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
There is little that actually changes on the ground on the LAC between India and China despite the latter’s rhetoric. It could also be reasonably argued that a change in the status of J&K is not a major concern for China in so far as it involves Pakistan.
There is a case to be made for an India-led initiative in the Indo-Pacific that displays greater commitment to upholding international law than to ‘inclusivity’ as well as willingness to take on a wider ambit of regional responsibilities in the security and political domains