Diplomats talk the talk well, and Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong’s statements calling for India and his nation being partners are unexceptionable. Indeed, this was the premise on which the two countries had been building up their relationship, with increasing trade ties and top-level interaction. Unfortunately, hopes for long-term peace took a body blow after the recent border clash in which soldiers were bludgeoned, and some were killed. The Ambassador is right in that India and China should be partners, but the clash and casualties that resulted from it have made it all the more difficult. Chinese expansionistic tendencies have been noticed in various theatres, including the South China Sea, and indeed, the sincerity of the envoy’s remarks comes into question when the action taken by his country does not match the soothing sounds of cooperation.
India and China need to move forward. However, adventurism comes at a cost, and in this case, has set back the goodwill between the two countries that took decades to build. ‘Why should we fight against each other, which will only hurt those close to us and gladden the foes?’ asks the envoy. He is right. Beijing would have done well to think of this before the incursions and the subsequent escalation. After the border clash, it has taken extraordinary effort by both governments to start the de-escalation process, and the ties between the two nations have been severely affected. The Chinese Ambassador’s message is a positive one, and indeed reflects the long-term goals of both countries, but any progress will naturally be slow and cautious.
Communication will be the key in promoting peace and building confidence between the two nations. The border question is an old one. The arrangement by which Special Representatives held meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs would need to be strengthened. All this, however, hinges on the political resolve of Beijing. For that to happen, China will have to take concrete steps to convince a sceptical India of its intentions.
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