National Security Advisor MK Narayanan abruptly cancelled a routine meeting of the China Study Group, which includes a large number of senior security officials, on Thursday.
The decision was clearly taken to avoid sending any wrong signal about India’s relations with China. The meeting, intended to discuss the entire gamut of India-China relations, could, if held at this stage, have been interpreted as a sign of New Delhi’s alarm at reported Chinese incursions across the India-China border.
“It was the first time the meeting got this kind of publicity and we don’t want that,’’ an official told Hindustan Times.
The study group’s meeting comes ahead of the 14th round of Special Representative level talks between the two countries in October. China is equally keen to play down any sense of tension between the two countries. They were nowhere in evidence on Thursday in Beijing.
At a five-star hotel once favoured by Mao Zedong, waiters served kheer (pudding) to Indian and Chinese businessmen and diplomats at an iftaar hosted by the Indian tourism office.
Both nations are trying to take the public focus in bilateral relations away from the border and back to business ties. "Chinese dragons don’t breathe fire and don’t have wings," Sun Weidong, a senior official in the Asian department of China’s foreign affairs ministry, told the Indian media in Beijing this week.
"China’s strategy appears to maintain stability at the strategic level with India, but aggressive engagement at the
tactical level," said Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, Delhi.
Bilateral relations have not deterred Chinese tourist arrivals this year. "Stable so far," Beijing-based India tourism director Shoeb Samad told HT.
While the numbers remain healthy, business ties are not without problems. On Tuesday, India’s ambassador S Jai-shankar called for more ‘balanced and equitable’ trade while addressing businessmen of both nations.