To the careful observer, it is clear that the Indian government was neither thrown off its stride by the Ladakh incident and nor was it overly swayed by the symbolism of Li Keqiang’s first overseas state visit.
The first annual session of the 12th National People’s Congress in China was notable for, among other things, new appointments to China’s key foreign policy positions. What are the implications for India?
The 15th round of talks between the Chinese and Indian Special Representatives on the boundary dispute suggests a desire to minimize the role of the dispute in bilateral ties and to move discussions to include regional and global issues.
The Sino-Indian relationship is today, bigger than the boundary dispute and the resolution of the dispute does not by itself guarantee smooth sailing for the future. Far from it.
Soft-power diplomacy involving Buddhism is smart politics by India and could form part of a larger ideational turn in its outreach to the world. If this is coalition-building, it is not targeted against China or the Chinese people but against authoritarianism everywhere.
Empty plaudits for multilateralism and championing a multi-polar world cannot hide the fact that New Delhi’s current method of engagement with China avoids the intense domestic public scrutiny that comes from a sustained high-level and exclusive dialogue with Beijing.