Thursday, 24 September, 2020
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OPINION

Learning From Sino-India Border Deal



Gopal Khanal

 

On September 10, India and China issued a five-point statement in Moscow on the sidelines of a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Both the parties, officially, hailed the agreement as crucial attainment to restore and maintain peace and tranquillity on the border along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Special importance
Unlike the other previous agreements, this bears special importance since the sidelines meeting between the China's State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was hosted by Russian government. Moscow has adopted the policy of 'Non-interference' in India-China bilateral issues but has embraced the policy of creating a positive atmosphere for 'Delhi-Beijing Consensus' on border.
Minister Wang and Minister Jaishankar agreed that both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes. Similarly, they agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. Therefore, both the sides should continue their dialogue.
The points of agreement, as such, are not new, but the reiteration of the previously agreed contents by both the conflicting sides, specify the negotiating plans. Principally, there is nothing wrong to say that the solutions should be sought through dialogue disengaging the two militaries deployed at the contested points, but strategically, the two armies remain face-to-face igniting violence. Therefore, the first requirement is coherence between policy and practice.
China's The Global Times, in its editorial, mentioned that the agreement is believed to provide an important opportunity for China and India to ease the border tension. India's leading daily, The Hindu, on 13 September, interpreted the agreement as a glimmer, saying each point, outlined in a joint statement, has been affirmed previously by the two neighbours, both in the past boundary agreements and in talks held since June that have failed to de-escalate tensions.
Some strategic experts and foreign policy analysts of New Delhi have indulged in self-interpretations of the agreement, which is adversely affecting the positive atmosphere. It is not good for experts of both the countries to play politics with the agreements demonstrating superiority of one over another resembling the same old attitude.
It is easier said than done. Chinese and Indian leaders met many times on border issues and reached consensus after the Doklam standoff, but then border conflicts occurred again. Since the 1962 Sino-India war, the border has been the crucial controversial issue between the two nations witnessing major violent face-off at the different parts of LAC latest being the violent show-off at Galwan and the clashed along the Pangong Lake in Ladakh.
The two armies have engaged in scuffles many times, but there has been no serious military conflict, which indicates that China and India do not want a new war. This brings solace to those who are deployed on frontline of the volatile zone. It seems China has executed two-fold policy. One is the policy of diplomatic negotiation arguing that India and China should sit together to find a solution to their problems rejecting the provocation of outsiders. They urge and sometimes threaten India to deal with China in line with the strategy framed by anti-China US-led alliance - the QUAD.
The strength and weakness of India is its dependency on its allies, which aim to stop the rising China. It seems New Delhi's views and actions have been guided by the US-led alliance that does not allow India to work with China. To realise the vision of the 21 century as 'Asian Century', India and China must stand together, maintaining common positions on world's major issues. India and China should explore solutions through mutual engagement and cooperation.
As a sovereign neighbour of both the countries, Nepal wants both China and India should lead the world by building harmonious relations as it has been referred even by some western experts as 'Asian Century' that is supposed to bring an end to the western dominance. Nepal is very much cautious to be tangled in the power struggle of two nuclear neighbours, but it still believes that India and China would resolve their problems through peaceful means.

Unfounded assumption
Nepal has a policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of others; it neither intervenes in the internal issues of neighbours nor allows them to get involved in its own internal matters. The peace and stability in the periphery is what Nepal wants to achieve its mission of 'Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali'. Nepal wants to benefit from the development of both the nations without taking sides in their dispute. Some sections of people, especially from India have wrongly projected Nepal as being closer to China, which is unfounded and fabricated.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has proved that Nepal's only priority is to protect the national interest without harming the genuine interest of two giant neighbours. Oli's every decision and moves have put Nepal first, be it in the historic agreements with China and the expedition of Nepal-India bilateral projects.
Nepal wants peace, not only within its territory, but also in its neighbours.

(Khanal is consulting editor at Gorkhapatra Corporation. khanalbro@gmail.com) 

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