Ever since the Sino-Indian war of 1962 much has been written and speculated about the Dragon’s unpredictability and how India has to be wary of an expansionist and ambitious neighbor. Without forgetting the premature political predicament of 1962 and without underplaying today’s reality of a growing Chinese dominance in the international geo-politics, their brazen challenges thrown at India then and now in the recent past, it is imperative to comprehend the importance of strengthening not just our military and economic might but also to focus and fortify our bilateral relationships with China and bring to the diplomatic table a platter of mutually beneficial economic and foreign policies. The Xi – Modi meet in Wuhan recently after an year long standoff at Doklam is one such move where irrespective of their border disagreements, many forward looking measures like a joint economic project in Afghanistan are being considered and China has expressed that it would not be too hard on New Delhi on the belt and road initiative, which is indicative that a strong and constant communicative bilateral engagement with China would go a long way in bettering the relationships between the two prominent Asian countries.
China and India are two countries that have made their developmental mark solely due to their skill upgradations, manufacturing and trade industries unlike the imperial west which thrives on its weapons making industries and interventionist foreign policies. Both the countries have mostly been inward looking catering to their internal matters until the beginning of the 19th century that saw a change in the political perspectives. While India was experimenting its new found freedom under leaders with western shackles, the fear of western dominance encapsulated China and they switched to an expansionist aggressive mode to keep pace, the aftermath of which resulted in strained relationships and mistrust between the two nations.
Earlier India’s relationship with China had always been that of trade since ancient times, today’s border issues with our immediate neighbors are imperial gifts of inheritance that has kept the land of Confucius and the land of Buddha in constant fear of a geographical turmoil. Although, in ancient times the Himalayas was mostly a spiritual sanctum for sages and seers who believed and still believe it to be the abode of Lord Shiva, in modern times the Himalayas is reduced to a war canvas that acts as a natural boundary barrier demarcating China and India. If the 1962 battle led to mistrust and apprehensive relationships for decades, India’s ascent in the geo-political map with her new foreign policies and newer geo-political strategies today with a growing proximity to the west has perhaps alerted its Asian neighbors like China and even Russia who deploy their vassal subjugates like Pakistan or Communism to arm twist India and pronounce any displeasure. Hence, it is important for India to alleviate such unfounded fears by communicating and engaging better with China and put to rest any apprehensions and set the stage for a new beginning in the Sino-Indian relationships.
Truly there is no love or hate relationship between India and China, if there is anything that the Indians dislike about China, it is their cheap duplicate breakable exports and fickle fluctuating foreign policies that have let down India time and again where they say one thing and end up doing another. As far as India is concerned, China can be rest assured that India is not interested in waging a military war on anybody unless overtly necessitated. As of now, India and China are two robust developing hubs with ample resources at their disposal and a whole lot of domestic challenges to meet with, hence instead of smarting that India might outsmart China, it would do good if China along with India, focused on working together to set their houses right and work towards arriving at decisive border lines once and for all with no borrowed inhibitions for a peaceful relationship.
As for Russian support to China, they share a neutral relationship where Russia is not going to antagonize the West in totality just like its superficial support to Syria. Neither is China a soul mate to any of the Asian countries as many nations like Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Mongolia see China as the regional bully that picks up border issues with all its neighbors. The recent bonhomie of North and South Korea is case in point for China to reconsider its political strategies for the larger civilizational interests in these volatile times of fast changing World Order.
Also, President Trump’s clamp down on China with tariffs and bad press from the West is a reminder to China that it cannot be indifferent to its neighbors anymore as in the past India and China have together voiced concerns against Western dominance in Asian countries. While the mantra of absolute power may have worked as the sole political ideology of an empowered China so far, the dragon perhaps needs to recognize the fact that India too has strengthened itself and weaved good relationship with powers like Russia from the last many decades and is now set to woo the Middle East and the wild west and drift along Japan and Australia to kick start a rejuvenated makeover of its global status and is in no mood to relent to hegemonic tactics like in the past. Even if it was for optics, the Xi- Modi summit at Wuhan was seemingly an acknowledgement of India’s growing stake, which is a welcome gesture and a mature one at that. And more such engagements would take the leaders closer to meaningful conclusions.
Historically, India was enslaved and looted by the imperial West and arm twisted by the communist Soviet regimes and still faces the wrath of their interventionist foreign policies yet India engages with them as it is the new world order to engage to empower yourself, in this background, there is no reason why India and China should not engage more to recreate a new narrative of Sino-Indian relationship. In ancient times, when the Yue Chi (Kushans) nomadic tribes from the Chinese borders took control of North-West Indian borders they took to Shaivism and Buddhism and guarded the Northwestern borders against barbaric invaders of the Middle East, this is the essence of India, and China has nothing to fear except healthy competition.