Have India-China Relations Improved or Worsened under PM Modi?

In the backdrop of a number of events peppered in India-China relations in 2017, there were palpable thoughts in all sections of the populace (Economists, Defence Personnel and Experts, North Eastern States, Politicians, Tourism Industry, Religious Pilgrims, Traders, Journalists, etc) about the outcome and possible positivity expected out of the visit by Prime Minister Modi to China. So, have India-China Relations Improved or Worsened under PM Modi?

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India-China Relations: Major events in 2016-17

  • Indian protests for the Belt Road Initiative (BRI), especially the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)
  • 73-day stand-off at Doklam with no positive end in sight
  • Chinese assertions in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
  • Supposed intentional muddying of the Brahmaputra
  • Stoppage of Mansarovar Yatra and Trade through Nathu-La
  • Breakthrough by Indian Cinema in China
  • President Xi’s election as ‘President for Life’.

These local events had international fall-outs in their respective fields. The increasing tensions in the South China Sea, Sea of Japan, Korean imbroglio with adverse statements from the USA and North Korea, trade tariff war with the USA, worsened the political and internal situation in Pakistan and election outcome in Nepal were adding to the increasing downward spiral in the India-China Relations.

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In this changing local world order and emerging alliances, suddenly Korea’s decision to play friends. The statements from both India and China were positive and encouraging to avoid another standoff on the Himalayas. All thus keenly watched the PM’s visit to China in this volatile yet improving India-China Relations during end April 2018.

The bonhomie of the two leaders was visible and a number of positivities are likely to emerge in the times to come. 24 deals have been signed, in which they agreed to improve communication between the militaries of the two countries to maintain peace at the border.

The two leaders stressed on the importance to maintain healthy India-China Relations in all areas of the border region and that the two countries have the “maturity and wisdom to handle all their differences peacefully through talks”. Overall, although the outcomes are still awaited, the visit seems to have achieved the main purpose – increase communication and have faith. The joint economic project collaboration in Afghanistan is sure to raise a few eyebrows further West, as also the declaration by China regarding not wanting to push the envelope with One Belt One Road (OBOR) with India. These outcomes may seem miniscule initially but have paved the way for long-lasting policy decisions and peace initiatives.

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The two economic giants are well aware of their potential and the power of collaboration to keep other powers at bay. Unlike the Cold War, where allies were militarily equipped and all countries were made battlegrounds, the competition and race for space as far as India-China Relations are concerned, have resulted in economic growth and connectivity for the overtly or covertly involved nations. Rather than pouring money against each other, the two countries would augur well to grow together.

There are enough and more internal problems in both countries and a lot of dough needs to be diverted to raise the level in-house. With the largest populations and markets, we also have the largest problems. Both the nations have been trying to subdue uprisings within to be seen as clean without, however, the dust is unlikely to settle too soon. Hence, it would be prudent to hope for positive outcomes and healthier India-China Relations with the present visit being the harbinger of such hopes.