The world order might require changing but China is not going to be able to take leadership for political and economic reasons
China seems to believe that it will over the next couple of decades have the economic and military capacity to preempt competition or opposition to its will and that this will itself lead to global order and on its terms. But such a world order is actually likely to be an unstable one based as it is on the principle of ‘might is right’.
Given that China has both more money than India and diplomatic capacity that matches that of the US, it will remain a significant player in Sri Lanka.
The pragmatic realism of the kind that the Indian foreign minister appeared to promote at the lecture actually falls short where China is concerned.
There appears to be a lack of willingness by the Indian government to call China out publicly on its double standards and its unmet promises even as it continues to be obliquely referred to as a concern by several BJP leaders.
Structural problems between India and China are unlikely to be resolved by two leaders having ‘informal’ dialogues or meetings without agendas.
India will need to match China with a capable and expanded foreign service working in coordination with political parties, business communities, intellectual elites and its diaspora but also display adherence to values that are genuinely attractive to the peoples of other nations to push an ‘Indian model’ of politics and development that can challenge the Chinese one.
Indian news media while free to publish what they wish to also have a responsibility to their audiences and to themselves to not offer column space to the Chinese (or anyone else) for grandstanding or the misrepresentation or selective presentation of facts.
The Indian and Chinese governments have set their ties a very low bar of achievement talking essentially soft issues like cultural exchanges which are low-hanging fruit but which are unlikely to help repair in a hurry the high degree of bilateral political mistrust