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India & China have made a start but durable peace will not be easy
By Brij Bhardwaj
For the time being the confrontation with China is on hold as a breather was provided because China could not allow the crucial conference of BRICs in Chinese capital to become a non-starter in view of the conflict between two important members that is China and India on Doklam issue where the armies of two countries were involved in an eye to eye ball confrontation for over a month. The two nations have realised that peace along the border was necessary to improve the relations between the two countries.

Besides the need to keep BRICs going another factor which may have influenced China was strong trade ties between India and China. Russia another important member of BRICs may also have influenced China. But if one goes by Chinese version of accord on Doklam, the issue has been put on the backfoot for the time being but not resolved. In this context it should be kept in mind that China does not bend even when there is a fear that it may get hurt on economic front.

Despite strong warning by President Trump China has not abandoned North Korea which has been defying the world opinion by carrying on nuclear tests and development of Missiles which threaten peace in the entire region. Interestingly China quoted first prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru on the subject of Indo-China relations. Forgetting the fact that Chinese aggression in 1962 ignoring principles of Panchsheel or Indian efforts to get China a seat in United Nations had upset Mr. Nehru to the extent that he became a shadow after the Chinese aggression as he had laid lot of faith on the advise of our envoy in China and Defence Minister Krishna Menon that China would not resort to force to settle the Border issue. Some feel that the Chinese blow led to early death of Mr Nehru. I am recalling all these facts only to point out that it is not easy to read the mind of Chinese leaders. They are capable of ignoring strong ties or considerations of trade ties if it suits them.

China received strong support from Russia in initial stages, but it did not prevent them from turning against them on border issue and build up an equation with USA. China had close ties with Vietnam, but turned against them on issue of South China Sea. Japan was a strong trade partner of China and helped in building industrial bases of China, but at present two countries are in conflict on issue of islands in South China sea. The best example of it is Chinese -Pakistan relationship. Pakistan acted as an honest broker to help USA build relations with China.

This laid the foundation of China becoming an all -weather friend of Pakistan. It is going to make heavy investment in building roads linking different regions which will give China a major stake in Pakistan. As such one wonders if it would abandon Pakistan at this stage. Will it agree to declare outfits based in Pakistan as terrorist and their heads as threat to peace and agree with United Nations or stop using to use its veto power to help Pakistan. Let us not forget BRICs is basically an economic forum.

In case of China, one fact stands out that it has strong ties with countries like North Korea, Iran and Pakistan. It is also a major trade partner of these countries and it has not changed its stand despite pressure from USA a major trade partner. The two countries economies will be hit very hard if the relations between India and china come under a shadow. China has also been cultivating countries in our region like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, besides making major investments in Pakistan in terms of development of a port and other infrastructure.

It is also true that India and China ca not risk open confrontation as they take a common stand in world forums on issues relating to environment and trade. But the rivalry between two Asian giants will not disappear as a result of one meeting between leaders of the two countries or small gestures like naming of Pakistan based organisations as terrorist outfits. At present India has built strong ties with Japan, Australia and USA to counter China, but growth of China in terms of economy, armed forces and its efforts to spread its footprints in our neighbourhood and in Indian Ocean will remain a threat.

India has to do a lot in terms of building infrastructure in North East region and Ladakh to match the Chinese. It is true situation is not same as in 1962 which Chinese keep on reminding us about, but much more needs to be done. Confrontation on two fronts with China in North and Pakistan is west is a formidable challenge and India will have to do a lot to meet it. One more factor to be kept in mind is that Chinese always gave a helping hand to rebels in North East a region in which they claim many areas particularly in Arunachal Pradesh as part of China.

(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)


News Updated at : Sunday, September 10, 2017
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