China not reciprocating India’s gestures, says parliamentary panel
India is “overtly cautious” about China’s sensitivities on Taiwan and Tibet but Beijing hasn’t shown the “same deference” while dealing with New Delhi’s sovereignty concerns linked to Arunachal Pradesh or China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a parliamentary panel has said.
The two Asian giants have worked to normalise relations since the informal summit in April between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at Wuhan, which helped break the deadlock created by last year’s military stand-off at Doklam. China’s foreign minister Wang Yi is scheduled to visit New Delhi on December 21 to launch a new high-level mechanism for people-to-people ties.
In its latest report on India-China ties, Parliament’s standing committee on external affairs expressed concern at the government’s Taiwan policy and said that “even when India is overtly cautious about China’s sensitivities while dealing with Taiwan and Tibet, China does not exhibit the same deference while dealing with India’s sovereignty concerns, be it in the case of Arunachal Pradesh or that of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)”.
India can’t continue with a “conventionally deferential foreign policy towards China” and must adopt a “flexible approach”, the panel chaired by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor recommended. “The Committee strongly feel that the Government should contemplate using all options including its relations with Taiwan, as part of such an approach,” the report, which was tabled on Monday, said.
India has not given diplomatic recognition to Taiwan though economic and trade ties have expanded in recent years, and it recently acquiesced to “China’s demand to refer to Taiwan as ‘Chinese Taipei’”, the report added.
New Delhi has repeatedly objected to Beijing about CPEC, a key part of which passes through PoK. However, at a recent event in New Delhi, Chinese envoy Luo Zhaohui Luo spoke of the need to synergise India’s Act East policy and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
While testifying before the committee in February, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said there were several differences in bilateral relations, including India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, China’s hold on Indian requests for listing Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar under UN Resolution 1267 and CPEC.
In its recommendations, the committee noted that China’s economy today is five times the size of the Indian economy, “with the consequent difference in capabilities, economic, military and political”.
“It is within this asymmetry that India has to define for itself a relationship with China by successfully avoiding adversarial posturing. The success of India’s overall foreign policy hinges on how skillfully this element of statecraft is achieved,” the report said.
Constantino Xavier, a fellow at Brookings India, said the committee’s report “reflects a contentious debate in New Delhi on what a long-term China strategy should look like, especially the balance between a conciliatory approach and coercive tools”.
He added, “Despite the post-Wuhan normalisation, there are decreasing levels of trust in India.”