I grew up with hindi chini bhai bhai (India and China are brothers), a phrase coined by our very first prime minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. I think there is also one movie titled the same. I feel China and Pakistan are BFFs with no strings attached while India is that new friend waiting to be a part of the cool group to reap some benefits too. Regardless of all the military conflicts, border disputes and territorial disagreements, China emerges as India’s strongest trading partner every now and then. We go on military exercises together, trade efficiently, and bicker at each other over Pakistan, Tibet and Counter Terrorism. India and China meet each other frequently to forge an understanding over a variety of issues but flop more often than not. However, high-level political consultations have facilitated in escalating economic cooperation but apparently fall short to reduce political irritants.
China had also renounced to vote in support of India’s bid to list Masood Azhar under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council. China is insistent on saying no to anything India says or does like an ex-wife. It has soundly triggered domestic outrage in India, notably when we had cast off considerable diplomatic resources to campaign for this cause in the UN. There seems to be a frailty to fix the eroded distrust in the situation.
Latest deadlocks are indications of an institutional mechanism that has endured its effectiveness in handling bilateral relations. Such differences are only expected to mature with time because dissimilarities are not merely narrowed to bilateral subjects. Also, none is ready for concession.
Let’s ponder over the case of terrorism. We are jam-packed with disparate hopes and presumptions with China on counter-terrorism. Why do we expect China to be ardent enough to support our counter-terror initiatives merely because China is a victim of terrorism too? To begin with, China retorts to terrorism with an aggressive “Strike Hard” campaign against Uighurs. Chinese methods, that entail constrictions on religious teaching, attire and fasting, recurrent invasions to reclaim religious resources, travel ban, and seizure of passports would all be deliberated unconstitutional in the case of India. Our counter-terrorism techniques are like night and day.
Secondly, China assesses terror attacks and local turbulence in Kashmir, and the on-going counter-terror operations in the Valley, through the viewfinder of its best pal. China grows sensitive towards the other party.
Thirdly, India is expected to deal with the terrorism problem through bilateral means either through negotiations or security actions rather than involving multilateral institutions such as the UN, based on China’s whims for obvious reasons. An open and political stance of covertly having to cherry-pick between Pakistan and India would make China Sandwiched, given its rain-or-shine affiliation with the former. Thus, it also refuted any comment on India’s surgical strikes across the border in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on the pretext of a bilateral issue. Thus, China finds it futile to support India at the price of wilting its relationship with Pakistan. Best friends. Jai Veeru.
Also, Pakistan and its terror clusters have emanated that Chinese uncalled-for meddling would be deleterious to domestic steadiness which would eventually shake goodwill and jeopardise the CPEC projects. As a consequence, China has accustomed to Pakistan’s fears because of the character and range of its mounting investment in Pakistan. China doesn’t even want to exude the vibes where it seems like even an acquaintance to India that could muddle an already-delicate political environment.
Although prospects exist for India and China to shape trust, some elements exacerbate the trust. The aspiration to keep regional balance through Pakistan controverts China’s official foreign policy proclamations that vouchsafe, India, major power status in the international system. Clearly, this absurdity condenses China’s chances of tempting constructive policies from India.
India’s reactions to Chinese actions are frequently disproportionate. India must seek more relative gains in economic cooperation in the spirit of fostering trust and stability.
It is in China’s favour to map its outlook on the nature of India’s upsurge in the global system. On its part, India needs to distinguish its approach of diplomacy and dialogues with China. India should only deliver and doable credible political signals to China. Only so can China be convinced to absorb such signals earnestly.
Lastly, India should mark for a strategic dialogue that centres on the basics of mutual beliefs and political ethos, and is reinforced by pervasive rendezvous at the regional, administrative and academic levels. In the occurrence of counter-terrorism, building a rapport with associated agencies afflicted by terrorism is cardinal. India’s riposte should be fair-minded and reasonable. But for India and China’s dexterity to discern the essence of differences in the bilateral relationship progresses, foreign policy directing would pendulate by unreasonable expectations.