Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Jul 2018 11:25:09

THE word used by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping to characterise the bi-lateral relations is ‘momentum’. Both the leaders met on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) summit and decided to maintain a healthy flow of relations with each other, which they described as ‘momentum’. And in order to strengthen that process, Chinese Defence Minister will visit India, as was indicated by Mr. Jinping. This response came after Mr. Modi had verbalised the Indian position that there should be regular review of the bi-lateral relations between the two neighbours and appropriate instructions be given to the respective sides to maintain the momentum. Obviously, both the leaders appear to have agreed upon certain points and are willing to keep working to strengthen those. By any standard, this is a good sign. 

Some media reports state that Mr. Xi Jinping said to Mr. Modi that China has put in place a high-level mechanism to deal with bi-lateral issues and would be happy to continue with it. If this kind of agreeability continues, the two Asian powers may be able to work out a healthy mutual connect and improve the quality of diplomacy and also of common and individual economic concerns. Against the background of various moves initiated by United States President Mr. Donald Trump in the past some time to rework various international agreements, the importance of the efforts being made by Mr. Modi and Mr. Jinping is immense. For, if there is a constant bickering due to the American approach to international relations, the India-China endeavour could act as a good example to follow by other countries, if not by the US. Having witnessed what Mr. Trump wishes to do, most countries now desire certain higher levels of sensitivity and sensibility in international relations. Mr. Trump does not believe in giving some space to other nations, and that is the main reason of discord.

China, too, has displayed similar attitudes in the past in its dealings with other countries including India. The Chinese leadership seems to believe that only its cause is right and worthy of full play and the other country has no right to push its interests. This absence of accommodation has often troubled India in its dealings with China. But of late, thanks to the three meetings between Mr. Modi and Mr. Jinping in the past four months, a better understanding of each other’s position appears to have dawned. The agreement between Mr. Modi and Mr. Jinping to keep up the momentum in bi-lateral relations appears to be a product of a slightly changed paradigm.

History tells us that much of the acrimony between India and China was on account of the Chinese adamance. The Chinese leadership has never hesitated to use its superior military prowess as a lever to get things done in its favour with other countries including India. In the past four years since the ascendency of Mr. Modi as India’s leader, there is a slight change in the Chinese approach since Mr. Modi also believes in using the military leverage in a firm but polite manner. Additionally, China also seems to have realised the wisdom in having India on its side when very serious international tariff wars are threatening to take place in near future. China seems to realise that the Indians led by Mr. Modi are smart enough to use the situation to their advantage.