01 Oct 17/Sunday
After the Doklam stand-off ended and PM Narendra Modi and China President Xi Jinping held a meeting, toasted as a success by both sides, there seems to be a conscious attempt by Beijing to build a favorable public opinion in India, suggesting the two nations can start a new chapter.
After weeks of hostile rhetoric from Beijing, often articulated by quasi-official mouthpieces like ‘Global Times’, finally ended with a truce in Doklam, there have been full-page advertisements in Indian newspapers carrying the ambassador’s message that Xi and Modi hit it off and ties could now soar. The military stand-off at Doklam ended with a vindication of India’s position that China was only trying to unilaterally change the status quo near the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction, though Beijing claimed the Indian side had moved out. But China’s tenor seems to indicate a keenness to move on, with the Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui saying it is time for India and China to turn the old page and start a new chapter.
Luo emphasized the countries had made a lot of progress at bilateral level, iterating the good vibes of the Modi-Xi meeting as he had done in an edit piece in ‘The Hindu’. The emphasis seems to be on furthering economic ties and consciously burying the acrimony of militaristic statements.
while Indian officials don’t want to gloat about how China gave up its attempt to build a road through territory that is disputed between it and Bhutan, there is an understanding here that China’s efforts to make amends follow a realisation that Beijing could have avoided the confrontation, more so because it wasn’t really a high-stakes test for China. Though the test of the pudding remains with issues like India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, blocked by China, as also Beijing’s hold on Pakistani terror mastermind Masood Azhar being sanctioned by the UN, the effort to tone down a prolonged period of suspicion and edginess marks progress in ties.
Speaking on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, Luo said Xi and Modi, who met at the BRICS Summit this month, sent a clear message of “reconciliation” and “cooperation”. “We should dance together.
We should make one plus one eleven. China is the largest trading partner of India.
We have made a lot of progress at the bilateral level, as well as in international and regional affairs,” Luo said. The diplomat also recalled one of his teachers, Prof Xu Fancheng, who lived at Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry from 1945 to 1978. Xu is known for translating Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Shakuntala from Sanskrit to Chinese. His reference to ancient cultural exchanges, that include the transmission of Buddhist sutras to China, also stood out.
Luo’s comments follow his newspaper article, in which he said both countries should consider actively exploring the strategic synergy between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and India’s ‘Act East Policy’.
He had said both sides should appropriately manage differences, get under control the problems left over by history such as issues related to the boundary and the Dalai Lama while finding solutions to new problems.