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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2857

After The Informal Summit

By Atul Cowshish - Syndicate Features

Nobody expects India and China to go back to the ‘Bhai-Bhai’ (friendly) days. But the two sides can or should strive at gradual easing of tension with a spirit of mutual respect and honest give and take.

So far, China has shown very little of ‘give’ while piling up the list of ‘takes’ that it wants from India. This impression will not change after Xi’s visit to Chennai for an informal summit with Prime Minister Modi over two-days. Only the most naïve will expect China to diminish its all-out support to Pakistan while knowing full well that it stands in the way of improving relations with India.

Like Xi’s previous visit to Ahmedabad two years ago, his Chennai sojourn is a great photo-op moment. It was reported that the Chinese guest was ‘overwhelmed’ by Modi’s hospitality. That must be true because a vegetarian prime minister of India offered sumptuous non-vegetarian stuff to Xi and even guided him on a tour of the temples.

Among the issues that keep India-China relations tense, two may be mentioned straightaway: Its relations with Pakistan which are clearly designed to harm India, a goal that China appears to share, and the Chinese refusal to talk to India about delineating the line of actual control with maps even as China demands ownership of thousands of kilometers of Indian territory.

A few irritants have been added in recent years, chief among them being the burgeoning trade gap which stands at nearly $60 billion in China’s favour. Once again, a sense of hope (false?) was raised at Chennai when Indian officials expressed optimism, pointing to a new mechanism that will suggest steps to narrow the huge trade gap. This was not the first time that such a refrain was heard after a round of talks between India and China.

China has reportedly warned India against stopping the entry of 5-G technology from the Chinese company Huawei. The US and many European nations think that the entry of the Chinese company in the 5-G spectrum would compromise their security. If the Modi government eventually lets in Huawei it will be a great victory for China but at what cost?

As long as important issues relating to security and trade remain unresolved it will be wishful to say that relations between the two countries are improving in any meaningful manner. The best that can happen—and which has happened in the past—is for the two countries to pipe down their hostile rhetoric and keep their armies at the border as safe distance from each other—as long as possible.

It cannot be forgotten that Xi had announced his latest India visit barely two days before his plane landed in Chennai. And before that in a gesture that did not send a friendly message, China had hosted Pakistani prime minister as well as the chief of that country’s army staff for talking Kashmir. It ended with China issuing a statement India that China would always stand firmly behind all matters of ‘core’ interest to Pakistan.

It is quite apparent that Pakistan’s stepped up belligerency towards India stems from the unstinted support it receives from China which has not asked its ‘all weather friend’ to stop issuing nuclear threats. On the other hand, India has listened to the Chinese nonsense about human rights violation in Jammu and Kashmir without even once alluding to the Chinese treatment of its own Muslim and Buddhist minorities.

India allows China to talk of the ‘disputed’ status of Jammu and Kashmir without reminding it about how it amalgamated Aksai Chin with the help of Pakistan. If China thinks the state is ‘disputed’ how can it unilaterally decide on the fate of one part of Jammu and Kashmir? India needs to remind China about the way it protects Pakistan-based terrorists and their master-minds even after UN sanctions. Modi should be firm in talking about such uncomfortable issues.

Pakistan concentrates its efforts on breaking India by ‘thousand cuts’ in which ISI-trained terrorists play the leading role. It has long been a Chinese policy to turn a blind eye to all egregious acts of Pakistan, including its continuous export of terror to India over the last thirty years or more. India cannot be fooled by Chinese lip service to fighting terrorism coming from Pakistan or extending ‘cooperation’ to India in counter-terrorism measures when it shows no interest in asking Pakistan to wind up its terror industry. Who can deny that Modi and Xi were able to lift the evil shadow of Pakistan when they got down to do some talking? Xi might not have raised Kashmir in his talks with Modi, as the Indian side asserts, but it does not by any stretch of imagination mean that China has put the issue of Kashmir on the back burner or, more importantly, it has decided to play a ‘neutral’ role on Kashmir.

Formal or informal meetings between leaders of the two countries is a welcome step always since dialogue is the only civilized means of resolving differences notwithstanding the long-term nature of the project.

- Asian Tribune -

After The Informal Summit
diconary view
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