Does the visit of Chinese premier Xi Jingping to India herald a new chapter in Indo-China ties? Should we be optimistic or skeptical about the outcomes?

Xi Jinping Visit to Herald New Era in Indo-China Relations?

hindi chini india china HINDI CHINI BHAI –BHAI?

  1. India and China have not had the best of relations. Our first Prime Minster Pt Jawaharlal Nehru coined the phrase ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’ based on perceived cultural similarities and common socialistic goals. This was misguided and naïve as well we know now. India and China have had three major military conflicts in 1962, 1967 and 1987, have constantly engaged in other skirmishes arising from border disputes and territorial disagreements.
  2. In 2008 China emerged as India’s biggest trading partner and over the past few years, diplomatic initiatives have sought to mend fences. Now with the China’s President Xi Jinping starting his India visit from today, can we look forward to a new chapter in Indo-Chinese relations? A new chapter marked by greater cooperation and trade and fewer altercations?
  3. PM Narendra Modi has been offering positive sound bites regarding the Chinese premier’s visit as well as the future of ties between the two counties. The Prime Minister has described Indo-China relations as moving ahead; as progressing from “Inch (India and China) towards Miles (Millennium of Exceptional Synergy)”. He has expressed optimism about the two countries rewriting the history of humanity and making the planet a better place. (Source – Zee News)
  4. This is the first visit to India by a Chinese head of state in 8 years and is likely to concentrate on investments in transport infrastructure and other aspects of economic cooperation such as the creation of industrial zones. Some have even envisaged a NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) like cooperation in the Eastern Asian region, with India and China being the major players.
  5. However it is unlikely that the Indian expectation of improved ties will fully come to fruition. China has been known to issue not-so-veiled threats about India’s forays into oil wells explorations in Vietnam; in the region of the disputed South China Sea; indicating that such forays would be subject to Chinese ‘approval’. The much publicised visit of Mr. Modi to Japan and the consequent strengthening of strategic ties has also not gone down too well with the Chinese. So there are many reasons be cautious about Indo-Chinese relations.
  6. The Chinese leader’s recent visit to Sri Lanka is also being seen as a way of challenging India’s sway in the region. The visit lasted less than 24 hours, but within that time, a number of agreements were signed; and these could impact India’s interests in the region.
  7. India’s recent ‘Mausam’ manoeuver has also not found favour with the Chinese. India’s transnational foreign policy initiative aimed at reviving ancient maritime routes and cultural linkages with countries in the Indian Ocean region. The Indians are looking to counter China’s growing influence in the region and to respond in kind to China’s “maritime silk road” proposal. (Source – Times of India)
  8. Mr. Modi himself is an admirer of China and has spoken of turning Gujarat into “India’s Guangdong”. The current visit of the Chinese premier is also being seen as something that will give a boost to the country’s economic progress.
  9. Whether India’s gushing optimism about the positive impacts of President Xi Jinping and other ongoing trade and diplomatic initiatives is justified remains to be seen. Meanwhile vigilance about China’s actions, and the careful examination of its motives would not be misplaced.

Image courtesy – Xi Jingping, Narendra Modi

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