(This editorial appeared in the English edition as well, on October 9, 2017 in a slightly modified form under the title “Sitharaman greeting sends warm signal”. The usual strikeout/italics format has been used below to afford a comparison between the two versions.)
India’s new female Defense Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, held friendly exchanges with Chinese soldiers at the Sino-Indian border in Nathula on Saturday. An Indian soldier standing beside Sitharaman is seen holding a gift in the video released by the Indian Defense Ministry, This is probably the most
warmhearted “warmhearted” scene at the Sino-Indian border area since the Doklam standoff.
Sitharaman’s visit to the border regions as defense minister can be easily interpreted as New Delhi’s push to intensify combat readiness against Beijing.
But Sitharaman’s traditional Namaste greeting to the Chinese soldiers sent another signal to the public that might not erase the first impression but may at least balance things out.
Being on guard against China is a widespread mind-set in Indian society. But confrontation with Beijing is also a radical idea beyond its national strength and contradicts its fundamental interests. Such an idea is only advocated by extreme nationalists. Indian public opinion is incessantly inquisitorial on any hard-line Beijing policy by the Indian government and foresees a “second round of Sino-Indian face-offs,” constantly pressuring New Delhi’s diplomacy after the Doklam standoff.
Sitharaman’s greeting to the Chinese soldiers conveys her hope for peace on the Sino-Indian border and unwillingness to see a new standoff. This is commonly regarded as the attitude of the Narendra Modi government.
This is a realistic and responsible attitude for the country and its people. Both before and after the Doklam crisis, the Chinese government hopes for border peace with the broad support of the Chinese people. But we suspect that Indian society’s understanding of their country’s border policy
seems is ambiguous and chaotic. And that at least Some Indians believe New Delhi will (be able to) take tough measures to crush Beijing’s will “crush Beijing’s will” and thereby secure more benefits for India.
New Delhi has been strengthening its military presence at the Sino-Indian border in recent years. Quite a few Indians believe the Indian military has already gained a certain advantage over the People’s Liberation Army and
they that such advantage can support still bolder action by New Delhi. This mentality ignores the Sino-Indian gap in national strength and overlooks the historical experience. It is very dangerous for India; it must not become the dominant mode of thinking in India’s handling of relations with China.
The Chinese people have noted this
China and welcome s Sitharaman’s greeting. and We hope this friendly gesture is also taken note of by Indian people and welcomed by Indians them. Sitharaman’s charm offensive unusual “charm offensive” might help break the ice between Chinese and Indian public opinion.
India isn’t a major focus for China’s international strategy. India’s development lags behind China. Its modernization and ability to leapfrog in development does not depend on winning the initiative in its relations with China. Friendly cooperation is the best option for China and India to get along with each other and, if that is not possible, to maintain peace and live with each other in harmony; continuing to engage in sustained, intense and costly strategic exhaustion is the worst (option for both countries). Both countries should control the risks.
Indians must overcome the paranoia that suggests their country is strategically thwarted and threatened by Beijing. New Delhi also needs to give up its short-sighted pursuit of Washington and Tokyo support to deploy as a bargaining chip against Beijing. As India gradually rises to become a major economy, being more diplomatically independent is a must. Confrontation with China will directly limit its international strategic space.
There are indeed some points of friction between China and India, but the aspects of India’s strong dissatisfaction with China are not going to change. India’s expectations have risen too fast. New Delhi seems to put its own interests in the center of regional politics. If the Indian side does not restrain its arrogance, sooner or later it will come to grief.
India and Japan jointly launched the “Asia-Africa Development Corridor” program without mentioning China, while China’s “One Belt, One Road” has received a lot of criticism of the Indian side. Minister Sitharaman’s presence among Chinese border guards and Namaste greetings is a reminder that there is need for India and China to mutually respect each other and to do so not merely for show, but sincerely and respectfully.