China and India, Asia’s biggest economic powerhouses on diplomatic talks, should be normal news.
But it seems the recent standoff between them regarding Doklam has soured their relations. And there were other issues that Indians did not like about China. China’s continuous help to Pakistan to aid and assist with armaments has been cause for concern.
However, both countries should keep in mind that they are neighbours. As the emerging big brothers of Asia, there is a lot to be done. Xi Jinping said on China-India relations: “China and India are both important engines for global growth, and we are central pillars for promoting a multi-polar and globalized world.”
The invitation of Xi Jinping is probably showing colours to their strained relations. It is inevitable for China to have strong ties with India to fulfill their One Belt One Road Initiative -- though there has been no pressure from China to India for joining their initiative.
As an important nation globally, India’s participation will make a global impact. India, on multiple occasions, has shown no interest in the BRI. But deep down, they know the policies of BRI will benefit the Asian community and their region. Through this visit, India has been indirectly offered to be a part of the BRI -- eventually it’s up to India to choose.
China’s invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a mature initiative to shape China’s political influence in the region. However, it is never too late to extend a hand of friendship with the closest neighbour, especially if it can benefit in regards China’s political agenda.
China’s growing relationship with India’s neighbour should not be a growing concern. India has been concerned about the China-Bangladesh and China-Myanmar relationships, but assisting these nations to be self-sufficient regarding self-defense can only be termed as help.
It is normal for any economic powerhouse to increase their influence on neighbouring countries. China has benefitted these countries in many ways, and they are continuously making contributions to the economy and infrastructure.
India has also helped her neighbours in many ways, despite facing its own challenges. It is viable for India to merge with China and secure its border policies.
Japan, one of the China’s biggest rivals, has welcomed the BRI and has shown interest in being a part of this initiative. But their demand for transparency regarding the initiative is not wrong from the historical point of view. Japan intends to be a part of this policy and monitor the steps of China.
The BRI can benefit India, especially in West Bengal -- such initiation will improve both the country’s economic ties and prospects. India has been the software power hub, while China has decisively shown their ability in the manufacturing sector. Both the country’s economic prospects can be a true example of coordination and victory.
Room for improvement
But China’s strong relationship with Pakistan has been cause for concern for India. Chinese foreign policy has not been to poke their noses into other sovereign nations’ affairs. From their foreign policy, it is clear that they are still trying to support such strategy.
Hence, New Delhi should not hesitate to join the BRI and look for more avenues for cooperation in other sectors. India also has a golden history not to impede in foreign countries’ internal affairs. They are sticking to the same position -- their position was confirmed by the foreign minister of India Susama Swaraj.
In Japan, the foreign minister has confirmed that India is a sovereign nation and won’t be subject to any external pressure in regards to their foreign policy.
The recent visit of Prime Minister Modi has brought optimism to China and India’s strained friendship, and a complete overhaul of it will benefit the world.
The nature of their meeting implies that both the powerhouses have taken the initiatives for stronger ties. The joint meeting was based on a personal relationship. Hence, there was no press briefing. Instead, the meeting was about engaging in a more personal dialogue with each other.
Modi, by far, has echoed with Xi’s views, saying that a greater cooperation between them is very important. “As India and China represent 40% of the world’s population, they should work together and combat global problems.”
It is normal to have border disputes among neighbours, but such issues cannot be addressed by militarization
It seems that from the outset, the discussion has made their bi-lateral relations move towards a better future. China has confirmed that their initiation regarding CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) is not to spread their influences in the region, but to accelerate and assimilate with trade and commerce in the region.
Open for dialogue
Prime Minister Modi has been really optimistic, and he would like to carry on their relationship forward. Modi has already invited Xi to visit on a similar summit in New Delhi, a step towards a mutual reassurance that both the countries will act as friendly neighbours.
The concern that India has regarding China and their friendship with Pakistan cannot be seen as a challenge. China would obviously want to maintain their relationship with countries that have economic prospects and viability in the region.
India’s growing influence in the international arena has been a landmark achievement for India and Modi’s government. In such a situation, a friendship with India is a good policy for China.
China can also play a major role to help India regarding terrorism, and perhaps help India and Pakistan come to common terms and help each other.
This is a globalized world -- the political environments of our neighbours often have influence in our own region. The two major countries should realize that, and work towards making the Asian region peaceful and harmonious.
Both the countries should maintain their neutral policies and have dialogues regarding disputes. It is normal to have border disputes among neighbours, but such issues cannot be addressed by militarization.
Talks are the only way to resolve the disputes.
Yead Mahmood is a lawyer.