India’s participation in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) annual summit in Qingdao in China is looked upon with high hopes by experts, suggesting an upward trend towards India-China relations. India’s participation this year is looked upon as a favourable sign as the Qingdao declaration’s focused on fight against terrorism, which is one for the major challenges in ensuring internal security for India. The cross border attribute of terrorism in India made the declaration all the more important. But aren’t we being too confident about the implementation of the same.
Post Doklam standoff and consistent Maldivian stance in behest by China, had resulted in different and complex trajectory of truce between India and China. Prime Minister’s clear stance on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at SCO and vote against Maldives for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council, with the ongoing portrayed healthy bilateral diplomacy generated via Wuhan visit makes it more of a grey phase of Indo-China diplomacy.
War today is more of a luxury then an option. It is true that China with Xi Jinping has progressed and prepared itself towards a point where it can afford the luxury of war but it is still is the last option as that will push back country both diplomatically and economically. Xi-Jinping understands the sensitivity of India’s still strong counter position with US backing it. Hence they have opted for a strategy to run on neutral lines in their approach towards India. India on the other hand is lacking far behind in term of preparedness on both defensive and offensive fronts. Both countries have hence taken the truce to a level where they are at least empathizing with each other’s national interests. But that should not be overrated and overestimated in terms of effectiveness.
China will still move forward with its ambitious BRI, support Pakistan, will continue to engage in Brahmaputra water sharing dispute meanwhile moving on subtly with its expansionist tendencies in Arunachal Pradesh. This period of truce, hence, must not be treated as a concrete positive diplomatic trend instead a flicker diplomatic stance that can change anytime as it affects China’s national interests towards a breakeven point and vice-versa.
Accordingly India must not get into the comfort zone so soon. India has made considerable development in the SCO summit in enhancing its profile in Eurasia and Central Asia. This also paved way for India to enhancing regional cooperation for countering terrorism, religious extremism, and separatism which are major internal security concerns for the country and region at large. The common stance taken by Xi and Modi for free world trade should also be promoted. Even other economic cooperation ties should be strengthened between India-China but should not be treated as the final solution.
Today, China already pose a strong bargaining power, even if we don’t go on war with China, we must consider on developing our capabilities in all fields at least at par with China. For instance, India is still dependence on other countries to meet its space-based assets requirements where China is not looking back and has already acquired space-warfare (ASAT) capabilities.
India must capitalise on this period as a crucial interim for bringing itself at par with China at various levels, not just to support an effective deterrence but also to build a strong counter bargaining power at various forums to secure both its country and its national interests.