The 16th round China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting was held on July 17. Building on the progress made at the last meeting on March 11, 2022, the two sides continued discussions for the resolution of the issues related to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of the China-India border in a constructive and forward-looking manner, according to the joint press release after the meeting.
This was the first time that the word “forward-looking” appeared in the press release during the 16 rounds of meetings. The word indicated that at least one side came up with a plan and both sides were working on it, according to the source. Forward looking is more meaningful in the current international situation.
More than four months have passed since last meeting. This was the longest interval among the 16 rounds of corps commander-level talks. The biggest geopolitical background during this period was the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Although the Russia-Ukraine conflict occurred in Europe, India, which is in Asia, has become a focus.
After the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, western countries led by the US and Europe asked other countries to choose a side while imposing sanctions on Russia. Many countries were forced to make a statement, and India was the focus of US pressure. The US and Western countries seemed to have agreed and conducted diplomatic interactions with India one after another.
Zhou Bo, a researcher at the Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University, said that after the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, India has always been regarded as a weak link in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue(QSD). India's choice in the Russia-Ukraine issue was even more dissatisfying to the US. Some US media commented that the US should no longer have illusions about India. However, India, which is happy to participate in various multilateral mechanisms and hopes to work with various forces, would not choose one side completely. After India was forced into a corner, it would show a "real" India.
Although the reason why India did not fully side with the US in the Russia-Ukraine issue was related to the history that India and Russia had deep ties, the reality was the more important factor. India has always had major power ambitions, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict had given India an opportunity to re-examine how to achieve its ambitions. Zhou had visited India many times. He believes that India, which is developing rapidly, does not want to destroy its peaceful and stable development environment.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict has given India time to re-find its own positioning in the region and think twice before making a choice. Against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the longer India observes and thinks, the more rational choices it will make. And it will have greater opportunities to solve the problem. Under such circumstances, the word “forward-looking” shows that China and India are taking another step on working towards the same direction. Such forward-looking is the result of thinking about the overall situation of China-India relations.
China and India are both emerging economies with a population of more than one billion and important countries with strategic autonomy. The simultaneous development of China and India has also brought beneficial opportunities to each other. China and India should use maturity and wisdom to resolve differences through peaceful consultation. China-India relations are not only defined by border issues.
Last year, before the chill between China-India relations dissipated, trade between the two sides crossed the mark of US$100 billion, up 43 percent year-on-year, which is the best proof. In addition, China and India have great complementarities in industrial structure. With the continuous improvement of India's consumption level, there is still great potential for China-India trade. As mature and rational major developing countries, China and India should place the border issue in a proper position in the bilateral relationship and should not let the border issue define or even affect the overall development of the bilateral relationship.
Lin Minwang, a researcher at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, said the two sides have been considering new control measures since 2021. The two sides had preliminary communication in March 2022, and in the past four months, the two sides also refined the preliminary things. In the face of the severe and complex international situation in the first half of 2022, the exchanges between China and India in the military and diplomatic fields have been carried out alternately and have not been interrupted.
Bharat Bhushan Pant, an Indian poet, once wrote that darkness will not go away by itself, the lamp that was extinguished must be rekindled. Forward-looking is the rekindled flame. China and India should help and "illuminate" each other. At the 14th BRICS Summit not long ago, the leaders of the five countries also agreed that they should uphold multilateralism, promote the democratization of global governance, maintain fairness and justice, and inject stability and positive energy into the turbulent international situation. It is inevitable that there will be contradictions and differences between countries, but it is useless to play a zero-sum game.
Peaceful development and win-win cooperation is the right path in the world.
Editor's note: This article is originally published on Yuyuantantian, a Wechat public account. It is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.