trade expansions, support in infrastructure-engineering-medicine fields and there China-India can explore options together.
US-China share good trade relations however their political relations seem little stretched this time. As both are global powers, this can definitely lead to other countries towards polarization which should be avoided and all countries including India may keep efforts continue, at least at individual level towards a multi-polar world where future scope in Europe, Africa, Australia, Middle East should be taken care.
By this confrontation also, it was clear that it could escalate in case other parties would have been involved. USA took interest but India politely denied the same. Among many other geo-political efforts to woo India, USA is advocating to include India under G7, a group of advanced economies. In Coming time, the UNSC membership and NSG membership may also be received by India and China should consider this as a fact that India is moving to explore all its potential. On the other hand, India needs to recognize the positive values of Non Aligned Movement and Panchsheel even if these are old school ideas and it should ensure that despite having a good relation with USA, India has its own stand and mutual relations with China which cannot be compromised.
India and China also have multiple reasons to confront each other, particularly India’s objection to CPEC, while it was surely a valid one considering its belief of J&K as an integral part but this could have been discussed more between two sides to bring any possible way out. It could be like engaging in trade relations together irrespective of political contention on J&K which could have been left to future settlement and decisions, though many international policy experts advocate India’s approach to keep itself separated from CPEC but there are others too who advocate that participation could bring partnership. China’s stand to block ban proposal on Masood Azhar could be avoided considering the fact that there were many evidences based upon which India had taken a position. China, as a global leader and a neighbor could have better support India in its efforts to control terrorism and regional peace and together they both can explore potential in CINPA (China-India-Nepal-Pakistan-Afghanistan) region which may improve regional prosperity.
There are many international issues that are running and may be continued in future, few among it may be a sound of future where China may need moral support from neighbors too. Be it issues of Hong-Kong, Taiwan, USA bill to declare Tibet as independent country, WHO controversy, South-China sea vulnerability and other USA-China issues of efforts to de-list Chinese companies from US stock exchange or restrictions of flights from China etc. have been making their ways. China may or may not be under pressure but it should be seen that India, despite being comparatively smaller economy and power than USA and China; India adopted its own way to keep its actions independent from such influences. A recent statement by India’s NITI Aayog that raw materials are being imported from China for bulletproof jackets is something that speaks its own despite the LAC issue and rising public pressure within India upon the government.
China and India need to revive and re-look their relations in future prospects where their bonding may serve very productively with available scope to spread it across the globe.
Ravi Nitesh is a youth activist based in New Delhi, India and writes on subjects of Peace and Conflict, Development and Environment. He tweets @ravinitesh