RTD on China-India Ties Post Xi Visit
Printer-friendly versionSend to friend

A six-member delegation from China, led by former Ambassador Lu Fengding, visited VIF on 25 Sep, 2014 for an interaction which sought to assess the outcome of Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping’s recent visit to India. Other members of the delegation included, Ambassador Zhou Gang, two experts on South Asian affairs, Mr. Ye Hailin and Mr. Gong Yingchun and two officials from China Public Diplomacy Association. The VIF faculty, a strong battery of retired senior officials from India’s civil, military and diplomatic arena, including Adm (Retd) KK Nayyar, Shri Vijai Kapoor, Shri CD Sahay and Lt Gen (Retd) Ravi Sawhney, among others, engaged the Chinese delegation in a frank and candid exchange of views on the outcome of the visit and related developments.

Discussants on either side broadly agreed that while China and India share common interests, there are serious differences of perception between the two countries on a number of bilateral issues, including the most pertinent border problem. With the border standoff between the two countries casting a long shadow over President Xi’s visit, the interacting sides had different assessments of the outcome of the visit. From the Chinese perspective, President Xi’s visit to India, a closely watched event in China, was a great success, while the VIF faculty described the visit as moderately successful, conceding though agreements reached on industrial parks, nuclear and space cooperation and cultural exchanges as important highlights of the visit. From the Indian perspective, the visit of President Xi Jinping, falling short of expectations, would go down as one of the missed opportunities in bilateral ties.

Kick-starting the discussion, Lt Gen Sawhney remarked that the euphoria generated during Xi’s visit waned subsequently due to nagging tension on the border. It was also pointed out to the visiting delegates that euphoria over $100 billion investment in India originated from a remark made by Chinese Consulate-General in Mumbai. The VIF faculty pointedly informed their Chinese counterparts that border remains central to Sino-Indian relationship. Unless and until the prickly boundary issue is resolved amicably between the two nations, no substantial progress can be achieved on any other bilateral front. The visitors however said that deepening economic engagements would gradually reduce the border tension, a point hotly contested by the Indians. With perceptional differences over what constitutes the Sino-Indian border remaining, the border management itself leaves much to be desired. It came out during the discussion that leaving the relatively tense border to junior level military brass to handle is fraught with risks. Misadventure or miscalculation on the part of any junior level officer could flare up the situation, resulting in unintended consequences for both the nations. The Chinese, on the other hand, sanguinely felt there is no immediate cause for alarm as not a single bullet has been fired by either side on the border for the last thirty years.

The Indian side was intrigued as to why high level visits by the leaders of two countries are often co-terminus with border tension. In response to a suggestion made by the Chinese delegation that media in India should not hype the border tension, the VIF faculty pointed out that the Indian media is vibrant because it operates in a democratic framework. Ambassador Lu, however, asserted that China and India have had 17 rounds of border talks so far which is illustrative of China’s keen desire to resolve the border disputes. He advised India to have patience in settling the border issue. Both sides, however, agreed that more exchanges at people to people level would lead to better appreciation of each other’s perception leading to gradual reduction in mistrust between the two countries. With repeated border intrusion by the Chinese troops contributing to a major chunk of the interaction, the two sides also, inter alia, discussed Afghanistan’s stabilization process in the post-withdrawal phase, China-Pakistan cooperation and China’s proposed Maritime Silk Route.

Event Date 
September 25, 2014
Contact Us