China hailed the strategic dialogue with India for its positive significance to bilateral ties through extensive agreements. ‘The dialogue has reached the goal as expected and is of positive significance to the bilateral relations,’ Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing in Beijing, on 23rd February. However, differences persisted over issues like India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) bid and Masood Azhar ban. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had first round of upgraded strategic dialogue’s talks with Chinese officials on 22nd February. ‘Our overall impression is that this strategic dialogue was held in a friendly atmosphere. The two sides held in-depth and comprehensive exchange of views and reached extensive agreements,’ Jaishankar said. Both sides reportedly had an in-depth and comprehensive exchange of views on international situation, domestic and foreign policies, bilateral relations and other regional and international issues of mutual interest and reached extensive consensus.
There were no references to the persisting differences over China’s blocking of India’s admission into the NSG and efforts to get JeM chief Azhar banned by the UN. However, Jaishankar conceded in his media briefing that both the issues had figured in the talks. In response to China calling for ‘solid evidence’ to get Azhar banned, Jaishankar asserted that 1267 Committee action proscribing Jaish is itself the proof of the extent of his actions which are ‘well-documented’ and the ‘burden of proof’ was not on India. On the NSG issue, China underlined it’s openness to India’s application for membership but highlighted its view of procedures and processes which is ‘different from where we are at the moment and most of the group is at the moment,’ Jaishankar said. Geng said the two sides shared the view that with similar national conditions and the stage of objective development, China and India have extensive converging interests and huge potential for cooperation. ‘Sound and steady development of China-India relations is in the fundamental interest of the two countries and the peoples.
The two sides agreed to maintain the momentum of the bilateral relations in the spirit of the agreements of the two leaders, work out a good programme for 2017 bilateral exchanges at various levels, advance practical cooperation, strengthen cooperation and coordination on international issues,’ Geng said. Global Times which reflects the views of Communist Party of China branded the frictions between China and India on Azhar and NSG issue as ‘not bilateral but multilateral’. Somebody comically put it that ‘understanding of the situation is literally lateral, things agreed on is bilateral while things of disagreement are multilateral’. China and India are blamed of stubbornness that is mere reflections of self-belief of these smart global players. Analysts aver that India and China are much more natural allies than US-India; both are economy-focused developing countries with huge populations and futuristic global visions. Communist China is already in UN Security Council while democratic India wants to be there. Together India -China can rule the world.
India and China are both pragmatic in their approach towards handling with each other. There are many contentious issues but none has stopped talking to the other. Some sort of dialogue is taking place periodically as none is sticking to particular issue nor making statements only to please internal constituencies. Confucius said talk is cheap and free, keep talking. Intelligent and wise nations do sit down, talk and work out differences. Wisely China does not use non state actors as an instrument of foreign policy. India has always been reasonable with proper rationale. It has wisely mended its differences with all whereas Pakistan is still struggling with all its neighbours. China needs to be more rational and reorient its policies towards regional peace. If all the traffic is coming from the other side, perhaps it is time to stop and ponder maybe you are driving on the wrong side. Nothing speaks like business and there is no other issue powerful than business.
The US and EU- both major markets for China- are now affected by Trump’s policy and BREXIT. Hence the biggest free market right next door in India provides the best option. China is pouring billions of dollars to reach Middle East but ignoring countries in neighbourhood – India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and eastern Myanmar of 1.5 billion people with ready-made road/rail link. China now needs India much more than India needs China. Ignoring India to please Pakistan has already rolled off diminishing marginal utility for China. Chinese economy may be huge but not a consumer economy as revenues are only from exports. India’s exports services mostly IT/ BPO / Satellites/ consulting /design are human brain driven. Its limited manufacturing base responds to large local consumer market and exports to Nepal, Bangladesh Sri-Lanka.
Indians appreciate China’s economic success, but look down on its autocratic political system, insular culture and tunnel vision excessively focussed on self-interests alone.India has a fairly developed science and technology base and boasts of a pool of skilled worker available at much less cost which China lacks. Resultantly, high tech multinationals are moving from China to India. Of late China had realised its mistake in ignoring techies and science professionals. China could find it increasingly difficult to keep up the high end attitude. Rather a ‘live and let live policy’ will pay more. Good relations among India, China and Pakistan will greatly reduce defence expenditure of the entire region. Like a mature country India is accommodating other’s viewpoints. The world’s greatest democracy must be complimented for engaging the world’s largest dictatorship. Continuous dialogue between India-and China through such strategic meetings will be of great succour to mankind.