It is a fact that New Delhi and Beijing have concluded some major bilateral agreements—here used to refer to treaties, statements and declarations—with implications for the boundary dispute since the end of the Cold War. Given that these agreements have been reached between two former belligerents that continue to have many reasons to be suspicious of each other, it must be surmised that they were concluded after tough negotiations and with great deliberation from both sides. While Indian foreign policy is often accused of lacking a grand strategy, these agreements suggest if not a vision for the direction of Sino-Indian relations, at least a desire to keep these stable and peaceful. This chapter is a brief examination of key agreements concluded between India and China in the post-Cold War era with implications for their boundary dispute, including the development and progression of military CBMs between the two countries.
In Sino-Indian relations, it would appear that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Or do they?
2012 was still young when another ‘visa issue’ cropped up between China and India. This time the Chinese refused a visa to an Indian Air Force officer from Arunachal Pradesh slated to leave for China as part of a 30-member Indian military delegation. Contrary to expectations, however, the visit actually carried on with the delegation being halved in size and the IAF officer in question one of the 15 who were dropped. One can wonder about the wisdom of deliberately including an Arunachali in any delegation to China when the person is sure to run into a (great) wall. But perhaps this was, as is normal in the practice of statecraft, simply a testing of the waters? Continue reading 2012 Kicks Off: No Visas and More Boundaries→
Early May, even as the world was coming to grips with the killing of Osama bin Laden, the US was moving to deal with the other great challenger to its global interests, namely, China. The 3rd Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) between the two countries was held between 9 and 10 May in Beijing and touched upon a wide gamut of bilateral issues of concern. These ranged from human rights to China’s bias against foreign companies.
In addition to the usual heads of state summits between the two sides, the SED that involves cabinet ministers on both sides provides an opportunity for both sides to get down to the brass-tacks in the full glare of the media. The Dialogue indicates not just the gravity of the problems between them but also the seriousness of their bilateral dialogue. And the seriousness can only increase. Hitherto, the SED has performed the function more of maintaining status quo between them than of really ironing out differences. But the current SED suggests that the Obama administration has begun to reconsider its hitherto overly cautious China policy and is willing to take up confront Beijing on more sensitive matters. And coming in the wake of the bin Laden killing, the Chinese were no doubt aware that a reinvigorated US would also begun to turn its gaze back towards East Asia.