Taking a strategic view of their complex relationship, India and China agreed to finalise border-related Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and expedite setting up of a hotline between their militaries at …Read More
As two major countries in the Asian region in terms of population, territory, higher economic growth rates and growing aspirations, the role of India and China vis-à-vis each other, and at the regional and global levels, is significant. Medium-term prospects of these two countries point towards relative enhancement in their respective comprehensive national strengths, gradual vanishing of “buffer zones” that existed between the two in the Asian region and a coalescing equation so far conditioned by the “cooperation and competition” dyad. Nevertheless, overall stability in the political relations can be expected between the two Asian powers in the medium term.
Unlike in the past, India is also leveraging a wide variety of diplomatic and strategic partnerships with the US, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam at a time when Beijing is trying to expand its appeal through One Belt, One Road project and cobbling up semi-military alliances with Pakistan and others. At the ideological level, a rising India is increasingly speaking about its democratic experiment as a possible model for others to adopt.Traditionally, this has been a contentious – if not made explicit – issue between India and China in their appeal to Asian, African and South American continents. Thus, the stakes are expected to be high for India’s relations with China in the medium to long-term.
The 18th Special Representatives meeting between India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart, the influential State Councillor Yang Jiechi, in New Delhi on March 23 has a twin agenda. The main purpose of the meeting under this mechanism is to try to find a solution to the long-standing territorial dispute between the two countries, but the focus will be equally on preparing the ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China in May.
Several trends recently suggest that the territorial dispute is more intractable than has been imagined in the beginning. The border transgressions at Depsang Plains in April 15-May 6, 2013 or the Chumar troop’s build-up by China in September 2014 – all in the Western Sector of the border – tested the bilateral equations. PM Modi stated, while raising the troop build-up by China, during the visit of President Xi Jinping in September last year that bilateral relations are dependent on the LAC stability.
During her visit to Beijing towards January-end this year to attend the 13th Russia-India-China foreign minister’s meeting Sushma Swaraj suggested an “out of the box” resolution to the vexed territorial dispute.
Also, China’s response to PM Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh on February 20 to inaugurate a rail link was sharp and unusual. While PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in 2009 was criticised by China, now the level of protest was enhanced to the vice foreign ministerial level.
The success of the 18th meeting hinges both in arriving at an early and mutually acceptable solution as well as stability in the border areas.