Sino-Indian relations continue to suffer from a trust deficit partly due to New Delhi’s misgivings over strategic and military ties between Beijing and Islamabad, Chinese experts have said, hinting that the two neighbours were unlikely to resolve their bilateral disputes anytime soon.
Official news agency Xinhua quoted foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang as saying that the disputes between China and India “are not bilateral but multilateral”. This, in other words, could mean that China is likely to continue blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), prevent Pakistan-based Masood Azhar from being designated as a terrorist at the UN, and keep building the contentious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – which passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar on Wednesday concluded his two-day Beijing visit with a marathon strategic talk with executive vice-foreign minister Zhang Yesui. More than five hours of exchanges later, the conclusion seemed fairly mundane – officials shared their respective concerns and unease over issues, tried to place emphasis on rare meeting points, and vowed to continue bilateral engagements at various levels.
“Of course, we have problems… like the trust deficit, the media war. India’s opposition to the one belt-one road project is also not positive. I firmly believe it is beneficial to both sides,” Wang Dehua, an advisor to the China Association of South China, told HT.
Wang said apart from the festering border question, India and China also differ on the definition of terrorism. The observation was a reference to the existing bilateral differences over Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Azhar.
“India always wants to portray Pakistan as a ‘supporter of terrorism’ before the international community, which makes it easier for the country to link counter-terrorism to the Sino-Pakistani relationship and blame China’s support to Pakistan over some issues,” Lin Minwang, South Asian expert at Fudan University’s Institute of International Studies, told the state-controlled Global Times. India does not understand the significance of Sino-Pakistani friendship, Lin added.
Stating that the definition of terrorism could differ from entity to entity, Wang said, “Remember how Palestinian leader (Yasser) Arafat once said that the US was a terrorist state? We should also recall that there was violence in Tibet in the past.”
China firmly opposes the Dalai Lama, an India-based Tibetan leader who is considered a separatist by Beijing.
Speaking on the NSG issue, Wang said the problem lay with India, not China. After all, it was India’s reluctance to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty that has caused the stalemate, he added.
According to the Global Times, China is not the only stumbling block on India’s road to NSG membership. “India blames China for blocking it from the NSG, but many other members – including Brazil, Austria, New Zealand, Ireland and Turkey – are also opposed to India’s bid because India has not signed the NPT,” it said.
Wang said New Delhi’s invitation to three MPs from Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway region, has raised suspicions that India was trying to tinker with the country’s “one-China policy”.
Lin claimed that trade was also a problem between the two sides. “India’s trade deficit with China is increasing because many Chinese products – such as small household appliances – meet the needs of the Indian market.”
However, the expert called on India to understand the “dynamic” nature of free trade. “China also suffered from huge trade deficits with other countries at the beginning of its reforms,” he said.