The geopolitical chess has always existed between Indo-Sino relations. The strategic interest is of utmost significance. China has been showing its aggression against India in several instances.
China has been blocking India’s permanent membership into NSG. China’s repeated blocking of this UN vote has caused domestic outrage in India, especially when it had used considerable diplomatic resources to campaign for this cause in the UN. Clearly, the inability to rectify the situation has further eroded trust in the relationship and created all the hassle.
To take the example of India’s application to list Masood Azhar under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, China has refused to vote in favour of this measure despite India conveying its concerns about terrorism. India expects that China will lend a helping and supporting hand in dealing with counter terrorism activities, but it is a wrong assumption. Firstly, China’s response to terrorism is based on the aggressive “Strike Hard” campaign against Uighurs. Chinese measures, which include restrictions on religious teaching, frequent raids to retrieve religious materials, travel ban, and confiscation of passports would all be considered unconstitutional if applied in India. Secondly, China views terror attacks and local tensions in Kashmir, through the prism of its Pakistani interlocutors and hence supports Pakistan on this issue. Thirdly, China prefers that India deal with the terrorism problem through bilateral means either through negotiations or security actions rather than involving multilateral institutions such as the UN. Thus, China refused any comment on India’s surgical strikes across the border in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on the basis that it was a bilateral issue. Another argument is that listing of individuals in the 1267 list in the past has not resulted in curbing terror activities as evident in the free movement of Hafiz Saeed. Thus, China sees no point in supporting India at the expense of weakening its partnership with Pakistan and would affect goodwill and jeopardize the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
China has issues with Dalai Lama who is considered as spiritual and religious leader for Buddhists in India while a terrorist in China. Moreover, it has territorial claims over Arunachal Pradesh too.
The present dispute between Bhutan Doklam region raises the question as to why China is taking such an aggressive posture publicly, rather than addressing it through diplomatic channels. India has been accused of “betrayal” and “ignoring international law”. It can either be a ploy to improve its negotiating position or it may be about achieving other political objectives. One possibility is that it is indicating its displeasure to India for not attending the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit in May. The summit was an occasion to celebrate China’s intent to remake Asia’s geography and transform the course of global trade over the next few decades. It was an event about status, a meeting crafted to symbolically affirm its primacy in Asia with the presence of many nations. Moreover Bhutan was the only SAARC nation not to attend the OBOR Summit.
China is trying to befriend Pakistan while revenging for growing strengthening relationship between Indo-US relationship and protecting its global super power interests.
China has been trying to have military and naval bases in Indian Ocean and has also tried to befriend Srilanka by building Hambotota port. China is also giving grants and building projects with India’s neighboring countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh etc.
Both India and China need to move past tensions. Given that the Chinese public and intelligentsia are concerned about terrorism in Xinjiang, India has numerous opportunities to influence opinion in China. This requires sustained engagement with various stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, the military apparatus, legal experts, and academic communities to help bridge the gap in understanding.
China labels India as a country with overwhelming economic and social challenges where China could play a role in investment in infrastructure. India tends to view economic countermeasures such as reviewing visa norms for Chinese entrepreneurs as an appropriate response to disruptions in the political sphere but such measures are premature since India is yet to bear the fruits of Chinese investment. Instead, India should seek more relative gains in economic cooperation in the spirit of fostering trust and stability. More Chinese entrepreneurs are also being encouraged to invest in the Indian market. It is in China’s interest to reformulate its thinking on the nature of India’s rise in the international system. On its part, India needs to differentiate its mode of diplomacy and interactions with China, i.e., avoid ad-hoc and conflicting signals. China too gains from Indian market as the ‘Made in China’ products dominate Indian market as they are cheaper. Finally, India should aim for a strategic dialogue that focuses on the fundamentals of shared beliefs, political and economic culture, and is supported by widespread engagement at the national, governmental and academic levels.
Author: Ipsita Mishra
You can reach author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
She has completed B.A.LL.B (IPR Hons.) from National Law University Odisha, Cuttack. Currently, Ipsita is preparing for UPSC. She is also a content writer with TA.