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2017-09-07

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India & World incl. International Institutions
www.thehindu.com

Fresh perspectives:Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xiamen, China.PTI  

Jolted by the military face-off in the Doklam plateau, India and China are rebooting their ties, by opening new channels of official communication to address points of friction before they develop into full-blown crises.

“The Chinese appear to have taken a strategic decision to reboot ties with India with a new and positive mindset following the Doklam crisis,” an official source, who did not wish to be named, told The Hindu .

“After talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, there is much anticipation that the quality of core communication between the two countries will greatly improve.”

Yet, New Delhi has concerns that despite the fresh start in Xiamen on the sidelines of the BRICS summit, the leadership changes in China at the 19th party congress in October will impact the trajectory of New Delhi and Beijing ties. It is widely anticipated that Yang Jiechi, state counsellor and China’s special representative at the boundary talks with India, will retire.

China’s apparent policy shift on international terrorism, as reflected in the BRICS statement, will be tested when the United Nations 1267 committee meets in October to discuss designation of Masood Azhar, the head of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, as an international terrorist. China has so far resisted putting Azhar on the list of global terrorists, but there is some optimism now that Beijing may be ready to shift its stance on this issue, notwithstanding its special relationship with Pakistan.

The new hands-on mechanism will supplement the already-existing periodically held “strategic dialogue”. It is expected to address concerns of an aspirational India and rising China in the region, including the Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific.

Analysts say the thinking driving India’s Act-East policy and China’s Belt and Road Initiative is far from aligned. India’s Indo-Pacific doctrine is raising apprehensions in China that instead of pursuit of an independent policy, India is allowing itself to drift into a China-containment mode, with Tokyo and Washington as partners.

India has its own concerns about Chinese intentions in the South China Sea and the South Asian neighbourhood, including Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives.

Positive view

During a media briefing on Tuesday after the meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar highlighted that the two leaders had “laid out a very positive view of our relationship.” They had held “a detailed discussion about the mechanisms which could help both countries really go forward in that direction”.

On Tuesday afternoon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang also underscored that India and China should “reinforce communication and coordination in international affairs and make the international order more just and equitable”.

Notwithstanding the intent to break common ground, India continued to differ with China and Russia on accommodating the Taliban to restore calm in Afghanistan. Afghanistan was a major issue of discussion during Prime Minster Modi’s lengthy conversation with President Vladimir Putin on the margins of the summit.

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