India-China had friendly relations after World War II, but have faced off frequently since both countries fought a bloody war in 1962, that ended with China seizing control of some of the Indian territories. Negotiations to settle the boundary dispute in last three decades have seen some success, but a potential shift in relations in positive direction was seen in the recent time under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping.
Decades old rivals India and China will resolve their issues through bilateral dialogue and will pave the path to make 21st century the century of Asia.
Strain in India – China relations came to a head when Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a standoff last summer after Bhutan sounded the alarm – Chinese soldiers had arrived with excavators and bulldozers, and were building road near India’s border at Dokalam, where both countries have long running border dispute.
During standoff India’s Army chief warned that India’s army was capable of fighting “2 and a half wars” if needed. Weeks after this, India told China that it was ready to hold talks if both sides pull their forces from disputed area.
Finally, the two months long standoff was ended after talks during successful BRICS meeting in Xiamen, China. Resolving the Dokalam stand-off was the beginning of improving relations and mending ties between two nuclear armed Asian giant through dialogue and peaceful means.
Progress in improving relations was seen when India became a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Friday, June 9, 2017. India’s membership was announced by the President of Kazakhstan, Nurusltan Nazarbayev.
President Xi and PM Modi met on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Astana following which, the foreign secretary of India S. Jaishankar described the bilateral ties between the two countries as a “factor of stability in the age of global instability”.
Later, On April 20, 2018, China reached out to India with an offer to resume military exercise that was put on hold just before the last year’s Dokalam stand-off. This was considered as an important shift ahead of the Indian defense minister Nirmala Sitaraman’s visit to Beijing for a SCO meeting on April 24, 2018. Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj was also in Beijing for a SCO foreign ministers meet around the same time.
Few days later, when the attention of whole world was focused on an historic summit between North Korea and South Korea, Chinese President Xi Jinping invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for informal summit at Wuhan in central China. That signaled the potential change in trajectory of Sino-Indian relations in positive direction.
During the summit both leaders exchanged their views on bilateral matters and discussed about the international issues of common interest in a relaxed environment without any scripted agenda.
Both leaders underlined the threats posed by terrorism and committed to cooperate on counterterrorism, and agreed to undertake joint economic projects in Afghanistan that may be game changer for Afghanistan and regional peace.
At a time when the tendencies of protectionism are growing day by day in western world, there is need for India-China to work together in global governance. Chinese President said, “As the two largest developing countries and emerging market economies with a population level of more than one billion, China and India are the backbone of the world’s multi polarization and economic globalization”.
Soon after the Wuhan summit, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said, “We feel that there is no fundamental difference between China and India on the issue of interconnectivity”.
Addressing a seminar on “Wuhan Summit: Sino-India Relations and its way forward”, Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui said the BRI would benefit all countries, including India, in the age of Globalization. Luo Zhaohui said that Beijing would open up its market for more Indian Products.
Both leaders agreed to oppose the protectionism and to work for an open, inclusive and balanced globalization that would benefit to all.
On June 2, 2018, PM Modi delivered speech at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore where he avoided any mention of Quad in his speech and criticized the tendency of protectionism being practiced by US , both of which were sure to satisfy Chinese delegates.
PM Modi told defence ministers and military officials assembled for Shangri-La Dialogue, “Asia and the world will have a better future when India and China work together in trust and confidence, sensitive to each other’s interests”.
On Friday, PM Modi seemingly warmed President Xi and reassured china that Indo-Pacific was neither a strategy nor a club. As, US president Trump started using term Indo-Pacific instead of Asia-Pacific since November, 2017 and rebranded its Asia-Pacific policy with Indo-Pacific. On June 2, 2018, US renamed its oldest and largest military command – The Pacific command to Indo-Pacific command.
Lieutenant General He Lei, who was leading the Chinese delegation, told state run China Central Television afterword on Friday, “Modi gave a positive assessment of China-India relations in his speech”.
PM Modi will be in China on June 9-10, 2018, for SCO summit in Qingdao and for bilateral meetings with President Xi. Ahead of the summit, Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale met with Chinese Vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou and discussed the agenda for bilateral engagements. The two sides also exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest.
PM Modi and President will be meeting second time, to discuss bilateral and international issues, in a span of less than two months, signaling the improving relations between the two countries.
Decades old rivals India and China will resolve their issues through bilateral dialogue and will pave the path to make the 21st century the century of Asia with mutual cooperation. India will not blindly follow US, India – China both will work together and will take care of each other’s interests. India-China alliance will be the game changer in geopolitics at a time when tendency of protectionism is growing in the west.