New Delhi’s witty act on diplomatic front left no room for Beijing but to China became a signatory to a statement naming the terror outfits that are based in Pakistan
Agreed there are no victors and vanquished in the world of diplomacy, but decisive moves and grace can undoubtedly steal the show. At the BRICS summit in Xiamen, Prime Minister Modi clearly emerged as the man of the moment.
We don’t need to go into the details and the fine print of what happened pre and post the Modi-Xi bilateral talks. China became a signatory to a statement naming the terror outfits that are based in Pakistan. The BRICS declaration on terrorism is more than what it says and miles ahead of what a similar declaration said in Goa. It will be interesting to see how Islamabad “have-nots” and the Karachi media interpret the clear pinning of blame for hosting terror groups.
What Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told and is quoted by news agency ANI clarifies the Indian position forthrightly — there was a sense that if this relationship is to go forward, then peace and tranquility on border areas must be maintained. Fair and final. Nothing more needs to be said on this. The fine line is drawn and the position clear: India was ready for any eventuality at Doklam: soldier-to-soldier and diplomat-to-diplomat. The Chinese understood that their military push and shrill media rhetoric won’t work.
Modi has become a highly respected leader in the eyes of common Chinese, even if you don’t want to believe it in the present atmosphere of mistrust and anger. Their eagerness to ensure that Modi doesn’t miss the BRICS summit being held on their soil and the words used after he got there spells it all. President Xi Jinping’s call to push forward Sino-Indian ties on “the right track”, the stress on stable Sino-Indian ties as in line with the fundamental interests of people, declaring China is prepared to work with India to seek guidance from the five principles of Panchsheel — these are not just hastily-crafted farewell courtesies. A lot of diplomatic discussions would have gone into this. It needs patient analysis keeping in mind the importance of forming a post-dollar new diplomacy based on a vision for bilateral relations over the next decade.
It won’t be a cakewalk into the future. Issues of concern for India include China’s increasing presence in the Gwadar port, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Belt and Road Initiative that passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. There’s also the issue of Pakistan’s home-grown terrorists, whom China chose to shield from being penalized by the UN. Trade imbalance and Chinese protectionism is another aspect that causes unease and was very candidly raised when Nirmala Sitharaman was in Beijing in July.
On the other hand, the Chinese are doing business in India in almost every sector – from solar energy to smart cities, construction to turbines, toys to furniture and automobile parts to cheap Smartphones and internet service providers. India’s national cricket team is sponsored by a Chinese company and one of the most aggressively advertised products across India was a Chinese mobile that showed a top Indian actor selling their product. Just one company, Huawei, has 22,000 employees in Bangalore. One of India’s most revered pilgrimages, Kailash Mansarovar, is conducted with China’s cooperation and this year they suddenly cancelled the route via Nathu La causing immense distress, though another much tougher route via Uttarakhand to the holy shrine high in the Himalayas remained open.
This scenario calls Beijing to understand the need for a mature and prudent approach to problems, not the Doklam kind of approach.
It appears from Modi’s trip that President Xi has a positive approach and now that his tenure till 2022 is secure with his endorsement by his party in October certain, his attention should be to create a place in history not only to get his party and administration cleansed of corruption but also to forge reliable, trustworthy relations with India.
If Modi is indisputably India’s most powerful Prime Minister Post Independence, Xi too has emerged the most powerful Chinese leader. Just last year, the party bestowed upon him the title of “core leader” which was given earlier to leaders like Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin. He is also Commander-in-Chief of the Joint Battle Command of the People’s Liberation Army and Chairman of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development. He also heads many commissions designed to make economic reforms and reshape the People’s Liberation Army.
Thousands have been jailed since Xi began his anti-corruption drive including Zhou Yongkang, considered China’s most powerful man till 2012.
On our side, Modi is waging a war on corruption, black money and restructuring the economy and defense architecture with bold steps never tried before. Major challenges include turning around the economy and getting the administrative machinery to deliver fast to the poorest segments and boost the manufacturing sector’s morale. Terrorism by Islamic groups is another serious threat to India’s development plans. We need to concentrate on infrastructure building and inviting investment while tackling the issues that the nation’s vibrant, robust and often chaotic democratic polity throws up. Every second month is election time and every state has its own peculiar demands and discordant notes. India needs another ten years of such continuity in diplomacy to emerge strongly on different crucial fronts.
With these two strong leaders in Delhi and Beijing, much can be achieved. It is their leadership that will decide the destiny of more than 36 percent of the world’s population. Indian is also set to overpass China in the population graph by 2024 and with the advantage of having the largest number of young and skilled on our side, the march towards overtaking China has begun.
Post-Xiamen, let the two nations and people work to make the next century momentous for Asia.