A missed chance for Indo-China relations 

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News: Recently, Chinese leader visited India. He visited after participating in the OIC Council of Foreign Minister (CFM) hosted in Islamabad and carrying a tour to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal.

It was the first Chinese leader visit to India after the military standoff in eastern Ladakh in 2020. 

What were the objectives behind the Chinese visit? 

First, China wants to give a message that it is a big power. It is assuming a leadership role in the region. It wishes to develop consensus on important issues such as Afghanistan and Ukraine 

Second, it was aimed to ensure that BRICS summit going to be organised later this year becomes successful. 

Third, China wants to give the impression that both China and India have a shared interest in ensuring that Russia is not isolated. It also wants to give the message that there is a rift between the US and India over Ukraine. For example, China appreciated India’s “strategic autonomy policy” in context of Russia-Ukraine Conflict.  

Fourth, it aims to convey to the international community that it is a “responsible” power. Unlike, the US, which withdrew from Afghanistan, it became the first P-5 country to visit Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover, 

Fifth, The Chinese participation in OIC CFM implies that China desire to be seen as a strong and sympathetic backer of the Islamic world, against stereotyping by the West. 

Sixth, China do not want the West to enter into its backyard (Indo-Pacific). For example, Nepal approved a $500 million US government aid programme under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which provides an alternative to infrastructure and developmental finance under the BRI. It is being perceived by China same as NATO expansion for Russia. 

What are the challenges in resolving in bilateral relations between India and China? 

Chinese side only talks to solve “the border issue in bilateral ties”. It does not talk about other fields, including trade, which continues to lean disproportionately in China’s favour.  

China has been interfering in India’s internal affairs. For example, it has raised the Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council. In fact, Chinese side also made reference to Kashmir at the OIC CFM meeting in Pakistan. China’s reference to Kashmir is insensitive because:

China is itself in occupation of part of Kashmir territory i.e., Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam valley.  

In Xinjiang, China has been accused of human rights violation and showing no respect to “Islamic civilisation” and “Islamic wisdom” that Wang Yi alluded to while in Pakistan.  

There exists a number of bilateral issues and on strategic issues between both the countries, such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Indo-Pacific and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. 

China is expanding strategic and military ties with Pakistan. Its shadow is growing in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.  

There is lack of agreement on disengagement at the remaining friction points in the border areas of India-China. 

Way Forward 

India’s participation, either in the BRICS summit or the 19th Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the RIC (Russia-India-China) grouping may provide opportunities for resolving bilateral issues between India-China. 

India has made it clear that the peace is a prerequisite for normal ties. 

Source: The post is based on an article “A missed chance for Indo-China relations” published in the Indian Express on 30th March 2022. 

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