New Delhi: From New Delhi’s point of view, Beijing’s outreach vis-à-vis the unscheduled visit of Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.
It could be an opportunity to an extent as it comes amid global conflict in Ukraine and after two years of strained ties, which has led to the slide of gains made in the last three decades.
None other than External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has made a frank statement.
“I was very honest in my discussions with the Chinese Foreign Minister, especially in conveying our national sentiments on this issue. The frictions and tensions that arise from China’s deployments since April 2020 cannot be reconciled with a normal relationship between two neighbours,” Dr Jaishankar had said after his meeting with Wang Yi.
“The impact of the tensions in the border areas on the overall relationship has been visible in the last two years. This is only natural since peace and tranquillity in the border areas have been the foundation of stable and cooperative ties,” Dr Jaishankar pointed out. He further said, “If you ask me, is our relationship normal today? My answer to you is no. It is not.”
He was candid: “It cannot be normal if the situation in the border areas is abnormal.”
China needs to understand that New Delhi would not be taken for a ride by just such symbolic visits, unlike in the past.
“Wang Yi’s visit would seem curious only to those who have no understanding of how China operates. There was a method in this madness,” cautions a write-up on the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) website.
This ‘madness’ remains India’s worry, as China pursued a policy to mislead New Delhi to trust it even in the past. The Galwan valley crisis only served as a moral lesson that it is perhaps dangerous to trust some global powers such as China.
Wang Yi invited national Security Advisor Ajit Doval to visit China to take forward the Special Representatives’ talks on border issues. But India did not budge and made it clear that disengagement and eventual de-escalation at the LAC were more important for New Delhi. Many troops are present in contravention of the 1993-96 agreements.
After meeting Wang Yi, Dr Jaishankar also said boundary talks between military commanders are on, adding, “They haven’t sorted out the issue in entirety. So, our effort is today to sort out the issue in entirety and deal with the disengagement. So that it then allows us to look at the de-escalation possibilities.”
China will have to mend its ways. To date, Beijing’s India policy has revolved around trying to create problems for India. It triggered Doklam in 2017 and then the Galwan valley crisis in 2020. It prefers to use the Taliban against India and make a common cause with Pakistan on Kashmir.
Thankfully, India took a firm stance on Wang Yi’s remarks on Kashmir in Islamabad, and as MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi virtually snubbed him, he had to rush to India.
But such damage control exercise is only symbolic. These would not yield expected results when there is a greater need to make a stronger RIC axis.
“I conveyed that we hoped that China would follow an independent policy in respect of India, and not allow its policies to be influenced by other countries and other relationships,” Dr Jaishankar had said.
Beijing needs to take the message well.