The presence of strong leaders like Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi opens up the possibilities of path-breaking initiatives that could benefit both countries and transform the geo-political landscape in the region. Given China’s military and economic strength and assertive territorial claims, it will be up to Beijing to initiate the first steps.

India-China relations are presently at a critical stage. The decisions and events of the next 2-5 years will be crucial and could mark a new phase in the relationship. At the same time the flux in geostrategic alignments in the world, caused by the potential shift in the global balance of power to the East, have got accentuated with the election in November 2016 of Donald Trump as the 45th US President and consequent uncertainty about his policies.

The almost simultaneous emergence of strong, new leaders, namely Xi Jinping in China, Narendra Modi in India and Shinzo Abe in Japan, has injected an element of competition in the region. All three are pragmatic leaders with a track record of being decisive and a capacity to take bold decisions.
Ties between India and China are, presently, marked by mutual suspicion. Given China’s military and economic strength and assertive territorial claims, it will be up to Beijing to initiate the first steps. Thus far, Xi Jinping has shown no sign of taking such an initiative.

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Dalai Lama in Arunachal: India asks China to refrain from artificial controversy

With an upset China watching closely, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has begun a week-long visit to India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. The visit has raised the hackles in Beijing and looks set to fuel fresh tensions in Sino-Indian ties. Brushing aside Beijing’s strong objections, India has asked China to refrain from stoking “an artificial controversy” around the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, a region in the eastern Himalayas China claims as its own and regularly denounces foreign leaders’ visits to the place as attempts to bolster India’s territorial claims. India has consistently maintained that Arunachal Pradesh is its integral part and that China should respect that.
Four days ago, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had told the media in Beijing that “China resolutely opposes the 14th Dalai Lama visiting border regions disputed by China and India” and warned that this would “seriously damage” bilateral relations. He dubbed the Dalai Lama as a “dangerous separatist” and urged India to “avoid taking any actions that would further complicate the border issue.” On April 4, the Chinese state media reacted vehemently, saying India “is deliberately risking confrontation” with China by allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh and warned that there will be “severe consequences” in bilateral ties if the visit was allowed.
The trip by the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh is expected to ratchet up tensions between New Delhi and Beijing, which are already festering over a host of strategic issues such as the long-standing unsettled border demarcation between India and China, China’s growing ties with Pakistan and some other South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives which India considers as its own backyard. Analysts say that while India officially would not like any political colour to be attributed to the Dalai Lama’s visit, it is sending a clear message that China has not respected India’s sensitivities in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir by including the disputed territory in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

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India-China ties: Forging a new idiom of major powers relations

It’s a transformational moment in the history of India-China relations, marked by an infusion of fresh energy, dynamism and creativity in the way the two neighbours engage with each other. This is the first time the leaders of the two Asian giants have visited each other’s country within nine months, signalling their resolve to proactively cooperate in fashioning an emerging Asian century. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s May 14-16 visit to three cities in China – Xian, Beijing and Shanghai – was unique in many ways and cohered multiple strands of variegated relationship between the two Asian juggernauts that comprise one-third of the world’s population and boast of a collective GDP of over $12 trillion.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to China consolidated the momentum generated by President Xi Jinping’s maiden visit to India in September 2014. Put together, these twin visits, and initiatives taken during the tenure of the previous government in Delhi, crystallize the emerging alphabet of India-China relations: A for Asia; B for Business; C for Culture; and D for Diplomacy and Development. This new vocabulary and semantics is set to script afresh new pathways of cooperation between the two neighbours, which are often portrayed as rivals and competitors in the Asian hemisphere, but are incrementally forging an ambitious and all-encompassing cooperative partnership straddling diverse areas.

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Clearing Up Misconceptions Between India and China

China and India are not only neighbors but also important rising economies and global powers with a combined population accounting for 35 percent of the world’s total. However, the two nations remain largely distant in some respects. A survey about the rise of China conducted in India in 2013 by the Asian Barometer Survey Organization showed that many Indians lacked knowledge about the growing power to their north. And in recent interviews with Beijing Review, most Chinese respondents expressed stereotypes about India that focused on negative qualities like poor infrastructure and social governance, overlooking India’s status as a global leader in information technology and the bio-pharmaceutical industry.

Media observers said a lack of mutual understanding is the root cause of the indifference and even outright ignorance displayed by the peoples of the two countries toward each other.

China-India relations have entered a period of overall accelerated growth. Nonetheless, persistently negative media reports of the two sides are failing to improve the relationship. Some in the media overhype border disputes and political issues while neglecting bilateral economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

At the Second China-India Media Forum on February 1 in Beijing, a platform jointly established by the State Council Information Office of China and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India to enhance bilateral media exchanges, participants from the mainstream media outlets of both countries addressed these issues. These media representatives held candid and in-depth exchanges on the crux of the problems and the convergence of their interests to provide the general public of both countries with accurate and comprehensive information in order to reduce misunderstandings.
Manish Chand, Editor in Chief of India Writes, echoed Dasgupta’s view by noting that Indian media should break the tradition of always “looking at China-India relations through the security prism,” and devote more energy to culture stories.
“Culture is always a missing component in Indian media coverage. The frame of reference while thinking of culture is mostly the West. We speak of Hollywood and its films and actors, but how many people know of Chinese films and directors?” said Chand.

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When Modi met Xi

On the day Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Gujarat on September 17, The Hindu newspaper published an op-ed called ‘Towards an Asian century of prosperity’ in which President Xi spoke of his country as the factory and India as the world’s back office, he referred to the new government in power bringing in new reforms. He spoke of deepened mutual trust by “strengthening strategic dialogue and enhancing political confidence.” The article was expectedly replete with bonhomie and optimism although India was not too happy being relegated to the back office. Nevertheless, Xi concluded by saying that he was “confident that as long as China and India work together, the Asian century of prosperity and renewal will surely arrive at an early date.” All this sounded wonderful.

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