As rightly put by Shivshankar Menon, India’s former national security adviser, the relationship between India and China is clearly under stress. “We need to find a new equilibrium between elements we’ve always been juggling — economic competition and complementarity, and strategic sensitivities” – he told the Financial Times.
The sweet and sour neighbours, China and India have recently been at loggerheads over several issues which are gaining heightened importance as both stalwart heads of state, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi take charge of their bilateral affairs. The buzzword is that over a slew of meetings scheduled in the next 3 months, both leaders are expected to iron out their differences and tango more in complement with each other.
The first visit on August 12 was by Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister to New Delhi. The aim of the meeting was to lay the communication groundwork before the upcoming G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China and the BRICS Summit in Goa, India. In other wards, it was Mr. Wang’s agenda to make sure India doesn’t stoke dissent against the South China Sea dispute. During his visit, Mr. Wang met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Governor and Chief Minister of Goa.
Chinese state councillor and former foreign minister Yang Jiechi, who is Beijing’s designated special representative for border negotiations is also expected to visit India soon to quell tensions that have arisen with Beijing’s unilateral support of Pakistan. The flourishing friendship between India’s tense neighbours – China and Pakistan has created a strong rift in India China relations. With China asserting her infrastructural and investment muscle in Pakistan. Mr. Yang will need to come with a strong strategy if the two nations are going to support each other in the upcoming meetings.
In September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Hangzhou to attend the G-20 Summit while Chinese President Xi Jinping is slated to attend the Brics Summit in Goa in October. During both these meetings, China is expected to push for a larger pie for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and give a big push towards the ‘One Belt, One Road’ geo-economic initiative. India on the other hand is expected to play up China’s dominance in the region by stoking dissent towards the South China Sea dispute. India is also expected to campaign for her seat in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which China is currently blocking. The neighbours are also expected to strengthen their economic and defence agenda’s ahead with their respective allies.
“The stage is being set for bringing the relationship back to some kind of even keel,” Shyam Saran, India’s former foreign secretary, told the Financial Times. “The challenge is how do you manage an adversarial relationship so it doesn’t descend into open conflict.”