Tensions Between India-China Could Cast a Shadow Over Upcoming BRICS Summit

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The China is unarguably taking a tough line on the border issue with India in between a rising surge of nationalism in state media, and President Xi Jinping is all set to have an awkward encounter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an upcoming multilateral summit after one month. According to the diplomats, Beijing would try to solve the border conflict before a summit of the BRICS countries, which also includes Brazil, Russia and South Africa, set in the Chinese city of Xiamen in the starting in September, and make sure that nothing hoses what China needs to be a show of collaboration and friendship among developing nations. Yet, it is not going to be too easy.

China extended the talk on Wednesday and blamed India of “concocting” excuses over the illicit entry of the South Asian country’s military into the territory of China. The Foreign Ministry said, “China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests.” The military of two sides are encountering each other near a valley controlled by China that divides India from its close ally, Bhutan, and provides China way into the alleged Chicken’s Neck, a small portion of land connecting India and its distant northeastern areas. While reacting to the China’s allegations, India stressed a prior line that work by a Chinese road crew in the sensitive frontier territory would have changed the ongoing state of affairs and asking “utmost restraint” by all sides.

The India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday evening that “India considers that peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas is an important pre-requisite for the smooth development of our bilateral relations with China”. Coming to the most previous standoffs, for an example, one in 2014 just before a rare trip to India for Xi, were cleared up with the two sides by withdrawing their forces. Since a brief border war in 1962, there has been no shooting. Talks are still going on in the background, however, with a very slow progress rate. In the meantime, Indian and Chinese media have adopted a vociferous approach; with a Chinese state-run newspaper a week ago saying China could use force.

On the other hand, an Indian magazine’s front cover last month showed a map of China cropped of Tibet and self-ruled Taiwan also sets fire to public outrage on Chinese social media with a large number of heated posts. A Beijing-based source who knows about the discussions between the two sides said that “The problem is the media on both sides are whipping things up. This makes it hard for China or India to back down”. The Indian government has requested political parties to avoid politicizing the matter and allow diplomacy to work.

“SHOW WHAT WE ARE MADE OF”

A week ago, the defense ministry of China cautioned India not to harbor any fantasies about the capability of the Chinese military to defend its territory. A source with connections to the military, who talked recently to a senior Chinese officer engaged in the standoff, said that China has no hunger for conflict with India yet couldn’t be believed to be vulnerable. Talking about the conversation with the senior officer, the source said, “Nobody wants to fight about this, but if India keeps making trouble then we’ll have to show them what we’re made of.” China, on the other hand, over and over approached India to withdraw its forces. According to an Indian government source who’s following the standoff closely said that there was no adjustment in the ground circumstance in Doklam, with the two sides continuing in a standoff.

The Indian military expert Nitin Gokhale said that India was set up for a long deal. “The decision is to stay resolute on the ground and reasonable in diplomacy,” he said.  China has been informing foreign diplomats on the standoff, saying it needs a resolution, however, that its patience won’t keep going forever. An Asian diplomat, who attended a briefing said that “there’s no easy solution”, referring to both sides. As of now, China looks prepared to keep things calm, as per another Asian diplomat, who’s aware of the China’s opinion on the issue. “China really wants to resolve this ahead of the BRICS summit. It doesn’t want anything to affect the atmosphere. The gloves could come off after the summit though,” the diplomat said.

After a legacy of the 1962 border war, China and India have been distrustful of each other, and India’s playing host to banish Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and China’s good relations with India’s regional rival Pakistan. India, however, secretly raised protests Chinese firm Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group’s proposed $1.3 billion takeovers of Indian drugmaker Gland Pharma, a source who’s aware of the matter said on Monday. India’s national security advisor, Ajit Doval, went to Beijing a week ago for a BRICS security meeting and had mutual talks with his Chinese opposite number, top diplomat Yang Jiechi, who outperforms the foreign minister. In the statement of the Chinese government on that meeting, there was no mention of the border issue.

Interestingly, China and India are already mistrustful of each other because of China’s gigantic investment in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, including Chinese-invested ports in both countries, India fears might one be able to day end up becomes Chinese military bases, according to the senior Asian diplomatic source. Indicating the prospect for the border tensions deteriorating and becoming a larger Asian security issue dragging in different nations, the diplomat added that “Nobody wants to get caught in the middle of this”.

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