3rd MAY 2018
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.
Q1. Although there has been a statement issued with respect to the success of the Wuhan summit, the actual implementation of the statement is a hard task. Discuss.
- 2017 was an annus horribilis for the India-China relationship. The Wuhan summit signalled that the two countries are working on restoring a much-needed equilibrium in a deeply disturbed relationship. On the high Himalayan plateau of Doklam on the borders of Bhutan, India and China, overlooking the vital Siliguri Corridor connecting ‘mainland’ India to the Northeastern States, Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a tense stand-off lasting 73 days. The visit of the Dalai Lama, exiled in India for nearly six decades, to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh engendered deep Chinese resentment. The voluble Indian opposition to China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), especially the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) being developed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, was also a source of serious friction. China’s growing inroads in the form of high-profile projects and support for anti-Indian political interests in India’s South Asian neighbourhood fuelled Indian distrust.
- The outcome statement from Wuhan on the future direction of India-China relations “built upon mutual respect for each other’s developmental aspirations and prudent management of differences with mutual sensitivity”, has forged a common understanding between the two countries.
- The Indian statement also makes it known that the two leaders have “issued strategic guidance” to their militaries to strengthen communication in order to especially “enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs”. The intention is to prevent incidents in border regions of the Doklam variety, it is presumed. The situation bears watching. There are many pockets along the 3,500 km border between the two countries where the Line of Actual Control is disputed. Transgressions from both sides occur regularly and military establishments, Indian and Chinese, are trained not to yield an inch. Efforts to establish a clearly delineated Line of Actual Control have not succeeded, mainly due to Chinese reluctance. The summit at Wuhan coincided with news that India will build 96 more border outposts along the frontier with China.
- The summit has apparently not yielded any significant reduction of differences on the CPEC. The Indian government can ill-afford to give the impression of any concession on this question to China given the Pakistan factor — a perennial trigger for public hysteria. The announcement that China and India will jointly work on a project in war-torn Afghanistan is a first and unlikely to give Pakistan comfort, although China will no doubt provide undercover assurances to the former that its interests will not be harmed.
- The potential for tension on the Himalayan piedmont is aggravated by the clash of Chinese and Indian ambition in the maritime environment of the Indo-Pacific. The growing alignment of interest among three democracies — India, the U.S and Japan — is a source for Chinese insecurity, just as China-Pakistan strategic cooperation and China’s inroads in South Asia make India uneasy. Twenty-first century Asia is not a pacific place. It is multi-polar and multi-aligned and a testing ground for the security architectures of the future.
- Decades ago, India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, famously said that the challenge between India and China “runs along the spine of Asia”. As India and China re-emerge from the shadows of history, hopes for the so far elusive dream of an Asia united will be centred on the progress and development of these two nations. At the same time, tension or conflict between the two takes away from the prospects of the Asian century that their leaders speak of.