At the second occasion of the sequence ‘India’s Place in the World’, a collaboration between The Indian Express and Financial Times, senior coverage leaders spoke on India’s diplomatic place in the brand new world order, and its evolving ties with the United States and China.
Speaking on how the India-China stand-off in 2020 has put the relationship between the 2 international locations in “crisis”, former National Security Advisor and former Ambassador to China, Shivshankar Menon, stated that going again to previous agreements wouldn’t deliver again the belief and one has to surprise if the international locations can obtain “a new equilibrium” after this. “I don’t know what the government is doing — there have been talks, discussions and disengagement — but there are still points where tensions are there. I think our Army Chief said the other day that we have almost 50,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Let’s see when and how we actually get out of this. Saying we’ll restore the status quo is not the answer,” he stated.
Menon was talking at a panel dialogue titled ‘India and China: Uneasy Neighbours’ alongside with Lt General SL Narasimhan, Director General, Centre for Contemporary China Studies, and Member, National Security Advisory Board, Government of India; and Yun Sun, Senior Fellow and Director of China Program, Stimson Centre, which was moderated by Gideon Rachman, Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator, Financial Times.
They mentioned the fraught relations between the 2 international locations marked by an unresolved border dispute, how New Delhi is proscribing Chinese funding and decreasing financial dependence, Beijing’s rising political affect amongst India’s neighbours in the sub-continent, and the way India is drawing nearer to China’s strategic rivals, together with the US.
Yun Sun stated that one of many elementary concerns in China’s relationship with India lies in India’s external atmosphere and alignment selections, and most significantly, India’s relationship with the US. “When we look at their relations and the turbulence in the last couple of years, endogenous factors of that bilateral relationship have hardly changed, whether we look at the border, Tibet, Pakistan or the balance of power in South Asia. What has changed China’s position is what I call the exhaustion of external factors and the international environment. So, the Chinese would have believed that because of the Indo-Pacific strategy and the strategic value that the US is willing to attach to put India at its regional status, requires China to take certain actions to show India first that China will not be deterred or blackmailed, and that an alignment with the US will carry a certain cost,” she stated.
However, Narasimhan and Menon each identified that the India-US relation has not been the one challenge between India and China, and that tensions have been build up since 2012-13. “There is a risk of overestimating the US factor in India-China relations. My belief is that India-China relations are soui generis and self-driven. It is not a function of who’s in Washington or how Washington’s relations are with Beijing at any given moment of time, even though that’s the way most people tend to look at it, but India-China relations have their own timing, momentum and drivers,” stated Menon.
“It is one thing to say that India is getting closer to the US but each country does what it wants to do, that suits its requirement… China has gone much closer to Russia than what we would probably like. One can’t tell China or Russia to stop doing this. It is all individual countries’ own choices, and the way they look at their interests,” stated Narasimhan.
Yun Sun identified that from the Chinese perspective, China was believed to be in a “very dangerous and weakened position” internationally in 2020 due to the difficulty of the origin of the Covid-19 virus. It was blamed and held accountable for this because the starting of world pandemic, so it was in a very provocable state. “It has a direct impact over how Beijing reacted to the border dispute in Ladakh because it felt we are, maybe, being perceived as a troublemaker by the international community, and now it could not be perceived as conceding to India’s push along the border,” she stated.
She additionally talked about that China is making an attempt in its personal method to enhance the relationship with India. “China is trying to back off a little bit from its contentious position last year in order to show that as the largest countries, we should still work together,” she stated.